Saturday, April 11, 2015


The headlong plunge of the rating of President Aquino would matter a lot if he were running for president in May 2016. He would not have a Chinaman’s chance to win. He   can never win based on how his people “despise” him, according to the most recent survey of Social Weather Station. 

I cannot find the usefulness of including the name of the President in periodic political surveys. I would rather examine his performance in the past five years. But who are we going to compare the performance with? PNoy, as President, is solely
responsible for everything that happens in this country, particularly the growth (or slowdown) of the economy. 

Has he done well? There are indications that he did. Strangely, he did not do much to make it happen. 

Let us look around us and see how the economy fares under his watch. There are very telling signs he did extremely well. Indicators are many. First is the regime of low interest rates the economy has been enjoying. 

Under which president did the country ever have the present gross international reserves of around $80 billion?   PNoy had  nothing to do with it. The dollars were brought in by the sweat and blood of around 10 million Filipinos — mostly wetbacks — slaving it out in nearly all parts of the world to feed their families back home and swell dollar reserves in the process.

The banks have lent more than P1 trillion to property developers. More apartment buildings are under construction. More are on the drawing board. I take this to mean the market for apartments, called condominiums in this country, has not been fully filled. 

Builders are in the business in the belief the market has not been fully satisfied. This means people have incomes to buy   apartments. They would not do so if the money they spend to buy them is food denied to  , their children or their parents. 

We see growth here and in many other sectors. People have incomes to buy apartments for themselves. Or they believe buying them to rent out is not a bad business proposition. 

The unemployment rate remains high. The economy cannot grow fast enough to give jobs to the unemployed. This situation is bound to get worse before it gets better. 

No matter how hard the leadership tries to create more jobs, the number of able-bodied men and women looking for work will increase instead of being reduced. The only reason for this is bloated population of 100 million people living in 300,000 square meters of land a good part of which is mountains that have lost the forest cover due to indiscriminate felling of trees. 

For the first time, banks and other lending institutions are seeking out the small man to give him loans. As we repeatedly explain here, the lasting solution to the unemployment problem is giving the jobless a chance to be a small entrepreneur. 

The sense here is in the reality that the country is populated by a huge mass of consumers who have very little income, if they have any at all. As many of them as possible should be producers or contributors to growth instead of being net
consumers competing with food produced by other people. 

There is very little because there are too many mouths to feed. I guess if the population had stayed at half of what it is today, fewer people would be jobless. Literacy would be higher. Men and women of school age would be able to enroll in college courses and get jobs after graduation. 

I cannot figure out what President Aquino did or continues to do to make the economy grow. Without meaning to insult his person, President Aquino “is a do-nothing president” as far as efforts to make the economy grow is concerned. 

That may be the trick. Do nothing or don’t do much. Leave business alone. It knows best. 

We should be scared stiff if the fall of the President’s rating, in the minds of 1,200 respondents of the Social Weather Station survey, reflects the people’s dissatisfaction and disappointment over his economic performance. But that is not the case. 

The sharp fall in the rating was brought about by the findings of boards of inquiry that looked into the massacre of 44 policemen in Mindanao that President Aquino broke the chain of command. Politicians want him to apologize. I do not suspect the President will apologize. 

All satisfaction and popularity surveys are done to measure political popularity, not to determine whether or not the President did well for his people. I think he did reasonably well compared to the Arroyo regime. 

The President and his spokesperson should not waste time worrying about the plunge of the President’s rating. The President is not half a political animal as his friends and enemies all  are.

In five long years that he has been president, he has not been tainted with corruption. That is a source of pride for all of us. 

I would not suspect the speed of growth, or slowdown of the economy makes the President unacceptable to the people.

There could be a lesson we might learn from surveys. The survey firms notably the SWS and Pulse Asia should ask their respondents how President Aquino compares with his predecessors in the area of helping make the economy grow. 

The test of the President’s acceptability and popularity among his people is not political wiliness or wisdom. 

The wonder of wonders, I must repeat, is that the President has not been doing much in directing the course of the economy. He leaves business alone. Business grows that way. Partisan politics is not a friend of business. Most of the time politics is a bitter enemy of growth.

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