NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

AQUINO ADMINISTRATION'S SATISFACTION RATING SINKS TO RECORD LOW - SWS
[Reacting to the SWS poll, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. acknowledged Tuesday that the Aquino administration can still improve its performance[.


April 21, 2015 5:46am (Updated 10:06 a.m.) Less than half of those polled in the first quarter of 2015 were satisfied with Aquino administration's performance, a new poll taken by the Social Weather Stations found. According to the SWS poll, 48 percent of respondents were satisfied with the administration, 29 percent dissatisfied, and 23 percent were undecided. In the previous quarter, the fourth quarter of 2014, some 58 percent were satisfied, 24 percent were dissatisfied, and 17 percent were undecided. The administration was thus given a record-low "moderate" net satisfaction rating of +19 (percent satisfied minus percent dissatisfied), a 15-point drop from the “good” +34 rating during 2014's fourth quarter. In the same period last year, the first quarter of 2014, the administration had a “good” +45 net satisfaction rating. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino renews service vow to ‘bosses’ as his ratings fall


APRIL 22 ---President Benigno Aquino III.
MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU 
Malacañang has renewed its pledge to serve its “bosses,” the people, in the remaining 14 months of President Aquino’s term in the wake of the administration’s lowest net satisfaction rating since 2010. “(W)e need to continually ascertain the sentiments of our bosses,” the Palace said, reacting to the findings of a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. The survey found the administration’s net satisfaction rating dropping to a record-low “moderate” +19 percent, a 15-point drop from the “good” +34 rating in December 2014. The Aquino administration enjoyed a “very good” +64 net satisfaction rating in September 2010, when it was rated for the first time, and a “good” +45 score in March last year. Satisfaction with the administration was “very good” in 10 out of 19 surveys since 2010. It scored good 7 times and moderate twice. In a statement, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the administration was “fully determined to carry on and complete the priority programs in all five pillars of the Philippine Development Plan.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Alcala to submit report to Noy on P14-B agri fund mess


APRIL 25 ---Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala
- Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is preparing a report to President Aquino to respond to allegations that his department squandered more than P14.4 billion in questionable projects in 2013. In a press briefing at Malacañang, Alcala said the validation of the Commission on Audit (COA) report was ongoing and would be finished yesterday. “We will submit the report to the President,” Alcala said, reiterating that they did not misuse any funds in the Department of Agriculture (DA) and that the COA report was a mere interpretation of facts. He gave assurance that he would never squander public funds. Alcala added the incessant attacks against him could have something to do with his association or closeness to the President. For instance, the secretary explained that since the Aquino administration came in, the release of Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) loans had been stopped by the President because they were not being paid. READ MORE...

ALSO: Department of Agriculture squandered P14B–COA; Another Palace ally, Alcala, in hot water again


APRIL 22 --CLOSE AQUINO ALLY: Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ ALEXIS CORPUZ  
Another stalwart of President Aquino’s Liberal Party is in hot water for the alleged misuse of billions in public funds. The Department of Agriculture (DA), under Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, squandered more than P14.4 billion in 2013 in questionable projects that it implemented despite violations of laws and regulations, according to the Commission on Audit (COA). The COA made public its report on Tuesday, a day after the Sandiganbayan sentenced Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. to up to 10 years in prison for graft. Umali is the treasurer of the Liberal Party, which is expected to field Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as its presidential candidate in next year’s elections. Both Alcala and Umali are political supporters of the President, who has made the fight against corruption the centerpiece of his “tuwid na daan” (straight path) governance. READ MORE...

ALSO: Editorial »All smiles
[Alas, when you have a chief executive thinking this way, there is absolutely nothing to smile about—even when he is grinning from ear to ear].


