Erring officials no place in government – Aquino

MANILA (Updated) — President Benigno Aquino III challenged Monday government employees to be honest and do better, saying those who refuse to change have no place in government.

Aquino called on specifically the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to improve its watch over the country’s ports and airports, as he scolded its officials for failing to prevent the escape of persons wanted by authorities.

“How then was it possible for the brothers Joel and Mario Reyes, the principal suspects in the slaying of Gerry Ortega, to leave the country? How could the escape of the Korean Park Sungjun — as blatantly seen in CCTV footage — have taken place? He is wanted in (South) Korea, and their government asked for our assistance in securing his arrest. How can we face them now, when our own government employees are the ones who enabled his escape?” Aquino said. Read more

Speaker calls for pork barrel transparency

HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. called Monday for a stricter and more transparent spending of pork barrel funds amid the government’s probe into the controversial P10-billion scam involving the diversion of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to fictitious non-government organizations.

In his acceptance speech after being re-elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Belmonte challenged his colleagues, particularly party-list congressmen to devise a plan on how they will spend their annual P70-million PDAF.

“Ambiguity must yield to specific, definite and verifiable development programs and projects for both district and party-list funded activities. A strict obedience to a much tightened guidelines in the use of public resources is the strongest guarantee of efficiency, ensuring that each peso spent generates exponential returns for our people,” he said.Read more

Aquino continues to enjoy high trust, performance ratings

MANILA — President Benigno Aquino III has maintained his high trust and performance ratings, according to a latest Pulse Asia survey released Monday, hours before the Chief Executive delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona).

The Pulse Asia survey, which was conducted from June 20 to July 4, showed that Aquino’s trust approval soared from 72 percent to 77 percent, representing a five point jump in the past three months while his performance approval remained steady at 73 percent.

It said the changes in the President’s performance and trust ratings within the first three months of this year are “marginal in nature.”Read more

Sona 2013 (English)

State of the Nation Address
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines

[This is an English translation of the SONA delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasang Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, on July 22, 2013]

Vice President Jejomar Binay; Senate President Franklin M. Drilon; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.; Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the eminent Justices of the Supreme Court; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; honorable members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate; our leaders in local government; members of the Cabinet; members of the military and police in uniform; my fellow public servants; and, of course, to my Bosses, the Filipino people, a pleasant afternoon to all.

This is my fourth SONA; only two remain. Almost four years have passed since I was approached by various camps to urge me to run for the presidency. They said: “We know that our country’s problems cannot be solved in the blink of an eye, in one year, or even within the six-year term of a President. But just begin, and we will be one with you in nurturing change.”

Even then, I was aware of the significant problems that I would have to face. From being a candidate, to being President, or even after I step down from office, the difficulties I will have to face are no joke. 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. I would not be able to live with myself if I had refused the chance to alleviate the suffering the Filipino should not have to endure.

We have answered the call, and those who have been with us from the start have only grown in number. I believe that if what I have been doing is right, then our allies will only grow. Just this May, I asked you, Boss, are we going in the right direction? Your reply: “Yes, and let us accelerate the transformation of society.” I asked for allies that would help steer the country in one direction, and you delivered. The truth is, not only the majority, not even nine of twelve, but nine of the top ten senators are individuals that I recommended to you. The message of the past election is clear: Yes, let us keep going, let us add to the 8,581 sitios that we have electrified; let us add to the 28,398 families who were once informal settlers but who finally have, or will soon have, decent homes; let us increase the not less than 40 billion pesos in additional funds that go to education, health, social services, and many others because of the right and more efficient collection of taxes; we feel all the other tangible signs that society is truly changing. I have become even more optimistic because of your message; it is clear that I am not alone in carrying these responsibilities. How can I not be encouraged, when even the likes of Mr. Niño Aguirre are helping shape our future? Just think: Though unable to walk, he climbed all the way to his fourth-floor precinct, just so that he could vote and contribute to true social transformation. Thank you, Mr. Aguirre.

There is no shortage of Filipinos who are ready to pitch in, and this is the source of the change we now experience. The strategy—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—their receiving the benefits of progress—to chance. What we call inclusive growth—this all-encompassing progress—is the principle that drives every initiative, every action, and every decision of your government. The only ones who will be left behind are those who chose not to venture onwards with us, simply because they did not seize the opportunity.

The basis for this principle: Widespread opportunity is the key to comprehensive and sustained progress. Let us not forget that these opportunities are but seeds. We must water them with diligence, nourish them with determination, and cultivate them with dedication. Let us take a look at our TESDA-DOLE scholars. Of the 503,521 people who have graduated from their programs, an estimated six out of ten have found jobs. Before this, according to studies conducted by DBM, from 2006 to 2008, only 28.5 percent of TESDA graduates found jobs. Last year, under TESDA’s IT-BPO program, 70.9 percent of the graduates found employment. Under the electronics and semiconductor program, the percentage of employed graduates reached 85 percent. It is clear: You are the ones who will shape this growth, you are the ones who will determine whether the fruits of our labors become sweet and ripe for the picking, or if you will let them rot away and waste the chances that this new chapter in our history has given us.

Let us go through everything one by one. Our objective to expand the reach of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program: achieved. The over 700,000 household beneficiaries we found upon coming into office in 2010 have now grown to almost 4 million households in the three years of our administration.

There is more: According to research conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, compared with those who only finished the elementary level, the income of high school graduates is 40 percent higher. Is it not right that we maximize the help we give these families, so that our young beneficiaries can finish high school, thereby helping them make the most out of the benefits of this program? That is why next year, families with children up to 18 years old will be included in this program so that their children will be able to finish high school.

Let us move on to education. Our goal is 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: accomplished. We have finally erased the backlog we inherited in books and chairs, and if Secretary Armin Luistro continues to demonstrate true grit, even the backlog we inherited in classrooms will also be erased this year. And there is even more good news: Now, we also have the ability to prepare for the additional needs that the implementation of the K to 12 program will require.

The problems that plagued Brother Armin in the DepEd are no laughing matter. Just think: one textbook used to be priced at 58 pesos; since he assumed office, the price of the exact same textbook has gone down to 30 pesos. What would have happened if we had been paying the proper price from the beginning? If we had saved the difference of 28 pesos for all the books bought, at five textbooks for each of the estimated 20.7 million students in our public school system, the equivalent would amount to almost 2.9 billion pesos. These savings alone could have funded our plans to repair and rehabilitate around 9,502 classrooms.

If Brother Armin didn’t have strength of will, he could have just left this culture of negligence in his agency for his successor to deal with. He could have also left the backlog, as well as the growing gap of needs because of the rising number of enrollees each year. But instead of being content, instead of saying, “This will do. My job is done,” Brother Armin will build even more chairs and classrooms, and will buy even more books, to ensure that even the needs in future years will also be met.

Regarding the strengthening of our agricultural sector, this has also been achieved. Just think: According to the NFA, in 2010, the country imported more than 2 million metric tons of rice. In 2011, this fell to 855,000 metric tons. In 2012: 500,000 metric tons. And now in 2013, the maximum we will import, including the private sector, will be the minimum access volume of 350,000 metric tons. This includes the 187,000 metric tons of reserve buffer stock in case typhoons arrive one after the other; in all likelihood, even the private sector will no longer have to import rice because we are still on track to becoming self-sufficient in rice. In addition to that, we have begun exporting premium quality rice. We have truly come so far from those days when it was said that we could not even feed ourselves.

The proof is in the data: This sector grew 3.3 percent in the first three months of 2013. This is triple the 1.1 percent growth it recorded in the same time period in 2012. That is why we continue to sow initiatives that will certainly bear the fruits of even greater progress for our farmers.

For example, the coconut sector. According to research conducted in 2009, coconut farmers make up one of the poorest sectors in the country. Let us look at the process of growing coconuts: Once planted, farmers wait seven years for the coconut tree to bear fruit; but after this, two generations will be able to benefit without doing anything else apart from harvesting the fruit. We have the potential to vastly increase the income of this sector if we can foster a culture that truly encourages hard work and productivity. The solution: intercropping.

The government will help you to strengthen your coconut farms; but in exchange, you will be required to sow different kinds of seeds in between the rows of coconut trees.  Doing so will raise the frequency of crop harvests, and depending on what they plant, their income will also increase. If they grow only coconuts, the farmers would earn about 20,000 pesos a year per hectare. But if they add coffee, they could reach about 172,400 pesos a year; if they add bananas, they could earn 102,325 pesos, while adding cacao would give them 89,000 pesos. Isn’t that such a huge difference?

We have already begun laying down initiatives for this: In 2012, we were able to use 5,500 hectares of land for intercropping in 90 different locations throughout the country. This program covered 10,000 farmers. Our target for 2013: an additional 434 sites for coconut intercropping.

We are also now steering our fishermen towards more productive waters. Think about it: our fishing industry contributed 193.65 billion pesos to our economy in 2012. In spite of this, based on a study last conducted in 2009, 41 percent of our fisherfolk still live below the poverty line. They are the ones who catch the fish, but all they have on their dinner tables are fish bones.

That is why various government initiatives are in place to help free our fisherfolk from the broad net cast by poverty. An example would be our initiative for Bataraza in Palawan. The waters here brim with fish. But because the fish cannot be brought to the merchants on time, still fresh, the fishermen end up having to dry the fish and sell tuyo instead. It is such a waste, because every three kilos of lapu-lapu is only equivalent to one kilo of tuyo. What if the freshness of the fish could be preserved in a cold storage facility? You could go to the merchant and still sell your catch at full price. You would exert the same amount of effort, but you would receive the right compensation for it. That is why the cold storage facility in Bataraza has already been built. In addition, we are also constructing new piers in strategic areas to raise productivity and income. We are constructing and adding new roads, bridges, and other kinds of infrastructure, including various services, for our fisherfolk.

The DILG, BFAR, and Coast Guard are also tightly monitoring irresponsible and unrestrained forms of fishing; this I ask of our fishermen: allow our fish to repopulate. I ask for your solidarity in caring for your own livelihood. As you no doubt see, the state has already opened up opportunities for you, but the result is in your hands.

If there is one topic my name is often associated with, that would have to be Hacienda Luisita. I would like to inform you that back in February, in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court, the Department of Agrarian Reform has completed the list of qualified beneficiaries for the land in Luisita. According to Secretary Gil de los Reyes, the process to determine the beneficiaries’ lots began last week, and the turnover of these lots will begin in September of this year.

As for other large tracts of land: We have long tasked the DAR, DENR, LRA, and Land Bank to develop a framework for speeding up the parceling out of land. I would like to remind everyone: Correct data is the first step to the orderly implementation of CARPER. But we inherited a land records system that is problematic and defective. This is why, from the start, the DOJ, LRA, DENR, and DAR have worked to fix this system, and now we are at a point where we can guarantee that in the next year, all notices of coverage will have been served for lands covered by comprehensive agrarian reform.

It is clear: The state was established to serve you. If you have health problems, the government must care for you; in times of illness, it should be there to give aid and support. What has our government done in this regard?

Our goal to extend PhilHealth coverage to more of our countrymen has been achieved. When we began, 62 percent of Filipinos were enrolled; now, that number stands at 81 percent. The remaining number still not on our lists are those we are seeking to identify, including those in the informal settlers’ and indigenous people’s sectors. We are counting on the cooperation of our local governments to ensure that all of our countrymen are enrolled in the system.

It is not just PhilHealth’s roster of enrollees that is growing: so is its scope of services. The past year saw the launch of the Z Benefit Package. This past February, this was upgraded with the Expanded Z Benefit Package. The poorest of the poor can now get free medical care at public hospitals for more medical conditions than ever before. Last year, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and acute leukemia were included on the list of covered conditions; today, coronary bypass, and corrective surgery for holes and defective blood vessels in the heart, are also included in the package.

