What are the greatest achievements of Benigno Aquino III
Aquino's political legacy
"I fought a good fight, I finished the run, I kept the faith" - the Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III ended his last, more than two-hour speech on the State of the Union with a quote from the Bible The main focus was on the achievements of his government in the areas of economy, labor market policy, education, health and infrastructure, accompanied by numerous colorful videos with messages of hope to the population.
Outside, however, the mood was not quite so rosy: while the President was delivering his thoughtful words to Congress, numerous protests by militant groups took place across the country. In the capital, the image of the president was burned by demonstrators, and anti-Aquino slogans were shouted. "The voices of the poor must be heard - despite the political mud battles between different factions. The State of the Union Address is our opportunity to address the fundamental issues that the Aquino government has not addressed," said Renato Reyes, Secretary General of the Bayan left alliance in front of an angry crowd in Manila.
Aquino's social contract
Since taking office in 2010, Aquino's poll numbers have fallen dramatically - numerous corruption scandals and the prevailing nepotism have shaken the government and the trust of many Filipinos several times.
In 2013 tens of thousands of Filippinos demonstrated against corruption. Little has changed since then.
For the past eleven months, Aquino has faced the challenge of delivering on his 2010 election promises. The heart of his government program was the so-called "Social Contract with the Filipino People", an ambitious 16-point agenda aimed at social and structural change. The major themes in this document included corruption, the economy, poverty, the environment, justice, and peace and order.
"Noynoy" owed its 2010 election victory primarily to an anti-corruption campaign. "Aquino has given Philippine politics a moral dimension," emphasizes Richard Heydarian, professor of political science at De La Salle University in Manila. "Hardly any government leader in the recent past has invested so much political capital in fighting corruption within the executive, legislative and judicial branches," the political scientist continued.
"Has corruption really decreased under Aquino?" Asks radio presenter and columnist Bobby Nalzaro. "No. Corruption is still widespread in state institutions - Noynoy's administration is only after the opposition. However, there is no investigation against his allies who play with the same evil tricks," continued Nalzaro.
Aquinos is also criticized for his lack of willingness to act in order to uncover the largest mass murder of journalists to date in Maguindanao almost six years ago. After taking office, President Aquino had promised an end to impunity and extrajudicial executions.
From the "sick man of Asia" to the "rising tiger state"?
Aquino emphasized several times that the Philippines had now turned from the "sick man of Asia" into a "rising tiger state". It is true that the Philippines have shown a rate of economic growth, particularly in the past three years, that even sets them apart from other ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Nevertheless, the strong economic growth hardly contributes to the solution of the biggest social problem: Poverty in the island state is still severe. Around 30 percent of the population is considered poor.
The Philippines' economy has been growing vigorously for years
Political scientist Heydarian emphasizes: "Much of our country's wealth has been swallowed up by the elite, while poverty, hunger and unemployment have remained the same." Without a renewal of the ailing infrastructure and far-reaching reforms, especially in the agricultural sector and in the manufacturing industry, the "integrative growth" prophesied by the Aquino government will remain a dream.
Peace: domestic and foreign policy
Aquino also briefly addressed the peace treaty with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It is necessary to pass the core of the peace treaty, the so-called "Bangsamoro Basic Law" (BBL), in order to achieve lasting peace in the southern Philippine province of Mindanao. However, the BBL draft law must first pass through both chambers of the legislature, the Congress and the Senate, before a referendum takes place on its adoption. With only eleven months remaining in office for Aquino and the approaching presidential election, it remains uncertain whether the Philippine Congress can pass a law that is both constitutional and ensures lasting peace in Mindanao.
Again and again, like here in December 2014, there are attacks with a terrorist background
In terms of foreign policy, Aquino also mentioned the island dispute with China in the South China Sea: China's economic and military power can only be counteracted "through reason and patriotism". Unity is the only way to protect the interests of the Philippines, said Aquino in front of the audience of diplomats and dignitaries - including China's ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua. Next November, China's President Xi and Aquino will meet at the APEC conference in Manila.
Opinions divided on Aquino's legacy
Political scientist Ranjit Rye of the University of the Philippines believes that Aquino may have done more for the country than his predecessor Gloria Arroyo. Nevertheless: "Especially when it comes to fighting poverty, Aquino fell short of expectations and was often characterized by weak leadership," said Rye. Political commentator Elizabeth Angsioco puts it into perspective: "It takes a great miracle and systemic change to fix only the two greatest plagues of our society - corruption and poverty. No president can eradicate that in just six years."
For Richard Heydarian, stable institutions and efficient government structures are particularly important in order to initiate reform processes and lasting change - not personalities. "Good governance will only be achieved if Aquino's reforms and political legacy are continued by his successors."
On social media, Filippinos praise Aquino's remark that he was not perfect but did his best. Overall, the response on the Internet has been benevolent.
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