P-Noy urged to focus on fight vs corruption, creation of jobs and alleviation of poverty

Published by rudy Date posted on May 20, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino needs to deliver on his campaign promises, focusing on fighting graft and corruption, creating job opportunities and reducing poverty in the Philippines, if he wants to maintain his still high popularity rating, according to the latest issue of Spark, an online newsletter prepared by advisory and research consultancy group Stratbase Research Institute.

Stratbase noted that while the president enjoyed very high trust and popularity ratings at the beginning of his term, there was a decline in those ratings during his first nine months in office, based on the results of separate surveys conducted by poll groups Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia Survey.

“The new administration of PNoy has inherited problems that have remained unresolved for decades. Unlike the miraculous but divisive revolutionary government of his mother, he was overwhelmingly elected in the most credible national elections the country has ever seen,” Stratbase said.

“PNoy for now has the credibility to unite the country but should also be mindful to set the momentum to fast-track his agenda and rely heavily on his promise of better governance,” it added.

The think tank has recently made public its latest issue of Spark, which assessed the first nine months of the president in office. Spark is an online newsletter that covers socio-political and economic analysis of timely issues that affect the direction of the economy and political landscape governing the Philippines.

It noted the results of Pulse Asia survey showing a decline in PNoy’s performance rating from 79 percent in October 2010 to 74 percent in March. His trust rating also dropped to 75 percent from 80 percent in the same period.

Stratbase said President Aquino had the highest trust rating given to any Philippine president at the beginning of his term, with nine out of 10 Filipinos expressing their trust in his administration, based on the results of an SWS survey. The first year of the president in office also saw a remarkable economic growth.

The Philippines’ gross domestic product grew by 7.3 percent year-on-year in 2010, owing to election spending, foreign trade and the expansion of the industrial and services sectors. “The continuous growth of the Philippine economy mirrors the renewed confidence of the people in the Aquino administration to lead the country into the straight path,” Stratbase said.

Despite the record-high economic growth last year, millions remained unemployed and poor. The National Statistics Office (NSO) placed the unemployment and underemployment rates as of October 2010 at 7.1 percent and 19.6 percent, respectively. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), for its part, said about 26.5 percent of the Philippine population or about 23.1 million were living below the poverty threshold as of 2009.

“PNoy must now face the burden of delivering on what some will say are old sounding campaign promises that still focus on the nagging problems of the poor, tangled with governance issues that seem to be as old as the Republic,” it said.

Stratbase Prof. Victor “Dindo” Manhit explained that Mr. Aquino inherited an economy already perceived to be very corrupt and less competitive. “This twin situation, though not unique, retards growth by casting dark shadows over the ability of the government to wiggle out of inefficiency problems. Most of these are due to the high cost of doing business and inherent risks of investing in the Philippines,” it said.

Among the key challenges and issues the president must confront, according to Stratbase, include jobs creation and livelihood, high cost of medicines and healthcare, affordable housing programs, high prices of basic commodities, cost of quality education and peace negotiations with different rebel groups.

To address the problems, Manhit asked the administration to “place emphasis on strategic thinking and management by the government to achieve the desired goals and anticipate and prevent problems rather than reacting by way of crisis management when they occur.”

It also called for emphasis on “partnership in governance” by promoting unity and leading all sectors toward a common, sustainable and feasible national agenda. The government, it added, should mobilize the full potential of the private sector, rather than relying exclusively on public sector resources.

To show its commitment to transparency and accountability, the government should “identify, indict and arrest big time smugglers and tax evaders in the country,” according to Stratbase. It also asked the government to depoliticize appointments in top government positions.

Stratbase advised the government to consider restructuring the bureaucracy. “Redundant structures in the government should be abolished, subsumed or consolidated with other entities. Agency functions must be clearly delineated to minimize overlaps and duplication.”

The think tank also recommended that the government professionalize the civil service, promote culture of “quality citizen care” in public organizations, and strengthen local government units.

Stratbase provides clients with snippets of the economic and political developments in the country on a quarterly basis. Both are aimed at providing a macro description of the fundamental indicators of economic and political trends in the Philippines.

On a quarterly basis, Stratbase issues Spark, an online newsletter that covers socio-political and economic analysis of timely issues that affect the direction of the economy and political landscape governing the Philippines. –(The Philippine Star)

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