Tag Archives: pres. noynoy aquino

Birthday greetings for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, 65!

Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is celebrating her 65th birthday this April 5 (Maundy Thursday). In a statement released last Wednesday, Arroyo called on Filipinos to be “united in the pursuit of long lasting happiness and prosperity.”

Meanwhile, certain prominent personalities have sent her birthday greetings. Since Pasay Regional Trial Court Judge Jesus Mupas barred the ex-leader from having access to the Internet and her mobile phone while under detention, the messages were sent via snail mail. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Just for laughs!

10. Jolina Magdangal – Madame Gloria, Jolens here. I miss taping “The Working President”!

Jolina Magdangal hosted "The Working President" in NBN-4 during the Arroyo presidency

9. Gilbert Teodoro – I’m still hurt by the betrayal of people I trusted. Read: Villarroyo.

8. Renato Corona – We may be facing legal problems right now, but it ain’t the end of the world!

7. Attys. Estelito Mendoza, Ferdinand Topacio, and Jose Flaminiano – Madame GMA, we won’t let you down!

Jose Flaminiano, one of Joseph Estrada's former lawyers, is now defending GMA

6. Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos – Hindi po gaya ninyo na may panregalong pajero, panalangin lamang po ang aking maihahandog sa inyo.

5. Raissa Robles – It’s time to send erring high state officials to real jails! Regards on your sex life, by the way.

Raissa Robles, veteran investigative journalist (photo taken from her Facebook page)

4. Leila De Lima – Mrs. Arroyo, you’re now just a detainee. That’s all.

Leila de Lima, current DOJ secretary and potential 2013 senatorial candidate

3. Jose Miguel Arroyo – Mi amore! I miss having “it” three times a day!

"We have sex three times a day." - Mike Arroyo (Philippine Star, 2002)

2. Noynoy Aquino – May you have many more birthdays to come – behind bars.

1. Kris Aquino: Hi! Krissy here. Inalisan mo kasi ng security blanket ang Mom ko dati. Galit na galit tuloy sayo si Kuya Noy. Ahahahahaha!

Kris Aquino claimed in 2009 that the Arroyo admin wanted to pullout the security blanket for her mom. Credits:

The Aquino government has given the former President some love for her birthday – for real. You can see this on

The Aquino government is giving the former president a shout out for her 65th birthday!



February 25, 2012 special working holiday pay rules

The nation will mark the 26th anniversary of the world-famous 1986 People Power Revolution on February 25, a Saturday. According to President Benigno Aquino III’s Proclamation 295 for 2011, the event “restored and ushered political, economic, and social reforms in the country” and that it “serves as an inspiration to Filipinos everywhere as a nation and as a people.”

Because of the success of the EDSA Revolution, Corazon Aquino was named as Time Magazine's Woman of the Year for 1986

Is February 25, 2012 a special non-working holiday? The answer is no, as per Proclamation 295. The anniversary of People Power I is listed as a special holiday for all SCHOOLS only (emphasis mine). As a master’s student in UP Diliman with classes every Saturday, this is good news for me – but not for those required to work on Saturdays. Download here Proclamation 295 from President Benigno Aquino III.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment, employees who will report for work during special working days are only to his/her basic rate. DOLE explained that “no premium pay is required since work performed on said days (e.g. February 25) is considered work (done during) ordinary working days. Thanks but no thanks, PNoy! 🙂

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Noynoy Aquino–Grace Lee love affair – top ten reactions!

Even while his allies remain hell bent in seeking to have Chief Justice Renato Corona impeached from his position, President Benigno Aquino has made a startling revelation a few days ago – he is in a relationship once again, this time with South Korean-born TV host/DJ Grace Lee. The announcement has elicited various reactions from people associated with them.

Noynoy Aquino and Grace Lee (credits:

10. Liz Uy – “Well, Noy. If you do get married, you can still have me as your stylist. But wait, are you inviting me?”

9. Baby James “Bimby” Aquino-Yap – “Tito Noy, is she your girlfriend?”

8. Lhar Santiago and Pia Guanio – “Grace! Gusto namin maging updated sa showbiz happenings, este sa love life mo!”

7. Korina Sanchez – “Kung ako na lang sana ang iyong minahal … e di sana first lady na ako…”

6. Kris Aquino – “Gosh, Kuya Noy! This time Korean naman ang bet mo. I like her na talaga! Ahahaha!”

5. Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz – “I stand by what I said last year. The President is already too old for marriage.”

