• ‘The Filipino is worth fighting for’

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     President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his annual report to the nation during the joint session of the 16th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday. Behind him are Senate President Franklin Drilon (left) and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. MALACAÑANG PHOTO

    President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his annual report to the nation during the joint session of the 16th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday. Behind him are Senate President Franklin Drilon (left) and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. MALACAÑANG PHOTO

    A calm but obviously emotional President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday vowed to keep his promises amid a barrage of criticisms being hurled against his administration in his last remaining years in office.

    In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), Aquino initially made a litany of his government’s “achievements” then shifted to a more direct and emotion-charged defense of his programs, which elicited applause from equally teary-eyed members of the Cabinet and other government officials.

    “We will continue to prove that the Filipino is worth dying for. The Filipino is worth living for. And, if I may add, the Filipino is worth fighting for,” the President, with his voice cracking, said.

    He became more emotional when he narrated how he survived an ambush in 1987, saying he is now enjoying his “second life.”

    “If my second life ends, can I say is it okay? I can tell you, eye to eye, after all we’ve been through, I am contented,” the President said.

    He added that his contentment rests on the fact that his programs will be continued after he had “gone.”

    His term ends in 2016.

    Aquino also scored the “orchestra of negativism” that has been hounding him amid the reforms the government has been instituting.

    “They sow suspicion. They are desperate,” he stressed, adding the “noisy few” will not stop attacking him even after he had left Malacanang. He said these critics have “closed minds” and live in their “own world and reality.”

    “Why are they so mad? Look at their motivation. For those who profited from their position, if we can reform the system, they will lose the opportunity to exploit. It’s only natural for them to oppose us. And those who have no other intention but to bring down government, they can only grow in number if many are suffering and [have]lost trust in the system,” the President added.

    Apparently alluding to leftist militants, Aquino said the number of “recruits” are dwindling because the system is being rectified and poverty is addressed.

    “It is also natural that they oppose us. The noisiest critics are those who are against transformation, because they exploited and gained from the old system,” he added.

    The President blasted his administration’s critics for misleading the people into believing that the government’s programs are no different from those of past administrations.

    “They will do everything to prevent us from reaching the other shore. They will say, ‘It’s just the same, there is no change there.’ They will tie us at port, bore holes into our boat [and]conspire so that we may go astray,” Aquino said.

    “My bosses, they are opposed to you,” he added.

    The President recalled that even while he was still campaigning for the presidency, he had been under attack.

    “We got used to negative commentators for breakfast, ridicule for lunch, insult for supper and intrigues for midnight snack,” Aquino said, eliciting laughter from his audience.

    “I believe that even after I have stepped down, they will not cease [their attacks],” he added.

    The President assured that he will not be cowed and will firmly face those who are against him.

    “Because I know, they are only few and we are too many,” he said.

    Achievements
    The President opened his SONA by stressing the benefits from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

    He said 220,000 scholars of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) benefited from P1.6 billion in DAP funds.

    About 66 percent or 146,731 of Tesda graduates now have work, Aquino said.

    “Ito po ang mabuting pamamahala [This is good governance],” the President added.

    He asked Congress to give him extra funds to pursue projects that had been discontinued after the Supreme Court (SC) declared the DAP unconstitutional.

    Aquino urged lawmakers to lay down clearer rules defining the President’s power over the budget.

    The President noted that when he assumed his post, the Philippines was the “Sick Man of Asia.”

    Now, he said, the country has a robust economy, as evidenced by the series of upgrades by international investment ratings firms Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.

    “Walang pong duda: More open for business na nga po ang Pilipinas [There’s no doubt about it: The Philippines is now more open for business],” Aquino added.

    He also urged the people, whom he referred to as his “bosses,” to continue trusting him, noting that critics of his programs are not really against him but against the people.

    The President lauded the reforms in the Bureau of Customs a year after he accused the agency of abusive practices.

    He cited the government’s tax collection, which increased from P1.094 trillion in 2010 to P1.536 trillion last year due to improved revenue collection efforts.

    While praising the agency for a 20-percent increase in collection this year, Aquino warned corrupt officials and employees.

    “With enough evidence, the [New Bilibid Prisons] is your next destination,” the President said.

    He praised Customs Commissioner John Sevilla for taking on the duty after former chief Rufino Rozzano Biazon resigned.

    The President also hailed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, led by William Hotchkiss, for addressing aviation safety concerns that he said were neglected by the past administration.

    He said Philippine carriers can now add flights and services after the country regained Category 1 rating from the US Federal Aviation Administration for complying with international safety standards set by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.

    With more flights available, “our local carriers can bring in more tourists in next few years,” Aquino added.

