MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said on Friday, May 15, that the Philippines has enough good policies to support growth but is sorely lacking in terms of implementation because of the quality of its leaders.
Binay made the statement at the 36th National Conference of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, where he again criticized the administration he serves.
Binay said that like companies that recruit top executives “based on career track and professional record,” the Cabinet, as the official family of the executive branch must be composed of high-caliber administrators and proven implementers “regardless of political loyalties and affiliations.”
“We badly need leaders with proven administrative and managerial skills to ensure the delivery of basic services,” he said.
Binay added the government needs to ensure that policies are implemented properly and on time. He stressed the need for program monitoring systems that are effective as they are transparent.
“We need focused individuals who are willing to make small sacrifices to get their job done. And we need leaders who have the political will, the track record, and competence to make things happen,” said Binay, the only one, so far, to declare his bid for the presidency in 2016.
He cited his experience as Makati mayor, where he turned poor residents into productive citizens just by giving them the “instruments of growth” – basic social services – making them the “envy of residents of other cities in Metro Manila.”
In his lengthy speech, Binay painted a bleak picture of the current Philippine economic landscape, contrary to the rosy image conveyed by President Benigno Aquino III in his speeches before businessmen and at home and abroad, and in his meetings with overseas Filipino communities.
The Vice President said that the ASEAN integration would be fully realized by end-2015, offering “either opportunities or heartaches, depending on how ready we can be.”
“The opportunities stem from being part of a dynamic growth region; the downside is that among the economies of ASEAN, we are perceived to be the laggard. This general impression is regardless of growth indicators such as investment grade of rating agencies and higher GNP in the last few years,” he said.
Binay made the assessment a week after Aquino trumpeted the country’s transformation from an economic laggard in the region into the “Darling of Asia” under his watch, during a working visit to the United States. (READ: Aquino: The Philippines is now the ‘Darling of Asia’)
On May 7, Aquino apprised Filipinos in Chicago, Illinois, of his administration’s efforts to grow the economy and curb corruption while pursuing its good governance policy, which he believes must be continued by the next administration. He also cited improvements in the country’s competitiveness and transparency ranking to support his claim.
‘Nation of mendicants’
While the Aquino administration flaunts its “inclusive growth” policy that translates to increased business confidence in the country, Binay said the country’s growth path has failed to make a dent on poverty.
“The not-so-good news is that our poverty incidence in the first half of 2014 was still a dismal 25.8 %, even worse than the 24.6% rate we registered in the first half of the previous year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. One out of 4 Filipinos is living below the poverty line. What went wrong?”
Binay added: “Why weren’t we able to reduce our poverty rate despite our growth? We can’t blame Typhoon Yolanda for the increase, because PSA deliberately excluded Leyte from its survey sampling last year.”
He said the result is “the ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor.”
“If we don’t arrest this downward drift, we may become a nation of mendicants before we know it,” Binay said.
‘Least attractive investment site’
The Vice President said organizations like ECOP and the Joint Foreign Chambers have raised their concerns over the country’s investment competitiveness and have consistently contributed suggestions to improve the country’s investment climate.
“Another not-so-good news is that foreign investors regard us as the least attractive investment destination among the ASEAN 6 nations: we are ranked even lower than Vietnam,” he said, again in contrast to the administration’s position.
He said that this is because there are existing policies hamper the entry of investments. “We need to rethink these policies and weed them out soon if necessary, within constitutional bounds.”
“Several adjustments, foremost of which are our infrastructure requirements and the labor force’s skills, have to be done to make us competitive upon full ASEAN Integration,” Binay added.
He also stressed the urgent need to create more jobs for the youth and tap their energy for productive activities.
It was not the first time for Binay to question the Aquino administration’s policies. (READ: VP Binay: Where is inclusive growth?)
Early in his speech, the Vice President blasted the Court of Appeals’ (CA) freeze order on his bank accounts, and those of his relatives and alleged dummies. (READ: Binay ‘dummies’ closing accounts since Senate probe)
He said the report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is part of “a game of exaggeration” and warned against its “chilling effect” on the business community. (READ: Binay on bank accounts: ‘I even beat Bill Gates!’) – Rappler.com