APRIL 24 ---We wish it were satire, but it isn’t. President Benigno Aquino III actually talked about the nuances of his facial expressions in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post. The President has drawn flak for appearing to smile in the most inappropriate occasions, such as during the wake of the 44 policemen slain in January in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, and much earlier in his term, while inspecting the bus where eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed by a dismissed policemen after a botched negotiation and rescue operation. Mr. Aquino explained that he has different smiles for different occasions. “I have a particular smile when I am so fed up,” he said. Another would seem to say: “Stop it, you’ve crossed the line.” Yet another, of delight. What the President suggests however is that his notorious smiles are his way of coping with the absurdities that he encounters as president of the country. He likened his smile to cursing, or shouting to high heavens – something to resort to control his emotions. READ MORE....

ALSO: PNoy reiterates gains, pays no mind to hardships, insults
[Ibon Research Foundtion concluded that the Philippines was in its worst jobs crisis in history, and that the high proportion of poor quality work in 2014 confirmed the inability of the economy to create enough stable and meaningful jobs for the labor force.]


APRIL 24 --300,000 graduates. President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech during the Pagdiriwang ng Pantawid Pamilya Graduates ng 2015 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, where he toasted the more than 300,000 Pantawid Pamilya high school beneficiaries nationwide.
Malacañang Photo Bureau
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said Thursday all the hardships and insults that he suffered were worthwhile when he looked upon the graduates of his administration’s massive dole program. “If I look at all that we have gained, and the concrete proof of this are you, the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps), I really think it was all worth it, all the hardships, insults and the attacks on the presidency,” Aquino told some 11,000 graduating high school students at a ceremony in the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. The students were beneficiaries of the 4Ps, a program that gives poor families a monthly stipend for keeping their children in school. Aquino said seeing the graduates motivated him to double his efforts to improve the lives of Filipinos. He said his administration has earmarked a total of P232 billion for the program over the years as an investment in the future of the youth. The Department of Social Welfare and Development, which administers the program, said more than 300,000 students who graduated in March were beneficiaries of the program. READ MORE...

ALSO FLASHBACK: Jobless rate drops to 6.6% in January


POSTED MARCH 12, 2015 ---Data for the January 2015 LFS round still excluded Region 8, in order to be comparable with the labor and employment data in the January 2014 LFS round.
 - The country's unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent in January, improving from the 7.5 percent posted in the same period last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday. Data from the January 2015 Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed that there were a total of 1.04 million jobs created from last year, almost four times bigger than the number of jobs created the previous year. "The labor market got a boost from a stronger growth in all sectors mainly driven by services which grew by 3.9 percent, contributing a 766,000 net employment gain in January 2015,”   Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. He said the number of unemployed went down by 334,000 to 2.6 million during the period, with employment growing faster at 2.8 percent compared to the labor force growth of 1.8 percent. Balisacan added that it was also partly due to the stronger growth of services employment. PSA noted that four regions, namely, National Capital Region (90.7 percent), CALABARZON (91.4 percent), Ilocos Region (91.5 percent), and Central Luzon (91.5 percent) had employment rates lower than the national figure, which was pegged at 93.4 percent. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy, the mechanic? Aquino jokes about alternative job to avoid critics


APRIL 23 --Benigno Aquino III
To avoid his critics, President Benigno Aquino III is thinking of shifting careers from politics to mechanics. During a speech on Thursday before high school graduates who are beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer program, Aquino shared that a graduate of government’s technical-vocational program is already a mechanic in Australia, earning twice the salary of the President. Aquino, a car enthusiast, then quipped that he should have trained as a mechanic instead of seeking the presidency so he would no longer have to deal with his “attention-deprived” critics.“Naisip ko nga po: Siguro, kung nag-training na lang ako para maging mekaniko sa ilalim ng TESDA [Technical Education and Skills Development Authority], maaabot ko rin pala ang sahod niya, at hindi pa ako sasalubungin ng araw-araw na panlalait ng mga kulang sa pansin,” the President said. READ MORE...
 


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Aquino administration’s satisfaction rating sinks to record low –SWS

MANILA, APRIL 27, 2015 (GMA NEWS ONLINE)  April 21, 2015 5:46am (Updated 10:06 a.m.) Less than half of those polled in the first quarter of 2015 were satisfied with Aquino administration's performance, a new poll taken by the Social Weather Stations found.

