'Phl heavy in debt when GMA left' -TESDA chief

MANILA, Philippines - "Nothing left at home."
This was how an ally of President Benigno Aquino III described what Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo left for the current administration to start on.
"The more accurate state of affairs when she stepped down from office last ear afer her nine-year stint could be atly described as 'nothing left at home,'" said Joel Villanueva, former CIBAC party-list representative Joel Villanueve and now head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Villanueva was defending President Aquino from former President Arroyo's attack on his administration. The former president said that the current government leadership is slowly wasting the fruits of her hardwork in her nine-year stint in Malacañang.
"The economy that I left was very strong at the time there was a global crisis, now when the rest of Asia is recovering, our economy is decelerating, so that's the problem," she said in a press conference yesterday at the height of a devastating storm. She said President Aquino lacks leadership and his economic policies faulty.
Villanueva said the real score was that the previous administration left the Aquino administration with almost nothing. He said that the Arryo administration left "not only with empty coffers, but heavy in debt."
He cited the P2 billion scholarship vouchers the previous TESDA administratin distributed despite the absence of funds.
Villanueva, who was openly bashing the previous administration while he was congressman, said that what former President Arroyo left was a "bad image."
He said that if Arroyo's claims that the current administration is moving too slow are even true, it is because President Aquino and his Cabinet are "preoccupied with cleaning the mess [the Arroyo adminstration] left while attending to the people's needs."
"In TESDA, we are doing our share of house-cleaning, while pursuing programs that are pro-active and relevant to our constituents. Trainings actually happen, and modules of courses are reviewed and retrofitted to suit the needs of the market," he said.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte had said that the former president was just trying to "deflect attention from her refusing to submit to proper procedures for ascertaining accountability."
"Rep. Arroyo essentially wants to be treated as a former president at a time when no one has denied her the courtesies due her being a former chief executive. She seems to confuse official courtesy with the hallmark of her stay in power -- impunity," she said.
"We don't know what economic policies she is referring to because the ones we have so far are working. We regret that instead of focusing on her constituents' needs at this time, she is instead trying to hog the headlines in a gambit to distract attention from her past deeds," she added. (PNA)

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