    The President also thanked Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and the labor and management sectors for restoring industrial peace, citing the reduction in strikes since 2010 to only an average of 10 a year and noted that, last year, of 150 strike and lockout notices, only one strike pushed through.

    CCT, PPP
    The President also credited the P12.8 billion used for Constitutional Cash Transfer (CCT) for reducing poverty. “Now we try hard to ensure none of them goes below the poverty line again,” he said, referring to the 4,090,667 families who benefited from his centerpiece program.

    The President cited his administration’s public-private partnership (PPP) program, which has rolled out seven projects worth P62.6 billion, surpassing the six solicited projects of his predecessor.

    “Matindi ang kompetisyon ng mga nag-uunahang kumpanya para itayo ang kailangan nating imprastruktura [The competition is stiff among companies vying to build the infrastructure we need],” he noted.

    The PPP program was launched by the Aquino administration in 2010 as a way to boost the Philippines’ decrepit infrastructure, considered a major bottleneck in attracting foreign direct investments.

    Aquino said spending on infrastructure had increased from P203 billion in 2011 to P304.3 billion this year.

    He credited Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson for instituting reforms, noting that bidders for public works projects are required to submit only five documents from the previous 20 while chances to extort from contractors have been drastically reduced, resulting in lower costs and faster implementation time.

    Since 2010, Aquino said, 12,184 kilometers of roads have been constructed or repaired, the equivalent of four roadways linking Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, in the Ilocos region to Zamboanga City in the country’s South.

    But nowhere in his speech did the President mention the Freedom of Information bill, which would have cemented the Aquino administration’s push for transparency and accountability.

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    16 Comments

    1. “The Filipino is worth dying or fighting for?” Maganda pakinggan pero talkshit lang pala ng mga yellows. Remember Hacienda Luisita Massacre.Remember Mendiola Massacre under the yellows. Hindi ba sila nagpapatay sa mga magsasaka mga Aquino-Cojuangco clan. Ngayon paawa effect sila? Enough of this rhetorics yellow prince. You’ll go to jail in 2016, and that is worth crying for together with your yellow siblings in your SONA.

    2. Many Filipinos applaud PNoy for the work he has done for this country the past four years. His work is certainly far from perfect, but his work has not been meant to solve all problems.
What is sad is how so many of us choose to criticize and accuse, without really doing our share in nation building. If you think, posting opinionated views or sharing meaningless opinions do good to our country, consider how your work has fanned the fires of negativism, unpatriotism, and perhaps even rebellious sentiments against security and order in this country.
To say that PNoy has not addressed all problems, and has not addressed all problems well, is one thing. There is indeed truth to that. But to start vilifying PNoy is another thing. Let us all be warned. The mud we throw to others has a way of getting back to us the mindless throwers.
Instead, we need to appreciate the good that has been done, and bring to Pnoy’s attention what else can be done – that within his reach – in the next two years for action. When PNoy is gone, and our country is in a greater mess, perhaps many of the critics will see better what they have done today.

    3. Many Filipinos applaud PNoy for the work he has done for this country the past four years. His work is certainly far from perfect, but his work has not meant to solve all problems.
      What is sad is how so many of us choose to criticize and accuse, without really doing our share in nation building. If you think, posting opinionated views or sharing meaningless opinions do good to our country, consider how your work has fanned the fires of negativism, unpatriotism, and perhaps even rebellious sentiments against security and order in this country.
      To say that PNoy has not addressed all problems, and has not addressed all problems well, is one thing. There is indeed truth to that. But to start vilifying PNoy is another thing. Let us all be warned. The mud we throw to others has a way of getting back to us the mindless throwers.
      Instead, we need to appreciate the good that has been done, and bring to Pnoy’s attention what else can be done – that within his reach – in the next two years for action. When PNoy is gone, and our country is in a greater mess, perhaps many of the critics will see better what they have done today.

    4. TESDA should have a list of their beneficiaries posted online. I have heard that there are accredited training centers that only fabricate names in order to gain money so this must be transparent.

    5. I was focusing on the audience and see for myself who claps the most when PNoy makes a point. Of course the family of PNoy claps so loud but the loudest claps you can hear and see are coming from Drillon, Belmonte and all but a very few legislatihieves and of course, the cabinet. The former are those who received millions of bribes from the PDAF and DAP. You can see that those who clapped loudest and cheered the most were those who received more corrupt money from Thief Executive PNoy, in the absence of Enrile, Revilla and Jinggoy.

    6. Mabuhay ka President Aquino the best and honest president,Go parliamentary form of government so you will be the first Prime Minister and continue cleaning up the government ,also with the economy,need to bring back death penalty,so can hang these crook politicians past and president,rope cheaper and can recycle from neck to neck.fight these anti progress fire with fire.