According to the SWS poll, 48 percent of respondents were satisfied with the administration, 29 percent dissatisfied, and 23 percent were undecided. In the previous quarter, the fourth quarter of 2014, some 58 percent were satisfied, 24 percent were dissatisfied, and 17 percent were undecided.

The administration was thus given a record-low "moderate" net satisfaction rating of +19 (percent satisfied minus percent dissatisfied), a 15-point drop from the “good” +34 rating during 2014's fourth quarter.

In the same period last year, the first quarter of 2014, the administration had a “good” +45 net satisfaction rating.

READ MORE...
The poll also found that the administration’s net satisfaction rating fell by one grade, from “good” to “moderate” in all classes, with more than 10-point drops across socio-economic groups and in two regions.

Socio-economic classes, geographic areas

Across socio-economic classes, satisfaction with the Aquino administration was down a grade, from “good” to “moderate”:

• a 22-point fall to +19 from +41 in Class ABC, • a 16-point drop to +24 from +40 in Class E, and • a 14-point fall to +18 from +32 in Class D.

Net satisfaction rating stayed “good” in the Visayas, up to +34 from +31 in the previous quarter; and “moderate” in Metro Manila, unchanged from December’s +21.

But in Balance Luzon, satisfaction fell two grades from “good” to “neutral”, falling 27 points to +8 from +35.

Satisfaction in Mindanao fell one grade from “good” to “moderate,” down 17 points to +26 from +43.

20 issues

Among 20 issues, the government was rated “very bad” in resolving the Maguindanao massacre with justice, at -50.

The government scored “poor” in two issues: ensuring that no family will ever be hungry (-11), and ensuring oil firms don’t take advantage of oil prices (-13).

The administration was rated “good” in five issues:

• helping victims of disasters (+42), • helping the poor (+34), • promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (+34), • protecting the environment (+32), and • foreign relations (+30).

The administration rated “moderate” in five:

• preparing for climate change (+29), • defending the country’s territorial rights (+22), • telling the truth to the people (+15), • restoring peace to Mindanao (+12), • providing jobs (+11).

The government was rated “neutral” in seven issues:

• fighting crime (+9), • rehabilitating areas damaged by conflict in Mindanao (+7), • fighting terrorism (+6), • eradicating graft and corruption (+2), • reconciliation with Communist rebels (-3), • reconciliation with Muslim rebels (-3), and • fighting inflation (-8).

The SWS poll was taken from March 20 to 23 among 1,200 adults with sampling error margins of ±3 percent for national and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

SWS classifies net satisfaction scores of +70 and above as “excellent”; +50 to +69 as “very good”; +30 to +49 “good”; +10 to +29 “moderate”; +9 to -9 “neutral”; -10 to -29 “poor”; -30 to -49, “bad”; -50 to -69, “very bad”; and -70 and below, “execrable.”

The poll results were posted on the BusinessWorld website.

‘Significant room for improvement’

Reacting to the SWS poll, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. acknowledged Tuesday that the Aquino administration can still improve its performance.

“We are aware that there is significant room for improvement and that we need to continually ascertain the sentiments of our Bosses, the Filipino people,” Coloma said in a text message.

Instead of dwelling on Aquino’s record-low survey ratings, the Palace official said that the administration is “determined” to complete priority programs under the Philippine Development Plan, and to ensure that reforms will be sustained.

Coloma also maintained that the Aquino government will continue working towards the “transformation of mindsets and institutions” and to institutionalize good governance in the bureaucracy. — Joel Locsin and Andreo Calonzo/DVM/ELR/KG/TJD, GMA News


INQUIRER

Aquino renews service vow to ‘bosses’ as his ratings fall Jerry E. Esplanada @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:38 AM | Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015


President Benigno Aquino III. MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU

MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang has renewed its pledge to serve its “bosses,” the people, in the remaining 14 months of President Aquino’s term in the wake of the administration’s lowest net satisfaction rating since 2010.

