While the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III continued his parents' legacy, he also made his own mark in the country’s democracy. His presidency was marred by some political lapses, but ultimately he succeeded in strengthening the Philippine economy.
Here are some of his breakthrough policies that have changed the course of the country’s history.
Following a landslide victory in 2010, Aquino waged a war against the country’s deep-seated poverty. During his term, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) launched its flagship poverty alleviation program. Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) aimed to eradicate extreme poverty in the Philippines by investing in health and education. The department patterned the conditional cash transfer system from developing countries, particularly Brazil and Mexico.
Aquino bagged the presidency with the battle cry “kung walang kurap, walang mahirap” (without the corrupt, there won’t be poor people). Staying true to his promise, he also championed “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path), vowing to remove crooks from public office.
With the public exhausted from the anomalies involving his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, his victory was largely seen as a protest vote. Arroyo was consequently detained for almost five years before the Supreme Court cleared her of the charges.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace pact
The signing of a 2014 peace pact with the largest Muslim separatist rebel organization, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was one of Aquino’s key achievements. The agreement called for Muslim self-rule in parts of Mindanao in exchange for a deactivation of MILF’s rebel forces. Aquino paved the way for peace in the country's south, which is home to the country's minority Muslim population.
West Philippine Sea arbitration
In diplomatic affairs, his administration will go down in history for its firm stance over territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea. He made headlines in 2013 when he dragged China to court over a long-running dispute in the South China Sea.
Three years later, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, dismissing China's territorial claims. While Beijing appealed the decision, several national leaders expressed their support for the Philippines.
Under Aquino’s leadership, the Philippines revitalized its economy and cast off its long-held reputation as the "Sick Man of Asia." The country’s emerging economy grew steadily due in part to the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI).
His administration also increased public spending on infrastructure. Despite the fact that the global economy was unstable, the country's approximately 10 million overseas workers who send remittances kept local consumption high. The business outsourcing industry, which employed roughly 1 million people at the time also spurred economic growth. In the second quarter of 2014, the Philippine economy grew by 6.4 percent year over year, making it one of Asia's fastest-growing economies.
Former President Benigno Aquino III, who served from 2010 to 2016, “died peacefully in his sleep” on Thursday (June 24) at the age of 61 after being hospitalized at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City due to renal disease secondary to diabetes.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
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