    7. KarmaChameleon on

      More transparency is ideal and I think that is what the current administration wants to achieve. BUT I think the powers that be also know that too much information made available to the masses is also very dangerous. It can be used to further boost the black propaganda of the opposition, twist everything around, and topple the government. The proper way to proceed with the FOI is to first improve our education system so the masses will also increase their understanding of our government’s efforts as they will have better logic. Another is to increase the inherent values of the people so they will strive to be good citizens, be interested to take part in the progress of our country, and will be able to properly give back to the community. These educated citizens will not be easily swayed by negative information from the media. They will learn to do their own research and think for themselves before they act. They will want to change for the betterment of our country.

      I know there is no other way to save us and this is a solution that must be perpetually acted upon. It will most probably also take generations to feel the difference. But I am very thankful that the current government has jump started this for us. Very nice work indeed Mr. President. You have my full support!

      I know the administration has their hands full, but if they can also make some careful progress to the FOI to help protect the administration (especially the next one) and the people from being abused, that would also be great. This may at least silence the opposition and help in cementing what positive progress of the government has already been achieved. You need to at least protect what you’ve started right?

    8. The most wanted by his Boss which is the FOI is not mentioned in his SONA. It seems that our sentimental president still decided to hide something from us, now I can’t rely/trust on his word that filipinos are worth dying for since he is not yet ready to tell us the truth, being transparent means sincerity and honesty is prevailing on his admin. Our dear president SONA is just another “pambobola ” to us. It is easy to shed tears, Kris is very good on that part.

      • In due course this will be passed and this will be one of his many legacies. As OFW, I would like to see the new airport proposed by SMC to be started, improve economy, more jobs and reduce poverty. This will be big challenges for all of us but if Filipinos work together it will be realized faster.

    9. PNoy…..”We will continue to prove that the Filipino is worth dying for. The Filipino is worth living for. And, if I may add, the Filipino is worth fighting for,”

      You’re a genuine leader and deserved to be emulated by all officials in the government.

      I am disappointed with makabayan members for boycotting the SONA. I hope next time they have to hid their emotions and show their respect to our President

      • Sa apat na SONA ni Pnoy, hindi sya at kanyang mga kapatid nagging ” emotional”, ang Tanong bakit ngayon lang? Ang aking sagot ay sinalungat niya ang pinaglaban ng kanyang magulang sa paglabag niya sa 1987 Cory Saligan Batas at bantaan pa ang Korte Suprema na isa pang haligi ng Democrasya ang lalaban sa Korte, in short pipilayin nya ang isang haligi ng democrasya. Sino ang hindi maghahagolgol kung alam mo na ang ipinaglaban mismo ng iyong nasirang mga magulang ay iyong sinalungat ?
        Kung buhay lang si Ninoy at Cory ay hindi lang si Pnoy sasabunin kundi ikukula pa. Hindi pa huli Pnoy, meron ka pa dalawang taon upang ituwid mo ang iyong mali at idaan mo ang bansa sa ” MATUWID NA DAAN NA KUNG WALANG CORRUPT AY WALANG MAHIRAP”.
        Pinoy, certify as URGENTFOI BILL. Ito ang hinihingi sa iyo ng mamamayan Filipino, di ba ho, BAYAN?

    10. Mr. President people are clamoring for the FOI to become law. Why don’t you push for this bill to become law for more transparency before 2016?

    11. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

      This corrupt president says, the Filipino is worth living for. Of course, if not for the
      filipino taxpayers money there is no DAP. If there is no DAP there will be nothing
      to bribe these crocodiles like Drilon, Trillanes, et al. There shall be no funds
      to be used in the impeachment of corona. In short this corrupt president can do
      nothing if not for the filipino. The best thing for him if he wants to redeem himself,
      RETURN THESE MONIES THAT WERE STOLEN, APOLOGIZE TO THE SUPREME COURT AND RESIGN. NO MORE NO LESS.

      • There is no clear evidence that the President is corrupt unlike those that were charged on PDAF. Wala pong ninakaw siya. Kahit po kami nasa Dubai kitang kita po namin ang mga magagandang reforma ng pamahalaan at ang pag uunlad ng ating bayan! napaganda ng kanyang speech sa SONA. Straight from the heart. Ika nga. Pero ang mga opposition na congressmen na nag boycott ay walang respeto sa SONA na hindi lang mga makaAquino ang umattend kundi pati ang mga ambassadors ng ibang bansa.

        It’s unwanted and unprofessional if you call names Trillanes and Drilon crocodiles.

        Let’s criticize the professional way. Then we will respect each other. Start with a kiss, a kick and a kiss.