“(W)e need to continually ascertain the sentiments of our bosses,” the Palace said, reacting to the findings of a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

The survey found the administration’s net satisfaction rating dropping to a record-low “moderate” +19 percent, a 15-point drop from the “good” +34 rating in December 2014.

The Aquino administration enjoyed a “very good” +64 net satisfaction rating in September 2010, when it was rated for the first time, and a “good” +45 score in March last year.

Satisfaction with the administration was “very good” in 10 out of 19 surveys since 2010. It scored good 7 times and moderate twice.

In a statement, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the administration was “fully determined to carry on and complete the priority programs in all five pillars of the Philippine Development Plan.”

READ MORE...
He said the need to “ensure that reforms will be sustained by strengthened public institutions and tread the righteous path and ensure that good governance becomes the norm at all levels of government.”

Changing mind-sets

Coloma, also head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, maintained that “gains from the transformation of mind-sets and institutions will be sustained and made permanent.”

In its nationwide poll of 1,200 adults, taken from March 20 to 23, the SWS found that 48 percent were satisfied with the administration’s performance while 29 percent were dissatisfied.

This resulted in a net score (satisfied minus dissatisfied) of +19, down 15 points from +34 (58 percent minus 24 percent) in December last year.

The percentage of those who were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied increased from 17 percent at the end of 2014 to 23 percent in March.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for national numbers and plus or minus 6 percentage points for Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

For the SWS, net satisfaction scores of +70 and above are considered “excellent”; +50 to +69 “very good”; +30 to +49 “good”; +10 to +29 “moderate”; +9 to -9 “neutral”; -10 to -29, “poor”; -30 to -49 “bad”; -50 to -69 “very bad”; and -70 and below “execrable.”

Mirrored falling ratings

The decline in the rating of the current administration mirrored the fall in Aquino’s net satisfaction rating, which was released earlier this month.

From a “good” +39 (63 percent satisfied minus 24 percent dissatisfied), the President’s score was down to “moderate” +11 (47 percent satisfied minus 36 percent dissatisfied).

Across socioeconomic classes, satisfaction with the administration fell from “good” to “moderate.” In Class ABC, it was a 22-point drop from +41 to +19. In Class D, it fell by 14 points from +32 to +18. In Class E, it was a 16-point drop from +40 to +24.

The survey also showed that in the Visayas, the net satisfaction rating stayed “good,” up 3 points from +31 in the previous quarter to +34.

In Metro Manila, the rating stayed unchanged from +21 in December 2014.

On the other hand, net satisfaction in the rest of Luzon went down from “good” to “neutral,” falling to as much as 27 points from +35 to +8.

In Mindanao, it fell from “good” to “moderate,” a drop of 17 points from +43 to +26.

Maguindanao massacre

Among 20 issues, the administration got a “very bad” rating in resolving the Maguindanao massacre, scoring -50.

It scored “poor” in ensuring that no family will ever be hungry (-11) and making sure oil firms do not take advantage of oil prices (-13).

In five issues, it was rated “good”: Helping victims of disasters, +42; helping the poor, +34; promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, +34; protecting the environment, +32; and foreign relations, +30.

The administration received a “moderate” rating in the following issues: Preparing for climate change, +29; defending the country’s territorial rights, +22; telling the truth to the people, +15; restoring peace in Mindanao, +12, and providing jobs, +11.

It got a “neutral” rating in seven issues: Fighting crime, +9; rehabilitation of Mindanao areas hit by conflict, +7; fighting terrorism, +6; eradicating graft and corruption, +2; reconciliation with communist rebels, -3; reconciliation with Muslim rebels, -3 and fighting inflation, -8.–With a report from Ana Roa, Inquirer Research


PHILSTAR

Alcala to submit report to Noy on P14-B agri fund mess By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2015 - 12:00am


Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala

MANILA, Philippines - Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is preparing a report to President Aquino to respond to allegations that his department squandered more than P14.4 billion in questionable projects in 2013.

