2 years into presidency, Aquino's passion remains
By Karl Malakunas ,AFPMANILA -- During an in-depth interview with AFP at the presidential palace, Aquino pointed to a host of economic indicators to justify his enthusiasm, while displaying a relish for bare-knuckled political fights against his opponents.
March 26, 2012, 5:41 pm TWN
“There are so many things that have transpired that none of us could even have imagined when we were campaigning,” Aquino said reflecting on his first 21 months in office that followed a landslide election win.
He referred mostly to the state of the nation's economy, which after decades of underperforming has showed signs of steady, if incremental, improvement under his leadership and mantra of clean-governance.
Aquino, 52, insists the economy is on the right track, citing a series of international credit ratings upgrades and the rise of the Philippine stock market to record highs in recent weeks as evidence.
Among his proudest achievements are luring foreign manufacturers and other investors to the Philippines, extending health cover, cutting government waste and expanding an incentive scheme to keep millions of poor children at school.
Critics accuse him of lacking urgency on the economic front, pointing out GDP growth was just 3.7 percent last year partly because he cut government spending when they say pump-priming was needed.
But Aquino's policies, which have an overarching theme of tackling the corruption infecting all sectors of the nation's economy, have won endorsement from a wide range of sources.
World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi said last week the economy was in good shape with inflation stable at around 2.7 percent, manageable government finances and a well-focused social protection system.
“Besides having strong macroeconomic fundamentals, the country is benefiting from political stability and a popular government seen by many as strongly committed to improving governance and reducing poverty,” he said.