“Kung meron man tayong malaking kaaway na tinalo, walang iba kundi conjured the demon of the foreign debt. We exorcised it.”
– President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
In her 9th Sona
One can indeed tabulate or put in a matrix the more empirical data presented in PGMA’s 9th or nth Sona. Or, let us run them down in simplified form, to wit:
1. lower public debt to GDP ratio from 78% in 2000 to 55% in 2008
2. cut in half debt of government corporations from 15% to 7%
3. foreign debt from 73% to 32%
4. IRA allocated P40 billion
5. Pantawid Pamilya benefited 700,000 beneficiaries in cash handouts
6. CARP benefited 700,000 indigenous people in un-numbered millions of hectares of land and land ownerships to 1 million beneficiaries
7. Micro Finance benefited 7 million entrepreneurs in P165 billion loans
8. NFA rice sold at P18.25 per kilo compared to P30 in the market; palay bought at P17 from only P11
9. farm-to-market roads in un-numbered thousands of kilometers
10. cut in half prices in 16 or more drugs
11. health insurance covered 86% of population
12. Emergency Employment Program benefited 100,000 beneficiaries
13. Pabahay at Palupa benefited 1 million families
14. Pantawid Kuryente benefited 7 million small households in P500 rebate
15. built 95,000 classrooms; 60,000 new teachers; teacher training for 100,000 English teachers at an appropriation of P1.5 billion
16. provided college and post-graduate education for 600,000 scholars
17. pardon given to 700 OFWs in Saudi through GMA’s intercession
18. OFWs in Kuwait were commuted death sentences through GMA
19. net foreign direct investments multiplied 15 times
20. OFWs more than doubled foreign exchange reserves to grow to $3 billion
21. uninterrupted growth of 33 quarters; more than doubled from $76 billion to $186 billion; average GDP growth from 2001 to the 1st quarter of 2009 is highest in 43 years
22. number of poor reduced by 2 million
23. GNP per capita rose from a Third World $967 to $2,000
24. 8 million jobs created at the average rate of 1 million a year
This has become a grocery list of real or imagined accomplishments although it is rather nebulous to suppose that the $16 billion in OFW remittance could have been occasioned by the improved social and economic environment obtaining in the Philippines. Similarly, it could not be made to account on the uncharacteristic resiliency demonstrated by the BPO industry which is at best simply culture bound, not induced by any positive economic indicator.
We have yet to find the figures on how indeed net foreign direct investments could have multiplied 15 times from out of GMA’s 51 foreign trips in some 30 countries around the world. Fact is, the reduction in the number of the poorest amongst our brothers by 2 million only means obliquely that there is more work to do to reach out to an even much larger population.
The simple fact that P40 billion was injected into the IRA to benefit all local government units only reflects that Skinner’s pecking pigeons psycho-therapy now earns her ‘political dividends’ in case she decides to cross 2010. It is not that easy to believe that foreign debt would have gone down from 73% to 32%. In the same vein, there is reasonable doubt to believe whether indeed GNP per capita rose from a Third World $967 to $2,000.
Demonstrably, the GMA government has exercised state intervention in business with the price control policy on selected drugs. When the government has compelled the refund of P500 to low-end electricity consumers, it is not as if it is welcomed by Meralco.
And after the EVAT which serves as a reliable catch-basin for all programs requiring state subsidies, here might come legislative measures to effect sin taxes in sin-labelled products as if it were not the larger population of poor citizens who buy these stuff. Well, a whole host of criticisms can be hailed against PGMA but it did not seem to console cynics, heretics, and prophets that on purpose, she did not categorically say what they want to hear from her.
Incidentally, these stated ‘facts and figures’ could be made as good units of reference in coming up with some criteria in the choice of the upcoming president, whoever she or he may be. Maybe, with all these in sight, it is high time to do some Kepner for those who please.
Thus the question remains, is it going to be the 9th and final Sona of PGMA or it can go nth? In the final analysis, it might have been GMA’s own glass house that has dropped to the ground since her ‘counter-affidavit’ against critics can simply boomerang. – (Second of 2 parts).