MANILA, DECEMBER 31, 2012 (PHILSTAR) Malacañang counted the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona over alleged inconsistencies on his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and betrayal of public trust as among the administration's major achievements this year.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters Thursday that Corona's removal from office and the subsequent appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno to the post are steps under President Benigno Aquino III's judicial reform agenda.

"Once new justices are in place we can hope that the judiciary will be in step with the executive branch in advancing reforms in the particular branch of government," Lacierda said, adding that former peace negotiator Marvic Leonen's appointment to the Supreme Court as associate justice "sustained the momentum of reform" in the system.

Corona, installed by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, had also been criticized by Aquino's officials as a "midnight" appointee.

In a statement issued after the press briefing, Lacierda counted not only the controversial trial but also Arroyo's arrest for plunder charges as among the government's feats the past year.

"The message is clear: If a Chief Justice can be impeached– and a former president put under hospital arrest for alleged plunder and electoral sabotage—then so can anyone; a crime is a crime, regardless of wealth or status in society," Lacierda said.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The Palace official said that Aquino's accomplishment's in 2012 should quiet doubts that the president can reform a government with "an entrenched culture of corruption."

'A true leader'

According to Lacierda, the international community, for one, had recognized and admired Aquino as a "true leader" in diplomatic affairs and for spurring the country to achieve 7.1 percent economic growth.

"At home and around the world, the Philippines has become recognized as a bastion of stability and good governanc ... Through it all, he continues to clean house, eliminate waste, and put primacy on restoring public trust in our institutions," the spokesperson said.

He added that the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro had caught the attention of the world as a major step in the peace process.

"This is among the first successful dialogues between a government and a Muslim separatist movement in the modern era, and could set the template on how to peacefully handle such conflicts across the world," Lacierda noted.

Among the notable measures approved under the administration, he said, are the Sin Tax Reform Law levying on alcohol and tobacco and the divisive Responsible Parenthood Law popularly known as the Reproductive Health bill.

"Legislators, commentators, and media have all lauded the President’s political will in passing these laws," he said.

2012 'best year'

The Palace also claimed that 2012 had been the "best year" that the country has had in a long time and called for "celebration and pride" for its standing in the global stage.

Lacierda, enumerating positive indicators such as a stronger peso and stock record-high exchange index, said the country has enjoyed a "roaring economy" this year under Aquino.

"These positive indicators are underpinned by an administration that has maintained fiscal discipline, initiated reforms to ramp up quality public spending, and invested heavily in both social and physical infrastructure," Lacierda said.

He added that higher budgets have been granted to key government agencies to boost health and education developments as well as investments in poverty alleviation.

"As the administration embarks on 2013, there is all the more reason for Filipinos to travel on the straight path under the leadership of President Aquino and the adherents to his noble cause," Lacierda concluded, dropping Aquino's presidency motto "matuwid na daan."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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