Gloria Arroyo a ‘huge failure’ of the Philippines’ Economy

Malacañang Palace turned the tables on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and branded her administration as "a huge failure" a day after the Arroyo camp came up with a critique citing the Aquino administration's supposed shortcomings in running the economy after taking over in 2010.

"Repeatedly, the performance of her government, the economic as well as the political, has been exposed as a huge failure over the past nine and a half years," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters.

Abad, who served as Aquino's campaign manager in the 2010 election, said that Arroyo had refused to acknowledge that she turned over a messy state of affairs to her successor.

"She was given the rare opportunity through People Power to lead differently but she turned her back on her big opportunity. We ended up suffering from those years of very bad governance," he added.

No research needed

Abad said one wouldn't have to do a thorough research to dispute the points raised in Arroyo's paper such as the substantial growth rate inherited by the Aquino government.

"The question is, what legacy? The numbers may have grown but if you look at the poverty incidence, it has worsened. Look at the employment numbers, it has worsened during their time," Abad pointed out.

In contrast, Abad cited the renewed confidence the credit ratings agencies have given the Philippines under President Aquino.

"In the 18 months of this presidency, we had five upgrades in our rating, the last one was the Standard and Poor's. We hope within the next two to three months there can be a ratings upgrade," Abad said.

"What is different from this administration's economic policy is that it is not detached from the measures on the improved governance especially transparency and accountability in the use of public funds which was absent totally in the last administration," he added.

The economy, student

In her paper titled, "It's the Economy, Student," Arroyo took a jibe at President Aquino's "obsessive pursuit" to demonize her and erase her legacy.

The paper was read by a University of the Philippines economics professor at a press conference at the Manila Hotel on Thursday.

According to her spokesperson, Elena Bautista-Horn, Arroyo wrote the paper "in her spare time" during her recuperation, hospitalization and hospital detention between October and December 2011.

According to Arroyo, the gains achieved by previous administrations "are being squandered in an obsessive pursuit of political warfare meant to blacken the past and conceal the dark corners of the present dispensation. Rather than building on our nation's achievements, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good."

Arroyo's claim that the "politics of division" was to blame for the current economic slump did not sit well with Abad.

"Politics of division? The Filipino people, as surveys and surveys show, have never rallied solidly behind a President as they have shown in support of P-Noy's (Aquino's nickname) anticorruption, good governance and poverty-reduction programs," Abad said.

Vote of confidence

Abad pointed out that even the international community had given the Aquino administration its "vote of confidence."

The budget chief then reminded Arroyo that she, too, could learn a thing or two from Aquino, an economics graduate and a student of Arroyo at Ateneo de Manila University.

"One important lesson that Arroyo should learn from P-Noy is that you cannot separate good governance from economic expansion. One needs the other," said Abad.

In her paper, Arroyo defended the gains of her nine-year presidency but took potshots at the performance of the Aquino administration.

Arroyo, now the representative of the second district of Pampanga who is under hospital arrest for electoral sabotage, accused Aquino of the very ills that bedeviled her presidency and for which she was unable to resolve.

She noted that Aquino was embroiled in "too much" politics. She decried the alleged "use of black propaganda and character assassination" to try to erase her legacy and undo the gains of her nine-year term.

Source:  Philippine Daily Inquirer

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