President Benigno Aquino
3 June 2012. The Philippines passed a crucial stress-test with the orderly sacking of its top judge, confirming a growing political maturity that is helping drive an economic revival, analysts say.
The Philippine economy has for decades been one of Asia’s biggest underachievers, bedeviled by coups, corruption and political chaos that scared off investors who instead pumped billions of dollars into neighbouring nations.
“This whole commitment of this administration to fight corruption has reverberated and increased confidence,” said Peter Perfecto, head of the Makati Business Club, one of the nation’s most influential business groups.
One of the biggest wins for Aquino came in the last week when the Senate found the Supreme Court’s chief justice, Renato Corona, guilty of hiding more than $4 million in bank deposits and ordered him to be removed from office.
“It was indeed an achievement to have the process completed without extra-constitutional efforts,” said Steven Rood, country representative of the Asia Foundation, a US-based group that promotes governance in the region.
Benigno Aquino has been able to maintain political stability because people and institutions largely believe his anti-graft campaign is delivering results.
“The current administration was elected on a platform that anti-corruption is the best economic strategy, and they continue to pursue that policy direction,” the Asia Foundation’s Rood said.
Other significant developments in Aquino’s drive include overhauling the budget disbursement system, reviewing Arroyo-era government contracts and naming an ex-Supreme Court justice as chief anti-corruption prosecutor.
He also named reformist bureau chiefs at the country’s main revenue-collection agencies, which have been aggressively filing cases against alleged big-time tax evaders and smugglers.
Crisanto Frianeza, secretary-general of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, praised Aquino’s efforts to cut red tape, a key obstacle that breeds corruption.
Debt is still two rungs below investment grade and the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. rates the Philippines 136th globally among 183 economies in terms of ease of doing business.
Most crucially, even Aquino admits that the war on graft will take many years to win.
Corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked the Philippines the 129th most corrupt country out of 183 in 2011, slightly up from 134th the previous year.
In this video Philippines president Benigno Aquino talks about fighting corruption