Aquino missed regional issues

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Agrarian reform, autonomous region in Cordillera, support services for farmers and genuine electoral reform are among the issues that President Benigno Aquino 3rd failed to tackle in his last State of the Nation Address, said officials and activists from different parts of the country.

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Despite this development, many continue to expect that he would fulfil promises that were made at the start of his term including Mindanao-based leaders.

“Based on investment and the economy, we are better now compared to previous administrations. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the administration a 7. I will give the president credit,” said Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

But he pointed out that efforts should be made that the poor would feel economic gains of the government.

Muslim leaders remain hopeful that the Aquino administration will pursue peace process efforts and implement development projects in southern Philippines.

Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman lauded the implementation of development projects in Mindanao as he also noted an influx of investments in the region.

“We saw the influx of investments and today, the business sector continues to put a keen interest in us. Economic investments are at an all-time high, funding for infrastructure, especially in connecting the island provinces to the mainland, have been approved, and renewed support for the agricultural sector has been felt by our farmers and fisherfolk across the region,” he added.

Datu Yusoph Boyog Mama, a Muslim leader based in Marawi City, said he is likewise hoping that Aquino will make good his promise to help restore peace in Mindanao.

Hataman, Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Adiong Jr., Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu and North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza attended the event at the Batasang Pambansa.

Aquino endorsed the Bang-samoro Basic Law (BBL) as among the proposals he wished to be passed during his term. He even challenged those who oppose the legislative measure to put forward a better solution.

Baguio Cong. Nicasio Aliping, who had been pushing for the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), noted this.

“But while there is no mention (of the CAR), it will be our inspiration to legislate for our common right,” said Aliping.

As Aquino delivered his SONA in Quezon City, some 200 members of civil society groups in Albay led by Bayan Muna staged a protest rally at Penaranda Park expressing their sentiments against the Aquino administration.

In Kidapawan City, several groups expressed their grievances including Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panag-hiusa sa Cotabato, Kilusang Mag-bubukid ng Pilipinas, and Free Toppers Federation Cotabato.

The Kaisahan ng mga Maliliit na Magsasaka in Bataan said the promises of Aquino did not materialize as they asked for the implementation of agrarian reform and support services for farmers.

In Quezon province, former Lucena Mayor Ramon Talaga Jr. expressed dismay that in the last SONA of the President, he continued to criticize his predecessor—Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In Iloilo City, many residents took note of changes in government policy against corruption and the incarceration of three Philippine senators due to corruption charges.

However, Erma Santerva, of Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), said the President must be cited for passing the law on responsible parenthood but this is not enough because the law has not yet been implemented.

Datu Mama also urged President Aquino to impose genuine electoral reforms.

“Democracy is only realized through clean and honest elections, and it will protect the Filipino citizen’s fundamental right to vote,” he said.

There were also preparations done a few days before the SONA in Cavite and the Bicol region to avoid untoward incidents.

Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, meanwhile, ordered the suspension of classes in both public and private schools across the province on Monday.

He said the young people could learn from listening to the SONA together with their family.

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