Voters have clear choice for President, says Aquino
AMID speculations that his influence as a king maker has waned, President Aquino said voters face a “clear” choice next year between continued progress and the “hopelessness” of the past.
Addressing businessmen in Makati on Thursday, Mr. Aquino said his administration sought to restore a culture of integrity in the country. Results of next year’s elections will determine whether recent gains are cemented.
“Next year, we face a crossroads: we can continue down the path of integrity and progress or we can backslide to the hopelessness of the past. The choice is clear,” he said.
Mr. Aquino has officially endorsed Liberal Party standard bearer and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’ bid for Malacañang.
Latest polls placed Roxas behind four candidates, namely Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Grace Poe, and Vice-President Jejomar Binay. Roxas lost the vice-presidency to Binay in the 2010 polls.
A November survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that Filipinos would likely vote against Mr. Aquino’s bet for Malacañang next year. The resistance to the Commander in Chief’s endorsement was most pronounced in Metro Manila. Across social classes, the President appealed the least to high- and middle-income earners.
President Aquino’s endorsement, the SWS survey showed, would be as damaging on election day as an endorsement by former President and current Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada, who was ousted from Malacañang during a popular uprising halfway through his term.
Major reforms have been implemented since 2010, leading to significant improvements in the country’s economic health, Mr. Aquino said.
Average economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), from 2010 to 2014 stood at 6.2 percent, the highest in a generation. GDP refers to the total market value of all goods and services produced in the country in a given year.
The country’s healthy economy has also allowed the government to collect more taxes and spend this money on the construction of more roads, bridges, and other types of infrastructure.
Last year, the government spent the equivalent of 4.10 percent of GDP on infrastructure, more than doubling the infrastructure budget of 1.83 percent of GDP before Mr. Aquino took office.
Conditional cash transfers (CCT), which help poor families keep their children in school, have risen six-fold since 2010. The Philippine economy has also received 22 positive credit rating actions from major ratings agencies.
Ronald Mendoza, Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Center executive director, said voters should avoid electing members of political dynasties.
According to AIM research, political dynasties dominate the country’s local politics, leading to poor accountability and corruption. About 85 percent of provincial governors, three out of four vice governors, two out of three mayors, and half percent of vice mayors are members of political dynasties.
“Those people are examples of these dynasties who consolidate power and basically misuse them,” Mendoza said. He noted that not all bad dynasties produce bad results, but chances of corruption were higher in towns and cities run by powerful families.
“The pattern of leadership is surely lacking integrity, opening the risk for abuse. That’s why we are concerned about this kind of pattern in our leadership,” he said.