All these health benefits would go to waste if our health care facilities are substandard, or inaccessible to our countrymen in the provinces. This is why we have gone all-out in funding health care infrastructure projects: These past three years, we have budgeted a total of 33 billion pesos for the improvement and modernization of 4,518 hospitals, rural health units, and barangay health stations nationwide. Among these are Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, which has successfully completed five kidney transplants in the last year; the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi; the Vicente Sotto Medical Center in Cebu; and the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro, which, according to Secretary Ike Ona of the DOH, now have the capacity to perform open heart surgery due to upgraded facilities and equipment. There is also the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City, the first cancer center outside Metro Manila.

Regarding disaster preparedness: Our goal to develop mechanisms to protect the Filipino people from natural calamities, we have also achieved. Among these are the effective services brought about by the joint forces of the Geohazard Mapping and Assessment Program and Project NOAH of the DOST. This past year, we completed a multihazard mapping of the 28 most vulnerable locations in the country. A similar endeavor for the Greater Metro Manila Area will be completed by 2014. Geohazard maps for 496 cities and municipalities have also been completed. The remaining 1,138 covering every last corner of the country will be finished before the end of 2015. Not only have these maps increased in number, they are also more detailed and refined, which is why we will be able to more accurately identify high-risk areas.

From the time Project NOAH was launched, a total of 525 automated water level monitoring stations and automated rain gauges have been installed in 18 major river basins throughout the country. We also continue to modernize our weather detection technology, with Doppler radars, tsunami detectors, and alerting sirens.

But simply distributing high-tech equipment and new technology is not enough. We also need to train the end-users of this equipment in understanding, using, and disseminating the information gained. When the weather is bad, they no longer rely solely on wind speed for their forecasts; they can also predict the volume of rainfall, and they can provide correct and timely warnings so our communities can prepare accordingly.

We are also remedying the problem of flooding in Metro Manila.  Imagine: When Ondoy hit, an estimated 3,600 cubic meters per second of rainfall flowed down from the Sierra Madre. But the capacity of the channels through which these flowed can only support 1,000 cubic meters per second. Where would the difference of 2,600 cubic meters per second go? These are the sudden torrents of water that overflow into low-lying areas and become flash floods.

Haven’t we all heard before that “waterways are inalienable?” What this means is that the channels through which water passes should be for that purpose alone. The problem is, in addition to the lack of adequate drainage, certain structures are built, obstructing these drainage systems, a situation compounded by the trash of those living around it. To solve this problem, we are coordinating with our LGUs to safely and successfully relocate our informal settlers. In addition, a legal team led by Secretary Leila de Lima is preparing to file cases against those who have closed or obstructed our waterways.

We are not content with simply passing the blame and pointing fingers. Our action: an allocation of 6.2 billion pesos to prevent flooding throughout Metro Manila. This includes the construction of the Blumentritt Interceptor Catchment area. The entire project is 3.3 kilometers in length; and once it is completed, it will be able to catch the equivalent of 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water. When the rains hit, the rainwater now has somewhere to go, and will no longer accumulate on our streets. This project was started in March, and we aim to complete it by next year.

Government has been fulfilling its obligation to the people, but let us ask ourselves: How have I contributed to the solution? If someone dumps trash into a river, confront them; if you see a building being built above a creek, report it to the correct authorities. We will only drown in our problems if we do nothing.

Even after the storms have passed, our work to restore normalcy to the lives of calamity-struck families does not end. Through the cooperation of the government, and the private sector, 9,377 houses have been erected for the victims of typhoon Sendong. An additional 4,374 homes will be built before the end of the following year. We ask for patience and understanding, the process has been delayed because of the complex process of land acquisition; in truth, if discussions on other tracts of land go well, we will be able to construct an additional 2,719 houses.

We also aim to turn over a total of 53,106 homes to our countrymen who were left homeless by the onslaught of typhoon Pablo. We began to hand over houses in May; and we will complete another 17,609 homes by the end of the year. And by the time we finish the 35,447 homes still to be completed by 2014, all the families who felt nature’s wrath will once again find shelter under their own roofs.

Still on the subject of housing, this time for our men and women in uniform: More than a year ago, we had already built 21,800 housing units for our police force and soldiers. For Phase II of this project, we have already built an additional 26,050 homes out of our target of 31,200, and the rest will be completed by next month.

Apart from housing, livelihood projects are being implemented for the benefit of our troops. Several thousand hectares of land in three of our military camps—namely, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon, and Camp Peralta in Capiz—will be the venues for these livelihood projects, which will give our soldiers additional income through plantations of bamboo, coffee, cacao, and palm oil. If before, soldiers were concerned solely with defending us, now, even military retirees can participate in improving our economy.

But our quest to find solutions to all the other problems we inherited regarding national defense does not stop here. Consider this: In 1986, there were an estimated 250,000 policemen and soldiers protecting a total of 55 million Filipinos. Today, we still have an estimated 250,000 policemen and soldiers, who protect 95 million Filipinos. Our population has almost doubled, while the number of our protectors has not changed.

We are sure to have critics who will say “Is this really a problem? Just add more policemen and soldiers. You can even reduce unemployment that way.” If only it were that simple. Let us look at the situation. The common pension scheme works like this: both members and employers contribute to the pension. Their contributions serve as capital for reinvestment, and the gains of these investments will in turn fund the retiring members’ pensions. But what is the true situation of the AFP and PNP pensions? No contributions have been made, but there are payments to make. Apart from this, the pensions of retirees have been indexed to the salaries of active personnel. This means that if the salaries of those in the service increase, so too will the pensions received by retirees or qualified families. Yearly, there are more and more men and women retiring, so, naturally, the obligations that must be paid out also increase. What is worse is that funds from the national budget are being used for these growing obligations: In 2012, 54.48 billion pesos were spent on soldiers’ and policemen’s pensions. This year, that figure will rise to 61.29 billion. By 2016, it will be at 80.64 billion. Our pension deficit will keep growing and growing and growing, eating into the budget allocation for other social services. How then do we add more servicemen, given such a context?

We need a system that fulfills our civic obligations to our policemen and armed forces; and it is likely that we will request the assistance of the GSIS in this regard. We are currently studying the feasibility of using reclaimed land to generate funds that will form part of the solution. After all, we cannot surprise the GSIS and ask them to account for the entirety of our needs, which is why an even more thorough study will be conducted to create a fair, sustainable, and clear mechanism for the pensions of PNP and AFP personnel. I call on Congress today: Let us review PD 1638 and RA 8551 to ensure that these pensions are timely, and balanced against national needs.

We see an equivalent solution for the problems that the SSS pensions will soon face. Consider that, since 1980, across-the-board pension increases occurred 21 times, but actual pension contribution increases only occurred twice. As a result, the SSS has accumulated an estimated 1.1 trillion pesos in unfunded liability. According to a study done in 2011, this shortfall will increase by 8 percent per annum, eventually resulting in the complete consumption of the fund 28 years from now. If this happens, the next generation is certain to suffer.

We believe that it is time to amend the SSS Pension Scheme. We must establish measures that remedy the outflow of funds. If we add 0.6 percent to the contribution rate, it will immediately deduct 141 billion pesos from the unfunded liability of the SSS. If we begin to invest in our future today, no further problems will be handed down to the next generation of Filipinos.

When it comes to our national police, our goal to strengthen their capabilities so that they may better fulfill their mandate: accomplished. Beginning this 2013, 30,000 policemen will finally be able go back to doing police work because we will be hiring civilian personnel who will focus on administrative work. After all, the skills and abilities of our police would be put to waste if we keep them imprisoned in the four corners of an office.

At the start of July 2013, we began distributing new units of 9mm Glock 17 pistols to our police. This is just the beginning: We are slated to distribute a total of 74,879 firearms among our police force, in keeping with our goal of a one-is-to-one police-to-pistol ratio.

These investments in our national police will yield abundant benefits, especially since this redounds to more efficient and reliable public service. Is it not true that we have gotten used to news of violence during elections? Oplan Katok directly addresses this. The goal of the program: track down loose firearms, which ensures that the guns we have licensed are in the possession of those authorized to do so. The police have knocked on a total of 491,929 front doors for the renewal of licenses. This contributed greatly to our campaign for Secure and Fair Elections, which yielded a 63 percent reduction among private armed groups—from the 112 during the 2010 elections, to just 41 this 2013. And from the 189 incidents of violence recorded in 2010, we have recorded only 77 confirmed incidents for the recently concluded election.

Let us use ARMM as an example. Governor Mujiv Hataman has said that he could not remember a time in his life when Lanao del Sur did not suffer a failure of elections. We should note that this was the first time that the ARMM elections were synchronized with the national elections. This means that, in the past, the full force of the State was focused on just one region, and yet it still had to call for a failure of elections. This 2013, because our uniformed forces had to safeguard elections across the entire country, there were those who thought the situation in ARMM would only get worse. But we have seen how vastly it has improved: ARMM successfully held a clean, safe, and fair election; votes were counted, and those whom the people charged with new mandates were proclaimed. Because of the diligence of our police force and of our soldiers, and the coming together of the nation, the 2013 elections were more peaceful.

But there are still incidents that sully our police force’s honor. We know of what happened to the members of the Ozamiz Gang—Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga—who were caught, only to be killed. As with our investigation of the Atimonan incident, we will ensure that those at fault will be held accountable—regardless of their rank. Whoever masterminded all of this: prepare yourselves. I am close to learning who you are.

Despite these incidents, my confidence in and hope for our police remain high. They have never wanted for exemplars like PO3 Edlyn Arbo, who, despite being off-duty and unarmed, bravely confronted a mugger who embarked on the jeep she was on, and pursued him. There are also those like PO3 Felipe Moncatar, who has received countless commendations because of the growing list of criminals he has put in jail—I heard you’ve just apprehended another member of a syndicate—including members of carjacking syndicates and some of the most wanted in Bacolod. You may have also heard about PO2 Dondon Sultan. A car broke down along Quezon Boulevard, and PO2 Sultan stopped and offered his assistance. He did not just change a tire; he also helped bring the car to a mechanic. As thanks for his service, PO2 Sultan was offered 1,000 pesos—an offer he declined. He said, and I quote, “Our job is to help our countrymen.” We salute those of you who truly serve the public. You are proof that honest and capable policemen are not an endangered species. I have already instructed Secretary Mar Roxas of the DILG and Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of the DND to ensure that those like you in our uniformed services reap the appropriate rewards.

Add to these our disaster relief workers from many branches of government, as well as volunteers from the private sector. I know that it is not easy to battle floods, dig through mud, and confront calamities. I will not tire of recognizing your contributions to our society; I salute the way you have offered yourselves to help in lessening the suffering of our countrymen.

Peace is also within reach in a region that has long been torn apart by conflict. In October of the previous year, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed. In truth, just nine days have passed since the signing of the second annex of the agreement. We are confident that we will not have to wait long before hearing more good news on the development of the peace process.

I am sure everyone is aware that the building of consensus is not an easy task; fortunately, both sides are ready to listen, willing to compromise, and willing to reach a meeting of the minds. We know, too, the consequences of impatience and haste. 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. My father raised me to be true to my word, and I can tell our brothers and sisters of the Bangsamoro: Whatever agreements we come to will be fulfilled by the national government.

Trust is vital to the peace process. It does not come automatically, perhaps because of the long history of conflict. Now, the desire of both sides to reach an agreement is palpable, and we are truly proving ourselves trustworthy. To those seeking to sow discord and doubt: Can you really say that you are a Filipino that has compassion for his fellow Filipinos?

I am hopeful that every Filipino will contribute towards our goals for the Bangsamoro. We will prove that they did not make a mistake in choosing the path of peace; we are ready to lend the strength of the entire nation to lift up the provinces of Muslim Mindanao, who are among our poorest. What we aim for is the triumph of all; we will not allow any of our countrymen to be left behind, while others surpass them. Once again, I call on Congress: The Transition Commission that will craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law has already been created. Once their task is completed in keeping with the principles of the peace process, I ask you to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the end of 2014. This way, we will have ample time to prepare for the election of a new Bangsamoro government come 2016.

