Lives of Filipinos improved under my watch -– PGMA

January 20, 2010 10:46 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 20 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said on Wednesday the lives of Filipinos have improved during her nine-year administration.

''I’ve worked hard every single day to lift up the lives of our people,'' the President said at the traditional Vin d'Honneur for the diplomatic corps held Wednesday afternoon at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang.

According to President Arroyo, her focus since she assumed the presidency in 2001 was to turn the economy around, create jobs, and invest in human and physical infrastructure.

She pointed out that the growth of the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) or the sum of all goods and services produced in the country, and the number of jobs created under her watch were the highest in the last 30 years. Average inflation or increases in the prices of goods and services, she added, were also the lowest since her father's administration in the early 1960s.

By pushing economic reforms in the early years of her administration, the President helped the country weather the global financial crisis that started in September 2008 better than other countries.

“Even at the height of the global economic tempest, the Philippines was able to post positive growth,'' the President said.

The Philippines is one of a handful of countries in Asia, including China, which escaped recession. It posted economic growth of 0.7 percent for the first three quarters of 2009.

Along the way, the President said she made tough and unpopular choices. Despite threats of dissension within her own party, she implemented the expanded value added tax law or EVAT, and the result was P80 billion in annual revenues generated for the government.

With such steady income coming in every year, the country borrowed less and spent more on people, thus “breaking the cycle of economic misery we had operated under,” she said.

Between 2000 and 2009, the number of healthcare insurance beneficiaries expanded from 29 million to 89.64 million, 100,000 new classrooms were built, and teachers’ salaries increased from P9,000 a month to P14,000.

At the end of 2009, 99.39 percent of barangays in the country had electricity, while 319 out of 432 waterless barangays were provided with potable water.

“Infrastructure development has been at the center of our development agenda. It is working to create a competitive Philippines, both as a place for doing business and as a place to be a good employee,” the President said.

The President also said the economic development strategy is working well, with tourist arrivals increasing and business process outsourcing expanding in such a way that its is expected to employ its one millionth employee by the end of the year.

The development of the free ports of Subic and Clark as strong logistics and service hubs are on track.

Aside from the construction of roads and bridges, the Arroyo administration also invested in education in the last nine years. Billions of pesos were spent in vocational training and English literacy to make the Filipino worker more competitive here and abroad.

Looking ahead, the President said she wants to spend the remaining five months of her term reaching out to the youth to help ensure free, fair, and credible elections in May.

''They are the future…They can be the guardians of non-violence as they interact with adults and others in the community,'' said the President of young people. (PNA)

scs/OPS/ssc

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