PILAR, Bataan: Exactly a month before the May elections, President Benigno Aquino 3rd bid farewell to the Filipino people, thanking them for giving him the opportunity to serve for six years as the leader of a “noble race.”
In his speech during the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) here, Aquino said the presidency was a “privilege” that he would always be thankful for.
“Thank you for this unique opportunity to serve all of you, and to lead such an honorable people like the Filipino,” the President said.
“I can think of no other that will come close to matching this opportunity, and the honor that was given me,” he added.
At the same time, he took a swipe anew at rivals of his preferred successor, administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd, as he reiterated his call for the continuity of his reforms.
“Let me ask you: Will we choose a leader who puts his own interests first, and in so doing, guarantees the suffering of those below him? Will we choose a leader who wants to take shortcuts to achieve results, without a care for those who might be endangered in his path?
Will we choose the lofty promises made by someone who does not seem to have a proper understanding of the processes that are necessary to achieve these?” Aquino asked.
“You know my position in these matters: I stand with what is right, with who has been true to our people, with who has significant experience in governance. We stand with those who will continue the straight path. You know of whom I speak and I am confident, that our dreams for succeeding generations are aligned,” he added.
As he said goodbye to the nation, the President reminded the Filipino people not to forget the lessons of the past as the country faces the national elections.
“All that we can do now is to turn our sights to the future, and, in realizing our dreams, ensure that we do not forget the bitter lessons of the past. All of you know that, with the coming elections, our country is facing another crucial fork in the path,” he said.
The President called on the people, especially the veterans, to support leaders who believe in his reform agenda.
“The Philippines has gone through so much. You, more than anyone else, will be able to relate the depth of the positive transformation we are experiencing today. I am confident that you will be among those who will advocate what we are fighting for: Let us continue the change; let us continue realizing our dreams; let us continue the straight path,” he said.
The President promised to continue to protect and promote the rights of war veterans, citing the programs carried out by his administration, including the Pensioner’s Validation Program that intends to clean up the list veterans so that legitimate recipients get the benefits they deserve.
The government, he said, also extended free healthcare services to the veterans and their dependents through the Veterans Hospitalization Program.
In less than six years, Aquino said 10,600 veterans and their dependents got free medical assistance not only at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, but also in183 accredited public and private hospitals across the country.
“Through this program, around P91 million has been allotted—our nation’s attempt to repay your sacrifice,” he said. “Your daily hospitalization subsidy has also increased. What was once P1,200 is now P1,500.”
Aside from providing healthcare, Aquino said that veterans’ direct descendants can now receive up to P36,000 each year as financial support for their college education.
“As we care for your health, we are also securing the future… Over the course of my term, we have allocated P370 million for this endeavor,” he added.