I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Philippine President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) is bad for the economy. The incumbent president is not at all focused on building a solid financial system for the country despite predictions that the economic instability in Europe and the struggling economy of the United States of America could still trigger another global financial meltdown in the near future. PNoy instead, has been too distracted with pursuing the prosecution of his political enemy, former President and Congresswoman, Gloria Arroyo (GMA). It seems like PNoy has put national interest in his “last priority” inbox.
There were even reports that during the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held in Bali, Indonesia, PNoy missed a big opportunity to negotiate trade deals and enhance relations with other world leaders because he was too disoriented and couldn’t concentrate on his task. He had to skip the opening ceremony of the summit and cancel a few other meetings with fellow heads of states because of the crisis he and his staff created involving GMA. It doesn’t help that he does not have competent staff that can deal with local issues while he was away. Here’s an account of his trip:
“But Aquino missed several events. While on hand to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Malacañang in Manila last Wednesday, Aquino skipped the opening ceremonies of the summit in Bali on Thursday. It was at the time that the Palace was also intensely monitoring Arroyo’s attempts to leave the country as his administration raced with time to come up with any indictment in court so she could be prevented from leaving.
Due to his absence, Carandang stood in for Aquino at the plenary session and the annual photo-op of the 10 Asean leaders, which he missed because he delayed his Manila departure by a day.
After arriving in Bali on Thursday noon, Aquino still couldn’t be fully present in all meetings and cancelled the meeting with the Thai leader and skipped the gala dinner for leaders that included Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday. Aquino was the only leader absent from the dinner hosted by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The same night, Aquino also called off an” informal briefing over coffee with media at the Marriott Hotel.
During one of the meetings he attended, the camera focused on Aquino, and reporters distinctly noticed how he looked worried and seemingly disoriented.
It looks like PNoy should have just skipped the ASEAN summit altogether because even though he was physically there, his mind was not. It could have saved the taxpayers a lot of money for a fruitless trip.
Some of PNoy’s supporters are defending his actions against GMA by saying that his relentless pursuit of GMA is for the sake of national interest. Never mind that when he was still a congressman, PNoy voted against playing the “Hello Garci” tape, which could have helped unravel the truth behind the allegations of electoral fraud against GMA during the 2004 Presidential election. Why he is pursuing GMA now after so many years of doing nothing is a mystery to most Filipinos.
But the fact remains, even if PNoy successfully prosecutes GMA, it is not going to change the environment of distrust that he has created around building up a case against GMA. By defying the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) on GMA’s travel ban and his continued insistence to anyone who would listen that some members of the Supreme Court cannot be trusted to do the “honest” thing – and to PNoy, going against his wishes is actually enough proof of their dishonesty- indirectly causes low morale and cynicism among Filipinos. To be sure, PNoy is further damaging the credibility of the Supreme Court for his own personal interest. As reported in The Daily Tribune, it seems PNoy remains open to future acts of defiance against Supreme Court rulings…
All signs and presidential speeches point to moves being made by President Aquino to ensure worsening the ongoing constitutional crisis and bringing it to a head in his bid to establish a dictatorship.
In his speech delivered during the National Bureau of Investigation’s 75th anniversary yesterday, he implied that no matter what the law or legal order coming from the highest court in the land says. as long as he believes these to be biased against him and favor only a select few, he intimated broadly at defying the Rule of Law, saying that he is ready to do this because “at my side are the moral right and judgment, and truth, and more than anything, the Filipino people are on my side,” he said in Tagalog.
His continued defiance of the SC continues to create political instability and could potentially drive away current and future investors, which in turn could result in a continued worsening of the country’s unemployment rate. In fact, a threat of a constitutional crisis has made some investors jittery. This was evident when an actual investor revealed in a forum that he is very cautious now about investing and some of his friends who wanted to invest have had second thoughts ever since PNoy came to power because he further destabilized the country’s already fringed investor risk profile. This situation is not good for the currently employed and those who are still seeking employment. Even John Mangun from the Business Mirror, echoed the same sentiments:
Yet the World Bank has again lowered the economic growth forecast for the country. The World Bank at one time expected a near 5-percent growth. Now its projection is down to 4.2 percent.
The Philippines needs 4-percent gross domestic product growth just to stay where it is, to break even so to speak. Five-percent growth is acceptable as it keeps the economy a little ahead of the game. But 4.2 percent basically says that the nation, after some 18 months of the Aquino presidency, is no farther along, no better than when the President took office. This is not good at all.
More could and would come if positive action on the economy was not just one of the priorities but the top priority of the government.
Several foreign chambers of commerce joined Philippine business groups to create a long wish list of things that the government must do both for local and foreign businesses. It is ridiculously long. However, the specifics are critically important. The government has yet to formulate a clear and concise policy on mining. There has been no movement on rationalizing the fiscal incentives for new investment. Nothing has been done to improve the build-operate-transfer law.
The key is that this list shows that in the last 18 months, economic policy decisions and laws dealing with the economy have been placed on hold.
A new and comprehensive framework for both local and foreign investment does not exist on paper, only in the mouths of the political leaders.
PNoy could do more if he allows the country’s justice system to deal with alleged criminals. He does not have to micromanage GMA’s prosecution. What he needs to micromanage is the effort at lowering the country’s unemployment rate, which will eventually reduce the poverty rate and lessen the number of criminals including corrupt public servants.
PNoy could learn some lessons on how to move on and how to focus on the big picture from Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe’s long time political opponent, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe once tried to have Tsvangirai killed for being a threat to his regime. But this is what Tsvangirai had to say about it now:
We’re always conscious that the fact that what they’ve done to us and the opposition is unacceptable. [But] if the nation is to move forward, then one cannot always go back to that, because it will only mean that you’ll have to engage in retribution. We are very conscious of the acts against myself as an individual and all our supporters who died during this struggle. But the question is, then, How do you balance between the cries of the victims and the fears of the perpetrators? There is a price to pay for stability and peace.
Such compassion coming from Tsvangirai considering the atrocities committed against him by Mugabe. The Philippines may not be as bad as Zimbabwe but real stability and peace are things not yet achievable in the Philippines even under PNoy’s term.
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