In a press briefing at Malacañang, Alcala said the validation of the Commission on Audit (COA) report was ongoing and would be finished yesterday.

“We will submit the report to the President,” Alcala said, reiterating that they did not misuse any funds in the Department of Agriculture (DA) and that the COA report was a mere interpretation of facts.

He gave assurance that he would never squander public funds.

Alcala added the incessant attacks against him could have something to do with his association or closeness to the President.

For instance, the secretary explained that since the Aquino administration came in, the release of Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) loans had been stopped by the President because they were not being paid.

READ MORE...
He said ACEF loans did not carry interest and collateral and that the only release they made was for scholarships.

“We found ways to demand payment,” Alcala said, adding that the remaining funds were being used for common facilities and to upgrade the competitiveness of livestock sub-sector.

Alcala said there was no reason for him to step down because he had been doing his job and that projects from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) such as the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MDRP) had produced results.

For the first time, he said a lot of attention was being paid Mindanao through programs and projects prepared with the help of the people themselves.

Based on reports citing data from the COA, the DA wasted huge sums on several anomalous programs using the regular funds it received from the national government and allotments from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and DAP.

But Alcala said the DAP funds in question were not all within the disposition of the DA and that some P2 billion were allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as implementer of farm-to-market road projects.

He said earlier that a substantial amount of P1 billion was used to finance the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP) managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and MRDP.

According to Alcala, some P919 million was used as counterpart in MRDP projects intended to spur development in Mindanao.

It should be noted that MRDP was recognized by the World Bank as a model of transparency and effective project implementation and has paved the way for an upscale version dubbed Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).

The PRDP will make available $670 million or P27.50 billion to cover and finance as many project proposals from the local government units and farmers’ and fishers’ groups nationwide.

“As for the alleged PDAF projects, let me state that the department stopped releasing PDAF as early as 2013 or even before the Supreme Court announced its unconstitutionality,” Alcala said.

He also stressed that the outstanding ACEF loans worth P4.3 billion mentioned in the COA report were approved and disbursed during the previous administration covering the years 2000 to 2010.

“None of these funds were squandered by the department. Liquidation and completion of documentation is a work in progress,” he said.

Alcala noted further that the COA report itself mentioned the difficulties encountered in the project implementation which included unstable peace and order conditions in the project sites; problems on right of way; obstruction within the construction limits, and other related problems which are being addressed on a case-to-case basis.

He said that he had directed the heads of bureaus and regional field offices to submit their respective responses to the COA report which, he vowed, would be made public.

“We assure the public that we are abiding by our mandate and continue to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in governance,” Alcala said.

As regards the accreditation of non-government organizations they had to deal with, Alcala said this was done now along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to avoid suspicions.

He added allegations that his department released funds to non-government organizations (NGOs) identified with PDAF or pork barrel scam suspect, Janet Lim-Napoles, had been clarified.

Alcala admitted that out of seven NGOs they accredited, only one managed to slip their scrutiny and this was more than a year ago.

He said even PDAF whistle-blower Benhur Luy attested to how strict his department had become in releasing funds.

Alcala explained that out of the P347 million funds for NGOs, P44 million of the P100 million plus for Napoles’ NGO was released but this was stopped.

“And the moment it was stopped, we undertook a process to evaluate,” Alcala said, adding they sought the help of the Office of the Solicitor General to run after those responsible in duping the department of public money. – With Jess Diaz


INQUIRER

Department of Agriculture squandered P14B–COA; Another Palace ally, Alcala, in hot water again Marlon Ramos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:46 AM | Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015


AQUINO ALLY: Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ ALEXIS CORPUZ

MANILA, Philippines–Another stalwart of President Aquino’s Liberal Party is in hot water for the alleged misuse of billions in public funds.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), under Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, squandered more than P14.4 billion in 2013 in questionable projects that it implemented despite violations of laws and regulations, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

The COA made public its report on Tuesday, a day after the Sandiganbayan sentenced Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. to up to 10 years in prison for graft.

