President Benigno Aquino III used his speech during the opening of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO summit to once again attack his political opponents while touting what he claims as his achievements during his five and a half years in office.
With the theme “APEC’s Inclusive Growth Imperative,” the event was held at the Makati Shangri-La Monday afternoon. Business leaders from Asia as well as North and South American countries were in attendance. The full transcript can be accessed here.
Aquino began his remarks by describing the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution as ‘the root of the healthy Philippine democracy of today.’ “After fourteen years of Martial Law, our people were successful in lifting my mother into the Presidency to lead the rebuilding of our nation,” he said.
The president then trained his guns on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose nine-year administration he described as the ‘lost decade.’ ” Income growth was low, and inequality was at incredibly high levels, in terms of access to employment and social development opportunities, particularly in health, education, and social protection. All this, despite relatively consistent economic growth,” Aquino said.
“If ten years ago, if my predecessor had done what we’re doing now, I can only imagine where the Philippines would be,” Aquino boasted. The president went on to enumerate his accomplishments since taking office in the area of budgeting allocation and his crusade against corruption.
“We took a budgeting system compromised by leakages and corruption, and instituted in its place zero-based budgeting. Through this system, we reviewed all the items in the budget to find out what was achieving its purpose and what wasn’t. For those that weren’t, we either changed the program or removed it completely, to make absolutely certain that every peso of taxpayer money is spent with the people foremost in our minds,” he said.
At this point, Aquino shared to the attendees his government’s campaign to curb corruption, which he described as the most complex and crippling problem confronting the Philippines when he took over.
“Now, a former President is under hospital arrest after being charged with plunder. The former Chief Justice who had no compunctions about being selective about implementing the law was removed through impeachment, after it was revealed that he violated our laws by failing to declare over 98 percent of his assets as mandated by our Constitution,” he said, referring to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Well-known Senators have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a scam of massive proportions. We have likewise filed 581 cases against tax evaders and smugglers, who owe the Filipino people billions of pesos in taxes. And might I point out that these only cover a fraction of our anti-corruption efforts,” he went on.
“You have seen the transformation of our country—from being known as the Sick Man of Asia to becoming Asia’s New Darling. You have seen how our economy has become one of the fastest growing in the world, and how we have quickly risen in global measures of competitiveness,” Aquino said toward the end of his speech, noting that a lot of previously apathetic Filipinos have now become ‘a little too demanding’ from the government.