BOSTON, Massachusetts (Mabuhay) – The Philippines has changed a lot and has created more opportunities for its people because of the reform measures undertaken by the government, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Sunday in a speech before students of Boston College and the Filipino-American community here.
Among the major changes that have taken place in the Philippines are the country’s big strides in the economic front, the peace in Mindanao, and government initiatives to fight corruption, he said.
The President recalled that from 2006 to 2009, average growth was at 4.3 percent, saying this was largely consumer-driven, fueled by the remittances of overseas workers who had lost hope in the motherland.
Since taking office in 2010, President Aquino said, his administration has worked to foster sustainability by rebalancing the economy towards investments.
“Since 2010, our economy has been growing at an average of 6.3 percent, and last year, we posted an economic growth of 7.2 percent, making us one of the fastest growing economies in our part of the world,” he told his audience.
The World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report showed that the Philippines jumped from 85th place in 2010 to 52nd in 2014, the biggest improvement by any country in that particular time frame.
The three major credit ratings agencies, namely Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, also upgraded the country for the first time to investment grade in 2013, he said, adding that these upgrades reduced the cost of borrowing and reinforced confidence among investors to put their money in the Philippines.
On its anti-corruption drive, the President said the former chief Justice of the Supreme Court was impeached and is facing charges in regular courts.
A former president and three incumbent senators are also in detention, all of them facing charges of plunder, he added.
Focusing on social protection, he said, is also a major thrust of the government.
The President said that 4.1 million poor Filipino families have committed to vaccinating their children, keeping them in school, and sending pregnant mothers for regular check-ups under the expanded Conditional Cash Transfer program.
Job generation initiatives by the government have also started to bear fruit, the Chief Executive said.
He said that 1.65 million more Filipinos hold jobs in April 2014, compared to April 2013. From the first semester of 2012 to the same period in 2013, 2.5 million Filipinos have risen above the poverty line.
“And we are not satisfied; the government continues to work to ensure that citizens not only surpass the poverty line and find gainful employment, but also are shielded from once again falling below it again,” the President said.
After several decades, permanent peace is already evident in Mindanao, he told the Boston College community.
The Executive Branch of the government, he said, has submitted the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress, after the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed in March this year.
“Our achievements thus far are merely the beginning of a new era of transformation,” he said, noting that the country is at the threshold of sustained and positive change.
Current reforms have shifted the Filipino mindset, from indifference and despair to having feelings of hope for Filipinos to dream again, he said. (MNS)