Umali is the treasurer of the Liberal Party, which is expected to field Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as its presidential candidate in next year’s elections.

Both Alcala and Umali are political supporters of the President, who has made the fight against corruption the centerpiece of his “tuwid na daan” (straight path) governance.

READ MORE...
In its review of the agriculture department’s financial transactions, the COA said the department wasted huge sums on several anomalous programs using the regular funds it received from the national government and allotments from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional the PDAF, a pork barrel of lawmakers, and the DAP that pooled savings of agencies and funded various projects aimed at pump-priming the economy.

Napoles NGOs

Some of the irregularities in the DA that state auditors discovered were the releases of funds to several nongovernment organizations (NGOs), including one set up by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the suspected architect of the P10-billion pork barrel racket.

The COA also found out that some attached agencies of the department, such as the National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC), implemented projects that were not part of its mandate.

It said a number of projects were left incomplete despite the release of allotted funds while others were undertaken without the necessary documents for the proper liquidation of funds.

P7.8B for roads

Of the big-ticket projects it approved, the DA spent the biggest amount for the construction of 1,079.2 kilometers of road networks under its Farm-to-Market Road Development Project (FMRDP).

The COA said the department allocated P7.8 billion for the infrastructure project in 2013, but it was only able to complete 270.4 km worth P1.7 billion after a year.

The audit agency said the remaining P6.1 billion for farm-to-market roads were “either not yet started or implemented,” still ongoing or “no status provided.”

Under the law, the COA said, among the DA’s tasks was to finance infrastructure projects involving the “restoration and rehabilitation of irrigation systems, postharvest facilities and farm-to-market roads aimed at providing better opportunity to [a] majority of the farmers by increasing their income and making food more affordable to the public.”

With the help of local government units and the Department of Public Works and Highways, the agriculture department was mandated to construct rural roads infrastructure “that act or function as access roads to production areas and are not otherwise classified as national, provincial, city or municipal.”

The FMRDP includes the construction of barangay (village) roads, road openings and upgrading or improvement of existing farm-to-market roads.

“The goal of the FMRDP to provide transport facilities for agricultural and fisheries commodities to reduce the production costs of farmers and fisherfolk, and making food affordable to the public was not fully attained,” the COA said.

“As a result of the delayed and non-implementation of the projects, the objective of the program to provide efficient transport facilities to farmer-beneficiaries for their products was not fully attained as of yearend,” it noted.


MANILA STANDARD

Editorial »All smiles Apr. 24, 2015 at 12:01am

We wish it were satire, but it isn’t.

President Benigno Aquino III actually talked about the nuances of his facial expressions in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

The President has drawn flak for appearing to smile in the most inappropriate occasions, such as during the wake of the 44 policemen slain in January in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, and much earlier in his term, while inspecting the bus where eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed by a dismissed policemen after a botched negotiation and rescue operation.

Mr. Aquino explained that he has different smiles for different occasions.

“I have a particular smile when I am so fed up,” he said.

Another would seem to say: “Stop it, you’ve crossed the line.” Yet another, of delight.

What the President suggests however is that his notorious smiles are his way of coping with the absurdities that he encounters as president of the country. He likened his smile to cursing, or shouting to high heavens – something to resort to control his emotions.

READ MORE...
The SCMP piece, written by Raissa Robles, suggests that Mr. Aquino has always had the predisposition to smile away in the face of tragedy. Photos of when he was still a presidential son in 1987 show him smiling while narrating how he almost died and how three of his security escorts were killed during an attempted military takeover.

What we find an absurdity is the idea of a president trying to explain his facial expressions as though these were deliberate decisions he makes. Unless one does not have anything better to do, body language cannot be planned or explained. Its impulsive nature is what betrays the person making it. Body language, facial expressions, and spontaneous speech are all windows into a person’s nature.

