PGMA bequeaths 'BEAT THE ODDS' legacy

June 12, 2010 9:02 pm 

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, June 12 — Outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo bequeathed to the nation her 'BEAT THE ODDS legacy of development nationwide.

She said the agenda was her offering for the Philippines' 112th Independence Day celebration, which had as theme 'Kalayaan: Tagumpay ng Bayan.'

"I leave to all nine years of growth and prosperity," she said Saturday at historic Rizal Park during her last Independence Day speech as head of State.

President Arroyo's administration realized such growth and prosperity by working to meet targets in her 10-point BEAT THE ODDS agenda.

These targets are B-balancing the budget, E-education for all, A-automated elections, T-transportation and communication infrastructure, T-terminate hostilities with Moro Islamic Liberation Front and New People's Army, H-heal the wounds of EDSA, E-electricity and water for all, O-opportunities for livelihood and jobs, D-decentralizing development and DS-developing Clark and Subic.

President Arroyo implemented her BEAT THE ODDS agenda to help balance and push development nationwide so poverty can be addressed.

"Lessening poverty is at the heart of BEAT THE ODDS," she said.

During her speech, the President introduced to the public five people, who benefitted from projects implemented under her BEAT THE ODDS agenda.

They are Joan Duya from Pampanga, the President's home province, Julia Baco from Zamboanga del Norte province, Matson Paskial from Nueva Vizcaya province, Russel Brian Dizon from Metro Manila and Alan Amanse from Sorsogon province.

The government built its 100,000th classroom in Duya's village, giving her and other students there a more conducive learning environment.

Baco is now more able to meet her family's financial needs through government's conditional cash transfer program.

President-elect Benigno Aquino III already announced his plan for this program's continuation.

Paskial, on the other hand, said the government's farm-to-market road projects facilitated transport of agricultural produce from his village to buyers.

Dizon began earning more as a business process outsourcing agent after he availed of free government training for this work.

Amanse improved his earning capacity and is now helping government promote eco-tourism as a 'butanding' interaction officer.

"Our five friends are only some of those who the BEAT THE ODDS agenda helped," President Arroyo said.

Earlier, Malacanang reported the government economic gains during President Arroyo's incumbency. The economic gains helped the country move forward and keep it afloat amidst the global financial crunch.

These gains included the Philippine peso's appreciation, accumulating higher international reserves and reducing the budget deficit, Malacanang said.

Department of Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said the government was even looking into hiking its 2010 growth forecast for the country as economic conditions were improving.

"We're looking at a growth of four to five percent or even more," Teves said on the side of the Independence Day parade, which President Arroyo, other dignitaries including him and people from different walks of life viewed at Rizal Park.

He said authorities would discuss next week such possible hike in government's forecast.

Teves said the government nearly balanced its budget in 2007 due to fiscal reforms, which the administration implemented.

The global financial crisis derailed such bid as government had to engage in stimulus spending so it can sustain economic growth nationwide despite such crisis.

This strategy helped the country post a record nine years of sustained positive economic growth.

It's a feat only the Arroyo administration achieved so far, Malacanang said.

During her speech, President Arroyo thanked Filipinos for voting her as Chief Executive.

"It's a big honor and privilege to serve as president," she said.

She also thanked all who helped her administration implement the BEAT THE ODDS agenda.

For this year's Independence Day celebration, the government held a whole-day job fair at Rizal Park.

Data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) team there show the fair covered a total of 24,018 local and overseas jobs vacancies among 51 employers.

Of this count, a total 4,018 jobs are for local employment while 20,000 others are for overseas deployment.

As of 11 a.m. of June 12, DOLE reported 264 male and female applicants already registered for the jobs.

Mike Encarnacion and Asilo Zaime are two of those who flocked to the job fair to search for employment.

Both are recipients of President Arroyo's scholarship program on free vocational training at State-run Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

They're due to complete this month training in skilled metal arc welding.

"Such skill is in demand here and abroad," Encarnacion said at the fair.

He believes having TESDA training and certification will open up more work opportunities for him.

"TESDA's certification is recognized even abroad," he said.

Zaime said he is availing of TESDA's month-long training while on vacation in Manila so he can seek better paying work upon returning to Quebec, Canada where he's employed as a machinist.

"Wage there for skilled welders is higher – about 17 dollars per hour," he said.

He admitted needing more income to support his three children.

Encarnacion and Zaime are thankful for President Arroyo's scholarship program.

They acknowledged it will be difficult to avail of vocational training without this program since school fees for metal arc welding are nearly beyond their reach.

"The minimum average for such fees can reach about P15,000 per student for a month's training," Encarnacion said.

With President Arroyo's scholarship program, Zaime said he used for his family's needs money that would have otherwise been spent for such fees.

"The program's really a big help to me," he said. (PNA) RMA/CJT/rsm

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