A year ago today, the Filipino people mourned the passing of Benigno S. Aquino III, popularly known as PNoy, the 15th President of the Philippines. Tributes poured from all over the world and the country. On his first death anniversary, it is well to assess his achievements vis-à-vis what he himself set out to do at his inauguration in 2010.
He framed his mandate as a social contract with the people: “I accept your marching orders to transform our government from one that is self-serving to one that works for the welfare of the nation. This mandate is the social contract… which you accepted on election day: ‘If no one is corrupt, no one will be poor.’ That is no mere slogan for posters — it is the defining principle that will serve as the foundation of our administration. Our foremost duty is to lift the nation from poverty through honest and effective governance.”
During his presidency, the country attained investment grade rating, a testament to good economic management. The country attained GDP growth averaging 6.2 percent, while holding inflation down to an average of 2.7 percent. Government’s general gross debt as a percentage of GDP was brought down to 42 percent. These figures were provided by the IMF World Economic Outlook database in April 2021. Installed energy capacity was at 25.5 gigawatts, while electricity generation was at 105.8 terrawatt-hours, both reckoned in terms of a three-year gap by the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020 — and these were all-time high figures in the post-EDSA era.
Dr. Raul Fabella of the UP School of Economics noted that during PNoy’s watch “poverty incidence had declined from 26.3 percent to 21.6 percent, an almost five percent difference in six years, a remarkable achievement in our neck of the woods and even elsewhere.” This represents a big leap in social inclusion, as an estimated 7.7 million individuals were lifted out of poverty through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a conditional cash transfer program that became a budgetary priority. PhilHealth expanded the coverage of its universal health care program from 47 million to 93 million beneficiaries. A backlog of 65 million classrooms — and similar deficits in desks and textbooks — were cleared. The AFP modernization program was infused with an allocation of ₱75 billion, highlighted by the acquisition for the Philippine Navy of two Hamilton ships for patrolling the West Philippine Sea, and 12 FA-50 fighter jets for the Philippine Air Force.
As he prepared to leave office in 2016, he delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, Ateneo de Manila University. He said: “Kung tutuusin, matatayog na pangarap lamang ang mga ito noon. Pero ika nga, we dared to dream. At dahil diyan, puwede naming tingnan sa mata ang kahit sino at sabihing: Sinagad namin ang pagkakataong ibinigay sa amin para maibigay ang nararapat sa mas nakararami, imbes na sa iilan lang.” (These were initially thought to be lofty aspirations, but we dared to dream. We could look anyone in the eye and say: We maximized the opportunities given to us to achieve the greatest good for majority of our people, instead of only to a few.)
Such is the legacy of the late President Benigno S. Aquino III to the Filipino nation.