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PIA Press Release
2010/06/01

Palace official thanks prelates for citing PGMA gains, but disagrees with other comments

Manila (1 June) -- Presidential Deputy Spokesman Gary Olivar expressed gratitude to members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for recognizing and endorsing in their recent survey the achievements of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in infrastructure development, economic growth and stability and her administration?s pro-life policy.

But Olivar said Malacanang remains puzzled by the "failing marks" the CBCP members supposedly gave the President in other key national concerns, when surveys and figures he said, showed indicative gains by the Arroyo administration.

In a press briefing in Malacaņang yesterday (May 31), Olivar said the government is thankful for the CBCP?s "support and recognition of the President?s principled stand against aggressive population management."

"We wish to thank the bishops of the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) for their recent endorsement of the President's achievements in infrastructure and economic growth and stability," Olivar said.

"We also thank them for their support and recognition of the President's principled stand against aggressive population management which, in turn, is consistent with economic theory about the demographic dividend and the advantages of having a large domestic market of your own?advantages which we saw in practice during the recent global recession when our country was able to maintain positive economic growth throughout," he added.

Text of Olivar's statement read during the Malacanang press briefing:

"We wish to thank the bishops of the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) for their recent endorsement of the President's achievements in infrastructure and economic growth and stability.

"We also thank them for their support and recognition of the President's principled stand against aggressive population management which, in turn, is consistent with economic theory about the demographic dividend and the advantages of having a large domestic market of your own?advantages which we saw in practice during the recent global recession when our country was able to maintain positive economic growth throughout.

"We accept the bishops' criticisms that much remains to be done in education even though the President has already built more classrooms, distributed more textbooks and scholarships, and trained more teachers than any president before her.

"Educational outcomes were still mixed as of few years ago which is why the President formed the Presidential Task Force on Education to overhaul the entire educational strategy and also the reason why education reforms is at the very top of her legislative agenda as a neophyte congresswoman in the 15th Congress starting July.

"But we are puzzled at the bishops' failing marks for the President on poverty considering the improvement over the years in poverty statistics with self-rated poverty of 43 percent last quarter at its lowest since the Marcos years as well as the wide array of anti-poverty programs that cushioned our poorest countrymen through the depths of the recent global recession.

"I am reminded of all those candidates in the recent campaign who said they couldn't believe they were behind in the surveys because of all the large crowds they were seeing at their rallies.

"Likewise, the daily images we see of hunger and poverty around us can be compelling but they cannot controvert the numbers which tell a different story?one of slow but sure improvement in the lot of the poor.

"We are likewise puzzled at the failing marks given by the bishops on environment for our President who sets aside half a day every week on environmental issues, who is building one materials recovery facility (MRF) in each and every one of our barangays, and who has received international acclaim for a strategy of sustainable development in the original advocacy against climate change.

"Perhaps it is a case of the bishops being opposed to any kind of exploitation of nature's resurges such as true large mining projects, no matter how equitable or ecologically-sensitive these projects might be.

"If so, if this is in fact the point of view of the bishops who are critical, they should remember that nature exists for the use of man and that denying this truth regarding nature as some kind of earth-mother or Gaia, veers too close to the heresy of pantheism.

"Lastly, we will simply have to agree to disagree with the bishops about issues that long-preceded and will long survive the Arroyo presidency such as our political culture of patronage or issues about her personal likeability and popularity.

"This is the stuff of transient surveys only and not the impartial judgment of history which even now is already unfolding and will look only at how all the numbers posted under this President brought about a permanent upliftment in the lives of our people." (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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