4. James Yap – “Grace, akala ko ikaw ay akin.”

3. Barbara Milano – “Noy, kumusta na? Natatandaan mo pa ba ako? Ten years ago, you were mine!”

2. Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo – “Pareng Noy, sana sa dambana na tuloy nyo! Tingnan mo kami ni Shalani.” *smiles sarcastically*

Shalani Soledad and Roman Romulo during their wedding (credits:

1. Shalani Soledad – “Noy, kung kailan ako kinasal, saka ka biglang nagka-girlfriend? Ano yan? Rebound mode?”

{UPDATE}: Kris Aquino made another statement regarding her brother’s lovelife: “You know, Kuya Noy, free na rin ako to date sa wakas. My marriage with James is already annulled!”

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Grace Lee, interviewed on GMA 7’s “24 Oras,” on how she and P-Noy (President Benigno Aquino III) got together: “Basta nangyari ang nangyari.”

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Chinese daily calls for action vs Philippines over its ties with US

Must read: Make Philippines pay for its balancing act

– Global Times, January 29, 2012

While Filipinos have remained riveted to the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, interesting events are unfolding in the aspect of Philippine foreign affairs. Two weeks ago, four United States senators visited the Philippines “to discuss key issues in US-Philippine relations.”

The delegation was led by Arizona Senator John McCain – the Republican rival of current President Barack Obama in the 2008 elections. He was joined by Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut), Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire), and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Lieberman, now an independent, was Al Gore’s running mate in his failed 2000 presidential bid. He is retiring once his term ends on January 2013. Ayotte, meanwhile, has been mentioned by 2012 Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney as a potential pick for vice president.  Whitehouse, a Democrat, is seeking reelection this November.

Sources within the Department of Foreign Affairs told The Manila Times that discussions centered on terror threats, human trafficking, peace talks, and China’s rising role in the region and the world.  Details about the agreement on the Philippines’ bid to acquire a squadron of F-16 fighter jets were also tackled. The group met with DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario and President Benigno Aquino III. Aside from the Philippines, the four senators also visited Thailand, Vietnam, and more importantly, Myanmar.

In a Twitter post made after wrapping up the Philippine leg of their four-country tour, Lieberman called their visit “a dawn of a new era” in the 60-year mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and US. He called on his home government to continue supporting the Philippine military “especially in maritime domain awareness and territorial defense.”

Joe Lieberman: US must continue supporting the Philippine military "especially in maritime domain awareness and territorial defense"

Speaking to Voice of America’s Simone Orendain, Lieberman reiterated that the tensions over the Spratlys Islands will be reconciled if America maintains and expands its presence in the West Philippine Sea. He noted the recent Philippine acquisition of American-made military ships as a sign of continues cooperation between the two parties.

For his part, McCain said the United States should “emphasize that (it) will do whatever (it) needs to do in order to protect the principle of freedom of navigation, particularly in the West Philippine Sea.” McCain’s non-usage of South China Sea is noticeable.

Ayotte, in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine’s Josh Rogin, said that leaders in Southeast Asia regard the United States as a counterbalance to China. Last week, American and Filipino officials agreed to have more joint military exercises as well as a greater presence of American troops of the country – short of reestablishing the US bases.

These developments have not gone unnoticed by the Chinese media. Global Times, a Beijing-based daily whose parent company is owned by the Communist Party of China, published last January 29 calls on the Chinese government to implement sanctions against the Philippines. This is to underscore their point that “siding with the US is not a good choice.”

China's Global Times newspaper: "Make Philippines pay for balancing act"

The editorial expounded: “Well-measured sanctions against the Philippines will make it ponder the choice of losing a friend such as China and being a vain partner with the US.” One way China can do this, the paper pointed out, is by “cooling its business ties with the Philippines.”

It argued that the East Asian country can also use its economic leverage against other member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.  And as a parting shot to the Philippine government, the editorial wrote: “(China) will not accept a small country in the region creating military tensions by playing a balancing strategy. A price should be paid for violating this principle.”

