Aquino says he rid Philippines of apathy

Posted at 06/30/2011 4:02 PM | Updated as of 06/30/2011 11:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Growing demands for change from the poverty-stricken people of the Philippines are a good thing, President Benigno Aquino said Thursday as he marked a year in office amid falling ratings.

Aquino, son of the late democracy icons former president Corazon Aquino and her assassinated husband, also named Benigno, won the presidency pledging to crush corruption and ease dire poverty.

But he has seen his public approval ratings drop in recent months, which analysts say reflects popular disappointment over the slow pace of progress.

"The greatest achievement in my view is the transformation in the attitude of the people," he told reporters. "Before, there was resignation, dejection and apathy.

"If you remember at the time, you were writing about the people's apathy and numbness, as if they did not expect anything from their government. They were blase to scandals that were being unearthed," he said.

"Now more people are expectant that their lives are changing for the better.

"I am aware that you have given me a passing mark, but that you expect perfection from me. That is good in a way so it would push us to intensify our efforts."

The Philippines' enormous economic and corruption problems are deeply ingrained and festered during his predecessor Gloria Arroyo's nine years in power.

More than one in four Filipinos still earn just a dollar and five cents a day, the official poverty threshold, official data show.

Human rights monitors also alleged Aquino had failed to curb abuses among the security forces as well as parallel paramilitary forces engaged by the government to help it fight communist as well as Muslim separatist rebellions.