Aquino recites litany of gains

Newly-elected Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte listen intently as President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his State of the Nation Address.

Newly-elected Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte listen intently as President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his State of the Nation Address.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd took almost two hours to tick off the achievements of his administration in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

But nowhere in his 12,000-word speech did the President mention the alleged anomalies surrounding the pork barrel or the attempted shakedown on a Czech company by officials of the Metro Rail Transit.

The President gave a stern warning to government agencies that performed below his expectations, such as the Bureaus of Immigration and Customs and the National Irrigation Authority whose head he recently sacked.

Aquino scolded Customs for its failure to stop smuggling. The Department of Finance, he said, estimates that more than P200 billion in revenue is lost through smuggling.

“It seems that the BOC has allowed the rampant smuggling of drugs, arms, and other contraband into our territories,” he said.

He also chastised the NIA for the agency’s irregularities. “Instead of laying out plans for new irrigation systems, the ‘make-do’ culture of the leadership at NIA is content with the continued rehabilitation of existing irrigation alone,” he said.

He bewailed the poor performance of Immigration in preventing escape of fugitives, and for its failure to improve their watch on ports and airports.

“Only honest, capable, and principled civil servants will be allowed to enter and remain in government service,” Aquino said.

But the President also paraded several government personnel who performed well, such as an unarmed policewoman who fought off robbers singlehandedly.

The President commended the Department of Education’s K-to-12 basic education program, which he said would give young Filipinos a chance to be one step closer in competing with other countries academically.

The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, or the K-to-12 Act, establishes
a “universal kindergarten” and introduces Grades 11 and 12 to high school education in public and private schools.

Aquino also drew attention to the large percentage of the youth who finished the programs offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and Department of Labor and Employment who he said were able to find jobs.

Of the 503,521 Tesda and DOLE scholars, six out of 10 are now employed in the information technology sector and electronics and semiconductors sector, he said.

“Our goal to raise the quality of learning that our children undertake, so that, once they finish their schooling, they can seize the opportunities now opening up in society was accomplished,” he said.

He said the Education department will finally end the classroom shortage this year.

Citing the importance of education in alleviating poverty, Aquino said the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will be expanded to cover families with high school students next year.

“Our objective to expand the reach of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program,” he said, adding that the income of high school graduates is greater by 40 percent than the income of those who only finished elementary.

He said the number of beneficiaries in the CCT has dramatically increased from 700,000 to 4 million.

Aquino vowed to increase infrastructure support for farmers and fishermen.

While the Philippines has started exporting rice to neighboring countries, the government, he said, will implement initiatives that will help farmers, particularly those growing coconuts.

The fishing sector, he said, contributed P193.65 billion to the economy in 2012.

He noted that government is building new piers, roads, bridges and other infrastructure in strategic areas to raise productivity and income of those in the fisheries sector.

At the same time, he asked fishermen to “allow our fish to repopulate.”

He said that starting in September, the land titles for beneficiaries of the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac will be distributed.

The President pledged that the distribution of all notices of coverage for lands under the comprehensive agrarian reform will be completed in the next year.

“In the next year, all notices of coverage will have been served for lands covered by comprehensive agrarian reform,” Aquino said.

The President prodded Congress to give priority to three measures—one that will amend the Cabotage law, the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization bill and the Land Administration Reform bill.

He also appealed to the Senate and House of Representatives to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the end of 2014 because he wants his government to show to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the public that the government is committed to end the decades-old conflict in Mindanao.

“What is clear to me: every word we utter must result in an action that would benefit all. Every line that we craft in the agreement we are forging must be set in stone and not merely written on water, only to be forgotten by history,” Aquino said.

The government and the MILF signed the Framework Agreement that will put up a Bangsamoro entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which Aquino considered a “failed experiment.”

The President again promised inclusive growth that would generate jobs and address poverty.

“Widespread transformation of society is my objective, and I am aware that there are many things and many people I would have to confront in order to achieve this. But I was not raised by my parents to back down in the face of challenges,” Aquino said. ”Our strategy is to maximize opportunities for all, especially for those most in need. We are not content to wait for the trickle-down effect; we cannot leave their fate to chance. What we call inclusive growth is the principle that drives every initiative, every action and every decision of your government,” he added. He said inclusive growth “is the principle that drives every initiative, action, and decision of this administration.”

Aquino lauded Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson for saving P18.4 billion through “simple but effective reforms.”

