Monday, 21 December 2009

PGMA’s legacy: A stable economy, free elections

With just six months left in her presidency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to be remembered as having brought economic stability—elevating the economy to first world status—and a free, fair, and open elections.

This was the gist of the President’s interview with Romeo Bernardo and Margarita Gonzales for New York-based think-tank Global Source Partners. Dated Dec. 15, the special report read by movers and shakers in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world described the President as “the Philippines’ economist-in-chief…who not only has a doctorate in economics… but also the second longest-serving head of state, one who had governed through a very difficult environment for the country.”

“I pledge to see the election through to its proper end and work cooperatively with the incoming administration so that they can hit the ground running,” the President said.

“Our nation is entering a crucial election year at a time when our economy is just starting to recover from the global recession. Now more than ever, it is important for me to focus on ensuring free, fair and open elections that reflect the will of the people,” she said.

The report said the economy during her nine-year presidency has been a “mixed bag of triumphs and disappointments—a stable macroeconomic environment against deterioration in competitiveness and governance indicators, improvement in credit standing because of fiscal consolidation that still left ratings lower than where she found them, and solid gross domestic product (GDP) growth despite a global crisis that relied heavily on remittances sent home by overseas Filipino workers, numbering a fourth of the country’s workforce.”

The report noted her ability to survive the political arena marked by noisy critics, whom the President described as “men and institutions who seek only to further their own agenda. That is why I have avoided the debate and instead channeled my energy into lifting the poor and bringing economic prosperity to the people of the Philippines through my economic reform agenda.”

President Arroyo said she never believed in popularity as an indicator of whether someone would make a good leader. “The Philippines needs a reformer, one who can make tough decisions needed to transform the country and the economy so it can continue its way to becoming a first world country.”

On what she thinks is needed to raise the potential growth rate of the country to be at par with its East Asian neighbors, the President named three factors: a) improving rural employment and incomes through agricultural productivity; b) rooting out corruption, especially in the economic and fiscal governance areas; and c) instituting more effective and sustained population management programs that remain consistent with the core values of a dominant Catholic nation.

Amid speculations of a possible failure of elections—from former close aides—the President said she is “confident in the power of the democracy of our nation, in the ability of the newly-automated polling system to deliver accurate results that will enable fair election, and in the people of the Philippines and their passion to come together to ensure a successful election next year.”

“We must not forget that the success of an election in a democratic country su

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