, DECEMBER 9, 2011 (STANDARD) by Joyce Pangco Pañares and Maricel Cruz - Opposition criticizes the President for ‘amateurish and clumsy’ leadership, saying high ratings cannot feed the poor

THE Philippines is preparing for a deep global economic downturn next year following an Asian Development Bank warning it could happen, President Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday.

“We are preparing as best we can,” Mr. Aquino said.

“Of course, we will do accelerated but prudent domestic spending with attendant safeguards. We will do everything we can. We will improve on so many sectors, but at the end of the day, the reality is it [economic slowdown] is a global phenomenon.”

The ADB has cut its growth forecast for the Philippines’ gross domestic product to 3.7 percent this year from 4.7 percent earlier, and to 4.8 percent in 2012 from its previous estimate of 5.1 percent as a result of the global economic downturn.

The bank said Philippine growth could slow further to 4.2 percent if Europe’s debt woes worsened and the United States’ economic problems deepened.

Mr. Aquino, who has come under fire for his administration’s weak public spending in the first nine months, said the government will disburse the funds from its 2012 budget earlier next year.

Palace officials are pinning their hopes on a P72-billion stimulus package approved in October to boost the fourth quarter gross domestic product.

Economic growth under the Aquino administration slowed to 3.2 percent in the July-September quarter. That put the growth for the first nine months at 3.6 percent, “quite a distance” even from the lower end of the whole year target of 4.5 percent, the National Statistical Coordination Board said.

In the House, opposition lawmakers criticized Mr. Aquino for his “amateurish and clumsy” leadership, saying he failed to use his high approval ratings in the surveys to improve the economy.

“You cannot put trust ratings on the dining table,” Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay said.

“Trust ratings cannot satisfy the hunger of Juan dela Cruz.”

Magsaysay said the President had failed to reduce poverty, hunger, unemployment and commodity prices or improve investments.

Minority Leader Edcel Lagman took the President to task for his “dismal performance” to date as chief executive: “from failing to spend on essential government projects and dragging down economic growth as a result, to inciting hostility and investor lawsuits against us abroad as a result of his errant and impolitic brand of diplomacy, to neglecting peace and order and compromising national security because he does not seem to understand who are the country’s real friends and enemies.”

Deputy Minority Leader Danilo Suarez dismissed Mr. Aquino’s attempt to blame the economic slowdown on the “judicial uncertainty” that he said was brought about by the Supreme Court.

“When will all this finger-pointing end? When will you take responsibility and accountability for your own actions, Mr. President?” Suarez said.

Last week, President Aquino said the Philippines was “lucky” despite three consecutive quarters of decline because the economy remained stable and investors continued to put their money in the country.

He blamed the economic slowdown on the problems brought on by external events such as the tsunami in Japan, the instability in the Middle East, and the European debt crisis.

But the figures released by the National Statistical Coordination Board showed the country lagged behind Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, countries that also had to go through the same challenges.


Aquino blames unstable judiciary for poor economy  Wednesday, December 07, 2011 00:00 Article Views : 2,990 Written by : Jaime Pilapil, Reporter

[PHOTO - President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the Bulong Pulungan Annual Christmas Party and Recognition Day for Outstanding Public Servants and Private Individuals at the Luzon Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City on Tuesday (December 06). Malacañang Photo Bureau).

There was no stopping President Benigno Aquino 3rd from stepping up his attack on the judiciary on Tuesday, this time blaming the co-equal branch of the government for the country’s slow economy.

“A judicial system that does not promote stability and certainty does not enhance the economic environment,” President Aquino said during the media forum Bulong Pulungan at Hotel Sofitel in Pasay City (Metro Manila).

As such, the President added, whipping up the economy into better shape by making it generate employment would still be his administration’s main concern for next year.

“We are not changing priorities, the very first problem that I had during the campaign was jobs, it is still the economy that is still the priority” in 2012, he said.

Mr. Aquino, however, sued for time.

“Adversely, an economic environment that does not have a level playing field will not see [an improved economy] as possible but we are saying that in about an hour’s time I am meeting with the economic team and one of the questions that we will get is how, we are in transition from before, the money of government or the public’s money was being spent, so now the purpose of prudent spending, change in culture that could not happen overnight,” he said.

According to him, he wanted to “maintain the safeguards and, at the same time, accelerate the process where disbursements by the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] are actually utilized by the line agencies at the quickest possible time.”

“I do not want a repeat of what transpired this year,” he added, without elaborating.

The President called for “prudent” spending, which, he said, enabled the government to get closer to the number of classrooms (45,000) that he had promised during his State of the Nation Address in July this year.

He announced progress in his administration’s Public-Private Partnership program, citing the bidding for an expressway project and rebuilding of Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport… “then of course the aesthetics after that.”

Mr. Aquino attacked the Supreme Court on Monday, telling Chief Justice Renato Corona that he was a “midnight appointee” of then-President Gloria Arroyo.

On December 2, he also publicly humiliated Corona before the elite Makati Business Club. Monday’s savaging of the Chief Justice came with the territory, according to the President’s allies in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Miro Quimbo of Marikina City (also in Metro Manila) told the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum that the High Tribunal “should not be onion-skinned.”

Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat of Ifugao agreed, saying that the Supreme Court is not a sacred council.

Joseph Victor Ejercito of San Juan City (also in Metro Manila) said, also without elaborating, that the attack on the Chief Justice resulted from the President’s frustration.

Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that the President did it because he wanted “to remind all government officials that we are all accountable to the people.” With report from Llanesca T. Panti

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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