We have accomplished whatever change we are experiencing today because we refused to be satisfied with the status quo in the government we inherited. Let me ask: How many of you have used what they call the Telepono sa Barangay? I wouldn’t be surprised if no one has. According to the DOTC, more than 5 billion pesos would have been earmarked for a program that would distribute landline phones to far-flung areas. Would this not have been a grave waste of funds, because in such a short time after its implementation, the number of Filipinos with cellphones just grew and grew? Who would take notice of the 6,000 landlines they would have installed, when we have 100 million cellphones in the Philippines?

Here is another example of the kind of thinking we’ve had to eradicate from government. Eight combat utility helicopters were bought for what they claimed to be “the more efficient deployment of our soldiers.” The problem: The guns the helicopters were equipped with were mounted at the door; requiring their removal in order to enable people to pass. If you are a soldier entering the fray at the height of battle, what use is a machine gun that is set aside and unable to fire? Did no one think about this before the contracts were signed? Why was this even approved in the first place?

We have to be more discriminating buyers. We cannot rely on the sales talk of suppliers alone. We have tasked the DOST to assemble a body of experts who can critically assess suppliers’ pitches, especially on big-ticket items. Our operating principles: the right identification of the root of the problem; the careful study and deliberation, grounded on correct methodology, to arrive at the best solution.

This was also the rationale and the driving force behind our response to the issue of informal settlers in Metro Manila. This is why we are already fulfilling our goal to remove from harm’s way those who crammed themselves into high-risk areas of the city. After all, I do not think anyone will disagree with us when we say the current situation cannot be allowed to persist. In the general welfare clause of our Constitution—Article 2, Section 5—it says, “The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.”

Here we have proven that the Filipino listens to reason. If it is clear that compassion is your bedrock principle, then we will be more eager to work with you. Before roofs were dismantled, before walls were demolished, we explained how we came to our decision: better housing, access to public transport, and, for the diligent, no shortage of opportunities to earn. We made it clear that we wanted to provide a refuge to those who were high-risk and most in need—and not to syndicates. We are aware that whenever the aid given by the state is abused, the lives of other Filipinos are also put in jeopardy.

After a batch of informal settlers was moved to the relocation site, they urged their former neighbors: Join us. It is safer here. This year, our priority is to relocate more than 19,400 families living along Metro Manila’s major waterways. The convergence of DILG, NHA, DSWD, MMDA, and DPWH has resulted in a much clearer solution to one of our most long-standing problems.

Another example of transformation in government: haven’t vital bills languished in Congress? In the previous year, the Sin Tax Reform Law and the Responsible Parenthood Law were finally signed into law. We thank our partners in Congress and in the Senate who helped us push for the passage of these laws. We persevered through the long process of debate and consultation; we were not cowed by those who tried to sow doubt in the attempt to obstruct our meaningful agenda. We have fought for what benefits the people, and we are advancing true public service for the Filipino.

I would also like to propose to Congress several laws that will help us sustain and improve on the reforms we have established. Let us amend the Cabotage Law in order to foster greater competition and to lower the cost of transportation for our agricultural sector and other industries. Let us likewise enact the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill, so that the incentives we provide to businesses become even clearer and more accountable. We also have to focus on the Land Administration Reform Bill, given the need for convergence among agencies tasked to oversee our land holdings, and thus ensuring that they can fulfill their collective mandate with increased efficiency.

Tomorrow, we are submitting to Congress our proposed 2.268 trillion-peso National Budget for 2014. I am confident of your support and advocacy for the allocation of funds which was arrived at after careful consideration. This budget is not only a continuation of our reforms, but it will also accelerate our momentum towards long-lasting inclusive progress.

There are those who insist on upgrading our Armed Forces. I agree with this, but some of them act as if they want us to invest every centavo of our country into fighter jets, tanks, and other equipment for warfare. They may not know that one fighter jet costs 1.58 billion pesos—equivalent to 6,580 houses for our soldiers and our police force, or nearly 2,000 classrooms for our children. And what can one jet do? To be truly effective, we would need a squadron—and one squadron is composed of twenty-four fighter jets. At 1.58 billion pesos per jet, we would have to devote 37.92 billion pesos of the nation’s coffers just to assemble one squadron. And what about practice missiles? And it is not as if jet fuel, a radar system, ground bases, and ground intercept controls are free. Building a minimum credible defense posture is not something we can take lightly. Do we follow others who prioritize the possession of a nuclear option at the expense of everything else? I do not think anyone would agree. We will balance our needs. We are committed to meeting the needs of our society, while remaining a good and upstanding member of the community of nations.

We are well aware that, in the past, decisions were made based on politics. Leaders did everything they could just to keep a firm hold on their power—at the expense of the suffering of present and future generations of Filipinos. Let us look, for example, at the consequences of refusing to raise passenger fares for the LRT and MRT.

Each trip that one passenger makes on the LRT is estimated to cost 40 pesos. What does each passenger pay? 15 pesos. This means that the government subsidizes the remaining 25 pesos. As for the MRT, the true cost of one trip is 60 pesos: 15 pesos paid by passengers, 45 pesos by the government—in the end, each and every Filipino pays a share of the subsidy. Whether you live in Mindanao or Visayas, and not once have you ever stepped onto the LRT or MRT, you help to fund this.

What’s worse: because past leaders gave away our commercial development rights, each peso that we can earn from the posters and billboards in the stations goes to private companies, instead of going to the government. What we could have used to subsidize the cost of maintenance and operations was given away.

Perhaps it is only reasonable for us to move the fares of the MRT and LRT closer to the fares of air-conditioned buses, so that the government subsidy for the MRT and LRT can be used for other social services.

You are my witnesses: We have no plans to hand down problems to our successors. In truth, projects that were left to decay in the past are now truly benefiting the people. Let us look at the Ternate-Nasugbu Road. This road, connecting Cavite, Batangas, and Metro Manila, is only six kilometers long, but it still took almost 20 years to finish. We already opened one part of this road, and when the sections requiring slope protection are completed, the benefit this road will bring to motorists will be complete.

We also have the Aluling Bridge in Ilocos Sur. The plans for its construction were first laid down on paper in 1978. And we made certain that our successors would not merely inherit sheets of paper. The bridge was finally completed in March. Last month, we also began the operation of the Laguindingan Airport—a project that took one generation to make the leap from idea to implementation.

There is also the semiconductor industry, which waited decades for a laboratory that could compete with facilities of other countries. We did not allow them to wait much longer. In May of this year, under the leadership of DOST, we inaugurated the Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory (ADMATEL). Before, products manufactured here had to be sent to other countries to undergo testing. We were unable to maximize profits in this industry; we were unable to maximize the potential of our semiconductor industry to attract even more investments.

Because of ADMATEL, products will now be manufactured and tested here, and we will be able to take even greater advantage of the skills of Filipino workers in the electronics sector. And we have every expectation that this industry—one that contributed almost 44 percent to our exports in 2012—will grow even stronger.

With the help of our Big Man in the Senate, Senator Franklin Drilon, the more than fifty-year wait of Ilonggos has come to an end; the implementation of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project II in Iloilo has started. How will this help us?

First, an estimated 24,000 farmers across Iloilo will benefit from year-round irrigation. As a result, the harvests of rice farmers may double. Let me make it clear: The 31,840 hectares of land that will be irrigated will yield an additional 146,013 metric tons of rice. This amount is equal to almost 80 percent of the buffer stock of rice that we will import for 2013.

This does not include the other benefits that this project will bring. For instance, preventing widespread flooding in Iloilo, and adding 6.6 megawatts in hydropower to the energy requirements of the province. This project will also contribute to the supply of water for some parts of the province, and to the development of its ecotourism industry. Apart from all these, the Jalaur River Project will create around 17,000 jobs; and once it becomes fully operational, an estimated 32,000 Filipinos will be given decent livelihoods. This project was first conceived in 1960—we share the same birthday.

We are aware that many of our countrymen are excited to see the fruits of our Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects. We likewise know that there are those who have grown impatient waiting for them.

Let us put things into context. Back in 2010, when our administration came into office, we were left with only 6.5 percent of the programmable budget for the year, or just around 100 billion pesos; 93.5 percent of the budget had already been allotted by my predecessor. This is precisely why we approached the private sector. We told them: “We do not have the funds, let us partner with one another to build the necessary infrastructure.”

Apart from this, we faced other difficulties when PPP began. The studies on which the projects were based were outdated; and the bureaucracy lacked the sufficient knowledge to implement them. Not to mention the public, who seemed to have lost confidence in the contracts the government undertook.

Nevertheless, whatever the situation may be, our principle is that anything worth doing is worth doing right. We have no plans of entering into questionable contracts today just to bequeath problems to the next administration. Each project has to go through the correct process to ensure that our taxpayers’ hard-earned money will be spent the right way.

As early as now, we are seeing the effects of the honest, transparent, and clear way we have been going about our PPP projects. Previously, even just the construction of a single airport already made headlines. Let us compare this to what we are seeing today: Apart from the Laguindingan Airport, which is already being utilized, we are upgrading and modernizing the Tacloban Airport, the Bicol International Airport, the New Bohol Airport, the Mactan Airport, and the Puerto Princesa Airport all at the same time. The Daang Hari-NLEX link road is the fastest PPP project that has been awarded in any administration, with no shortcuts in the processes. All these, and all the other infrastructure projects that are being and will be constructed, will give rise to a society teeming with opportunity.

The problems that we have inherited—and are currently solving—make up a long list; for example, the recurring, rotating blackouts in Mindanao. From the very beginning, we have been working on a solution for this—but we are also aware that a problem that has been ignored for an entire decade cannot be solved overnight. Right now, we continue to take steps to address the shortages as well as provide for immediate needs. We have helped electric cooperatives bring in generator sets that will reduce brownouts; and this will continue until the plants that will supply the region with more electricity are completed.

But the critics will never fully disappear. Some are complaining that the price of electricity will increase with the usage of diesel-fueled generator sets. Hydropower is abundant now because of the rainy season, so we hear objections to the generator sets. But come summer, many will once again complain about eight-hour brownouts.

We also want more power plants built in other parts of the Philippines. As our economy grows, so will our consumption of electricity, which means we must likewise increase supply. Do we really want to wait until our plants are at full capacity before more plants are built? Power plants do not sprout like mushrooms—a power plant takes two to three years to construct.

If anyone has a good suggestion, we are ready to listen. But I also hope that the kibitzers put the situation in the proper context. The plant in Redondo, Zambales, is a good example. A TRO was issued against the plant because of the argument that renewable energy is better. Did they happen to mention that renewable energy is also more expensive—from the cost of building the plants to the eventual price of energy? Did they mention that it cannot provide the baseload—the capacity required to make sure brownouts do not occur? If you put up a wind-powered plant, what do you do when there is no wind? If you put up a solar plant, what do you when the sky is cloudy? Let me be clear: I believe in renewable energy and we support its use, but there should also be baseload plants that can ensure a steady supply of electricity for our homes and industries. I wonder if those who are critical of the plants we want put up will be as noisy when they are busy fanning themselves during brownouts. All I am really saying is this: Let us help each other find a solution.

Since we are being frank with each other, let us talk about the renovation of NAIA 3. This is a complex issue, which has already undergone two arbitrations. We would have won both of them, but one of the decisions was reversed due to a technicality. This is why we are now preparing for our case to be heard once more. And there are added complications because of the issue of warranties for the completion of NAIA 3—it is not acceptable for us to find defects after renovations, and then have to spend even more money to fix them. This is why when we were told that the original contractor was willing to give a proper warranty, we agreed to the deal. But we want to be certain; we want to fully and correctly go through the process. So I must ask for your understanding on this issue.

