PNoy:  Legacy of good governance and sustained growth

Published June 25, 2021, 12:15 AM

by Manila Bulletin

President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III heeded the people’s call and served as their leader with integrity and distinction following the footsteps of his great parents, President Corazon Aquino and Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.

After three terms as Tarlac congressman and three years as senator, he was thrust into the national limelight following the death of his mother in August 2009 – just in time for him to accept a draft to run for President.  He was elected as the 15th President of the Republic with what was then a record number of 15,208,678 votes, or 42.08 percent, with a lead of nearly six million over the second placer.

He embarked upon a journey of good governance to fulfill his social contract with the Filipino people.  He translated his campaign promise of “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap” into a legacy of good governance and inclusive growth. The country achieved an average GDP growth of 6.2 percent for six years – the highest in four decades – and attained an investment grade rating for the first time.

From being called “the sick man of Asia,” the country was hailed as “Asia’s rising star.”

During his watch, the government expanded the coverage of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or conditional cash transfer program that has since been institutionalized into a long-term social protection program for about 4.6 million Filipino families.  Thousands of kilometers of national roads were repaved; connectivity infrastructures were built.  These were achieved through record-high tax collection and without imposing new taxes.  Medical care was expanded greatly to cover up to 90 percent of Filipinos.

He initiated the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) infrastructure program under which three projects were completed: the Muntinlupa-Cavite expressway, the construction of 9,296 classrooms (part of the total of more than 65,000 constructed during his term); and the automatic fare collection system, or Beep card.  In December 2016, or six months after he left office, the NAIA expressway was completed.

He also boosted the AFP modernization program with the acquisition of fighter aircraft, Hamilton-class cutters and a sealift vessel for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

He asserted Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea and was a leading advocate for the enactment of an ASEAN Code of Conduct to uphold freedom of navigation.  The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague upheld the Philippines’ claim and ruled there was no legal basis for China’s nine-dash line theory.

As President, he devoted himself to his tasks diligently and with humility.  At his inaugural address, he made the phrases “Kayo ang Boss Ko” and “Walang Wang Wang” memorable – and these became hallmarks of his tenure.

As he presided over the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting in 2015, he said: “We are proud of our growth not just for growth’s sake, but because the Philippines has set aside trickle down economics and chosen to invest in our people so that our growth is felt by each and every citizen.”