Six years ago, the son of two famous freedom icons was swept into power via landslide victory on a promise to fight corruption and poverty. Fast-forward to his final days in office, the reluctant leader’s presidency has been a roller coaster ride marked by triumphs and tribulations.
Although he has lost some weight and hair and earned a few more enemies, the President has managed to turn the tide in the country once weighed down by corruption and erratic growth and oversee a more effective, transparent, and inclusive government.
“I have no cause for fear, or worry. I will be leaving behind a Philippines renowned for its economic resilience and for its commitment to inclusivity,” Aquino said in a recent speech, sharing his state of mind as he winds down his six-year term.
“I will be leaving behind a citizenry ready to work with able, trustworthy partners…I will be leaving my office as someone who remained true to his Bosses: the Filipino people,” said Aquino who has remained popular despite enduring a number of crises challenging his leadership.
Aquino’s 72 months in office, however, were not all smooth sailing as crisis after crisis rocked his presidency. His presidential mettle was put to test in dealing with challenges, from a territorial spat with China, to the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda, to the Mamasapano debacle.
Although the job has been difficult and frustrating at times, the President still considers it an extraordinary privilege to have had this job. “It has been a distinct honor to have worked with you, and to have served my countrymen,” said Aquino.
Shedding the title of Sick Man of Asia, the Philippines has emerged as Asia’s Bright Spot or Asia’s New Tiger following its economic resurgence under Aquino’s watch.
The domestic economy has posted a 6.2 percent average growth in six years, the fastest growth in four decades. The country is also considered the fastest growing economy in the region following the 6.9-percent growth recorded in the first quarter of the year.
Aquino, however, was constantly criticized for the lingering wealth gap among Filipinos. He argued that the government has also been able to increase investments in social welfare, education, and infrastructure without adding taxes, except for the increase in excise tax on sin products.
At least 4.4 million households benefit from the Conditional Cash Transfer program, giving them additional resources to get by and send their children to school. (GENALYN D. KABILING)