These tell us only one thing: a gaping disconnect between the President’s senses and what is actually happening, such that he insists on his own world-view no matter the evidence laid out before him.

This view can fantastically be summarized into a few tenets: his friends can do no wrong, his enemies are always to blame, everything good that happens is because of his righteous administration, and that those who dare criticize him are part of a grand sinister plan to bring him down so the forces of evil can rule.

Alas, when you have a chief executive thinking this way, there is absolutely nothing to smile about—even when he is grinning from ear to ear.


MANILA STANDARD

PNoy reiterates gains, pays no mind to hardships, insults
By Sandy Araneta, Rio N. Araja | Apr. 24, 2015 at 12:01am


300,000 graduates. President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech during the Pagdiriwang ng Pantawid Pamilya Graduates ng 2015 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, where he toasted the more than 300,000 Pantawid Pamilya high school beneficiaries nationwide. Malacañang Photo Bureau

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said Thursday all the hardships and insults that he suffered were worthwhile when he looked upon the graduates of his administration’s massive dole program.

“If I look at all that we have gained, and the concrete proof of this are you, the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps), I really think it was all worth it, all the hardships, insults and the attacks on the presidency,” Aquino told some 11,000 graduating high school students at a ceremony in the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The students were beneficiaries of the 4Ps, a program that gives poor families a monthly stipend for keeping their children in school.

Aquino said seeing the graduates motivated him to double his efforts to improve the lives of Filipinos.

He said his administration has earmarked a total of P232 billion for the program over the years as an investment in the future of the youth.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, which administers the program, said more than 300,000 students who graduated in March were beneficiaries of the program.

READ MORE...
“Your government is focused on fortifying the Pantawid Pamilya so that more Filipinos will have the capacity to hold on to their future. We are also targeting to make our technical-vocational subjects in high school stronger. If a beneficiary decides not to proceed to college, he will not just be a casual worker because he holds the ability to become a higher [paid] employee,” the President said.

“We are molding our youth to enjoy the opportunity of our booming market. Since the beneficiaries are qualified and they have employable skills, they can contribute to the expansion of businesses,” Aquino said.

He said companies would be encouraged to take advantage of the quality of the country’s workforce, which is the key to employment for more Filipinos.

“In this decade, our economy will become stronger, there will be more jobs and the lives of families will be alleviated,” he said. “From whatever angle you may look, is this not a win-win situation?”

Aquino again took a dig at his critics, joking that had he trained under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and got a job as a highly paid mechanic outside the country, he would not have to suffer insults every day from “attention seekers.”

He also took the opportunity to recount how a former Cabinet secretary of the late President Ferdinand Marcos had pariased him as “the best President I’ve experienced” and how he was thanked for taking a job that nobody in his right mind would accept.

Despite the President’s rosy projections, the Ibon Research Foundation said most of the jobs created in 2014 represented low-paying part-time work.

The research group said although the Philippine Statistics Authority reported 1.02 million more Filipinos were employed in 2014, those who worked part-time or less than 40 hours a week accounted for 918,000 or 90 percent of the new jobs.

The number included 605,000 who worked less than 20 hours and 108,000 who were classified “with a job but not at work.”

The increase in employment also included 407,000 self-employed workers and 292,000 who worked without pay.

This meant that 68 percent of the new jobs were in the informal sector or unpaid family work, with only 329,000 doing wage and salary work.

The number of self-employed workers rose to 10.5 million and those who worked without pay stood at 4 million in 2014, Ibon said.

Of the new paid jobs in 2014, the largest part or 48 percent were in construction, trade and accommodation, and food services.

In terms of wages, the research group said that 77 percent of the additional employment was in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, trade, hotel and restaurants and domestic help, whose average daily basic pay was less than the already low national average of P355.89 a day as of April 2014.

Ibon concluded that the Philippines was in its worst jobs crisis in history, and that the high proportion of poor quality work in 2014 confirmed the inability of the economy to create enough stable and meaningful jobs for the labor force.


