Only the ‘good news’
President Aquino’s sixth and final State of the Nation Address last Monday epitomized what every yellow administration is known for: passing the buck when it comes to failings and taking the credit for things one did not earn. Much like putting on a fresh, perfume-spattered shirt on an un-bathed and unkempt body, the President’s SONA miserably tried and failed to mask the pervading stench of incompetency, broken promises and the putrid aroma of neglect, callousness and absentee leadership of this administration. PNoy conveniently heaped all the blame for his inequities on the past administration while taking credit for economic accomplishments the groundwork for which have been laid by previous administrations. In the course of his self aggrandizement, he failed to mention that the harsh reality is that the Philippines is the least attractive investment destination among the ASEAN-6 economies, the triennial peak in the country’s economic performance.
Foreign direct investments and GDP
Contrary to his speech, foreign direct investments have been slowing down since last year, and for the most part, this administration has been useless to attract as many investors as its ASEAN-6 peers. Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed that net inflow of FDIs was actually lower by 71 percent year-on-year at the start of 2015. The 2014 United Nations Human Development Report similarly states that only 1.12 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product came from FDI, the lowest again compared to its ASEAN-6 neighbors. Aside from FDIs, the Philippines also ranked as the second lowest in international trade with 64.79 percent of GDP.
Tarnished reputation as an investment hub
Government spending net of interest payments has been shrinking under this administration. Coupled with the burden of cancelled government projects like the Laguna Lake Dredging Project, we echo Professor Benjamin Diokno’s comment that one might rightfully say that the government took more taxes from the Filipino people than what it gave back to them in terms of public goods, services, and public infrastructure. What PNoy conveniently left out is that the unilateral breach of these contract, based on the flimsy excuse that all government contracts entered into by the previous administration are graft-ridden, will cost the Philippines billions of pesos in damages and in fact is already costing us millions more in legal expenses. This does not take into account the billions worth of investment that will no longer be invested in the country since this administration already established a reputation of not respecting the sanctity of a contract.
Truth be told, it was the previous administration’s prudent management of the national government debt, the passage of legislation in support of financial market development like the reformed value added tax, strong focus on tax reforms and infrastructure development like the Strong Republic Nautical Highway, which have collectively contributed to the strong fiscal performance of the country resulting in later credit outlook upgrades. Even Fitch’s upgrade in March 2013 noted that it was Arroyo’s “improvements in fiscal management…that made general government debt dynamics more resilient to shocks.” PNoy’s claim therefore that it has been the one true reason for the rosy numbers the country has garnered is just pure imagination.
This kind of hogwash was also evident in the claims of support this administration has allegedly given the agriculture sector, the backbone of our economy. Reality - according to data from the Department of Budget and Management, only a meager 4.6 percent or P350.45 billion of the national government’s expenditures (totaling over P7.66 trillion in the past four years) went to agriculture-related programs and projects. Hence, while the economy posted high growth, official poverty statistics show that the concentration of the poor has been in the entire agriculture sector. Until now, some 1.2 million farmers rely on tenancy arrangements because seven in every 10 farmers do not have their own land, while a third of landowners hold 80 percent of agricultural lands in the country.
The glaring insensitivity of this administration to the plight of the Filipino has similarly been pronounced in the manner of how it has handled crisis upon crisis that has rocked the yellow land of Daang Matuwid, particularly that of the Maguindanao massacre and that of the Fallen SAF 44. While the Maguindanao Massacre happened during the previous administration, the wheels of justice turned fast during the previous administration where the perpetrators were immediately incarcerated and indicted of charges. But within this administration, those cases languished and were even complicated by allegations of bribery reaching all the way to the Department of Justice. Five years after the Maguindanao massacre, the cases are still inching through the Philippine court system and not a single person has been held to account while witnesses are being systematically eliminated or paid.
Mr. President, it was your administration which dropped the ball on this issue.
The most gut-wrenching of all was that during the SONA, PNoy unabashedly pushed for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and even gave honor to everyone and his uncle including his barbero, while totally and conveniently leaving out any mention of the gallantry of the Fallen SAF 44 or a shared statement of grief with their surviving families.
Adding salt to the wound, the official representative of the group responsible for the murder of our troops was even shown on TV having a reserved seat at the plenary hall. This most traitorous act of insistence to ram the BBL against the overwhelming opposition shows that we are not really the bosses of this cacique President.