Today, it is clear: A single goal is behind each square meter of cement we pour in building the foundations of a more progressive country; gain for all—and not politics. Whereas before, roads were constructed based on whims, and bridges were built where the Mayor enjoyed the friendship of Madam, now, we follow a nationwide plan. No favorites, no transactionalism, no patronage; each peso is spent to accelerate our goal of broad-based growth.

What we can expect in the years to come: airports and ports to facilitate commerce and tourism; roads to ensure that we all reap the maximum benefit from these big-ticket projects; power plants that will generate enough energy and fuel the development of industry. This is the framework from which other initiatives will branch out, creating even greater opportunities for Juan and Juana dela Cruz—from the farmer who will have access to adequate irrigation and who will be able to sell his harvest more quickly, to the construction workers erecting new buildings; from the continued development of call centers across the country, to the rise of even more businessmen ready to invest in the Philippines. We implemented the right projects for the right price; we completed these projects with the right quality; and we finished, or we will finish, these projects right on time, because the right people worked on them.

Let us talk about traffic: Isn’t it estimated that our economy loses an estimated 2.4 billion pesos every day because of Metro Manila traffic? Among the projects targeted to decongest Manila is the Integrated Transport System. For the buses that force themselves onto already-crowded roads, we will construct terminals in areas with less traffic. Our countrymen can already make use of the terminal in Parañaque, and the ones in Quezon City and Muntinlupa are already lined up. Provincial buses will be permitted only up to these terminals, so they do not add to the congestion.

There is also the two connector roads that will join the North and South Luzon Expressways. To tell you the truth, there were already plans to construct what they called the Metro Manila Highway in the seventies. This would have connected the two expressways, so that traveling from one point to another need not consume the hours it takes to pass through the entire length of EDSA. The problem: Mr. Marcos issued laws that favored one of his cronies. And unfortunately, we are required to follow them: Whoever constructs infrastructure in those areas must be in partnership with the corporation of Mr. Marcos’ friend. Even worse: every time they add even just another short section to the original road, their franchise is extended by thirty years. That is not the end of it: Once the company profited, the development of infrastructure in the area was left unfinished. Remember that these roads were supposed to traverse Pangasinan to Quezon… But when the company operated at a loss, they had the audacity to pass on to the government a multitude of debts. I ask our Congress today: Let us take another look at Presidential Decrees 1113 and 1894.

Despite this, our projects continue. We have an eight-kilometer, four-lane elevated expressway that will connect C3 road to Caloocan, crossing España, up to PUP in Sta. Mesa. There is also a more than fourteen-kilometer six-lane elevated tollway extending from Balintawak to Buendia in Makati. The Common Alignment of these two roads: a five-and-a-half kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway from PUP in Sta. Mesa, crossing Osmeña and Quirino Avenue, to Buendia in Makati. Once this road is opened to the public, what once took two hours from SLEX to NLEX will now take only fifteen minutes. What once was a three-hour drive from Clark to Calamba will be reduced by almost half to an hour and forty minutes. Every day, an estimated 55,000 motorists will benefit from this project. Motorists will save time and gas, pollution will be decreased, and commerce and tourism will flourish. Is this not a win-win situation?

In the space of only three years, we have proven that agencies that were once cesspools of corruption can be transformed into examples of honest and efficient service. 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, attracting even more skilled contractors to do their part in raising the quality of public infrastructure. This kind of honest leadership has allowed the DPWH to save 18.4 billion pesos, which has been allotted to other meaningful projects.

As an example of the dividends of good governance, let us look at the Tagumbao Bridge in Gerona, Tarlac. In truth, I was an advocate of its construction back when I was just a Congressman. Back then, some of my constituents had to circle around two towns just to cross a river that overflowed during the rainy season. I even told past administrations: you can have my entire PDAF, just complete the bridge, in installments if possible. But nothing happened and time passed. The gap separating the banks of the river—and thus, the length of the bridge that was required—only widened further.

Right now, we are constructing the Tagumbao Bridge. Now that we are the ones implementing it, this is the story: Approved funds for the project stand at around 334 million pesos; but because of good management and prudent spending, the cost was lowered to 226 million pesos. In the end, we saved a total of over 108 million pesos without sacrificing the quality of the completed bridge. And even better: The funds that we saved can be used in the construction of a dike and river training projects for Phase II.

Let us move on to tourism. According to the Oriental Morning Post, we are the “Best Tourism Destination of 2012.” And it seems the Shanghai Morning Post fell in love with our country when they named us the “Most Romantic Destination of 2012.” Scuba Diving Magazine says that the Philippines is the “Best Diving Destination.” And Palawan is the “Best Island” if you ask Travel + Leisure Magazine. It seems they just stopped short of calling us paradise.

Given such resounding praise, it comes as no surprise that in 2012, we registered 4.3 million tourist arrivals in our country—another new record high. This figure is a 21.4 percent increase from when we assumed office in 2010, when only an estimated 3.1 million tourists visited our country. When it comes to our domestic travelers, our previous target for 2016 was 35.5 million tourists. But we have surpassed this as early as 2011, with 37.5 million domestic tourists. With the momentum that we are now experiencing, we have full confidence that we will achieve our new domestic target of 56.1 million before the end of 2016.

A stronger tourism sector will generate more job opportunities. The DOT estimates that tourism created 3.8 million jobs in 2011. The truth is, it is not just our scenic and most famed destinations that will profit from the arrival of tourists, but also the nearby towns that can be considered tourism support communities; the places from which resorts and hotels source the food that they serve, the souvenirs that they sell, as well as other products and services that provide a source of income for our provinces.

And I am certain that you have also heard the good news that has recently landed in our country. Last March, the International Civil Aviation Organization removed the significant safety concerns they had previously imposed on the Philippines. This was a fruit of our reforms in the aviation industry, to ensure that aviation safety in the Philippines meets international standards. And because of this, just last July 10, the European Union has once again permitted our flag carrier to resume direct flights to Europe.

Think about it: What if our aviation industry had already been improved and strengthened before? Was it not a waste to miss out on tourists whose lack of enthusiasm for visiting the country can be attributed to this? Missed jobs, funds, and opportunities—these are the results of the previous system of governance.

This is why, from the very onset, we have fought against corruption in all levels of government and pushed for the transformation of our institutions. The result: public service that truly benefits our countrymen.

Let us just look at the depth of transformation taking place in our GOCCs. Government-owned corporations whose losses were previously subsidized by the national government are now turning over dividends. Let us take the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) as an example. In the thirteen years prior to our term, from 1996 to 2009, the dividends of the PRA amounted to a sum total of 676.82 million pesos. Along the straight path: in 2012 alone, their dividends—1 billion pesos. Is this not a complete transformation?

The Local Water Utilities Administration is another good example. In 2011, the said GOCC recorded a net loss of 950 million pesos. But because of prudent management, they did more than just balance their books; based on their report, their gross income amounted to 870 million pesos in 2012. Because of this, they were able to remit 365 million pesos to government for that same year.

Yet another example: In my first SONA, we exposed the questionable practices of the MWSS, whose officials were giving themselves excessive bonuses and allowances, even as their company failed to address the needs of our citizens. This agency itself reported: The MWSS registered losses amounting to 34 million pesos in 2010. This was completely unacceptable. That is why in 2011, we signed the GOCC Governance Act, which serves as the standard for integrity, credibility, and accountability in the management of our GOCCs. Its results: In 2011, the MWSS earned 333 million pesos, from the 34-million-peso loss of 2010. In 2012, their earnings totaled almost 2 billion pesos. Consequently, their dividends have also increased: from 150 million in 2011, these increased to 345 million pesos for 2012. It is saddening though, that the depth of the reforms planted by the MWSS leadership is tarnished by the mudslinging of those who want to cling to the old system.

In tandem with the increased confidence in our good governance is the continued resurgence of our economy. The results: two consecutive ten-place jumps in the global competitiveness index of the World Economic Forum. For the first time in history, we attained investment-grade status from two of the three most respected credit ratings agencies in the world, and it is quite possible that the third will soon follow suit. We have maintained the stability of our consumer goods prices, and we continue to reduce the portion of our budget allotted to paying our debts, while increasing the funds allotted to social services. In a period of lethargic global economic activity, we registered an astounding 6.8 percent GDP growth in 2012. We surpassed this in the first quarter of 2013, when we reported growth of 7.8 percent—the highest recorded GDP in East and Southeast Asia. Special mention must be made of the 28.5 percent contributed by the manufacturing sector to the growth of our economy. And we anticipate that manufacturing will gain even more traction in the coming years.

We are now considered a rising tiger by the World Bank; the brightest spark, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, among other accolades that allude to the transformation that is sweeping our nation. From the prudent expenditure of funds to the effective collection of taxes; from infrastructure development to the transparent conduct of business that generates jobs, our message to the world could not be clearer: The Philippines is ready to ride the tides of progress.

The transformation of our society is not just evident in the economy or in statistics. Now, Filipinos know: Rich or poor, with or without political connections, when you do wrong, you will pay the consequences. Now, justice is truly blind. We will not undermine the orders of our Bosses to hold the corrupt accountable, and to right the wrongs of a system that has long beggared our country.

In fact, we are already holding the former leadership of TESDA accountable for his part in the outrageous overpricing of purchases by the agency. For example: one incubator jar is priced at 149 pesos. But Mr. Syjuco priced the same jar at 15,375 pesos. The normal price of a dough cutter, 120 pesos. The price according to Mr. Syjuco: 48,507 pesos. Let’s be clear: This is a dough cutter, not a Hamilton Class Cutter. Perhaps when he finally has his day in court to face the cases filed by the Ombudsman, Mr. Syjuco will finally learn to count.

We have also indicted the former PAGCOR officials who embezzled 26.7 million pesos just to produce a movie; burned through funds amounting to 186 million pesos to finance a party-list; and had the gall to use the rice donations allotted to calamity victims for campaign sorties.

Former leaders of the PNP are also being made to answer  allegations regarding the 131.6 million pesos wasted on seventy-five defective rubber boats, and the 104.99 million pesos spent on the anomalous purchase of secondhand helicopters from 2009 to 2010.  It would actually be better if they are able to properly answer questions regarding this, so we may discover if there are others who must also be held accountable.

On the topics of Cadavero, PDAF, MRT 3, and others: Just because the critics are not aware of what we are doing, they assume that we are doing nothing about these issues. If government possesses no data and yet announces who it will investigate, does that not send a message to the suspects to just hide the evidence? This is why we go where the truth takes us. The evidence decides our path.

When we denounced the “wang-wang” culture, we did not just dismantle the sirens of those who lord it over the streets; we also uprooted the culture of corruption that seemed firmly entrenched in our public institutions.

But let us be honest: Even today, there are still those in government who seemingly refuse to change. It is disheartening to discover the depth and breadth to which they have branched out in the bureaucracy; the moment we look away, someone is sure to be taken advantage of and victimized. The time has come to name names: we have repeatedly admonished the Bureau of Immigration to improve their watch over our ports and airports. How then was it possible for the brothers Joel and Mario Reyes, the principal suspects in the slaying of Gerry Ortega, to leave the country?  How could the escape of the Korean Park Sungjun—as blatantly seen in CCTV footage—have taken place? He is wanted in (South) Korea, and their government asked for our assistance in securing his arrest. How can we face them now, when our own government employees are the ones who enabled his escape?

The “make-do” culture at the NIA has also tested our patience. Instead of laying out plans for new irrigation systems, they are merely content with the continued rehabilitation of existing irrigation. For them, shoddy repairs are enough to say they have already done a good job. During their anniversary, I asked them why only 60 percent of their target was accomplished in 2012, when they had reached 80 percent in 2011. The next day, I met with their head during the NEDA Board Meeting. His excuse: 40 percent of the target areas were located in Mindanao and were devastated by Typhoon Pablo, thus the delay. When were we hit by Typhoon Pablo? In the first week of December. Which means that he meant to complete the remaining 40 percent of his tasks in the span of just three weeks. This is the kind of leadership we no longer need in the bureaucracy.