US TV network ABC News has published an Associated Press report on this on its website, but the Philippine media, undoubtedly very much preoccupied with their coverage of the Corona impeachment trial, has remained largely oblivious to this developing story despite its implications. The challenge now for the Aquino administration is this: how it can effectively assert its territorial sovereignty over the disputed islands without constantly begging for Uncle Sam’s help (which is tantamount to further infuriating China).

Was Edcel Lagman junked for supporting the Aquino-backed RH bill?

In a brief but strongly-worded press statement released last Thursday afternoon, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman announced his resignation as House Minority Leader to give way to Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez. He described Suarez as “former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s anointed one.” Lagman also resigned from Lakas-CMD, the ruling party during Arroyo’s term.

The solon from Albay said he will be an independent fiscalizer of the Aquino administration and an advocate for what he describes as a “progressive and alternative agenda.” After being allied with the now-detained ex leader for years, Lagman now declares that he “cannot continue serving a political aggrupation that “follow blindly the importuning of former President Arroyo” instead of recognizing “a competent, militant, and responsible leadership.”

Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay will be explaining his decision in a privilege speech this January 24

Lagman must have felt like Julius Caesar during the Ides of March. In a privilege speech after Arroyo was placed under hospital arrest for electoral sabotage in connection to the 2007 senatorial polls, he slammed the Aquino government for having “no single, credible, and competent evidence presented … to substantiate its fears and speculations that the former President is a flight risk.”

He also described Arroyo’s detention as illegal since the Supreme Court has not yet decided on the legality of the joint COMELEC-DOJ fact-finding body that filed the charges against the latter. A week after that speech, Lagman went as far as mentioning legendary Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in justifying a house arrest for Arroyo. If Lagman has been consistent in defending Arroyo before, he is also steadfast in attacking the present dispensation.

Lagman has criticized President Benigno Aquino III since the honeymoon period of his presidency. Two days after the infamous Manila hostage drama where eight Hong Kong nationals were killed, Lagman called on Aquino to fire three of his cabinet men, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo as well as spokespersons Ricky Carandang and Sonny Coloma for their “palpable incompetence” in handling the crisis.

In June last year, he led the minority lawmakers in attacking Aquino’s close buddies (labeled as “kakampi, kaklase, kabarilan”) for alleged cronyism. As the President marked his first year as in power, Lagman declared that 15 million Filipinos made a “mistake” in choosing Aquino. “Shibboleths and promises during the presidential campaign concealed and overshadowed his inadequacies,” Lagman said. And when 188 of his fellow House solons signed the Aquino-backed resolution seeking Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment, Lagman described the move as “the mother of all blackmails.”

But, despite his attacks on Aquino on essentially all fronts, they stood side-by-side on one controversial issue – the Reproductive Health bill. Last year, Aquino included the RH bill in his list of priority measures. When the Palace introduced clarificatory amendments to the RH bill, Lagman immediately pointed out that the measure wasn’t “watered down” since its salient features had been retained. During the 7th Annual Population and Development Media Awards, Lagman reiterated that “the voice of the people is the voice of God,” referring to surveys suggesting that a majority of Filipinos support the RH bill.

My mom, me, and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman during the 7th PopDev Media Awards

Lagman’s unflinching support for the Aquino-backed RH bill might have played a role in driving a wedge between him and Arroyo.  In an interview with veteran journalist Raissa Robles, Lagman explained that his support for the bill will not wither just because of Aquino’s efforts to prosecute Arroyo, insisting that his RH advocacy and the issue surrounding Arroyo’s incarceration are not related.

Arroyo has not supported the bill when she was president, and as a lawmaker from Pampanga, she co-authored the “Protection of the Unborn Child Act of 2010,” considered an anti-RH measure.  Other Arroyo allies like Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Bacolod City Rep. Anthony Golez,  and Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles (son of ex Speaker Prospero Nograles) are also opposed to the bill. Based on this policy issue alone, is it not surprising for Lagman to say that he is “not part of Arroyo’s inner circle”?

I have contributed this article to Click here to read the post.

