September 26, 2010
This summer, Benigno Aquino III won the presidency of the Philippines in a landslide election which ended the corrupt term in power of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Corruption, according to the new president, eats up to a fifth of the Philippines’ GDP, in a country of widespread poverty (a third of Filipinos live below the poverty line), chronic power shortages and unemployment. True, this year’s growth rate has been a healthy 7.9 percent and inflation hovered around 6.9 percent. Still, further economic development is hampered by the neglect by previous presidents of providing the country with enough power to fuel its economy (sources: CBS News, Asia News).
To underscore his commitment to eliminating corruption, “Ninoy” surprised his countrymen and hosts alike by eating hot-dog lunches and treating his entourage in New York to similar fare. This contrasts sharply with his predecessor Mrs. Arroyo, who on a similar trip to New York spent $20,000 for dining in style with her staff…
One of the objectives of Ninoy’s trip to the States is to attract more foreign investors to his country and thus provide the tens of thousands of jobs needed in order to alleviate the Philippines’ chronic unemployment problem. Present at the UN’s General Assembly, the new president has proved his diplomatic skills by reassuring the US that the ten-nation ASEAN bloc will stand firm against China’s recent sovereignty claims over the South China Sea. The points of contention, according to him, will be solved by diplomatic negotiations between the parties concerned, without the need for the US to be involved (source: Philippines Daily Inquirer).
Thus, Mrs. Clinton’s hopes to enlist the Philippines in her new divide et impera anti-Chinese diplomatic drive in South-East Asia have little, if any, chances of success. Benigno Aquino III, son of the late Corazon Aquino, comes from a prominent Chinese immigrant family and is expected to enjoy excellent personal and diplomatic relations with the Beijing leadership.Florian Pantazi