And here we have the Bureau of Customs, whose personnel are trying to outdo each other’s incompetence. Instead of collecting the proper taxes and preventing contraband from entering the country, they are heedlessly permitting the smuggling of goods, and even drugs, arms, and other items of a similar nature into our territory. The Department of Finance estimates that more than 200 billion pesos in revenue slips through our borders without going into public coffers. Where do these people get the gall? One can almost hear these public officials say, “I don’t care if the weapons go to criminal elements; I don’t care how many lives are ruined by drugs; I don’t care if our fields remain barren forever; What matters is that I am rich; it’s every man for himself.” Such practices have no place in government. If you cannot do your job, you do not deserve to remain in office.

If you are a good, conscientious employee of the BI, NIA, Customs, or any other government agency, I hope that you do even more. It is not enough to lie low and hide inside your cubicle; to prevent wrongdoing is part of your duty. You are in the right, so there is no need to hide; please make it easy for me to find people like you; I will raise you up as praiseworthy examples, that we may fully transform the flawed culture of your agencies.

And for those employees who refuse to turn their backs on the culture of wang-wang: my patience has run out. You were given three years to demonstrate your readiness to change; now, I shall pursue all of you and hold you accountable. No hard feelings.

And let us include in these reforms corrupt members of our Civil Service. It was during my mother’s time when I heard someone say, “So what if Malacañang ordered this? You will only be there for six years.” It is time to rectify this way of thinking. I call on our Congress to examine our Civil Service Code and PD1, so that we can revise these at the earliest possible time. I support the development of mechanisms that will restore the integrity of public service; that will ensure that only honest, capable, and principled civil servants will be allowed to enter and remain in government service.

And now, let’s allow our countrymen to share the transformations taking place in their lives:

[Video starts]

“My name is Violeta S. Abuque. We didn’t have [the Conditional Cash Transfer Program] before. Life was hard, you didn’t have any money, and you couldn’t approach anyone to ask for help because they didn’t have anything either.

“We were very happy that when DSWD launched their program, it covered even those of us living in the mountains. This program will help me put my children to school. We’ve realized how important it is to invest in your children’s education; they’ll have a different life from our ancestors who couldn’t even write their own names.

“I am very thankful for the [Conditional Cash Transfer] program, and to everyone who has supported this.”

— Violeta S. Abuque [CCT beneficiary]

“Before, my children couldn’t even bring food to eat in school—but now they can, and they even have breakfast.

“You really have to fulfill the conditions that come with the program. And, of course, you have to find a way to complement and augment the help they’ve given you. So every week, my child and I make some peanut butter and sell it.

“I am very grateful that I’m part of the [Conditional Cash Transfer] program, because it has been a really big help to my family.”

— Dulce Panaligan [CCT beneficiary]

“I went back to selling balut [fertilized duck eggs] while I was looking for a job. And then I heard that TESDA was holding trainings. I read up on these, and I registered. I’m very happy with how the TESDA program has helped me with my job-seeking. I’ve used what I’ve learned, so I can get a better life, so I can learn more things—especially applying what I’ve learned to my job.

— Emerson Paguia, TESDA scholar, IT Web Developer

“On 6:45 in the morning of April 2, I was on my way to the PCCR review center. A mugger entered the jeep, and on the Nagtahan flyover, declared a robbery. He held me at knifepoint, and when I struggled, he stabbed me on the thigh, but I got the knife from him. Before he got off the jeep, I stuck the knife in his back. I chased after him, and we were both bleeding. This was probably what got the people’s attention, which eventually led to the mugger’s arrest.

“I’m always aware of the oath I took, to serve our citizens. To my fellow police officers: Let us always do what is right, and what is for the good of the country—at the same time, what will reflect well on what we’re doing as PNP.”

— PO3 Edlyn Arbo, Philippine National Police.

“I was assigned to Police Station 4 from 2006 to 2012. I was given a spot meritorious promotion by the President, probably because of my apprehension of some of Bacolod City’s most wanted criminals. Last Saturday, I used the new gun the President had given me recently, to apprehend notorious car burglars here in Bacolod City.

“We do our jobs even if it’s difficult, even if we have to put our lives on the line—we do it so we can serve our fellowmen and our country.”

— PO3 Felipe Moncatar, Philippine National Police.

“My car broke down along Quezon Avenue, just after the tunnel. A policeman arrived after fifteen minutes, and he really helped me out—he even tried to lift the car with his bare hands. So I was thinking that, eventually, he would ask for a reward. Then the towing vehicle arrived, and they were about to tow my car. But this policeman said: No, help first before you haul.

“Out of gratitude, I tried to hand him 1,000 pesos for his help. But he refused it. He told me: Our job is to help the citizens. There has been positive change among our police force. To PO Sultan, I salute you.”

— Armin Punzalan, businessman

“The Navy’s modernization program is not just about equipment—it’s all about the welfare of our ranks. Everyone can see this—not just me, but all of my colleagues in the Philippine Navy; we are all very happy with the reforms we’ve seen.

“We’re experiencing the returns of the President’s straight and righteous path. We’re happy now, we do not want of anything. I tell my colleagues: The government has been giving us so much, and we just need to do our jobs well in return—to give back to the country, to give back to the people.”

— Lt. Commander Desuasido, Philippine Navy

[Video ends]

Our country has never lacked for people prepared to take a stand and fight for our country regardless of the enormity of the challenges before them. There is the courage of Commodore Ramon Alcaraz during the Second World War. In a small wooden Q-Boat, he took on nine Japanese Zero fighters—then considered among the most modern planes; three of these, he shot down. In fact, he would have continued fighting had he not received an order from his superiors to surrender. This type of bravery is what our soldiers display every day as they patrol our most remote mountains and our farthest islands; soldiers who continuously bear the distance from their families, who proudly stand their ground against anyone who challenges our sovereignty. It is no exaggeration either when I say that the triumphs we have achieved along the straight path might still be distant aspirations had it not been for the members of our Cabinet. When I asked them to join the government, they knew their jobs were not going to be easy. That they accepted the challenges was a blessing. They took an oath to help in transforming the country, and from the beginning, they have made sacrifices every day so that the privilege of serving you does not go to waste.

There are those like Secretary Albert del Rosario. Going by tradition, a Secretary’s first official travel outside the Philippines would be to a country with whom we enjoy strong and peaceful relations. But only a few hours after taking his oath as Foreign Affairs Secretary, Secretary del Rosario only took the time to possibly pack a change of clothes before immediately flying to Libya. He went through more than twenty checkpoints in the middle of crossfire and led the evacuation of more than 20,000 Filipinos who were caught in the conflict in Libya. You might also be surprised to hear the nationalities of the men and women we also ended up evacuating. Truly, the Philippines is different today: From a country that was always just the recipient of help, we have become a country capable of providing help.

All things considered, Secretary Albert could have said “no” to working in government. He is a successful and respected businessman, and, certainly, he would be much more comfortable living a private life. He had also already served as ambassador to America. He could have become disillusioned after being removed from his position, because he opposed the past administration’s declaration of a State of Emergency back in 2006. But we asked him to return to government, and he did. Now, he is contributing even more as Secretary. He is ready to put himself in harm’s way, because he knows that no one else will save Filipinos but fellow Filipinos. For continuing to stand up for our rights, I salute you, Secretary Albert del Rosario.

We also know that excellent public servants do not just transform a society; they inspire. Millions of Filipinos grieved when Jesse Robredo passed. For almost two decades, he served and led Naga with skill, compassion, and humility. These principles of his are the exact reasons we borrowed him from Congresswoman Leni and their three children, and from the Nagueños, so that he could become part of our Cabinet. This is why one of the hardest things I ever had to do as President was to deliver the news to Leni and their daughters, after the tragedy.

Apart from grieving, I could not avoid blaming myself for what happened to Jesse. Maybe if I had not asked him to join my Cabinet, he would still be alive today. Maybe if he had remained in Naga, he would still be with us. Maybe there would still be a Jesse Robredo in public service today.

But I also know that Jesse would not allow the transformation and righting of society to end with him. Jesse and I were only given opportunities to serve the country because of all of you. We cannot have just one face for transformation and change. We should not have to wait another hundred years before the next good citizen is born, before the next good Filipino rises to the occasion.

There are those who always ask: What will happen in 2016? What will happen when you step down? Will that be the end of good, honest governance? Will we have reached the end of the straight and righteous path?

My Bosses, let us remember: where did we begin? If you have doubts now, compare them with the doubts we all carried in 2010. Were we not happy enough then just to see the darkness end? Was it not enough for us to be able to replace those in power?

Now, we are experiencing change. Change that has sprung from the seeds of kindness, solidarity, and good will; change that was brought about by the million of Filipinos who have, in their own ways, big and small, pitched in and transformed the country.

And just look at where working together as one people has brought us: Did anyone imagine that peace would be within reach for a region that has, for the past 40 years, been torn apart by conflict? Who else could be responsible for this but the Moros who laid down their arms and said: “Come. Let’s talk. I trust you.” Who else but the common Filipino citizen who said: “Brother, we are all Filipinos. Let us put an end to this conflict.”

When the Pantawid Pamilya program was initially proposed, there were some who asked: How could we possibly achieve the program’s desired effects; where are the funds to cover all poor Filipinos? Did anyone imagine that in just three years, we will have expanded the scope of our project to cover four million household beneficiaries? And isn’t it they themselves who continue to help this program succeed? Each mother who wakes up early to send her child off to school? Each child that studies hard?

Did anyone imagine that from importing millions of tons of rice, we would be 94 percent rice self-sufficient by the end of 2012? Did anyone imagine that a country known as the “Sick Man of Asia” would, within three years of good governance, reach investment-grade status? Who would have thought that all the social interventions the government is providing right now would be doable without raising taxes, apart from the Sin Tax? And did they not have a part in this—each accountant, each doctor, each lawyer who now pays the right taxes? Didn’t we all have a part in this?

Is there any space left for doubt? Especially now that we are achieving things we never thought we could achieve; especially now that we have made progress—that our shared goals are within reach? My Bosses: Is this really the time for doubt?

For every Filipino who believes in the strength of small acts of kindness: You made this transformation possible. This is your SONA.

For every teacher who wakes at dawn just to teach children in far-flung areas: This is your SONA. For every policeman who serves and asks for nothing in return: This is your SONA.

For every Filipino who, unhappy with the list of candidates in an election, chose to knock on the doors of your neighbors to say: “We can’t be content. Let us find a rightful leader together,” this is your SONA.

For every student who strives to be aware of social issues, and does not just complain on Facebook but actually proposes solutions: This is your SONA.

For Brigadier General Ramon Mateo Dizon, the soon-to-retire head of the PSG, who stood alongside me even in facing coup d’états during my mother’s term: Up until my presidency, you have protected me, and my first and official family. I am able to go to different countries and to far corners of the Philippines with full confidence. Chito, you have done your part in changing our country. You are truly loyal to your flag, to the Constitution, and to the Filipino people. Of course, you could not have accomplished all this without your wife Jo-ann by your side. This SONA is for both of you as well.

And to all who roused their fellow citizens from apathy, those who challenged the cynics in our midst, and those who made the stubborn see reason: This is your SONA.

The road ahead of us is long; and we never said it would be easy—or that we could tread this path free of challenge. But I do not doubt our capacity to overcome any obstacle. We did not achieve our current success by chance. Let us not allow this transformation to be temporary; let us seize this opportunity to make the change permanent.

