Moral of the sorryBy Conrado R. Banal III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
All of a sudden, the raucous critics of the Aquino (Part II) administration are rather quiet, even with the surprising dip in the “satisfaction rating” of our leader Benigno Simeon, aka BS.
Based on the latest survey, although more than 63 percent of Filipinos remained satisfied with the performance of BS, his rating actually dropped by seven points. The drop was huge, to my mind, mainly because the administration was not used to any dip in the movie-star-like popularity rating of BS.
Anyway, surveys normally do not touch on reasons for drops or increases in ratings of public officials. It was just that the dip in the rating of BS was least expected—perhaps even by his staunchest critics who were quite silent lately.
For one, the surveys were conducted at the height of the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and from all indications, including results of surveys, the trial initiated by the administration did enjoy tremendous public support.
Like it or not, BS already made history for being the only President of the Republic who actually did something about the widely perceived unassailability of the power of the Chief Justice.
The message was clear enough for the guys down here in my barangay: To this administration, nobody is untouchable. Surveys showed that BS had the backing of a clear majority of the public. Even leaders of other countries expressed admiration for what they called his “moral” crusade.
Then came the official economic figures for the first quarter of 2012, showing the Philippines posting a 6.4-percent GDP growth rate. This, by any measure, was a “wow” figure.
To many in business, it was remarkable considering the ongoing recession in the United States and Europe, plus the economic slowdown in most Asian countries. It was in fact the highest growth rate in the region, except that of China, which nevertheless was also showing signs of a sharp economic downturn.
Thus, economists in the private sector started to revise their growth forecasts. They even included economists in foreign financial institutions. In this country, in other words, there was a solid business confidence.
It seems that, based on their forecasts, the worldwide economic slump would disturb our GDP growth rate for 2012 only by less than 1 percentage point. Not many countries could claim such economic resiliency.
Now, economists can debate all day, and well into the night, on the factors behind the fairly good performance of the Philippine economy. The cynical among them may point to pure luck of timing. The Aquino (Part II) administration happens to enjoy the cyclical boost from agriculture.
Still, nobody can deny that the economy is getting a strong push from government capital spending, finally, and a dramatic increase in private investments.
Just listen to credit rating firm Moody’s: “The Aquino government’s emphasis on good governance—coupled with an increasingly strong track record of macroeconomic stability—has seemingly supported the return of greater investment spending, especially from the private sector.”
No, sir, those factors did not, could not, come by accident. They were most likely by design.
We all know that the business sector has been attacking the administration for its cutbacks in capital spending.
But the boys of our leader, BS, had a compelling reason for withholding the release of funds—which were actually our taxes, our hard-earned money. They wanted to minimize, if not totally eliminate, the dirty hanky-panky tactics in government projects.
The World Bank once estimated that graft and corruption could account for 20 percent of the cost of government projects, at the very least.
It was our leader, BS himself, who ordered the review of all big projects of the government. The administration thus suspended some deals that were “questionable.”
None of his critics could actually accuse BS directly of being “corrupt.” They could question his readiness for the highest executive position in land, since he supposedly owed the presidency to the death of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino. Or they could claim that the economy was suffering because of his indecisiveness, even perhaps because of his bad working habits, concerned as he was with other trifling interests, including video games and the opposite sex.
They nevertheless would not dare to accuse BS of big-time corruption. Sorry, this president has “morality” written all over his big moves.
Well, this is the president who had one of the highest mandates ever in our presidential elections precisely because of his campaign promise to fight corruption.
It was the same reason, his moral uprightness, why BS could expect to earn the respect of leaders of other countries. In his recent trip to the United States, for instance, BS secured what the Palace boys called “clear and unequivocal commitment” of the world policeman, known as the US military, on Asia-Pacific security—the Philippines, in particular.
Washington promised to deploy 60 percent of its naval forces to the region. I wonder what the critics would say about BS this time. The spoiled brat got lucky again, perhaps.
Me, I cannot wait for BS to put to jail some big crooks stealing from government projects. Believing in his sincerity to fight corruption, I am hopeful it will happen one day.
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Only two years old, tax and audit firm Reyes, Tacandong and Co.—known as RTCo. in business—must have something going for it to attract the top finishers in the latest CPA board exams.
Word has it RTCo already signed up the top four placers in the board exams done in May. They are Manuel Buensuceso Jr., the 1st placer, a graduate of San Beda College; Kathrine Catindig, 2nd placer, of UST; Grace Albunian, 3rd placer, a cum laude from the Technological Institute of the Philippines; and Monique Kris Villaflor, 4th placer, also from TIP.
Established by former partners of SGV & Co. only about two years ago, RTCo. now has some 500 professionals manning its offices in Manila, Davao and Cebu. You can say that the firm is also enjoying the growth in the economy.
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