“Some of the simple, but effective reforms that Secretary Singson implemented in DPWH: no more letters of intent, which bidders once used in conspiring with each other to inflate costs and gain more profit; simplified bidding processes, so even more contractors can compete for projects; and reasonable costs of doing projects. Government also now pays on time,” he said.

He said the government is spending P6.2 billion every year to deal with flooding.

This year, the government plans to relocate more than 19,400 families living along Metro Manila’s major waterways.

The government, he said, has installed 525 water level monitoring stations in 18 major river basins as well as Doppler radars to better predict the weather and avoid calamities.


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  1. Paulmar Vergara on

    We cannot expect Pnoy to mention not even a sigle word what the OFW importance in building our economy since he is not even involved in securing the needs of our fellow OFW and moreover the flight of our stranded brothers and sisters whom seeking the assisitance of the embassy.

    Once again, a public office is of public trust and is meant for public service in order to give forth and to bring about public welfare and of the people concerned. Otherwise, his tour of duty as public servant was only intended to cater in for personal advantage in accord with his whims, desires, and interests. This time another shot of morphine was given to benumb the listening public with his one hour and forty five minutes of empty SONA’SES.

  3. President Aquino has done a lot of good work to help the Filipino people but he needs to address the delays and delivery of ordinary and registered mail by Philpost and Customs. There is no excuse for delays of over a year in the delivery of mail between two free citizens of two free countries.

  4. Eddie de Leon on

    MRT3 extort try cited by President in SONA
    I was happy to hear President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino mention the MRT3 among the names being investigated for corruption.
    I read all of the three parts of Dr. Dante Ang’s special report on the attempt to extort $30 million from the Czech Republic and the Czech Inekon company. Both have proposed to modernize and fund the renovation of the MRT. I also read last Sunday’s special report highlighting the effort of government officials to make the Czech ambassador look bad. That PR move is obviously aimed to make the public and maybe President Aquino dismiss the Czech Ambassador’s complaint against the DOTC in his letter to President Aquino and Dr. Ang’s revelations based on interviews with MRT General Manager Vitangcol and his friends.

    What will happen to this case? Even if President Aquino thought it important enough to mention MRT3 in his SONA, will Secretary Abaya really investigate and hail the culprits to the Ombudsman? Or will this case end up among the rotting corpses of exposed anomalies that happened despite the President’s avowed devotion to the Daang Matuwid?

    Eddie de Leon

  5. E. G. Festin on

    Daang Matuwid unspoken in 4th PNoy SONA

    I wonder why President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino seemed to have deliberately left the words “Daang Matuwid” in his SONA yesterday. Or did my hearing fail me? As far as I could hear, it was only the Philippine National Police chief who used that key phrase of PNoy when a reporter interviewed him minutes after the end of the speech.

    Why did the President refuse to speak the magic words of his campaign and his governance?

    Is it because he and his speech writers realize that it has become a grand reminder of the hypocrisy of his administration?

    I am still convinced that President Aquino personally does not steal money from the government. But I do believe the reports in the more honest Philippine media that have not become drumbeaters of Malacanang and the ruling Liberal Party coalition that he abets the corruption of some of his cabinet members and their key men in the national government and local government units.

    He spent a lot of time asking the people to continue having faith in him and his friends and he took digs against those who do not trust him and his men. But he must do more than just threaten the grafters in his administration and in the bureaus. He must be humble enough to accept that many of the exposes against his best friends and allies are true and he must cut them down–like Lee Kuan Yew did in Singapore.

    E. G. Festin

  6. Rosauro Feliciano on

    In all the years behind me up to now since 1974 earning a living by way of being an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), overcoming all kinds of hardships to these days, and never ever been enticed to migrate to another country because of my love of the country of my birth, I felt deeply sad upon reading the SONA speech of our beloved President. In fact when I received a message from my son telling me about the inspiring SONA speech of our President, I hurriedly came from work and switched my lap top to on. However after reading his speech I was disappointed as there was no mentioning of the OFWs. The truth is the OFWs are great contributors in helping our country survived in these days of economic meltdown in the whole world. Does the president misinform about the contributions of OFWs in the transformation of our country into becoming a progressive country? It is just very unfortunate if he is misinformed by his advisers. Moreover, there is sadness in my heart after all the years behind me up to now doing the best I can to help some people in some ways. I wish and hope that he will somehow realize that the contributions of the OFWs are very significant in many ways.