Aquino administration notches tangible gains in first year

10:39, June 28, 2011      

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Despite a drop in his trust rating as shown by recent surveys, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has actually notched some tangible achievements during his first year in office.

On June 30, Aquino will complete his first full year in his six- year term.

The most visible gains during the first year of the Aquino administration are in the area of poverty alleviation, with the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program as its main vehicle.

With a budget of 21.2 billion pesos (one U.S. dollar equals 43. 42 Philippine pesos) this year, the CCT program has already benefited some 2 million poor household beneficiaries throughout the country as of last month.

The CCT program, first implemented during the term of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, provides cash grants to extremely poor households so that they could meet certain human development goals.

In a report last month to President Aquino, Secretary Corazon " Dinky" Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which implements the program, said that the CCT program is ahead of schedule in reaching its target of 2.3 million poor families this year.

Soliman said that the program has already registered 1,910,446 household beneficiaries out of a targeted 2,339,241 for 2011, or 81.7 percent of the target less than six months into the calendar year.

Aside from the CCT program, the Aquino administration also continued funding two anti-poverty programs of the previous administration, namely the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (Linking Arms Against Poverty)--Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) and the Self-Employment Assistance Kaunlaran (Progress) (SEA-K).

The KALAHI-CIDSS, which is also implemented by the DSWD with financial support from the World Bank, empowers the poor by investing in social services and supporting impoverished local government units (LGUs).

The SEA-K program, on the other hand, provides the poor and disadvantaged sector of the society with easy access to credit and development opportunities.

During the first year of the Aquino government, the Philippine economy also showed some solid gains.

Although the gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter this year slowed down to 4.9 percent compared with the 8.4 percent growth in the same period last year, foreign direct investments (FDI) into the Philippines as well as exports of Philippine products have increased during the past few months.
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