PNoy boasts of economic growth
His Easter message coincides with political realignments linked to mid-term elections

MANILA, Philippines – With 13 months left before local elections, President Benigno Aquino III boasted of his administration’s achievements in his Easter Sunday message, drawing parallelisms between the resurrection of Christ and the country’s gradual economic recovery.

In the last elections, the nation agreed to put an end to abuse of power and the suffering of its people, the President said in Filipino.

Mula nang tayo na ang nanungkulan, parami nang parami ang naniniwalang talagang nagbabago na ang Pilipinas: mga OFW na nais nang bumalik sa ating bayan upang dito magtaguyod ng magandang buhay kasama ang pamilya; mga negosyanteng naglalagak ng puhunan upang magtayo dito ng negosyong nanganganak ng trabaho; at higit sa lahat, mga Pilipinong muling naging ganado sa pagkamit ng kanilang ambisyon dito sa ating bayan,” he added.

(“Ever since I assumed office, more and more people believed that the country is truly changing: OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] who want to come home and have a better life with their families; businessmen investing to create jobs; and most of all, Filipinos eager again to achieve their dreams here at home.”)

Aquino’s optimism and positive outlook comes amid successful efforts by his administration to keep under hospital arrest his nemesis Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, accused of electoral sabotage in 2007. She had reportedly sought to leave the country and seek political asylum but was blocked by an arrest warrant issued by a Pasay regional trial court.

In earlier interviews, he also boasted of international credit ratings upgrades and the rise of the Philippine stock market to record highs. His critics have however charged with him “Noynoying,” or lacking the urgency to act on pressing national problems – prompting even the international press to take notice

President Aquino said in his Easter message that doing the right thing, charity, and genuine concern for others are key to progress. These are traits of Christ as well, he said.

These are the same principles that brought back confidence in the country. He took the opportunity to again boast of the 22% of PEZA investments that came in during his 21-month stay in office. He likewise pointed to the repeated record highs registered in the Philippine Stock Exchange index as manifestations of this trust.

This also explains why his government’s conditional cash transfer program has benefited its target 3-million families by the month of March. “Nagawa natin ito dahil mayroon kayong gobyernong nakatutok at handang magsakripisyo para sa kapakanan ng taumbayan.” (We were able to do this because we have a government that is focused and ready to sacrifice for the good of the people.)

With an eye to 2013 elections 

Aquino needs to trumpet these achievements as he faces an election year next year. While the polls will involve the election of senatorial and local officials, it will be deemed a judgment on his own administration as well.

As early as now, with about 13 months to go before elections in May 2013, political alliances and coalitions are already being formed. Veteran politicians and even pollsters know that midway through a president’s term, political power and influence could be diminished tremendously, and could adversely affect his ability to shape policy and introduce reforms.

Vice President Jejomar Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan had recently linked up with former President Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino to form the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), which includes allies of former president Arroyo in its senatorial slate. This development is expected to have an impact on political decisions of Malacañang.

The incarceration of Arroyo had practically become a personal agenda of Aquino, just as the impeachment and possible conviction of her alleged protector, Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, has.

Reacting to foreseeable political horsetrading and stalemates, Malacañang gave assurances on Saturday that opposing bets that will be fielded by Aquino and Binay in the 2013 elections would not stand in the way of governance.

Though belonging to different political parties to begin with (Aquino is the chairman of the ruling Liberal Party), the working relationship between the two top leaders is considered vital to the efficient running of state affairs.

Political realignments are also foreseeable as the 2013 elections approach. Among others, at the center of political negotiations will be voting on the conviction of Corona. While currently on a break, the trial will resume on May 7.

Corona’s message 

Even Corona jumped into the Easter bandwagon, sending out his own Easter message.

“The persecution of Christ is a microcosm of the modern travails our people go through in a society where the temple of justice is shaken by tectonic plates of political expediency, and in a government where leaders take away the rights of others to give in to the demands of the mob. The sufferings caused by such injustice by complicity, trial by publicity and conviction by popular opinion seem like dark thunderstorm clouds,” Corona said, taking a swipe at Aquino.

He added however, “But in the end, it will still be between us and our Creator, just like the time of the Son of Man when He called on His Heavenly Father.”

Aquino’s pledge

The President, for his part, promised that his administration will work even harder to more quickly attain change that the country has longed for.

“Hindi ito matutupad sa lamangan, o sa maya’t-mayang unahan, o sa pagtutok sa pansariling kapakanan….Sa araw-araw nating pagharap sa kani-kaniyang mga sangandaan, huwag sana tayong lumihis sa kabutihan; lagi nating gawin ang tama upang tunay na masalamin ng kilos ang ating pananampalataya. Kung ipagpapatuloy po natin ang ating mabuting nasimulan, magpapamana tayo sa susunod na salinlahi ng isang Pilipinas na tunay na maka-Diyos, makatao, at makatarungan. Samahan ninyo ako: sabay-sabay tayong tumungo sa di-hamak na mas magandang buhay para sa mga Pilipino,” he said.

(This will not be achieved by putting one over the other, getting ahead every so often, or even pursuing self-interest….May we remain true to the path of goodness as we come face to face with different crossroads every day; may we always do what is right for our actions to truly reflect our faith. If we continue the good that we have started, the next generation will inherit from us a Philippines that is truly faithful to God, humane, and just. Join me: let us together journey towards a truly better life for all Filipinos.)

A month after the end of the Holy Week, the political show in the Senate resumes, and heightened political maneuvering is expected to go with it as well. –


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