This is our fourth SONA. When I was a congressman, the people of Tarlac were my strength. When I became a senator and until now, in my Presidency, the people of our country have been there. Philippines, you are my strength. As we continue doing our part—and as we continue placing faith in our fellowmen and in God—I tell you: It will still be you who will make certain that what we have begun here will continue; you will be the ones who will make sure that we will completely eradicate corruption; you will be the ones who will make sure that we will never again stray from the straight and righteous path.

Once, I was told: “Noynoy, just begin the change.” So we did, and we can all see how far we have come. Now, my countrymen, let us continue to stand arm-in-arm. Together, let us foster, accelerate, and expand the transformation of society. I am Noynoy Aquino, and I proudly say to the world: I am a Filipino. How wonderful it is to be a Filipino in these times.

Thank you.

Basahin ayon sa pagkakabigkas


Sona 2013 (Tagalog)

State of the Nation Address
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines

[Delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasang Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, on July 22, 2013]

Marami pong salamat. Maupo ho tayong lahat.

Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay; Senate President Franklin M. Drilon; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.; Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at ang ating mga kagalang-galang na mahistrado ng Korte Suprema; mga dating Pangulong Fidel Valdez Ramos at Joseph Ejercito Estrada; mga kagalang-galang na kagawad ng kalipunang diplomatiko; mga miyembro ng Senado at Kamara de Representante; mga opisyal ng lokal na pamahalaan; mga miyembro ng Gabinete; mga unipormadong kasapi ng militar at kapulisan; mga kapwa ko nagseserbisyo sa taumbayan; at sa aking mga Boss, ang mga minamahal kong kababayan:

Isang , magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.  [applause]

Ito po ang aking ikaapat na SONA; dalawa na lamang ang natitira. Halos apat na taon na nga po ang lumipas nang una akong nilapitan ng ilang kampo upang hikayating tumakbo sa pagkapangulo. Ang sabi nila: Alam naming hindi masosolusyonan sa isang tulog, sa isang taon, o kahit pa sa anim na taong termino ng isang Presidente ang lahat ng problema ng bansa. Pero simulan mo lang, at tiyak, kasama mo kaming mag-aaruga nito.

Noon pa man, mulat po ako sa tindi ng mga problemang aking kakaharapin. Mula sa pagiging kandidato, o Presidente na, o kahit ba matapos nang makababa sa puwesto, hindi biro ang peligrong kakambal ng trabahong ito. Malawakang transpormasyon ng lipunan ang aking hangarin, at mulat akong marami akong kailangang banggain para matupad ito. Pero hindi po ako pinalaki ng aking mga magulang para tumiklop lamang sa mga hamon. Hindi ko mahaharap ang aking sarili kung tinanggihan ko ang pagkakataong bawasan ang pagdurusang hindi naman dapat dinaraanan ng Pilipino. [applause]

Tumugon nga po tayo sa panawagan, at ang mga kasama natin noong una, nadagdagan pa. Sa paniniwala ko nga po, kung tama ang aking ginagawa, lalo pang dadami ang ating magiging kasangga. Nito ngang nakaraang Mayo, tinanong ko kayo, “Boss, tama ba ang direksyon natin?” Ang tugon ninyo: “Tama, at pabilisin pa natin ang transpormasyon ng lipunan.” Humiling ako ng mga kakamping makikisagwan sa iisang direksyon, at ibinigay ninyo ito. Ang totoo nga po, hindi lang mayorya, hindi lang siyam sa labindalawa, kundi siyam sa sampung pinakamataas na puwesto na senador ay mga taong inilapit ko sa inyo. [applause] Sa aking pakiwari, malinaw po ang mensahe nitong huling halalan: tama, ituloy natin, damihan pa natin ang 8,581 na sitiong napailawan; dagdagan pa natin ang 28,398 na pamilyang dati’y informal settler, ngunit ngayon ay mayroon na o magkakaroon na ng disenteng tirahan; palaguin pa natin ang di bababa sa 40 bilyong piso kada taong dagdag ng perang napupunta sa edukasyon, kalusugan, serbisyong panlipunan, at marami pang iba, dahil sa tama at mas masugid na pagkolekta ng buwis; dama namin ang marami pang ibang patunay na talagang nagbabago ang lipunan. Lalo nga po akong nabuhayan sa ipinarating ninyong mensahe; malinaw po talagang hindi ako nag-iisa sa pagpasan ng mga responsibilidad. [applause] Paano ba naman pong hindi lalakas ang aking loob, kung pati ang mga tulad ni Ginoong Niño Aguirre ay nakikihubog sa ating kinabukasan? Isipin po ninyo, hindi na nga makalakad dahil sa kapansanan, pilit pa rin niyang inakyat ang presintong nasa ikaapat na palapag ng gusali, para lang makaboto at makiambag sa tunay na pagbabago ng lipunan. Salamat, Ginoong Aguirre. [applause]

Hindi nga po nauubos ang mga Pilipinong handang makiambag, na siyang ugat ng pagbabagong tinatamasa natin ngayon. Ang stratehiya: Sagarin ang oportunidad para sa lahat, lalo na para sa mga mas nangangailangan. Hindi natin pakay maghintay ng trickle down; hindi puwedeng baka sakali o tsamba lang silang daratnan ng mga biyaya ng kaunlaran. Ito pong tinatawag nating inclusive growth—itong malawakang kaunlaran—ang mismong prinsipyong bukal ng bawat inisyatiba, bawat kilos, bawat desisyon ng inyong gobyerno. Ang maiiwan na lamang ay ang ayaw sumama, dahil hindi sinamantala ang pagkakataon.

Ang atin pong batayang prinsipyo: Malawakang pagkakataon ang susi sa malawakan at pangmatagalang kaunlaran. Huwag po sana nating kalimutan na ang pagkakataon ay punla lamang. Kailangan itong diligin ng sipag, alagaan ng determinasyon, at payabungin ng dedikasyon. Tingnan nga lang po natin ang mga TESDA-DOLE scholars. Sa 503,521 na napagtapos na natin dito, tinatayang anim sa bawat sampu ang nagtatrabaho na. [applause] Noong araw po, ayon sa pag-aaral ng DBM noong 2006 hanggang 2008, ang nakakahanap ng trabaho sa mga napagtapos ng TESDA: 28.5 percent lamang. Noong lumipas na taon naman po: sa IT-BPO program, 70.9 percent ang employment rate ng ating mga nagtapos sa TESDA. Sa electronics and semiconductor program naman, umabot sa 85 percent na mga nagtapos noong 2012 ang nagkatrabaho. Malinaw po: Kayo mismo ang huhubog, kayo mismo ang magdidikta kung hinog at matamis ang bungang kolektibo nating pipitasin, o kung magiging bulok at katiting ang kahihinatnan ng mga pagkakataong bumubukas sa kabanatang ito ng ating kasaysayan.

Isa-isahin po natin. Ang layuning palawakin ang saklaw ng Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program: natupad. Ang dinatnan nating mahigit 700,000 kabahayang benepisyaryo ng programa noong 2010, umabot na sa halos apat na milyon na kabahayan sa ating pong administrasyon. [applause]

Mayroon pa po: Galing sa pag-aaral ng Philippine Institute for Development Studies, mas malaki ng tinatayang 40 porsyento ang sinasahod ng mga naka-graduate ng high school, kumpara sa mga elementarya lang ang tinapos. Di po ba makatuwirang sagarin na natin ang tulong na ibinibigay natin sa mga pamilya, upang makumpleto na ng mga batang benepisyaryo ang high school, at sa gayon ay maisagad na rin ang benepisyo ng programang ito? Kaya nga po, sa susunod na taon, magiging saklaw na ng programa ang mga pamilyang may kabataang abot sa 18 taong gulang, upang hanggang sa high school ay makapagtapos na sila. [applause]

Sa edukasyon naman po: ang layunin nating itaas ang kalidad ng kaalamang natututuhan ng kabataan, upang matapos mag-aral ay mapanghawakan nila ang mga oportunidad na bumubukas sa ating lipunan: natupad po. Nabura na ang minana nating kakulangan sa libro at upuan, at kung magpapatuloy nga po ang pagpapakitang-gilas ni Kalihim Brother Armin Luistro, [applause] pati po ang kakulangan sa silid-aralan ay mabubura na rin sa taong ito. Ang magandang balita pa: May kakayahan na tayong paghandaan ang magiging pangangailangan dahil sa K to 12 program. [applause]

Hindi po biro ang dinatnang mga problema ni Brother Armin sa DepEd. Isipin po ninyo, kada isang textbook, pinepresyuhan dati ng 58 pesos; nang siya na ang namumuno, bumaba ang presyo ng eksaktong libro sa 30 pesos. Paano po kaya kung dati pa nagbayad ng tamang halaga para sa mga aklat na ito? Kung natipid natin ang diperensyang 28 pesos, at may limang textbook ang bawat sa isang tinatayang 20.7 million na estudyante sa ating public school system, ang katumbas nito: halos 2.9 billion pesos. [applause] Kaya po sana nitong pondohan ang plano nating pagpapaayos at rehabilitasyon ng nasa 9,502 na silid-aralan.

Kung nagkulang sa lakas ng loob si Brother Armin, puwede namang ipamana na lang sa susunod sa kanya ang kultura ng pagwawalang-bahala sa kanyang ahensya. Puwede naman din pong ipamana na lang ang mga backlog; ipasa na lang sa susunod ang lolobong pagkukulang dahil sa dumaraming mga enrolee kada taon. Pero itong si Brother Armin, imbes na makuntento, imbes na sabihing, “Puwede na ‘yan, tapos na ang trabaho ko,” gagawa pa siya ng mas maraming upuan at classroom, at bibili ng mas maraming libro, upang siguruhing pati ang para sa susunod na mga taon ay mapunuan na rin. [applause]

Ang pagpapalakas naman sa sektor ng agrikultura: natupad din. Isipin po ninyo, ayon sa NFA: Noong 2010, nag-angkat ang bansa ng mahigit dalawang milyong metriko tonelada ng bigas. Noong 2011, bumaba ito sa 855,000 metric tons. Noong 2012: 500,000 metric tons na lang. At ngayong 2013: Ang pinakasagad na nating aangkatin, kasama na ang pribadong sektor, ay ang minimum access volume na 350,000 metric tons. [applause] Nakapaloob na po dito ang 187,000 metric tons sa reserbang buffer stock sakaling magsunud-sunod ang bagyo; malamang, dahil on-target pa rin tayo sa rice self-sufficiency, hindi na rin kailangan pang mag-angkat ng pribadong sektor. Dagdag pa po diyan, nagsimula na tayong mag-export ng matataas na uri ng bigas. Ang layo na po talaga natin doon sa panahong sinasabing hindi raw natin kayang pakainin ang ating sarili. [applause]

Datos na rin po ang pruweba: lumago ng 3.3 percent ang sektor na ito sa unang tatlong buwan ng 2013. Triple po ang itinaas nito mula sa 1.1 percent growth noong parehong panahon ng 2012. Kaya naman, patuloy po tayong nagpupunla ng mga inisyatibang pihadong magbubunga ng higit na kaunlaran sa ating mga magsasaka.

Halimbawa po, sa niyog. Ayon sa pagsusuri noong 2009, isa sa mga pinakamahirap na sektor sa bansa ang coconut farmers. Ang proseso ng pagsasaka nito: Pagkatanim, pitong taong hihintaying mamunga ang niyog, pero pagkatapos, dalawang henerasyon ang wala nang ibang kailangang gawin kundi mamitas na lang nang mamitas. May potensyal po tayong palakihin ang kita ng sektor na ito kung maglalatag tayo ng kulturang mas nang-eengganyo ng sipag at pagiging produktibo. Ang tugon: intercropping.

