President Benigno S. Aquino III, responds to Reyn Bernido’s “Mr. President, something in you has to die.”
Here is the full text:
Hello, Reyn. This is your President.
First of all, thank you for your note on Facebook. Such insights from concerned citizens are vital in a maturing democracy such as ours, where all avenues and technologies should be explored in order to raise the level of public discourse. However, thoughts expressed in such sites, which can sometimes be incendiary, spread easily without the necessary validation. This is why I felt the need to respond to your letter.
Your comments against my Cabinet seem to prejudge them without taking a hard look at the reality. For example, I do not believe that my Communications team writes fiction. When have they ever lied or not sought to tell the truth?
We do agree on one thing: the last administration wrongly governed. You supported us because like you, we condemned the nine years of corruption under the previous dispensation. You may not be fully aware of the magnitude of the problems we have inherited, such as midnight appointments by the last administration, which sought to embed in our bureaucracy people who do not share our mission of reform. There is also the increase over the last decade in the number of people living in poverty. The deterioration of our corruption ratings was laid out before the world, making our country less attractive to foreign investors. I do not believe it is realistic, as suggested by your letter, to change everything in two months.
We gave ourselves a more reasonable timeline, two years in fact, to show evidence of real transformation. In the last two months, we have been surprised by very encouraging developments that the changes we envisioned, and promised to our people, might actually be achieved in a shorter time. These are developments, which unfortunately, seem to have been overshadowed for now by the hostage taking tragedy.
One of the priorities that I have repeatedly said my government will focus on is job generation. Just last week, a call center by Convergys was inaugurated in Manila. This facility will provide 5,000 new jobs on top of their existing 17,000-strong workforce.
In a recent courtesy call to me, a major European bank guaranteed an increase in investments by three times the current level with their exposure here in the Philippines.
The forthcoming US trip will likewise reinforce this bullishness on our country’s growth through the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs.
In addition, I will be on hand to receive a $430 million grant from the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation.
In the last two months, we were also successful in terminating contracts to procure overpriced equipment for the Department of Agriculture. The P60 million acquisition price has been brought down by nearly half, to P32 million.
We are also tightening procurement for police equipment, to improve our law enforcers’ ability to deal with future hostage-taking incidents and other law enforcement challenges.
Let me also remind you that in the recently submitted budget to Congress, we have sought to make real the campaign pledge to fight poverty. The budget puts in place promised improvements in health and education, and conditional cash transfers. If we are able to sustain them over the life of my administration, we will help lift millions of Filipinos out of poverty.
It has always been my personal philosophy not to overly play up achievements that any government should have been doing in the first place. Perhaps my administration should be doing more to highlight this, but the simple truth is that we are working hard to solve our problems.
I understand that much of your frustration stems from the unfortunate crisis that befell our nation, but my administration will not be defined by this tragedy. It will be defined by what we have already achieved and what we will still achieve in the future.
Again, thank you for your note.