“It’s the economy, student!” Gloria Arroyo tells Noynoy Aquino

The president’s approach to fighting corruption is to punish the sins of the past rather than try to prevent crimes in future. Mr. Aquino has proposed few reforms to the system… Recent history gives little reason to think his approach will succeed.”

from the article “Progress or Payback?” The Economist, May 5, 2011

Even under detention for charges of electoral sabotage and plunder, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains steadfast in defending her administration’s economic accomplishments. In a lengthy article titled “It’s The Economy, Student!” Arroyo slammed President Benigno Aquino III for focusing too much in prosecuting her at the expense of the Philippine economy. The paper was read during a Manila Hotel forum last January 12 by Dr. Gonzalo Jurado, one of Arroyo’s graduate school professors in UP Diliman where she received her PhD in economics.

Then-President Gloria Arroyo and Dr. Gonzalo Jurado during the launching of the book "Beat the Odds" (credits:

She faulted Aquino, who was her student at the Ateneo de Manila University, for the “vacuum of leadership, vision, energy, and execution in managing our economic affairs.” She also charged Aquino for his “obsessive pursuit of political warfare.” The article title is derived from “It’s the economy, stupid,” the famous 1992 campaign slogan of ex United States President Bill Clinton. Clinton and Arroyo both attended Georgetown University during the 1960s. Below is the full text of Arroyo’s seven-page paper. Credits to Mr. Mike Acebedo Lopez for letting me repost this here.

IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUDENT! by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, PhD

[I wrote this article on and off in my spare time during my house recuperation, re-hospitalization and hospital detention from October to December 2011.]

The economy I turned over

Countless studies have shown that rapid increases in average incomes reduce poverty. Policy research, notes economist Stephan Klasen, has shown that “poverty reduction will be fastest in countries where average income growth is highest.”

When I stepped down from the Presidency in June 2010, I was able to turn over to the next Administration a new Philippines with a 7.9 percent growth rate. That growth rate capped 38 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth despite escalating global oil and food prices, two world recessions, Central and West Asian wars, mega-storms and virulent global epidemics.

Our country had just weathered with flying colors the worst planet-wide economic downturn since the Great Depression of 1930. As two-thirds of the world’s economies contracted, we were one of the few that managed positive growth.

If you look around you in our cities as you drive by the office towers that have changed the skyline, if you look around you in our provinces as you drive over the roads, bridges and RORO ports where we made massive investments, that is the face of change that occurred during my administration.
By the time I left the Presidency, nearly nine out of 10 Filipinos had access to health insurance, more than 100,000 new classrooms had been built, 9 million jobs had been created.

We built roads and bridges, ports and airports, irrigation and education facilities where they were sorely needed. To millions of the poor, we provided free or subsidized rice, discounted fuel and electricity, or conditional cash transfers and we advanced land reform for farmers and indigenous communities.

No amount of black propaganda can erase the tangible improvements enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of families liberated from want during my decade at the helm of the nation. But these accomplishments have simply been part of the continuum of history. The gains I achieved were built on the efforts of previous leaders. Each successive government must build on the successes and progress of the previous ones: advance the programs that work, leave behind those that don’t.

I am confident that I left this nation much stronger than when I came into office. When I stepped down, I called on everyone to unite behind our new leaders. I was optimistic and I was hopeful about our future.

However, the evidence is mounting that my optimism was misplaced. Our growth in the 3rd quarter of 2011 was only 3.2 percent, well below all the forecasts that had already been successively downgraded. The momentum inherited by President Aquino from my administration is slowing down, and despite his initial brief honeymoon period, he has simply not replaced my legacy with new ideas and actions of his own.

The politics of division

In the last year and a half, I have noted with sadness the increasing vacuum of leadership, vision, energy and execution in managing our economic affairs. The gains achieved by previous administrations – mine included – are being squandered in an obsessive pursuit of political warfare meant to blacken the past and conceal the dark corners of the present dispensation. Rather than building on our nation’s achievements, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good. And the Filipino people are paying for this obsession–in slumping growth, under-achieving government, escalating crime and conflict, and the excesses of a presidential clique that enjoys fancy cars and gun culture.

Vilification covering up the vacuum of vision is the latest manifestation of the weak state that our generation of Filipinos has inherited. The symptoms of this weak state are a large gap between rich and poor — a gap that has been exploited for political ends — and a political system based on patronage and, ultimately, corruption to support that patronage. Recently, politics has seen the use of black propaganda and character assassination as tools of the trade. The operative word in all of this is “politics” – too much politics.

