The Philippines officials and mass Hail the Performance of President Noy Aquino

Stressing that he is not used to praising himself, President Benigno S. Aquino III refused to give himself a performance grade as he marked his first 12 months in MalacaƱang Thursday.

He, however, drew praises from his officials.

Instead of grading himself, the President claimed his biggest achievement was that apathy of the people has been replaced by a renewed partnership with the government.

“My greatest achievement is the transformation in the attitude of the people. If there were resignation, dejection, and apathy before, many people are now taking part so we can achieve a better country. Many people are now helping to reach our goals as soon as possible,” he said in Filipino during a press conference in the Palace.

Aquino marked his first year in office with the signing of the law postponing the election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the approval of the proposed 2012 national budget, and a launch of a campaign rallying volunteers.

His government reportedly made some progress in fighting corruption and poverty but encountered many setbacks, including criticisms of slow pace of reforms.

Before he assumed office, the President recalled that the people were indifferent to national issues because they could not expect anything from the government. People were also no longer shaken by scandals that were unearthed before, he said.

“I have listened and read in the newspapers about a passing mark etch. It seems they are asking me to be perfect and it is good that there are people who are pushing you to improve your efforts,” he said.

Asked what grade he would give his administration in its first year, Aquino said: “Hindi ko talaga ugaling magtaas ng sariling bangko. Sorry. (It’s not my attitude to praise myself. Sorry).”

While the President preferred to be silent about his performance, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Commodore Jose Miguel Rodriguez, AFP spokesman, hailed the President’s performance in his first year in office.

Ochoa noted that the government has made “significant strides” in promoting good governance, peace and justice, improved social services, and robust economic growth during its first year.

Ochoa, in an interview, said people view that the government is “performing better now than a year ago” based on recent opinion polls.

He said the government sought the swift approval of the 2011 national budget without delay using the zero-based budgeting approach. First steps were also taken “to put our house in order” as the government remains on track to meet its P325 billion deficit target or 3.9 percent of gross domestic product due to improved revenue collections and prudent spending. “We are the first administration to deal decisively with the abuses in our GOCCs (government-owned and -controlled corporations), with the passage of the GOCC Governance Act of 2011,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa likewise cited the removal of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, saying “we have, for the first time in history, held the Office of the Ombudsman accountable in the performance of its functions.” The government also showed that it will not hesitate to mete out justice when it dismissed Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III for mishandling a case of the slain policeman involved in the August hostage crisis in Manila as well as suspended Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit for alleged involvement in the irregular plea bargain deal with a former military comptroller.

The government also made crucial reforms in the education sector, including free kindergarten education for Filipino children for the first time in history, according to Ochoa.

On economic development, Ochoa cited the launch of the first batch of Public-Private Partnership projects lined up for bidding in 2011. “With an estimated investment of more than a billion dollars, these projects will further boost the economy and provide opportunities for employment. Confidence in the country is also up, as shown by the country’s improved Moody ratings,” he said.

Commodore Rodriguez said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was re-energized in the first year of President Aquino as its Commander-in-Chief.

Rodriguez said the incentives and various programs given by Aquino in just a span of one year bolstered the morale of the military organization.

Among them, he said, is the housing program, doubling of both the combat and incentive pays of every soldiers assigned to conduct internal security operations in the field.

“The AFP stands invigorated by the first year of the President’s leadership as our Commander-in-Chief,” said Rodriguez.

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