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Philippines' Aquino defends govt programmes

In his fifth State of the Nation address on Monday (July 28), Philippine President Benigno Aquino defended his administration's controversial stimulus programme, and talked up the benefits of the Disbursement Acceleration Programme (DAP), while thousands of demonstrators gathered to protest.

MANILA: In his fifth state of the nation address on Monday (July 28), Philippine President Benigno Aquino defended his administration's controversial stimulus programme, and talked up the benefits of the Disbursement Acceleration Programme (DAP).

Aquino said that the distribution of public funds through the DAP had sped up public spending and boosted economic growth. He also highlighted the many achievements of his administration for the past four years.

During his speech, thousands of demonstrators had gathered on the road leading to the national legislature to protest. They said the Aquino administration has failed to create jobs needed to lift millions of Filipinos out of poverty.

Aquino highlighted that the Philippines economy grew at a better-than-expected 7.2 per cent in 2013, and gave specific examples of how his stimulus programme helped many Filipinos, especially the poor.

He said: "We are investing in people. From 27.9 per cent poverty incidence rate in 2012, it has gone down to 24.9 per cent in 2013. These three percentage points are equivalent to 2.5 million Filipinos, who have been lifted out of poverty."

But since the High Court had ruled his administration's stimulus programme as unconstitutional, Aquino's popularity and trust ratings have dropped to record lows. The public felt his efforts to fight corruption lack seriousness.

Aquino said: "My countrymen, you gave me a chance to lead the country's transformation. If I turn my back on this, it will be like turning my back on my parents' legacy and their sacrifices to the country. I will not allow that to happen."

With less than two years remaining in his term, Aquino will have to work hard to prove that he can deliver on his campaign promise of wiping out corruption, and making sure that the country's economic gains will be felt by all.  

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