I know that the President has to be a politician, like everybody else in our elected leadership, whether Administration or Opposition, and we must all co-exist within this system. But what really matters is what kind of politics we espouse, not how much. The enemy to beat is ourselves: when we spread division rather than unity; when we put ego above country and sensationalism above rationality; when we make everyday politics replace long-term vision in our country’s hour of need.

Everyday we draw nearer to what may be our country’s hour of greatest need, because an increasingly ominous global environment is aggravating our self-inflicted weakness. The leadership’s palpable deficiencies in vision and execution are hurting our economy at a time when the rest of the world faces the ever more real threat of a double-dip recession, one that we may have escaped the first time during my term, but might not be able to avoid again.

Our dream of growth

In order to avoid such a grim outcome, we must pursue the economic growth of our country as the permanent solution to our age-old problems of poverty and even corruption. Every postwar Administration to my recollection has sought to advance the economic growth of our country as a matter of highest priority. Only by enlarging the economic pie can there be more and bigger slices for everyone to enjoy.

It is in poverty that we find the material roots of the problem of corruption – because the political system based on patronage–and ultimately, corruption to support patronage–is made possible only by the large gap between the rich and the poor. This will persist until and unless we enlarge the economic pie.

Unfortunately, the present Administration has chosen to turn the problem upside down, anchoring their entire development strategy on one simplistic slogan: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” If there is no corruption, there is no poverty—this is a proposition that also tells us that the undeniable persistence of poverty to this day therefore means the continuation of corruption under this Administration.

The Economist commented earlier that: “…The President’s approach to fighting corruption…is to punish the sins of the past rather than try to prevent crime in the future. Mr. Aquino has proposed few reforms to the system.”
Meanwhile, most analysts are downgrading their growth forecasts for this year and the next. The Dutch bank ING cited the government’s “under-spending in the name of good governance” as the reason for lowering its growth forecasts.

International magazine The Economist on Aquino's anti-corruption drive: "Progress or payback?"

Now more than ever, as the rest of the world faces renewed threats of financial and even sovereign defaults as well as economic recession, it is high time for us to return to the commitment to growth that has been the primary objective of every administration in the past.

Sunshine industries

Returning to this mainstream commitment to growth enables the country to tap the opportunities of the 21st century. In line with this, during my time we promoted fast-growing industries where high-value jobs are most plentiful.

One of them is information and communication technology or ICT, particularly the outsourcing of knowledge and business processes. My Administration developed the call center industry almost from scratch: in June 2010 there were half a million call center and BPO workers, from less than 5,000 when I took office. It was mainly for them that we built our fifth, virtual super- region: the so-called “cyber corridor”, the nationwide backbone for our call centers and BPO industry which rely on constant advances in IT and the essentially zero cost of additional bandwidth.

These youthful digital pioneers deserve government’s continuing support – by upgrading instead of downgrading and politicizing CICT, the government agency that oversees our digital infrastructure; by continuing to fund related voc-tech training programs; by wooing instead of alienating foreign companies seeking to set up shop here. As countries like China and Korea rapidly make their own way up the value-added ladder of outsourcing, we must work harder to stay ahead of them.

I had coffee with some call center agents one Labor Day when I was President. Lyn, a new college graduate, told me, “Now I don’t have to leave the country in order for me to help my family.” I was touched. With the structural reforms we implemented to promote ICT and BPOs, we not only found jobs but kept families intact.

We created appealing employment opportunities by focusing on the development of priority sectors, such as BPO. We need to create more wealth and keep people working here at home. That is why I remained so stubbornly focused on the economy. Many times during my tenure I expressed how much I longed for the day when going abroad for a job is a career option, not the only choice, for a Filipino worker. My economic plans were designed to allow the Philippines to break out of the boom and bust cycle of an economy dependent on global markets for agricultural commodities, and pursue consistent and sustainable growth anchored on a large domestic market and the resiliency of Filipino workers at home and abroad.

Pres. Noynoy Aquino giving his 2011 State of the Nation Address

My successor flattered me by parroting what I said, but tried to frustrate me by distorting what I did. Instead of acknowledging his debt to his predecessor, he accused me of doing the opposite of what I had achieved, by describing my government as “…[one] that treats its people as an export commodity and a means to earn foreign exchange”. Then he promised to install what I had already established and which he appears bent on dismantling: “… a government that creates jobs at home, so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity; and when its citizens do choose to become OFWs, their welfare and protection will still be the government’s priority.”

