POSTSCRIPT / September 18, 2014 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Noy criticizing GMA abroad is in bad taste

BAD FORM: Will a member of his entourage please whisper to President Noynoy Aquino, now on a trip to Europe, that it is bad form to try elevating one’s self by stepping on others.

Addressing an audience of European officials yesterday at the Egmont Institute in Brussels, President Aquino again criticized his predecessor Gloria Arroyo for, he said, grabbing credit for whatever economic growth was attained by the Philippines under his watch.

Former President Arroyo, a doctor of economics, was his professor at the Ateneo. Sources said she gave him a grade of B+ in economics.

From Belgium, the second country in his itinerary, the President is scheduled to proceed to France (Sept. 17-18), Germany (Sept. 19-20) and New York, giving him more opportunities to lambaste his predecessor and shine in contrast.

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THINK TANK: Filipinos are used to Mr. Aquino’s penchant for blaming his predecessor for his many problems. But it is embarrassing to see him carrying his Blame Game to distant shores, badmouthing her before foreigners who stop long enough to listen.

Its website describes the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations as an independent think tank based in Brussels. Its interdisciplinary research draws on the expertise of its research fellows, as well as that of external specialists. It provides analysis and policy options.

From its setting that is the Egmont Palace, the institute offers a forum to visiting heads of state and government, representatives of international organizations, foreign ministers and other political figures. Conferences, colloquia and seminars give research fellows and participants the opportunity to exchange views with other specialists.

You can view the Egmont colloquium with President Aquino at

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LOST DECADE?: In a prepared speech, the President described the term of his predecessor as a “lost decade” when opportunities, he said, were squandered and attention was “focused on political self-preservation” instead of “laying foundations for growth”.

“Before my term the Philippines was marred (mired?) in a vicious cycle of corruption, deceit and negativism,” he told the audience. “Some people had grown so apathetic that it seemed the only ambition left for them was to leave the country to look for any opportunity.”

“Despite this, the previous administration had the temerity to claim credit for the continued growth, which was actually fueled by Filipinos who were working abroad,” he said.

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CREDIT DUE: Maybe I have not read enough or kept track of statements of the former president but I do not remember Ms Arroyo herself claiming credit for whatever economic gains followed through during the Aquino years.

It was others, including economic authorities and foreign institutions, that had credited the Arroyo administration for having shielded the Philippines from economic shock waves from abroad and laid the basis for future growth.

A number of the infrastructure inaugurated or being pursued by President Aquino are actually projects planned and launched by the previous administration that he is now badmouthing abroad.

President Aquino should be careful about what he claims before foreign experts, such as the Egmont crowd, because they know enough of the facts.

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LEFT UNSAID: At the Brussels forum, President Aquino said that from 2006 to 2009, the Philippines’ average economic growth was only 4.3 percent, but that from 2010 to 2013, under his watch, the economy grew by an average of 6.3 percent.

He failed to note, however, that he did not build the economy from zero base.

The President also reported that 2.5 million Filipinos had lifted themselves from poverty from 2012 to 2013, also under his watch. He did not say, however, how many more millions are still jobless, wallowing in poverty and had not benefitted from the supposed fruits of economic growth.

He boasted of his administration’s achievements in transparency and accountability, citing the impeachments of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and former Chief Justice Renato Corona, both Arroyo appointees.

Left unsaid was that hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ money was spent to clinch the impeachment and the ouster of the Chief Justice. The world has not seen yet the final audit of the pork barrel used, including unconstitutional DAP “savings,” in buying lawmakers’ votes.

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DOUBLE STANDARDS: President Aquino told the Egmont audience: “My predecessor is under hospital arrest as she faces two serious unbailable charges with another one still being reviewed by our Ombudsman.”

The knowledgeable crowd must have been aware that under our system of laws similar to theirs, Ms Arroyo is still presumed innocent, and that several charges against her had been dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

Even the remaining plunder complaint over Sweepstakes intelligence funds is hanging by just a delicate thread of a ministerial marginal OK she had affixed on an office document.

While President Aquino regaled his audience with stories of how he went after corrupt officials, he did not explain why until this late date, none of his thieving political allies and partymates have been dragged to the Sandiganbayan on plunder or graft charges.

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JUSTICE WAITS: Let us await the objective and comprehensive assessments of those who are in possession of the unvarnished facts to compare the economic performance of the Arroyo and Aquino administrations.

Let us pray that justice be done as we also await the filing of graft/corruption and plunder charges against whoever had committed the crimes – be they friends or foes of President Aquino.

Meantime, it is premature and unfair – and in utter bad taste — for no less than the President to make clearly partisan reports to foreign audiences. We are lucky the crowd he was addressing is well-informed.

It is not right that somebody in a position of advantage will oppress and discredit another in his attempt to gain political points.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 18, 2014)

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