Tutulong ang gobyernong magpalakas sa iyong niyogan, kapalit ng obligasyong magpunla ng iba’t ibang binhi sa pagitan ng mga hilera ng niyog. Mas dadalas ang ani ng magsasaka, at depende sa kanilang itatanim, lalaki ang kanilang kita. Kung sa niyog lang, sa bawat ektarya, nasa 20,000 piso po kada taon ang kinikita ng magsasaka. Kung dadagdagan ito ng kape, maaaring pumalo ng 172,400 pesos ang kita; kung saging, aabot sa 102,325 pesos ang maaaring kitain, samantalang 89,000 pesos naman sa cacao. Ang laking diperensya, di po ba?

Nasimulan na po nating ilatag ang mga inisyatiba para rito: Nitong 2012, umabot na sa 5,500 hectares ng lupain ang ginagamit natin para sa intercropping sa 90 lokasyon sa bansa. Saklaw po nito ang 10,000 sa ating mga magsasaka. Ang target naman natin ngayong 2013: dagdag pang 434 sites para sa coconut intercropping. [applause]

Itinitimon na rin po natin tungo sa mas produktibong pampang ang ating mga mangingisda. Isipin po ninyo: Pumalo sa 193.65 billion pesos ang ambag ng industriya ng pangingisda sa ating ekonomiya nitong 2012, pero sa kabila nito, 41 porsyento pa rin sa ating mga mangingisda ang maralita nang huli itong sukatin noong 2009. Sila ang nanghuhuli ng isda, pero ang natitira para sa kanilang pamilya, tinik na lang.

Kaya nga po: Nariyan ang maraming inisyatiba ng pamahalaan upang tulungang makaalpas sa lambat ng kahirapan ang ating mga mangingisda. Halimbawa nga po ang para sa Bataraza sa lalawigan ng Palawan. Sagana ang katubigan sa paligid nito. Pero dahil hindi mapaabot sa mga merkado nang sariwa ang isda, ginagawa na lamang itong tuyo. Sayang naman po, kasi sa bawat tatlong kilo ng lapu-lapu, isang kilo lang ang tuyong nagagawa. Paano kung mapahaba ang pagkasariwa ng isda dahil sa cold storage facility? Pupunta ka sa merkado nang sagad pa rin ang presyo ng huli mo. Parehong sikap sa paghuli, pero ang makukuha mo, tamang halaga. Kaya nga po, kasado na ang cold storage facility para sa Bataraza. [applause] Kasabay po nito, nagtatayo na rin tayo ng mga bagong pantalan sa mga stratehikong lugar upang mapalago pa ang produksyon at kita. Ipinapaayos natin ang mga kalsada, tulay, at iba pang imprastruktura, pati na ang serbisyo para sa ating mga mangingisda.

Mahigpit din pong binabantayan ng DILG, BFAR, at Coast Guard ang pangingisda nang walang habas; ang hiling ko nga pong ambag sa ating mga mangingisda: Pagpahingahin natin ang mga dagat. Hinihikayat ko po kayong sumama sa pangangalaga ng inyong kabuhayan; nakikita naman po ninyo: Ang oportunidad, inilalapit na sa inyo ng estado, pero ang resulta, syempre, nasa kamay ninyo.

Kung may isa man pong paksang paboritong ikabit sa pangalan ko, ito ay ang Hacienda Luisita. Nais ko lang pong iulat na noong Pebrero, alinsunod sa utos ng Korte Suprema, nakumpleto na ng Department of Agrarian Reform ang listahan ng mga kuwalipikadong benepisyaryo na mabibigyan ng lupa sa Luisita. [applause] Ayon rin po kay Kalihim Gil de los Reyes, sinimulan na noong nakalipas na linggo ang pagtutukoy ng bawat loteng makukuha ng mga benepisyaryo, at magsisimula nang ipagkaloob ang mga titulo sa Setyembre nitong taong ito. [applause]

Para naman po sa iba pang malalawak na lupain: Matagal na nating inatasan ang DAR, DENR, LRA, at Land Bank na bumuo ng balangkas kung paanong mapapabilis ang pagproseso sa pagbabahagi ng lupain. Ipapaalala ko lang po: Tamang datos ang unang hakbang sa maayos na implementasyon ng CARPER. Pero nagmana po tayo ng isang depektibong land records system. Kaya simula pa lang po, nagtrabaho na ang DOJ, LRA, DENR, at DAR para ayusin ang sistemang ito, at nasa punto na tayo ngayon kung kailan kaya nating siguruhin: Sa susunod na taon, naihain na ang lahat ng mga notice of coverage para sa mga lupaing saklaw ng komprehensibong repormang agraryo. [applause]

Malinaw po: Ang estado, itinayo para paglingkuran kayo. Kung may problema sa kalusugan, dapat kumakalinga ang gobyerno; sa panahon ng sakuna, nariyan din dapat ito para magbigay-lingap. Ano po ba ang ginagawa natin sa mga larangang ito?

Sa kalusugan, ang layunin nating masaklaw ng PhilHealth ang mas marami pa nating kababayan: natupad na rin po. Dumating tayong 62 percent ng Pilipino ang naka-enrol sa programa; ngayon, nasa 81 percent na ito. Ang natitira nga pong wala sa talaan ay ang mga hinahanap pa, kabilang na po ang informal sector at mga katutubo. Inaasahan po natin ang pakikipagtulungan ng mga lokal na pamahalaan upang maisali na natin sa sistema ang lahat ng ating mamamayan. [applause]

Hindi lang po mga enrolee ng PhilHealth ang lumalawak, kundi pati ang mga benepisyong maaaring makuha mula rito. Noong nakaraang taon, inilunsad natin ang Z Benefit Package. At nitong Pebrero naman po, pinalawak pa ito ng Expanded Z Benefit Package. Mas mahaba na po ang listahan ng mga karamdamang libreng maipapagamot ng mahihirap nating kababayan sa mga pampublikong ospital. Noong isang taon, nakasama na ang breast cancer, prostate cancer, at acute leukemia; ngayon, kasama na rin ang iba pang sakit tulad ng coronary bypass, at ng pagtatama ng mga butas at maling posisyon ng mga ugat sa puso.

Masasayang lang po ang ganitong benepisyo kung naghihingalo naman ang kalagayan ng ating mga pagamutan, at kung hindi naman ito mapuntahan ng mga nasa kanayunan. Kaya nga po todo buhos tayo ng budget sa imprastrukturang pangkalusugan: Nitong nakaraang tatlong taon, umabot sa 33 bilyong piso ang nailaan natin para sa pagpapatayo, pagpapaunlad, at rehabilitasyon ng 4,518 na ospital, rural health units, at barangay health stations sa buong bansa. [applause] Halimbawa na po rito ang Region 1 Medical Center sa Dagupan, na nakapagsagawa na ng limang kidney transplant ngayong taon; ang Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital sa Legazpi, Vicente Sotto Medical Center sa Cebu, at Northern Mindanao Medical Center sa Cagayan de Oro, na ayon kay Secretary Ike Ona ay may kakayahan na ngayong magsagawa ng open heart surgery dahil sa mga bagong pasilidad at kagamitan. [Applause] Nariyan din po ang Davao Regional Hospital sa Tagum City—ang una nating cancer center sa labas ng Kamaynilaan.

Para naman po sa paghahanda sa kalamidad: Ang layunin nating magpanday ng mga mekanismo upang mailayo sa peligro ang Pilipino: natupad na rin po. Nariyan po ang epektibong serbisyong bunsod ng pagsasanib-puwersa ng Geohazard Mapping and Assessment Program at Project NOAH naman ng DOST. Nitong nakaraang taon, natapos na natin ang multihazard mapping ng dalawampu’t walong pinakapeligrosong lugar sa bansa. Susunod na po rito ang para sa Greater Metro Manila Area na target nating kumpletuhin pagdating ng 2014. Handa na rin po ang geohazard maps para sa 496 na lungsod at munisipyo. Ang natitira pong 1,138 na sasaklaw sa bawat sulok ng bansa ay makukumpleto bago matapos ang 2015. Dagdag pa po, mas matalas at detalyado na ang mga mapa, kaya mas eksakto na ring natutukoy ang mga mapanganib na lugar. [applause]

Buhat naman ng inilunsad ang Project NOAH noong nakaraang taon, nakapag-deploy na tayo ng 525 automated water level monitoring stations at automated rain gauges sa 18 major river basins sa atin pong bansa. Tuloy-tuloy din ang pamamahagi natin ng mga modernong kagamitan tulad ng Doppler radars, tsunami detectors, at alerting sirens.

Subalit hindi po sapat ang basta pagbibigay lang ng makabagong gamit at teknolohiya. Sinasanay din natin ang mga makakatanggap nito kung paanong intindihin, gamitin, at palaganapin ang impormasyon. Kapag masama ang panahon, hindi na lamang bilis ng hangin ang kanilang basehan; alam na rin nila kung gaano karaming tubig ang bubuhos, at nakakapagbigay sila ng tama at napapanahong babala sa komunidad upang makapaghanda.

Inaayos na rin po natin ang problema sa madalas na pagbaha sa Kamaynilaan. Biruin po ninyo: Noong Ondoy, tinatayang 3,600 cubic meters per second ang tubig na dumaloy mula sa Sierra Madre. Pero ang kapasidad ng dadaanan nito, nasa tinatayang 1,000 cubic meters per second lang. Saan naman po pupunta ang diperensyang 2,600 cubic meters kada segundo? Ito po ang bugso ng tubig na nagpapaapaw sa mga mababang lugar at nagiging baha.

Di po ba’t narinig na ng marami sa atin: “Waterways are inalienable.” Ibig sabihin: Ang daanan ng tubig, para sa tubig lang. Ang problema nga po, kulang na nga ang dadaanan ng tubig, may mga gusali pang naghahadlang sa mga estero, at binabarahan pa ito ng basura ng mga tumitira sa paligid. Para po solusyunan ito, nakikipag-ugnayan tayo sa mga LGU upang maayos na mailipat ang mga informal settlers. Inihahanda na rin po ng legal team sa pamumuno ni Secretary Leila de Lima ang mga kaso laban sa nagtayo ng mga gusali na sumara o humaharang sa mga daanan ng tubig. [applause]

Hindi po tayo makukuntento sa sisihan. Ang ating pong aksyon: 6.2 billion pesos para maiwasan ang pagbaha sa Kamaynilaan. Bahagi nito ang pagtatayo sa Blumentritt Interceptor Catchment area; 3.3 kilometers po ang haba ng buong proyekto, at oras na makumpleto, kaya nitong sumalo ng tubig na katumbas ng tinatayang labing-apat na Olympic-size swimming pool. Kaya kung may bubuhos man pong tubig, mayroon na itong pupuntahan, at hindi na kailangang nasa ibabaw ng lansangan. [applause] Nasimulan na po ang proyektong ito noong Marso; layunin nating matapos ito sa susunod na taon.

Ginagampanan po ng gobyerno ang kanyang obligasyon. Tanungin din po sana natin ang ating sarili: Ano ang inaambag ko sa solusyon? Kung may magtapon sa ilog, sitahin mo sana; kung may magtayo ng building sa estero, isumbong mo na. Lalo po tayong malulubog sa problema kung magkikibit-balikat lang po tayo.

Lumisan man ang bagyo, di naman humuhupa ang pagsisikap nating maibalik sa normal ang buhay ng mga pamilyang nasalanta ng mga nagdaang kalamidad. Sa pagtutulungan ng gobyerno at pribadong sektor, nasa 9,377 na kabahayan na po ang naipatayo para sa mga sinalanta ng bagyong Sendong. May karagdagan pang 4,374 na tahanang maipapatayo ng gobyerno bago matapos ang susunod na taon. [applause] Humihingi po tayo ng pag-unawa kung medyo nagtagal ito, dahil na rin sa masalimuot na proseso ng land acquisition; katunayan nga po, kung maaayos ang usapin sa iba pang lupain, may dagdag pang 2,719 na kabahayan ang maipapatayo natin.

