Former Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima paid tribute to the late President Aquino, describing the leader as a person of principle who reversed the Philippine story from “Asia’s sick man to Asia’s bright star.”
In a two-page condolences note to Aquino, Purisima described the chief executive’s six-year term as proof that “good governance delivers great economics.”
“The turnaround story of the Philippines – from Asia’s sick man to Asia’s bright star – is without doubt one of his greatest legacies,” Purisima said.
Purisima, who served as chief economic manager from 2010 to 2016, helped Aquino in steering the nation’s fastest period of growth in recent history with gross domestic product (GDP) averaging 6.2 percent, the highest in four decades.
During President Aquino’s term, the government’s debt as a percentage of GDP fell to historic lows of 44.8 percent by 2015.
The Philippines also secured its first ever investment grade in 2013 and received 24 positive credit ratings actions.
Moreover, the former leader strongly pushed for revenue reforms, such as the landmark Sin Tax Reform Law of 2012 and the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, during his term.
Purisima recalled that the six-years under Aquino’s leadership were thus the most intensive period of investment the nation had enjoyed in decades.
The Aquino administration ended its tenure with a record low 5.8 percent unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2016.
The nation’s standing in various international rankings likewise improved dramatically between 2010 and 2016.
In the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report, the Philippine jumped 38 notches from 85th to 47th. The country also climbed 39 and 45 places in the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom and the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report.
“For people who remember history by the numbers: these are just some of the irrefutable figures of the tangible gains the great economics of President Aquino’s good governance had delivered,” Purisima said.
Meanwhile, the former finance chief said he owed President Aquino a debt of gratitude for the opportunity of a lifetime for his six-years of service.
“I share the profound grief of the Filipino people on the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III. My deepest condolences to the Aquino family, and to the wider family of public servants who served with honor under his presidency,” he said.
“His presidency empowered all of us Filipinos to believe that we can do and be better, and that the Filipino is indeed worth fighting for each and every day,” he added.
On Thursday morning, President Aquino died at 61.
“His sudden departure – no doubt too soon – leaves us with little time to reflect on his place in history. I am certain there will be a fuller reckoning of his outsized impact on our nation’s trajectory,” Purisima said.