PHILSTAR FLASHBACK MARCH 2015

Jobless rate drops to 6.6% in January By Jovan Cerda (philstar.com) | Updated March 12, 2015 - 2:44pm


Data for the January 2015 LFS round still excluded Region 8, in order to be comparable with the labor and employment data in the January 2014 LFS round.

MANILA, Philippines - The country's unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent in January, improving from the 7.5 percent posted in the same period last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday.

Data from the January 2015 Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed that there were a total of 1.04 million jobs created from last year, almost four times bigger than the number of jobs created the previous year.

"The labor market got a boost from a stronger growth in all sectors mainly driven by services which grew by 3.9 percent, contributing a 766,000 net employment gain in January 2015,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

He said the number of unemployed went down by 334,000 to 2.6 million during the period, with employment growing faster at 2.8 percent compared to the labor force growth of 1.8 percent. Balisacan added that it was also partly due to the stronger growth of services employment.

PSA noted that four regions, namely, National Capital Region (90.7 percent), CALABARZON (91.4 percent), Ilocos Region (91.5 percent), and Central Luzon (91.5 percent) had employment rates lower than the national figure, which was pegged at 93.4 percent.

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The underemployment rate, which measures the number of persons who work for less than 40 hours in a week, was at 17.5 percent from 19.5 percent a year ago.

"This translates to a reduction in the number of underemployed workers to 6.5 million in January 2015 from about 7.1 million a year ago," the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) noted.

“For this period, the number of underemployed persons contracted among wage and salary workers, as well as self-employed workers, which possibly means greater availability of more remunerative jobs and more profitable ventures,” said Balisacan.

“From employment gains to reductions in unemployment and underemployment, the labor market is becoming robust, and we hope that this will continue and further benefit the poor, especially as the economy grows faster at a higher trajectory,” he added.

Data for the January 2015 LFS round still excluded Region 8, in order to be comparable with the labor and employment data in the January 2014 LFS round.

"The region suffered from devastation by typhoon Yolanda causing labor displacement and thus no survey was conducted in the area last year. An alternative estimate which excludes Leyte only, rather than the whole Region 8, in the January 2015 LFS round shows little effect on the estimate of the national unemployment rate," NEDA noted.


GMA NEWS ONLINE

PNoy, the mechanic? Aquino jokes about alternative job to avoid critics By ANDREO CALONZO,GMA News April 23, 2015 4:27pm


Benigno Aquino III

To avoid his critics, President Benigno Aquino III is thinking of shifting careers from politics to mechanics.

During a speech on Thursday before high school graduates who are beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer program, Aquino shared that a graduate of government’s technical-vocational program is already a mechanic in Australia, earning twice the salary of the President.

Aquino, a car enthusiast, then quipped that he should have trained as a mechanic instead of seeking the presidency so he would no longer have to deal with his “attention-deprived” critics.

“Naisip ko nga po: Siguro, kung nag-training na lang ako para maging mekaniko sa ilalim ng TESDA [Technical Education and Skills Development Authority], maaabot ko rin pala ang sahod niya, at hindi pa ako sasalubungin ng araw-araw na panlalait ng mga kulang sa pansin,” the President said.

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He then said that his anecdote about the TESDA-trained mechanic is proof that Filipinos’ lives are improving under his administration.

“Dahil napakaraming Pilipino ang umaangat ang kalidad ng buhay dahil natutulungan sila ng gobyerno, asahan ninyong magsisimula sa mas maayos na estado ang susunod na salinlahi,” Aquino said.

“Kung mamumuhunan ka sa edukasyon ng Pilipino, asahan mong mapapaunlad niya ang kanyang sarili, pamilya, komunidad, at samakatuwid, ang buong bansa,” he added.

In the same speech, Aquino also boasted of his administration’s accomplishments, which he said makes all the criticisms and insults being hurled towards him worth it.

The President is facing record-low satisfaction and trust ratings following the botched January 25 Mamasapano operation, which left over 60 individuals dead, including 44 police commandos. — RSJ, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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