Presidential Communications Group Secretary Ricky Carandang talks at the forum reviewing the  first 100 days of the Aquino  administration. Photo by Isabela A. MartinezHOW WAS the President’s “honeymoon” period?

Experts remained optimistic on the prospects of the Aquino administration after its first 100 days, saying the President had the “right timing” and enough goodwill to implement economic and political reforms despite blunders such as the Quirino Granstand hostage crisis.

In a forum at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex last October 12, Dean Peter Lee U of the University of Asia and the Pacific School of Economics said President Benigno Aquino III came at a “very nice point” in economic history, inheriting an economy that is on the way up.

“But this is a ‘double-edged sword’ for [Aquino] because he must be able to maintain or improve it at the end of his term,” U said.

Gross domestic product grew by 7.9 percent in the first half, he said, noting that the resurgence of Philippine economy was primarily external amid strong demand for Philippine exports, remittances from overseas workers, and a bullish stock market driven by foreign investors, U added.

U said Aquino should work on the country’s poor infrastructure, energy shortage, and the lack of foreign investments. He also called for anti-trust policies to ensure a level playing field for business.

In an interview with Varsitarian, Ricky Carandang, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning secretary, said the country needs to attract more foreign investments.

“Ang hinihihingi ng mga negosyante para mag-invest sila dito ay malinaw na patakaran,ang regulasyon ay `di pabago-bago, at maganda `yung infrastructure,” Carandang said.

The government wants to bring in investors particularly for infrastructure and energy, he added.

“There are people who are proposing different kinds of investment in the country. Malaking bagay `yung kukuha tayo ng investor para magtayo ng bagong planta. Kasi kailangan tayo magtayo ng bagong planta. Kundi, mahihirapan tayo dito sa Metro Manila,” he added.

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Dean Edna Co of the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance said the Aquino administration started on the right foot by recruiting “reform-oriented” officials.

However, Co said the administration was too slow in making appointments.

“The administration had difficulty putting and matching the right people within the [bureaucracy],” Co said.

Philippine Star columnist Cito Beltran said Aquino’s performance could not be gauged from his first 100 days.

“The honeymoon period cannot be the basis of successful presidency,” Beltran said.

Carandang noted that during the first 100 days, Aquino formed the Truth Commission to probe corrupt government officials. The Aquino administration also reviewed contracts entered into by the previous Arroyo administration to ensure fair competition in business, he added.

It’s PNP’s fault, Thomasians say

Meanwhile, in a survey by UST Social Research Director Alvin Ang, 49 percent of 9000 Thomasian respondents randomly selected blamed the Philippine National Police for the August 23 botched hostage crisis that killed eight tourists from Hong Kong.

“[It is inevitable] mentioning the hostage taking last August 23 and we will face many challenges ahead. [Aquino] reinstituted the crisis management committee and enhanced the capability of the police,” Carandang said.

“We are not in the position to grade the President. We will continue to fulfill the campaign promise to reduce corruption and poverty,” Carandang added.

Regarding the Reproductive Health Bill, Carandang told the Varsitarian the Aquino government would let individuals decide for themselves.

“We will give the public information on all types of family planning: natural, artificial. Lahat ibibigay natin sa kanila para sila ang mamimili at kung may mga mahihirap diyan na ‘di makabili ng pills or condoms tungkulin ng government na ibigay sa kanila ang mga `yun,” Carandang said. Kalaine Nikka Kay C. Grafil

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