Arroyo says restoring PH fiscal stability her 'legacy' in public service
MANILA, Philippines – As she marked her 72 birthday on Friday, April 5, Speaker Gloria Macapagal trumpeted her achievements as a public servant, particularly her legacy of restoring the country's fiscal stability during her 9-year presidency.
The former president discussed what she believed would be her legacy in public service months away from the end of her third and final term as Pampanga 2nd District congresswoman. Arroyo did not vie for any post in the May elections and said she planned to be a provincial consultant after her stint in Congress. (READ: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Speaker: A missed chance for redemption?)
“I like to think that my legacy will center around restoring our country’s fiscal stability after a storm on financial crisis here and abroad," Arroyo said in a brief speech after attending Mass at the St Agustin Church in Lubao, Pampanga, for her birthday.
"The restoration of fiscal stability was the platform for my program that built more and better infrastructure, and that reduced our poverty from 39% when I assumed the presidency, to 26% when I left the presidency,” she added.
An economist, Arroyo focused on fiscal and economic reforms during her presidency from 2001 to 2010.
In an essay she wrote in 2012, Arroyo said the Philippines had a 7.9% growth rate when she turned over the presidency to her successor Benigno Aquino III in 2010.
“That growth rate capped 38 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth despite escalating global oil and food prices, two world recessions, Central and West Asian wars, mega-storms and virulent global epidemics. Our country had just weathered with flying colors the worst planet-wide economic downturn since the Great Depression of 1930. As two-thirds of the world’s economies contracted, we were one of the few that managed positive growth,” Arroyo had written in her essay.
During her watch, the Philippines received high marks from international credit rating agencies.
Arroyo's economic reforms and achievements, however, had been overshadowed by multiple corruption allegations that led to cases filed in court after her presidency.
She was under hospital arrest for nearly 4 years over the alleged misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds from 2008 to 2010, but she walked free in July 2016 after the Supreme Court acquitted her and her co-accused, former PCSO board member Benjamin Aguas.
Arroyo also faced graft cases involved in the botched $329-million National Broadband Network-ZTE deal in 2007, but these were junked in 2016.
Last year, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112 cleared Arroyo of electoral sabotage, a case that stemmed from the alleged rigging of the 2007 senatorial elections.
Arroyo already said she would retire as an elected official after May 2019 and will instead serve as a consultant for the Pampanga provincial government. Governor Lilia Pineda is a close ally and friend of Arroyo.
Pineda and her son, Vice Governor Dennis Pineda, are running mates in May, this time vying for vice governor and governor, respectively. – Rappler.com