, 2012 (MANILA STANDARD) By Manila Standard Today - With little fanfare—or concrete achievement—President Benigno Aquino III marked his second year in office.

Befitting this lack of accomplishment, there were no activities to mark the milestone, no meetings to assess what had gone before and what more needs to be done.

Of course, the President will trumpet his “achievements” at the yearly State-of-the-Nation Address later this month, focusing on “genuine and meaningful change” under his “straight path” policy, a Palace spokesman said over the weekend.

To this list, the President will indubitably add the ouster of the chief justice—whose main sin was the Palace perception that he was too close to the former President, whom Mr. Aquino has managed to detain under house arrest—to his other major accomplishment to date.

The chief justice’s other great sin was the temerity to stand up to the President, exhibiting a type of judicial independence that Mr. Aquino clearly will not brook. From this perspective, Mr. Aquino’s great achievement has been to place an erstwhile equal branch of government under the Executive’s thumb.

There have been other minor “achievements,” none of which has truly moved this nation toward economic development.

First, there has been the mindboggling expansion of a dole program for the poor that essentially uses taxpayer contributions to reward people for not working. Under Mr. Aquino’s watch, the conditional cash transfer program has ballooned from only P10 billion in 2010 to P21 billion in 2011 and to P34 billion in 2012. If the rubberstamp Congress behaves according to its craven pattern, this will rise to P45 billion in 2013.

But even the administration’s leftist allies have attacked the program for turning this country into a “Republic of Mendicants and Beggars” by mobilizing hardearned taxpayers’ money into a national charity fund instead of creating jobs, implementing social justice driven by land reform, and providing the country the much needed resources for education, social services and mass housing.

In his last two years in offi ce, Mr. Aquino has also successfully soured the country’s relations with China, a major trading partner, first by ignoring its calls for justice during the embarrassing Luneta hostage crisis in which eight Chinese tourists were killed as a result of official police bungling, and then by acting belligerently in the disputed West Philippine Sea, with no resources to back his tough talk.

Of course, the President will also point to the latest 6.4 percent growth in the gross domestic product without mentioning that it comes in the wake of four consecutive quarters of lackluster performance, or the fact that in the last two years, the administration has done so little to lay the basic infrastructure for growth.

The Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who lived under house arrest for almost 15 years from 1989 to 2010, was recently asked if she could forgive the military leaders who were responsible for her incarceration. Her reply was clear and simple: in its post-authoritarian future, her country needed to focus on “restorative” rather than “retributive” justice.

Sadly, Mr. Aquino, who has suffered no such abuse in his own unremarkable career, seems to be going the other way, forgoing honest-to-goodness efforts to rebuild the country for a singleminded campaign to repay old political debts.

No wonder we have little to show after two years.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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