Indeed, it’s so easy to claim achievements that have already been accomplished by others, and take credit for what is there when the one who did the work has gone. Just make sure she is forgotten, or, if remembered, vilified.

The President’s words were brave indeed—and yet his government has consistently failed to back them up: by failing to rescue our countrymen from China’s death row, or promptly evacuate them from national disaster in Japan, or comprehensively secure them from political unrest in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. Now we are facing a new challenge of “Saudization”, as the government of our largest OFW market, Saudi Arabia, sets out to implement a massive program of replacing OFW’s with its own nationals, starting next year.

Will this government have the will and the skill to properly navigate such uncertain waters? Protecting our overseas workers will urgently require contingency planning and continuous backdoor diplomacy with their host governments, while creating alternative jobs at home for them will require—again—the kind of commitment to economic expansion that I cannot over- emphasize.


Infrastructure strengthens our competitiveness and enables us to attract new levels of job- creating foreign direct investment. Infrastructure investment not only drives economic growth, but also creates a more efficient, competitive economy, by improving productivity and lowering the costs of doing business.

I am alarmed that the pace of infrastructure build-out has slowed dramatically under this Administration, with some projects even being cancelled outright for no good reason—such as the earlier-noted flood control projects in Central Luzon—and our country being sued by investors. At a time when we should be wooing their money, we are inviting litigation from them instead. This kind of flip-flopping may help explain the tepid investor response to the Administration’s flagship public-private partnership (PPP) program, where only one project has been awarded after all of eighteen months.

I was heartened to hear the President announce recently his willingness to resume government infrastructure spending next year. However, one cannot help but notice the timing, so close to the upcoming 2013 election campaign.

Land productivity

In my first State of the Nation Address in 2001, I said that the first component of our national agenda should be an economic philosophy of free enterprise appropriate to the twenty-first century, while the second should be a modernized agricultural sector founded on social equity.
Within a couple of months after taking office in January 2001, I personally conducted Cabinet meetings to implement the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1995, which had never been implemented for lack of funds.

After several discussions with selected department secretaries as well as heads of government banks, we uncovered budget items and available credit to channel more than P20 billion a year to provide fertilizers, irrigation and infrastructure, extension services, more loans, dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and seeds and other genetic materials to our farmers and fisherfolk. This was perhaps the biggest reason for the decline in poverty that was posted during my first few years in office.

The current Administration originally fixated on the single goal of achieving self-sufficiency in rice by 2013. I too wanted to achieve rice self-sufficiency, but I knew the odds were tough. Since the Spanish period we’ve been importing rice. While we may know how to grow rice well, topography doesn’t always cooperate. Nature did not gift us with a mighty Mekong River like Thailand and Vietnam, with their vast and naturally fertile river delta plains. Nature instead put our islands ahead of our neighbors in the path of typhoons from the Pacific. So historically we’ve had to import 10% of our rice, and so I took care to keep our goals for agriculture wide- ranging and diversified.

Recently the Administration seems to have retreated from the original objective of rice self- sufficiency by 2013. In its place, do they have an alternative vision in mind for our all-important agricultural sector?

The real challenge in this century is broader. The real task at hand is to make the finite land that we have planted to agriculture ever more productive, through agricultural modernization founded on social equity.

Higher productivity from farm lands is critical for our development. By making more food available at lower prices especially to our poor, we are effectively bringing down the required level of real wages in our country—already among the highest in the world, according to UP Professor Manny Esguerra—and helping to make our manufacturing industries globally competitive again.

As for social equity, being the daughter of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, the father of land reform in our country, I am gratified by the evaluation of one of my favorite Economics teachers, UP Professor Gonzalo Jurado: “The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, to the extent that it is a land distribution program, can now be described as having almost completely succeeded in attaining its goal. [CARP] should now be a developmental program aiming explicitly to raise farm productivity…so that the country as a whole will benefit from the tenurial rearrangement.”

And of course it is the landowners who must set the example of compliance with the law in order to allow the rest of us to move forward—such as the Arroyos in my husband’s family, who voluntarily submitted long ago to land reform even without an order from the Supreme Court to do the right thing.

