Thousands to march against President on SONA day

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Ordinary wage earners, housewives, unemployed youth, government employees and professionals in their thousands will march today, Monday, to the Batasang Pambansa—home to the House of Representatives located in Quezon City—for the second to the last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

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The groups Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Sanlakas, Partido Lakas ng Masa and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Tagalunsod informed the media in an e-mailed statement that they will converge on Tandang Sora Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue not far from the Batasang Pambansa at noon and then join other groups critical of the Aquino administration in marching to the SONA venue.

“Come rain or shine or even both, there will be no let-up of protests from infuriated workers who have shed tears and sweat, been bled dry by the government’s tax impositions only to find out that they have been deceived by Aquino, their so-called representa-thieves in Congress and cronies,” BMP head Leody de Guzman said.

The BMP-initiated march-rally will be led by a giant wooden yellow cross with the slogans Pasakit sa Manggagawa (Workers’ Yoke) and Patalsikin! (Oust!) painted on each side and will be carried workers in hard hats.

De Guzman said the yellow cross is “the most apt image that can symbolize the plight of ordinary wage earners under this four year-old deceitful and outright elitist regime of Aquino.”

Yellow is the color most identified with Aquino and his family.

“In his fifth SONA, the workers expect Aquino and his bunch of shady pranksters to flaunt the supposed economic fruits of their DAP, when in fact the workers’ back-breaking daily toil is what lubricates the cogs and gears of the economy,” de Guzman said.

The DAP is the Disbursement Acceleration Program, billed by Malacañang as an economic stimulus but was recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

On the eve of the President’s SONA, a coalition of 49 labor centers and federations derided the “high” economic growth, saying it continues to deprive “millions of Filipino workers and their families of the benefits” of such growth.

Nagkaisa accused the President of siding with the country’s business elite, citing his failure to certify as urgent a pending bill on security of tenure, whose passage, it said, would free 25 million workers from their contractual jobs at present.

Malacañang also on Sunday said Aquino was in “high spirits,” adding that his “well-prepared” speech will reflect his determination to overcome serious political challenges facing his administration.

In an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino and his staff have made the final touches to his address.

“As far as I know, [the President]is in high spirits. He is preparing for his speech because for him it is important to communicate with his bosses. That is why he has been preparing for [SONA] to make it useful for the Filipino people,” the Palace official added.

In his first SONA, Aquino called the people as his “bosses.”

According to Coloma, the President himself drafted his speech.

“He really studied everything that is included in his speech because it is he who authored it. The framework of what he has to say and the details that he wants to explain, he himself chose them. He also arranged the topics that he will discuss,” he noted.

Far from being demoralized by several issues that were hurled against him such as the debacle that was the DAP and the impeachment complaints lodged against him before Congress, Coloma said Aquino remains “unfazed” and “determined.”

“His determination remains firm. He is sincerely committed to bring reforms that he promised and fulfill the priority initiatives of the Philippine Development Plan. He continues to remind his Cabinet [secretaries]about their assignments,” he added.

Besides the main speech, Coloma said, Aquino has also been preparing his budget message ahead of submission to Congress of the proposed 2015 General Appropriations Act.

He added that the President wants to begin discussions on the budget as early as possible so that it could be passed into law before the end of the year.

“It should become effective on the first day of 2015,” Coloma said.

He also noted that Aquino recognizes that he only has less than two years in office, more reason for him to work double-time to accomplish his mission.

Like in the past, Coloma said, the SONA will be backed by a technical report, a comprehensive report on accomplishments of various agencies of government, including government-owned and-controlled corporations.

“After uploading the SONA tomorrow on the Official Gazette, the accompanying SONA technical report will also be uploaded, detailing the accomplishments of the Aquino administration in the past year,” he added.

In general, Coloma said, the SONA will tackle macroeconomic indicators that led to the high gross domestic product in recent quarters, employment generation and reduction of fiscal deficit.

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