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Philippine president defends controversial stimulus programme

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has defended his pump-priming budget strategy, questioning the Supreme Court's decision to strike it down as unconstitutional. Speaking in a televised speech, Mr Aquino also said he would appeal the decision.

MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino has defended his pump-priming budget strategy, questioning the Supreme Court's decision to strike it down as unconstitutional. Speaking in a televised speech, Mr Aquino also said he would appeal the decision.

In the 20-minute speech on prime-time television, President Aquino said the stimulus programme -- known as the Disbursement Acceleration Programme (DAP) -- was meant to stimulate economic growth through faster government spending, particularly for infrastructure projects.

Under the Philippine Constitution, only the legislature can appropriate public funds, which the executive would spend on government projects.

The DAP removes the legislature's role completely.

Since the High Court ruling, President Aquino's popularity and trust ratings have dropped to record lows, as perception grows that his efforts to fight corruption are not serious enough.

Independent pollster Pulse Asia found Mr Aquino's approval ratings dropped from 70 per cent to 56 per cent last month. Another poll by Social Weather Stations showed his ratings had fallen to 25 per cent -- the lowest in four years.

Still, Mr Aquino said he will appeal the Supreme Court's decision and asked for public support for his administration's controversial spending scheme. 

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