This refers to the Sept. 29 editorial which noted that Transparency International?s latest Corruption Perceptions Index rating of the Philippines is at 2.3, the country?s worst ever in terms of perception of corruption; whereas the best rating received was in 1999, at 3.6, during President Joseph Estrada?s administration. (?[T]he farther away from 10 and the closer to 0, the worse it is.?)
However, the editorial attributed this low perception of corruption to ?the goodwill of the last year of the Ramos administration, when the country hit a score of 3.5. By the same token, they can also argue that the low initial score registered under the Arroyo administration (2.6 in 2001) reflects the scale of the corruption under Estrada, which came to full light only after his ouster.?
But could there be the possibility that this low perception of corruption was actually because of the good performance of the Estrada administration from 1998 to 1999?
Aside from proving in 1998 ? through a smooth transition from Fidel Ramos to Estrada ? that the Philippines had a working democracy, where the masses put one of their own into office through the ballot, with a margin so wide it became incontestable, the records also show that 1999 was a year when the Estrada administration delivered in terms of restoring peace and order and ensuring a stable economy in the midst of the Asian financial crisis.
In terms of peace and order, President Estrada created the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force with the objective of minimizing, if not totally eradicating, car theft and kidnapping in Metro Manila. With the help of this task force, the Philippine National Police for the first time in history achieved a record-high trust rating of +53 percent.
In terms of the economy, the Estrada administration, led by its team of economists that included Felipe Medalla, Ben Diokno and Leonor Briones, was successful in bringing the inflation rate down from 11 percent in January of 1999 to just a little over 3 percent by November of the same year. This was in part due to the successful agricultural program Agrikulturang Maka Masa, through which it achieved an output growth of 6 percent, a record high at the time. Also, domestic investments began to rise ? from 18.8 percent of GDP in 1999 to 21.2 percent of GDP in 2000. (Since then, domestic investment has decreased to 19 percent in 2001, 16.8 percent in 2004 and 14.8 percent in 2006.)
These are only a few of the achievements that may have led to a perception of good governance and political stability in the nation during the Estrada administration. These are also attributable to the performance of his Cabinet members who have the good record of never having been involved in or accused of any anomaly or scam.
Although Estrada?s reputation has been tainted by the allegations in the impeachment trial and eventual conviction (by a partial tribunal, but that?s another story), the records can prove the achievements of his presidency.
In light of these facts, might the Inquirer reconsider its analysis and give credit where credit is due?
MARGAUX SALCEDO, spokesperson for former President Joseph Estrada