Malacañang: 2013 a year of foresight and prudence
Malacanang on Saturday described 2013 as a year of foresight and prudence for the Aquino administration which faced political challenges and disasters in the last 12 months.
“The past year has been a remarkable year for the Filipino people: one in which the President showed his indomitable will to lead the nation forward, and where the mandate for change was renewed in the year’s midterm elections,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
“It has been a year wherein the foresight and prudence of the President and his team—holding fast to the long-term vision of a more prosperous, stable, and dynamically competitive Philippines—has been upheld time and again,” she said.
“It has been a year of challenges not only for the Administration but also for the Filipino people. Another year where our collective commitment to persevere and to stand shoulder to shoulder enabled us to overcome the trials set before us, thus making the world admire and respect us all the more,” she added.
In the first quarter of the year, as the government was starting its rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental that were hit by typhoon “Pablo”, the Aquino administration was thrown into a sudden crisis in Sabah when Sultan Jamalul Kiram III invaded it to reclaim its as part of their ancestral right.
The February Saban incursion was followed in May by another foreign problem: the fatal shooting of 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-Cheng off the Balintang Channel that sparked a rift between the Philippines and Taiwan, with Taiwan imposing sanctions on the Philippines that adversely affected the state of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the island state.
Before the cloud over the Balintang tragedy could settle, the country was rocked by the pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scandal that continues to drag until now.
But it was the “ber” months that proved to be the most challenging, starting with the September brazen siege of Zamboanga by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari and his men. The Zamboanga standoff caused the displacement of more than 120,000 individuals and the destruction of more than 10,000 homes. There were also 200 people who died and 270 members of the MNLF had been captured by government forces while 24 of them surrendered during the standoff.
October had been a month of natural disasters as typhoon “Santi” ravaged Central and Northern Luzon while Bohol and Cebu had been rocked by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. But the biggest one came in November as super typhoon “Yolanda” devastated Eastern Visayas.
But 2013 is not without its good news. Valte cited the Philippine economy’s positive performance with the country able to get an investment grade in all three major credit rating agencies: a BAA3 (positive) from the Moody’s Investors Services; and a BBB- (stable) from both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.
The country’s GDP has also remained within seven percent: at 7.8 percent in the first quarter; 7.5 in the second quarter; and seven percent in the third quarter, she said.
Peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is also within reach as three of the four annexes had been signed this year: the Transitional Arrangements and Modalities Annex, signed on Feb. 27, 2013; the Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing Annex, signed on July 13; and the Power Sharing Annex, signed on December 8.
In terms of the government’s efforts against corruption, this year a total of 157 cases had been filed against smugglers; 195 cases filed against tax evaders; and plunder, malversation of public funds and other charges filed initially against 39 individuals and 34 more individuals in the second batch, including businesswoman Janet Lim – Napoles.
“Our achievements only tell us that nothing is impossible to the Filipino people,” Valte said, citing the achievements of Filipina beauty queens and Filipino athletes all year round.
“Maraming mga Pilipinong namayagpag sa ibang bansa at nagdala ng karangalan sa atin [A lot of Filipinos took center stage in the international arena and brought honor to the country],” she said.
These include “Pambansang Kamao” Manny Pacquiao, and beauty queens Megan Young (Miss World); Bea Rose Santiago (Miss International); and Mutya Johanna Datul (Miss Supranational 2013), among others.