Our children

For Filipinos, family is everything and the future of our children is sacred. That is why I invested so much time and effort in rejuvenating our education system. I met with teachers and other educators to get a first-hand look at the improvements that we need to make. I listened to what these fine public servants had to say, and in response to their advice, I increased the country’s total budget for education by nearly four times: from Ps 6.6 Billion in 2000 to Ps 24.3 Billion in 2010 when I stepped down. Those funds went into the following critical areas of educational spending:

We built 100,000 new classrooms, more than the three previous administrations combined.

We supported one in every two private high school students – a total of 1.2M students – with the GASTPE financial voucher program.

In 2009 alone, we doubled TESDA’s budget.

For the long term, key recommendations were also submitted by the educational task force I created in 2007–comprising representatives from the major educational and private sector bodies under the leadership of former Ateneo president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres–in order to fashion a new educational roadmap with special attention to the needs of the youth and our growing knowledge-driven industries.

The task force report is the only document I personally handed to President Aquino, when we were together in the car being driven to his inauguration last year. Unfortunately that report seems to have landed in his circular file, making our schoolchildren yet another casualty of the ongoing vilification being waged against me.

I’m now saddened by news reports that the administration has been under-funding state colleges and universities without offering alternatives to the more than ten percent of our student population who attend these institutions.

Moreover, to my knowledge, any major educational reforms implemented by this administration have been limited only to adding another two years to basic education. I do not know how sound this is, or how widely supported among education professionals.

The poor

I often said during my Administration that we need to continue translating our economic and fiscal achievements into real benefits for the people. We must continue to invest in what I like to call the three “E’s” of the Economy, Environment and Education. These include such pro-poor programs as enhancing access to healthcare, food, housing and education, as well as job creation. They are central to lifting our nation up.

Over the past decade—fuelled by the windfall from our mid-term fiscal reforms—I initiated or expanded a raft of social programs for the poor. We increased PhilHealth insurance coverage, set up nearly 16,000 Botika ng Barangay outlets to deliver affordable medicines to the poor, ordered the drug companies by law to reduce their prices, energized 98.9 percent of our barangays, provided water service to 70 percent of previously waterless municipalities. And of course, we also introduced “Four P’s”, the highly successful conditional cash transfer program aimed at encouraging positive behavior among the poor in exchange for cash assistance.

But perhaps more than our social services, what the poor benefited the most from was the low inflation and the low unemployment we made possible through effective management of the economy. Despite the global food and oil price spikes of 2008, domestic inflation slowly declined on my watch, bottoming out at 3.9 percent by the time I stepped down in June 2010. And unemployment, which had peaked at nearly 14 percent under President Estrada, was averaging only around 7.5 percent toward the end of my term in office.

The problems of the poor are serious indeed, and they deserve serious thinking and serious solutions—not empty slogans, not the bloating of the cash transfer program for patently political ends, and certainly not the inability of this administration to keep the price of rice affordable or create more jobs by continuing the growth agenda. The moment that agenda is compromised, it is the poor who will feel first and the hardest the dire consequences.

The environment

No nation can aspire to become modern without protecting its environment.

On my watch as President, the country’s forest cover increased from 5.39 million hectares in 2001 to 7.17 million hectares by 2009. And we registered 40 projects abroad to reduce greenhouse gases—the sixth largest number of such projects among all countries.

I also signed a large number of laws to codify environmental protection—including new legislation to promote Ecological Solid Waste Management, Wildlife Resource Conservation and Protection, Clean Water, and Biofuels. And I tried to set the example for our countrymen by dedicating every Friday to environmental concerns.

I created the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change in 2007, which was later enhanced into the Climate Change Commission under the Climate Change Act of 2009. Under the law, the Chief Executive chairs this Commission, just one of only a few bodies headed by the highest official of the land. And yet President Aquino to date has not convened the Commission even once. The country can ill afford his lack of interest in this matter, now that climate change is causing calamities at the most unexpected times and places, such as the December typhoon floods in Cagayan de Oro and my home town of Iligan City.

