Saturday, January 14, 2012

News Update Palace dismisses Arroyo’s censure, says her admin a ‘huge failure’

President Benigno Aquino III paid little or no attention to the criticisms of his predecessor, now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who berated him and his administration’s stewardship of the country through a paper that was presented in a forum on Thursday. "We have already made great strides in our fight against corruption and poverty, as well as in our thrust to create a progressive economic climate guided by fair and honest practices,” Aquino said Friday before the members of the diplomatic corps at the traditional New Year Vin d’honneur in Malacañang. “Local and foreign groups have acknowledged our triumphs by investing in our country, by lauding our efforts in open governance, and by supporting our programs,” the President added. In a paper entitled “It’s the economy, student!" Mrs. Arroyo fired away at what she described as Aquino’s “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. Stinging rebuttal His Budget Secretary, Florencio Abad, and Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda gave the more direct and stinging rebuttal of former President Arroyo’s assertions. “… [S]he turned her back on her big opportunity, we ended up suffering from those years of very bad governance,” the Budget chief told reporters in an interview after the Vin d’honneur at Malacañang, noting that Mrs. Arroyo could have led the country differently, given the rare opportunity offered by the 2001 People Power II that catapulted her to power. “Repeatedly the performance of her government — the economic and political — has been exposed as a huge failure over the past nine-and-a-half years,” he said. The nine-year administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a "huge failure," Abad added. Abad served as Education Secretary under Arroyo and was among the “Hyatt 10” group of senior officials who resigned shortly after the “Hello Garci” scandal that nearly cut short the years of her presidency. Among those with him in the Hyatt 10 were Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who are all holding the same positions now in the Aquino administration. “Look at the employment numbers… It has worsened during their time, Abad noted. “Look at the way ratings agencies rated us… In the 18 months of this presidency, we had five upgrades in our rating — the last one was the S&P change in outlook — and we hope within the next two to three months that there can be a ratings upgrade,” he added. “What is different from this administration's economic policy is that it is not detached from the measures, the improved governance — especially transparency, accountability in the use of public funds — which was absent totally in the last administration,” Abad noted. 'Disguised as an economic paper' At a press briefing Friday, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda described Mrs. Arroyo’s critique as “a political manifesto disguised as an economic paper” which was presented at “a press briefing masquerading as a colloquium.” “Lumang tugtugin. Sourgraping, it’s all about sourgraping. She is trying to paint the picture of gloom and doom for this country and it’s totally opposite to what business analysts have been saying,” he said. “What growth is she talking about in her administration? That was not inclusive growth. We are talking about inclusive growth in our administration. We have hastened the pace of justice, we have not come up with new ways of corruption…We are driving away… we are curbing corruption, we are finding ways of improving the justice system here in the country,” Lacierda asserted. “The global economy went down and that’s a factor. But insofar as our spending, we accelerated the spending during the last half of this year. Let’s not try to isolate factors here. Overall, the global economy went down,” he said. He boasted that the country has improved on two fronts — improving the justice system and curbing corruption and alleviating poverty. He said in poverty alleviation, the government has increased the number of beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program and provided employment to a greater number of people. “There is going to be massive infrastructure spending and we are going to show growth in tourism, that's going to be happening this year, and also agriculture productivity,” he said. “Early on, because of the different cases that she is facing she wants to paint a picture of doom. But we are going to do better than her administration and so she is trying to paint a picture of negativity,” he said. He also said that Aquino’s grade in the class of Mrs. Arroyo has no bearing on the way he is managing the country now. “What’s the relevance (of grade) in running the country efficiently, in curbing corruption, in alleviating poverty? What’s the point? Do you want someone who was an economics professor who ran this country, who damaged the institution? Do you prefer an economics professor who instead of strengthening the institution has caused severe damage to the institution and whose credibility has sunk lower than (former) Pres. (Ferdinand) Marcos?" he said. Asked if the Aquino government can learn anything from Mrs. Arroyo’s paper, Lacierda said: “No we don’t need her help. Thank you very much. We can do it perfectly on our own.” — LBG/ELR/RSJ/VS/HS