Vice President Jejomar Binay on Monday delivered his version of the “true” State of the Nation Address (SONA), scoring the Aquino administration’s failure to address corruption, extreme poverty and social inequality.
During his true SONA held at the Cavite State University in Indang, Cavite, the Vice President said the economic growth presented during President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s SONA last week masked the “painful truth” that only a few benefited from such progress.
He noted that only rich Filipinos and those close to the President such as his friends, classmates and members of the Liberal Party (LP) gained from the “much-vaunted economic growth.”
Majority of the Filipinos, Binay said, are still “poor, hungry and unemployed” even after five years of the Aquino administration.
“Napakadaling mamulot ng numero, mga numerong sa unang tingin ay makislap at kagiliw-giliw [It is so easy to throw numbers around. Numbers that, at first glance, seem brilliant and desirable],” he added.
Binay, who received thunderous applause from the crowd, said while the country’s economic indicators have gone up, the numbers “conceal the painful truth” that growth has benefited only a handful.
And while those who are rich and the President’s allies continue to gain from the so-called economic growth, the Vice President also noted that workers, farmers, poor city dwellers, government employees and millions of Filipinos “did not benefit from the developments.”
He said while the country’s foreign direct investments (FDIs) exceeded P6 billion in 2014, Aquino did not say this is the lowest FDI among countries in Southeast Asia.
Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia had higher FDIs compared to the Philippines.
Although the 2014 FDIs are record-breaking, they did not result in employment for the majority, the Vice President said.
The bulk of the FDIs, about 21 percent, went to financial and insurance activities, which did not generate enough jobs.
The labor-intensive sectors like manufacturing and mining got only six percent of the FDIs, Binay said.
And while the Philippines’ upgraded credit ratings helped in attracting foreign investors, they did not translate into actual investments because of constraints in the Constitution’s economic provisions.
Binay had always been vocal in saying that he will push for amendment to economic provisions of the Constitution if he wins the presidency.
In his address, he said that once these provisions are amended, the primary sectors of the country would be opened to foreign investors, resulting in increased jobs and employment opportunities for Filipinos.
The amended economic provisions would also develop public utilities and speed up formation of public-private partnerships, as well as improved services and facilities for the public.
Binay also questioned the figures presented in the President’s SONA, showing a decrease in the number of poor Filipinos.
“Ang hindi sinasabi ng administrasyon, napakababa ng kanilang batayan ng poverty threshold. Para sa kanila, kapag may limampu’t walong piso [P58] ka nang panggastos sa isang araw, ay hindi ka na ituturing na ‘mahirap’ [What the administration failed to tell us is that they used a very low poverty threshold. For them, a person who has P58 to spend in a day is no longer considered poor].”
He cited the latest Social Weather Station s(SWS) survey showing that five in 10 Filipinos believe they are poor.
That translates to more than 11 million people, saying that even after five years of the daang matuwid (right path), they remain stuck in poverty.
Binay further questioned the President’s claim that there are fewer overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) now because there are a lot of job opportunities in the country.
Citing data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), he said there has been an increase in the number of Filipinos wanting to leave the Philippines to find work in other countries.
From 2,500 average daily deployment before Aquino became President, the number rose to 6,092 during the first quarter of this year.
Binay also noted the “incompetence and insensitivity” of the Aquino administration.
He said the “insensitivity” was seen on how the administration addressed the incidents in Luneta (Rizal Park in Manila), Tacloban City, Zamboanga and Mamasapano.
In August 2010, a hostage-taking in Luneta hogged headlines worldwide after a botched rescue attempt that resulted in the death of the hostage-taker, disgruntled former police officer Rolando Mendoza, and eight Chinese tourists.
In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 in Tacloban City, Leyte, the Vice President quoted the President as saying, “Buhay pa naman kayo, di ba [Oh, but you are all still alive, aren’t you]?”
Binay said that while a comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan worth P170 billion was outlined, the money and donations given by other countries appear to have also been swept away by the typhoon.
In Zamboanga, more than 200 were killed and thousands were left homeless but the “greater tragedy” awaited in the evacuation centers where women and children were raped and forced into prostitution.
The Vice President then slammed Aquino’s failure to recognize 44 police commandos who died during the Mamasapano clash in January this year.
“Sa Mamasapano, apatnapu’t apat ang nagbuwis ng buhay at marami ang sugatan. Ngunit kahit pahapyaw, hindi nabanggit ang kanilang kabayanihan sa SONA. Kahit T.Y. ay wala [In Mamasapano, 44 officers gave up their lives for the country. But their heroism was neither acknowledged nor mentioned in the SONA. They did not even get a ‘thank you’].”
“Buti pa ang hairstylist at fashion designer, kasama sa mahabang listahan ng pinasalamatan [The hairstylist and the fashion designer were more fortunate, as they were dutifully included in the long ‘gratitude list’].”
Binay said three things symbolize the administration’s incompetence: Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3), Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
He slammed the “bad service and poor maintenance” of MRT 3, which is under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the secretary of which is said to be running for senator in the 2016 elections.
Binay pointed out non-inclusion of former and current secretaries of the DOTC in a case filed by the Ombudsman in connection with alleged irregularities in bidding of an MRT 3 contract.
Turning his attention to BBL, the Vice President blasted the administration’s view that those who oppose the BBL are automatically against peace.
“Walang prangkisa ang administrasyon sa paghahangad ng kapayapaan. Lahat tayo ay matagal nang naghahangad ng payapa, matiwasay at maunlad na Mindanao [The administration has no monopoly in wanting peace. All of us have prayed and longed for a peaceful and well-developed Mindanao].”
But Binay said there are conditions to a successful and lasting peace agreement: one, the agreement must be in accordance with the Constitution; two, different groups, sectors and recognized representatives must be involved; and three, Malacañang should not pressure Congress to pass the BBL into law.
He called DAP’s 116 projects worth P114 billion “the brightest example of wasting government funds in our history.”
“Ayon sa mga ekspertong sumuri sa DAP, sa bawat pisong ginastos ng DAP, isang sentimo lamang ang para sa mahihirap. Uulitin ko, isang sentimo sa bawat piso ang para lamang sa mahihirap [According to experts who have reviewed the DAP, for every peso spent, only one centavo benefits the poor. I repeat, a measly centavo for the poor].”
“Saan kinuha ang pondo para sa DAP? Ito ay inagaw sa pondo na nakalaan sana sa pagpapaayos ng mga airports, pagpapaayos ng MRT 3, pagpapatayo ng mga eskwelahan, mga kalsada at tulay [Where did they get funding for the DAP? From the funds that were supposed to go to infrastructure— improvements for the airport, the MRT 3, for school buildings, roads and bridges].”
If the DAP releases were made during the Arroyo administration, Aquino would have led the way in questioning these, Binay said.
But because the President’s men are involved, “no real investigation of the matter has been conducted.”
“The mastermind remains untouched,” Binay said.
“Ngunit iba sa daang matuwid. Iba ang trato sa kalaban sa pulitika, iba naman para sa kapartido at kaalyado [But it is different in the ‘right path.’ Those they see as enemies are treated differently from their allies].”
The Vice President said the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the DAP, both declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, have been revived under different names including insertions, special purpose funds and Unified Accounts Code Structure or UACs.
While Aquino enumerated his accomplishments, Binay also noted that Aquino apparently forgot to mention a number of these achievements were started or were planned by previous administrations as early as President Fidel Ramos’ time and were merely continued or completed by the Aquino administration as required by government rules.