WHEN he ran for office in 2010, President Benigno Aquino III convinced the public that the nation was at a crossroads, and that his “straight path” was the correct way forward.
Four years later and with less than two years left in his presidency, the people have judged Aquino’s performance, and many have found him wanting.
“We have lost faith in him. We no longer have illusions on his administration. It seems that the slogans ‘tuwid na daan’ (straight path), ‘kayo ang boss ko’ (you are my boss) and ‘kung walang kurap, walang mahirap’ (no one will remain poor if no one is corrupt) were all just campaign gimmicks,” said George San Mateo, president of the transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston).
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, United Nationalist Alliance and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco gave Aquino a grade of zero in terms of respecting the Constitution.
He was not being truthful to his oath of office – to uphold and defend the Constitution – when he implemented the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP),” Tiangco said.
The Supreme Court has ruled that several acts under the P144.37-billion DAP were unconstitutional. Aquino has consistently attacked the 13-0 ruling of the magistrates even as the government already filed a motion for reconsideration seeking to overturn the decision.
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon gave the President a grade of three for his anti-corruption promises in his past State of the Nation Address speeches.
“For as long as the president remains stubborn and arrogant in his defense of the DAP, he can kiss his legacy goodbye,” Ridon said.
The roots of DAP, in fact, can be traced to Aquino’s promise to “eradicate wrong projects and plug leakages” during his first SONA in 2010, leading to underspending and slow economic growth that the administration used to justify the DAP.
“Aquino gets a five for his anti-corruption drive because of the selective prosecution and for having a bigger pork barrel himself through the DAP,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
“Aquino’s stubborn defense of the unconstitutional and illegal presidential pork barrel, a.k.a DAP, is clear proof that he refuses to dismantle the corrupt pork barrel system,” he said.
He has cynically used the people’s indignation against the pork barrel plunder to selectively investigate and prosecute members of the political opposition while allowing his allies to remain scot-free,” Reyes added.
For those in the labor sector, the President got a failing grade for legalizing contractualization, refusing to give workers tax breaks, and increasing SSS and PhilHealth contributions.
“If we can give him a grade lower than one, we will go for that,” Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino national chairman Leody de Guzman said.
De Guzman likened Aquino’s labor policies to a “burdensome yellow cross” which he said was “the most apt image to symbolize the plight of ordinary wage-earners under this four year-old deceitful and outright elitist regime of Aquino.”
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chairperson Rafael Mariano also shrugged off the credit rating upgrades being bannered by the Aquino administration as a sign of inclusive economic growth.
“He scored zero in terms of food security, land reform and coco-industry development,” Mariano said.
In his SONA speech last year, Aquino boasted of the P1.75 billion government investment in the booming coconut industry.
Last month, the President had to issue several emergency response measures to the scale insect infestation that has affected more than a million coconut trees and about 500,000 lanzones and mangosteen trees.
“Even as he was making these promises in 2013, the cocolisap infestation was already wreaking havoc on tens of thousands of hectares of coconut plantations. His government failed to respond quickly enough,” Aliance of Concerned Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio said.
The President also failed to fulfill his SONA promise of rice self-sufficiency, resulting in importation from 2 million metric tons in 2010 to only 350,000 metric tons last year.
Prices of rice, along with other basic commodities such as garlic and ginger, rose this year, prompting Aquino to approve an additional importation of 200,000 metric tons from Vietnam to ensure ample supply.
“The Department of Agriculture is incompetent in maintaining buffer stocks, making price of rice vulnerable to manipulation by private traders and leading to the current spike in prices,” Tinio added.
According to political analyst Ramon Casiple, the President deserves a grade of 6 when it comes to the peace efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and defense modernization.
The government and the MILF, however, have failed to meet its self-imposed deadline of submitting a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress today (July 28) amid language problems as well as some unconstitutional provisions that need to be removed or remedied in the proposed legislative measure.
But for Bayan’s Reyes, the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will condemn Aquino to a legacy of having “sold out” the country’s sovereignty.
“His puppetry to US imperialism only matched the first Aquino regime (the late President Corazon Aquino) who in 1991, led the failed lobby to retain the US bases in the country,” Reyes said.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said despite what critics have said, there are concrete SONA promises that the Aquino administration has already fulfilled, but he declined to grade the President’s performance.
“May I respectfully decline giving a performance rating as this would be self-serving. Let the concrete facts be the actual gauge of performance level,” he said.
Coloma said among the SONA promises that have been delivered are as follows:
- expanding the coverage of the conditional cash transfer program to 4 million to include families with children up to 18 years of age to ensure that they are able to finish high school;
- closing the backlog for public school classrooms and chairs as well as reducing by half the backlog for water and sanitation facilities;
- raising the Department of Health’s budget to P84 billion through revenues from the Sin Tax Law;
- installation of doppler radars, tsunami detectors and alert sirens as part of disaster preparedness; and
- generating 3.2 million jobs for the past two years.
Gabriela partylist Rep. Emmi de Jesus, however, insisted that most of the revenues from sin tax did not go to public hospital operations.
De Jesus also downplayed the Palace official’s information on classroom shortage.
“Our mothers are proving that public schools remain overcrowded and have no sufficient rooms. The DepEd is also busy removing the requirement of books for some subjects, according to our member reports, that may explain the sudden increase in books to students ratios,” she said.
Coloma acknowledged that critics will always see the situation as half-empty instead of half-full, but he said this will not hinder the administration from moving forward and implementing projects and programs that will redound to the benefit of the Filipino people.
But for Reyes and other disgruntled militant groups who will troop to Congress for their counter-SONA, Aquino’s failure to deliver on his previous promises can be summed up in the hashtag that they will be using today: “#NoynoyPH Category 5 pork abuse. Flood of lies. Epic incompetence.”
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