Presidential drudgery

As my father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal, used to say: “The Presidency of the Philippines is a tough and killing job that demands a sense of sacrifice.” At the end of the day, it comes down to plain hard work. A president must work harder than everyone else. And no matter what he thinks he was elected to do — even if that includes running after alleged offenders in the past — he must not neglect the bread and butter issues that preoccupy most of our people most of the time: keeping prices down, creating more jobs, providing basic services, securing the peace, pursuing the high economic growth that is the only way to vault our country into the ranks of developed economies.

Good management begins with planning ahead, not pointing fingers and blaming others after the fact. It means spelling out your vision quickly and clearly so your team grasps their mission at once and immediately starts to execute it.

Unfortunately, planning and preparation seem to be absent from this administration, whether it’s for taking OFWs out of harm’s way on short notice, or evacuating flood victims—or rescuing foreign tourists held hostage by a crazed gunman.

By comparison to that incident, not a single life was ever lost in all the coup attempts against me that I had to put down by force. There is no secret behind this: it against any crisis, implemented with hands-on leadership from the very top.
Once the plan is in place, the leader must proceed to hands-on execution. There is no room for absenteeism, nor for coming to work late and leaving early. There is simply not enough that can be done if the Cabinet meets only four times in an entire year.

The last major task for good management is to exercise control without fear or favor. This was the principle I was following when I brought AFP controller General Garcia up on charges in 2005, and cancelled the NBN/ZTE deal in 2007.

These days—alas—there is absolutely no fear in the administration when they’re running after me or my allies. But there is definitely a lot of favor involved when they excuse— and even defends—their friends even from misdeeds committed in full view of the public.

This is not the kind of ethics that should be practiced by one who claims to have a genuine reform agenda. Neither will it attract capital from investors who desire regularity and a level playing field. Nor do our people deserve to be consigned to economic stagnation, government lethargy, and nobody-home leadership.

Neither the President nor anyone else can truly expect to govern the next five years with nothing but a sorry mix of vilification, periodically recycled promises of action followed by lethargy, backed up by few if any results, and presumptuously encouraging gossip about one’s love life in which no one can possibly be interested. Given the electoral mandate that he enjoyed in 2010— the same size as mine in 2004, as predicted by every survey organization at that time—our people deserve more, and better, from him.

January 23, 2012 Chinese New Year Holiday Pay Rules

Filipinos would be marking the first holiday of 2012 in two weeks. For the first time in Philippine history, Chinese New Year, which falls on January 23, will be observed as a special non-working holiday. This is by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 295, signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa November 24 of last year. Since January 23 is a Monday, this effectively gives students and most Filipino employees a three-day weekend.

January 23, 2012 falls on a Monday - effectively giving Filipinos a three-day weekend

Proclamation 295 notes that the Chinese New Year, also referred to as Spring Festival, is “one of the most revered and festive events” celebrated not only in China but also in the Philippines “by both Chinese Filipinos and ordinary Filipinos.” The decree seeks to “manifest the Filipinos’ solidarity with the Chinese-Filipino community.” Download President Benigno Aquino III’s Proclamation 295 here.

President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino III is a fifth generation descendant of Chinese immigrant Xu Yuhuan (or Jose Cojuangco). He was a trader in Fujian, China before sailing to the Philippines in 1850s. The late Philippine leader Corazon Aquino made international headlines in 1988 when she became the first head of state to embark on a ‘roots-tracing’ trip to her ancestral hometown, the village of Hongjian in southeastern China. Read more about this from

Corazon Aquino visited the Cojuangco's ancestral hometown in Hongjian, China in 1988

Being just a special non-working holiday, Filipino employees are not entitled to a double pay if they opt to report for work on that day.  According to rules set by the Department of Labor and Employment, they will instead get their regular hourly rate plus an additional of 30% for the first eight hours of work.

Working beyond eight hours on the said day would entitle them to an additional pay of 30%. Legally speaking, those who will choose not to work on January 23 will not get any pay “unless there is a favorable company policy…granting payment of wages on special days even if unworked.” This commonly depends on an employee’s status (contractual/probationary/non-permanent workers are usually not paid on special non-working days).

Lastly, employees who will work on January 23 despite it being their scheduled rest day must get their entire regular pay plus an additional of 50% for the first eight hours of service rendered. They will get 150% more if they work beyond eight hours. Advanced Kung Hei Fat Choi, everyone!

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