alacañang yesterday said the first two years of President Benigno S. Aquino III's term have changed the mindset of Filipinos on the government but admitted that more more needs to be done in the remaining four years of the Aquino administration.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte also assured that there will be no term extension for President Aquino beyond 2016.
The Palace official, however, admitted that the administration is racing against time on making systematic reforms that will go beyond Aquino's term.
"The biggest achievement so far, it is the change in mindset of our people," Valte said, noting the openness of Filipinos to reform and closer interaction with the government.
"We can see several levels of engagement which shows that there is now a shift in attitude towards government as a partner and not as an oppressor," she said.
"Remember the goal is not just to lessen corruption or to take it out completely but to make reform systemic...we want to make the change to be as systemic as possible," she added, as she expressed hope that there will be a continuity of the reforms in the administration, particularly in terms of transparency and accountability.
The Palace official also assured that President Aquino will step down when he ends his term in 2016.
"The President is very conscious of the period that he has been given, that is six years - no more, no less," Valte said. "There's so much to be done, yet little time so we are looking at the actions that will have maximum impact in the six years that the President has."
As for poverty alleviation, Valte said the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program targets to include 3.8 million families next year from this year's 3.1 million families.
She said the impact of the CCT program may not be seen immediately as the solution towards poverty alleviation cannot be done overnight.
She also said poverty in the country cannot merely be measured by surveys because not all individuals who take part in surveys are CCT beneficiaries.
"Give it a little more time and if you really want to look at the success of the CCT program, ask the CCT beneficiaries how the program is able to help them," Valte said.
She also noted the book "Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of Next Economic Miracles" by Ruchir Sharma that cites the Philippines as the next Tiger Economy.
"It confirms most of what is written on the Philippines from an outsider's perspective. It helps give a moral boost for workers in government na nakikita ng mga tao na mukhang unti-unti nagbubunga 'yung mga ginagawa natin (that the people see the benefits of our reforms)," she said.
Valte said that as part of President Aquino's second year anniversary in office, the Official Gazette had launched the Inaugural Timeline, which would showcase the inaugural address of past Philippine Presidents.
"With everyone's commitment, we are sure to lengthen our strides along the straight and righteous path. The message remains the same: honest and accountable governance is the anvil upon which our people can forge better futures for themselves," she said.
But workers said they are worse off after two years of President Aquino's presidency.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) cited the workers' wages and lack of jobs as some of the reasons why they think the condition of workers and the poor are even worse now than before.
"Workers' wages are more depressed than before, contractual employment is more rampant, and joblessness is more widespread. Workers do not have anything to celebrate after Aquino's two years in power," said KMU chairperson Elmer Labog.
"Aquino has even implemented major policies that will further press down the value of the country's labor. He has been a pest to workers and a blessing for big capitalists," he added.
KMU cited the Two-tiered Wage System that means a wage cut and wage freeze for workers, the Labor Department's Order No. 18-A, Series of 2011, which legitimizes contractual employment, and the K to 12 program in education which will confine the youth to contractual employment.
"He has repeatedly deceived the people in claiming that he is going after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her grave crimes. Two years into his term, Arroyo may post bail to leave her comfortable hospital arrest," Labog said.
"The Aquino government has failed to seek the conviction and jailing of the former president. It was quick in ousting Chief Justice Renato Corona but excruciatingly slow in going after Arroyo," he added.
The labor group also slammed the president for fast-tracking the return of United States (US) bases into the country, and for violating human rights.
"Aquino has used China's assertive statements and actions to try to justify intensified US military intervention in the country. He has also magnified the US' promise of support to sidetrack the danger to the lives and livelihood of Filipinos and the insult to national sovereignty brought about by greater US military presence," Labog said.
President Aquino is set to deliver his third State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City on July 23.
Meanwhile, an official of a research group said the government's boost of the supposed economic growth during the first quarter of 2012 is not reflective of the true general state of the Filipinos' financial conditions.
Speaking at a forum in Quezon City, Sonny Africa, executive director of IBON Foundation, said that his analysis of the current administration's perceived economic progress can be traced into the four Ps - perception, promises, and pogi points.
Despite the assertion that "good governance leads to good economics," Africa said that while the indicators of a supposedly sound macroeconomics and fiscal fundamentals to banks, credit rating agencies and investor groups it is not indicative of the continuing economic problems of millions of Filipinos. (With reports from Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Chito A. Chavez)
He noted that the 6.4 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter is commendable but added at the same time that it is due largely to the surge of government spending.
Even with the supposed sound fundamentals, Africa noted that there remains a continuing job crisis in the country, saying the number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos has increased by 780,000 in the last two years.
From 10.9 million in April, 2010, the number of unemployed and underemployed reached 11.7 million in April 2012.
The research group estimated that there are 4.4 million unemployed, and 7.3 million underemployed.
While unemployment rate decreased from 11.4 percent to 10.30 percent this was offset by the rise of underemployment from 17.8 percent to 19.3 percent.
Africa noted that the trend remains even if the data of the National Statistics Office (NSO) underreports the underemployment rate.
With the Aquino administration's report on the creation of over one million jobs from last year up to the first quarter of April 2012, Africa clarified that this consisted of 2.5 million additional part-time workers and a drop of 1.6 million full-time workers.
He noted that 43 percent or 16.2 million out of the 37.8 million workers are employed as part-time employees, indicating the deterioration in the quality of jobs being generated. (With reports from Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Chito A. Chavez)