Arroyo lauds Aquino for PH growth but there's a rub

MANILA, Philippines - Call it faint praise, but former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday commended President Benigno Aquino III, her former student in economics at Ateneo de Manila University, over the 6.8-per cent growth in the country's gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The country's-full year growth was pegged at 6.6 per cent.

"It is welcome news," Arroyo said in a statement issued through her spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn. "He is on track (to) restoring the growth of 7.9 per cent where it was before the first half of 2010," she added.

Arroyo said she would "support (Mr. Aquino's) policies that (would) translate such policies to poverty alleviation."

Acerbic paper

The statement was a complete departure from Arroyo's acerbic paper titled "It's the Economy, Student" that she wrote between October and December 2011 while in detention. The paper accused President Aquino of obscuring the economic gains of the Arroyo presidency to allegedly make up for the shortcomings of his own.

"Neither the President nor anyone else can truly expect to govern the next five years with nothing but a sorry mix of vilification, periodically recycled promises of action followed by lethargy, backed up by few, if any, results, and presumptuously encouraging gossip about one's love life in which no one can possibly be interested," Arroyo wrote in the 19-page paper.

The former President recalled that the country was riding on a 7.9-per cent economic growth rate when she stepped down in 2010. But the growth slowed down to 3.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2011.

"The momentum inherited by President Aquino was already slowing down, and despite his initial brief honeymoon period, he has simply not replaced my legacy with new ideas and actions of his own," Arroyo said in her paper.

Different tune

But with the economy now enjoying impressive growth, Arroyo seemed to be singing a different tune.

In her statement, Arroyo said she "shares the commitment of President Aquino to integrity and opposition to corruption."

"But the campaign against corruption must uphold the rule of law, due process and the independence of the judiciary," she added.

Arroyo's statement said she also "fought corruption through available legal remedies" such as the passage of the Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003, the Attrition Act of 2005, the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, and the Prosecution Service Act of 2010.

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