Gloria Arroyo: Aquino's 'politics of division' causing economic slump
(Updated 4:30 p.m.) While currently detained on charges of electoral fraud, former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo managed to write an extensive critique of the Aquino administration's alleged “politics of division” that supposedly reversed the economic momentum achieved during her term.
In a paper entitled “It’s the economy, student,” Mrs. Arroyo lambasted President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s supposed “obsessive pursuit of political warfare” that she said has slowed down the country’s economy.
“Rather than building our nation’s achievement, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good. And the Filipino people are paying for this obsession,” she said in the paper presented to the media on Thursday.
Later in the day, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda dismissed Mrs. Arroyo's criticism as mere 'sourgraping.'
The paper, written by Mrs. Arroyo while recuperating from a series of operations last year, was read to the media by economist Gonzalo Jurado, the former President’s economics professor at the University of the Philippines (UP), at a "colloquium" at the Manila Hotel called for the purpose by Mrs. Arroyo's staff.
A colloquium is defined as an academic meeting. The Arroyo paper was the only one presented. An open forum is ongoing as of the time of this posting.
The former President is currently in detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) while facing a charge of electoral sabotage of the 2007 elections.
Mrs. Arroyo, who also once served as President Aquino’s economics professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, also attributed the administration’s “vacuum of vision” to the current “weak” status of the state.
“The symptoms of this weak state are the large gap between rich and poor—a gap that has been exploited for political ends—and a political system based on patronage and, ultimately, corruption to support that patronage,” she said.
Losing the momentum
At the start of her paper, Mrs. Arroyo, who holds a doctoral degree from the UP School of Economics, trumpeted the gains she said were achieved under her term.
The former President particularly cited the country’s 7.9-percent growth rate when she turned over the presidency to Aquino in June 2010.
She contrasted this figure to the 3.2-percent growth rate recorded from October to December 2011 — more than a year after Aquino assumed office.
“The momentum inherited by President Aquino from my administration is slowing down, and despite his initial brief honeymoon period, he has simply not replaced my legacy with new ideas and actions of his own,” she said.
Mrs. Arroyo also boasted of the jobs created during her term, and the various infrastructure projects finished during her administration, particularly the roll-on roll-off (RORO) system of transportation.
“No amount of black propaganda can erase the tangible improvements enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of families liberated from want during my decade at the helm of the nation,” she said.
Gossip about love life
Mrs. Arroyo likewise described the Aquino government’s slogan, “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap” as “simplistic.”
“If there is no corruption, there is no poverty—this proposition that also tells us that the undeniable persistence of poverty to this day therefore means the continuation of corruption under this administration,” she said.
She also advised Aquino to become “hands-on” after she observed a pattern of “government lethargy” and “nobody-home leadership.”
“This is not the kind of ethics that should be practiced by one who claims to have a genuine reform agenda,” she said.
She added that the Aquino government should stop “encouraging gossip about one’s love life in which no one can possibly be interested.”
Mrs. Arroyo called on the administration to focus on beefing up infrastructure development, addressing the needs of education and healthcare, increasing land productivity and dealing with environmental concerns to boost the country’s economy in the coming years.
‘Run after me, but run the govt’
During the open forum, Jurado said he agrees with Mrs. Arroyo’s observations about the state of the economy under Aquino’s leadership.
“Walang plano. Walang bisyon. Ano ba namang klase ito?” he said.
He added that he would kick Aquino out of his class if the President were his student.
“Kung nasa klase ko iyan, ang singko ay kulang. Bibigyan ko siya ng diyes siguro, or I’ll just tell him to disappear from my class,” he said.
Elena Bautista-Horn, Mrs. Arroyo’s chief-of-staff and spokesperson, for her part said the former President’s paper is a reminder to the Aquino government not to disregard the country’s economy.
“Ang mensahe lang ng dating pangulo para sa lahat at para sa nakaupong administrasyon ay ‘Okay lang na habulin niyo ako, pero patakbuhin niyo naman ang gobyerno,” she said during the colloquium’s closing remarks.
She said Aquino has four more years to shape up and to prove that he is worthy the high level of confidence he is getting from the public. — VVP/HS/RSJ, GMA News
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