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PNoy: Integrity, level playing field will lead to economic growth

September 18, 2012 2:23pm

For President Benigno Aquino III, what you do as a leader can be likened to what you do with a can you see on the road: do you just kick the can along, or do you pick it up?

Do you leave a problem alone and assume somebody else will take care of it, or do you try to tackle it yourself?

“I am faced with a choice. I can just kick a can down the road and let the next set of leaders deal with this problem. After all, the politically prudent thing to do will be to not rattle the cage, to not make any noise,” he said Tuesday.

Level playing field

The President was speaking at the Second Integrity Summit in Makati where, for the second time in as many weeks, he championed his administration’s efforts in improving economic conditions in the country.

“At the bottom line of our strategy is ensuring a level playing field: One that is stable, rules-based, and whose outcomes are predictable,” Aquino said, speaking mostly to private investors on Tuesday.

At the summit, Aquino claimed that the strategy is paying off, with the economy responding to “real, tangible reforms” that his administration has put into place.

In his speech, Aquino reiterated statistics he cited at last week's IBM Think Forum, taking pride in the country’s 5.9-percent economic growth in the second quarter, the Philippines’ jump to 65th place from its former spot as 85th out of 144 economies in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, and record highs of the Philippine Stock Exchange index as proof of economic growth in the country.

All of this, he said, can be attributed to having a society that has the same rules for everyone. “We believe that a level playing field—in essence, a just society, built upon institutions that are fortified by the people’s trust—is the foundation of sustainable growth,” he said.

Inherited problems

Aquino has repeatedly said that he inherited a lot of problems from the previous administration.

"Malalim at malawak po ang mga problemang minana natin. Nag-ugat ito sa isang gobyernong parang tatlong matsing na nagbingi-bingihan, nagbulag-bulagan, at gumawa ng sariling katotohanan,” Aquino said in 2010, merely a hundred days into his presidency.

The administration of Aquino's predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was mired with charges of corruption during her nine years in power. She was in hospital detention for several months after getting charged with electoral fraud, but is currently out on bail.

In an interview not long after passing his term’s 100-day mark, Aquino said that he would dedicate much of his efforts to turning around a system that has been in its “worst form” for the last several years.

Nearly two years later, it looks like Aquino feels he has made headway in turning around the system. “We have been channeling the budget into investments in our people—in education, health, poverty alleviation, and infrastructure—because we recognize that sustaining our economic momentum requires a citizenry that can compete in the global arena,” he said in Tuesday’s speech.

Picking up the can

To go back to Aquino’s analogy, the President said he recognizes that “kicking the can,” or ignoring a problem, only means that it will have to be addressed down the line, so he chooses to pick up the can.

“I’m here to solve problems, and I believe a person of integrity is also a person of foresight—he will not pass on a problem to someone else when he can solve it himself,” he said.

Aquino also expressed hope that his successor will embody similar values of forward thinking. “I hope that whoever stands on this podium in the future will be a person of foresight; someone who definitely will not kick the can down the road; someone who will solve problems; someone who will fortify the culture of integrity that we are building now,” he said.

This is the second time Aquino delivered a keynote address at the Integrity Summit, an anti-corruption convention put together by the Integrity Initiative. The movement, led by the private sector, is pushing for transparency and integrity by enjoining stakeholders to sign the Integrity Pledge.

In his opening remarks, Makati Business Club and Integrity Initiative chairman Ramon del Rosario looked to the pledge as an effective method to combat corruption.

“Moral compacts work, especially if there is a big enough collective committed to upholding it,” he said. — BM/YA, GMA News




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