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Measuring President Corazon Aquino’s Presidency

August 5, 2009

In early 1992, toward the end of the administration of President Corazon Aquino, I participated in a Cabinet meeting where the discussion focused on her administration’s achievements and failings. Discussion was lively, and at times heated. There was much detailed argumentation on vision, strategy, programs, policy reforms, and delivery. President Aquino, as was her wont, listened patiently to the arguments, interjecting comments only occasionally and briefly.

After about two hours, as it became clear that the cabinet was deeply divided, she explained, calmly and softly, that when the yardstick to measure her performance is based on people’s expectations – then indeed, there is a lot to be disappointed about. After more than two decades of dictatorship and kleptocracy under Marcos, the Filipino people were angry and hungry, and the “people power/yellow revolution” had stoked people’s hopes and expectations to unimaginable heights.

“Tita” (Aunt) Cory continued: “When I took on this task, and as I went across the country, I saw that people’s expectations were so broad and high – and quite impossible to satisfy. I prayed hard, and still went on to take up the challenge, and made a basic promise – that I would exert my utmost to restore Democratic institutions to the Philippines – including open and fair elections, a free press, an unfettered civil society, and civilian supremacy over the military.”

“Therefore, against the people’s expectations – my performance is probably wanting. Yet I can depart from the Presidency at the close of my term with head held high – because on my promises, I have delivered.”

Read The Asia Foundation’s letter of condolence to the Family of Former Philippines President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino.

Bruce J. Tolentino is The Asia Foundation’s Director for Economic Reform and Development Programs. He served as Undersecretary for Policy and Planning of the Department of Agriculture, and concurrently Executive Director of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council of the Philippines, during the administration of President Corazon Aquino, 1986-1992. He can be reached at

View all posts by V. Bruce J. Tolentino



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