Target naman po nating maipagkaloob ang kabuuang 53,106 na kabahayan para sa mga kababayan nating sinalanta ng bagyong Pablo. Nasimulan na po natin ang pamamahagi ng mga bagong bahay nitong Mayo. Tatapusin po natin ang 17,609 na kabahayan bago matapos ang taon, at oras na makumpleto na rin ang natitira pang 35,447 sa 2014, ang mga pamilyang tinamaan ng dahas ng kalikasan ay makakasilong na muli sa ilalim ng sariling bubong. [applause]

Tungkol din po sa pabahay, para naman sa ating unipormadong hanay: ang 21,800 na housing unit para sa pulis at kasundaluhan—natupad na, noong isang taon pa. Sa Phase II naman ng proyekto, naitayo na rin po ang halos 26,050 sa target na 31,200, na makukumpleto na sa susunod na buwan para naman sa Phase II.

Bukod sa pabahay, may mga programang pangkabuhayan din tayong binubuo para sa ating mga kawal. Ang ilang libong ektaryang lupain sa tatlong kampo-militar, partikular na sa Fort Magsaysay sa Nueva Ecija, sa Camp Kibaritan sa Bukidnon, at sa Camp Peralta sa Capiz, ay paglulunsaran ng dagdag na pagkakakitaan ng mga sundalo, gaya ng plantasyon ng kawayan, kape, cacao, at palm oil. [applause] Kung dati, nakatutok lamang sa tanggulan ang mga kawal, ngayon maski retirado ay may pagkakataong maging bahagi ng paglago ng ating ekonomiya.

Subalit hindi dito nagtatapos ang paghahanap ng solusyon sa mga minana nating problema sa pambansang tanggulan. Isipin po ninyo: noong 1986, mayroon daw tayong 250,000 na pulis at sundalo para sa mahigit 55 million Filipinos. Ngayon po, mayroon pa rin tayong tinatayang 250,000 na pulis at sundalo, na nagbabantay sa 95 milyong Pilipino. Halos dumoble ang populasyon natin, pero hindi nagbago ang bilang ng nagbabantay sa atin.

Tiyak pong may mga nagsasabi na diyan: “Problema ba ito? E di magdagdag kayo ng pulis at sundalo. Makakalikha pa kayo ng trabaho.” Sana nga po ganyan lang kadali at kasimple ang solusyon. Tingnan po muna natin: Sa karaniwang pension scheme, maghuhulog ng kontribusyon ang miyembro at nag-eempleyo. Ito ang puhunang palalaguin, at dito magmumula ang pensyon sa pagreretiro ng miyembro. Pero ano po ba ang situwasyon sa pensyon ng AFP at PNP? Walang naghuhulog, pero may kailangang bayaran. Dagdag pa rito, naka-index sa sahod ng mga aktibong sundalo at pulis ang pensyon ng retirado. Ibig sabihin, kapag lumaki ang sahod ng nasa serbisyo, lalaki rin ang pensyon ng mga retirado o ng mga pamilyang tumatanggap pa nito. Taun-taon, dumarami ang mga nagreretiro, kaya natural, pataas din nang pataas ang obligasyon. Ang masaklap, pambansang budget ang sumasalo nito: Noong 2012, 54.48 billion pesos ang inilaan para sa pensyon ng sundalo at kapulisan. Ngayong taon, 61.29 billion, at aabot po ito sa 80.64 billion sa 2016. Lolobo pa ito nang lolobo, kaya’t liliit naman nang liliit ang pondo para sa iba pang serbisyong panlipunan. Paano naman po tayo magdadagdag pa ng pulis at sundalo kung ganito ang konteksto?

Kailangan ng sistemang tutugon sa obligasyon ng lipunan sa ating mga sundalo’t kapulisan; malamang po, GSIS ang hihilingan natin ng tulong para rito. Pinag-aaralan na rin po ang posibilidad na gamitin ang mga reclaimed area para makakalap ng pondong ipapasok sa papandaying solusyon. Hindi rin naman po natin puwedeng biglain ang pagtugon sa kabuuan ng ating mga pangangailangan, kaya’t mas masinsin pang pagsusuri ang gagawin natin upang makalikha ng isang patas, pangmatagalan, at malinaw na mekanismo para sa mga pensyon ng mga pulis at sundalo. Nananawagan po ako sa Kongreso: Pag-aralan po nating muli ang PD 1638 at RA 8551 upang maiangkop sa panahon at sa pambansang pangangailangan ang pensyon at benepisyo ng ating pulis at kasundaluhan. [applause]

Kaparehong paninindigan rin po ang nakikita nating solusyon sa nakaambang problema sa pensyon sa SSS. Isipin po ninyo: mula 1980, 21 times nang nagkaroon ng across-the-board pension increase—ulitin ko lang po yun, 21 times—pero ang masaklap po, dalawang beses pa lang pong tumaas ang contribution rate. Ang resulta: Tinatayang 1.1 trillion pesos na ang unfunded liability ng SSS base sa pag-aaral na isinagawa nitong 2011. Inaasahang tataas ito ng 8 porsyento kada taon, at mauubos ang pondo 28 years from now. Kapag nangyari ito, walang ibang malulugi kundi ang susunod na salinlahi ng Pilipino.

Naniniwala po tayong panahon na para amyendahan ang SSS Pension Scheme. Kailangan nating tambalan ng inisyatibang mag-impok nang sapat ang pagluluwal natin ng pera. Kung magdadagdag lamang tayo ng 0.6 percent sa contribution rate, 141 billion pesos na agad ang maibabawas sa unfunded liability ng SSS. Kung ngayon na tayo magsisimulang mamuhunan sa kinabukasan, wala nang problemang ipapamana sa mga susunod sa atin. [applause]

Sa kapulisan naman po, ang layunin nating magbigay ng lakas upang magampanan nila ang kanilang tungkulin: natupad rin natin. Simula ngayong 2013, 30,000 sa mga pulis ang babalik sa pagpupulis, dahil kukuha tayo ng mga civilian personnel para gawin ang mga tungkuling administratibo. Sayang naman po ang kakayahan at abilidad ng ating mga kawal at pulis kung ikukulong lamang natin sila sa apat na sulok ng opisina.

Sa pagpasok rin po ng buwang ito, inumpisahan nang ipamahagi ang mga bagong unit ng 9mm Glock 17 pistols sa ating mga pulis. Simula pa lang po ito; kasado na rin ang pamamahagi ng kabuuang 74,879 na baril sa ating mga alagad ng batas, tungo sa katuparan ng mithiin nating one-is-to-one police-to-pistol ratio. [applause]

Sulit na sulit naman po ang pamumuhunan nating ito sa pambansang kapulisan, lalo pa’t nagbubunsod ito sa maayos at maaasahang serbisyo. Di po ba’t tuwing eleksyon, nasanay na tayo sa kaliwa’t kanang insidente ng karahasan? Tinugunan po natin ito tulad ng Oplan Katok. Ang pakay ng programa: hanapin ang mga baril na paso na ang lisensya, at tiyakin na ang mga baril na mayroon namang lisensya ay hawak pa rin ng otorisadong mamamayan. Para gawin ito, 491,929 na pintuan ang kinatok ng ating mga pulis para sa renewal ng mga lisensya. Nakatulong po ito upang maging mas epektibo ang kampanya natin para sa Secure and Fair Elections, kung saan ang 112 private armed groups noong eleksyon ng 2010 ay napababa na lang sa 41. Katumbas po ito ng 63 percent na pagbaba. [applause] Mula rin sa 189 na insidente ng karahasan noong eleksyon ng 2010, 77 na insidente lamang ang kompirmadong naganap nitong huling halalan. [Applause]

Gawin po nating halimbawa ang ARMM. Ang sabi nga po ni Governor Mujiv Hataman, sa tanang-buhay niya, hindi siya makaalala ng pagkakataon kung kailan walang failure of elections sa Lanao del Sur. Alalahanin po natin, ito ang unang beses na magkasabay ang pambansa at rehiyonal na halalan sa ARMM. Ang ibig pong sabihin, noon ay nakatutok ang buong pwersa ng estado sa iisang rehiyon, pero may failure of elections pa rin. Ngayong 2013, dahil buong bansa ang kinailangang tutukan, at lumawak ang kanilang responsibilidad, may mga nag-akalang lulubha pa ang situwasyon sa halalan ng ARMM. Pero kita naman po ang laki ng ikinaganda nito: Naging malinis at tapat ang halalan sa ARMM; natuloy ang bilangan, natuloy ang proklamasyon ng mga may bagong mandato mula sa taumbayan. Dahil sa sipag ng ating mga pulis at kawal, at gayundin sa pakikiisa ng sambayanan, talaga naman pong ang eleksyon 2013 ay naging mas payapa at tahimik. [applause]

Gayumpaman, may mga insidenteng nagmamantsa pa rin sa dangal ng ating kapulisan. Nabalitaan na naman siguro natin ang nangyari sa mga miyembro ng Ozamiz Gang na sina Ricky Cadavero at Wilfredo Panogalinga: nahuli na, pero napatay pa. Tulad ng ginawa nating imbestigasyon sa nangyari sa Atimonan, sisiguruhin nating mananagot ang sinumang pulis o kung sino mang sangkot dito—gaano man kataas ang kanilang ranggo. Kung sino man ang mga pasimuno dito: maghanda lang kayo. Malapit ko na kayong makilalang lahat. [Applause]

Sa kabila ng ganitong mga kuwento, buhay na buhay po ang aking pag-asa sa hanay ng kapulisan. Hindi sila nagkukulang sa mabubuting halimbawa tulad ni PO3 Edlyn Arbo, na buong tapang na hinarap at tinugis ang isang holdaper sa nasakyan niyang jeep, [applause] off-duty man at walang dalang baril. Nariyan po siya at sinagupa yung holdaper na nagkamaling siya ang pag-tripan. Nariyan din po si PO3 Felipe Moncatar na umani ng samu’t saring papuri dahil sa haba ng listahan [applause] ng mga kriminal na kanyang nahuli, at ang balita ko ay may nahuli ka na namang batikang carnaper sa Bacolod—talagang napakahusay mo. Ang ilan po dito sa kanyang mga nahuli kabilang sa pinaka-pinaghahanap na personalidad sa Bacolod at miyembro ng mga malalaking sindikato. Baka narinig na rin po ninyo ang kwento ni PO2 Dondon Sultan. May nasiraan ng kotse sa kahabaan ng Quezon Boulevard; tigil naman si Ginoong Sultan para tumulong. Hindi lang po siya nagpalit ng gulong; inihatid pa niya sa kasa ang nasiraan. [Applause] Bilang pasasalamat sa kanyang serbisyo, sinubok abutan ng 1,000 piso si PO2 Sultan. Tinanggihan niya ito. Ang kanyang sagot: “Trabaho naming tumulong sa mamamayan.” [Applause] Saludo po kami sa mga tulad ninyong lingkod-bayan. Patunay kayong hindi pa endangered species ang tapat at mahuhusay na pulis. Inatasan ko na sina Kalihim Mar Roxas ng DILG, pati na rin si Kalihim Voltaire Gazmin ng DND, upang siguruhing ang mga katulad ninyo sa ating unipormadong hanay ay makakatanggap ng kaukulang pabuya at karangalan. Salamat pong muli. [Applause]

Idaragdag ko na rin po ang ating disaster relief workers mula sa maraming sangay ng gobyerno, pati na ang volunteers galing sa pribadong sektor. Alam ko pong hindi madaling lumusong sa baha, magbungkal ng putik, at humarap sa mukha ng pinsala. Hindi po ako magsasawang kilalanin ang inambag ninyo sa lipunan; saludo po ako sa pag-aalay ninyo ng sarili upang bawasan ang pagdurusa ng ating mga kababayan. [applause]

Abot-kamay na rin po ang kapayapaan sa rehiyong matagal nang pinupunit ng hidwaan. Nitong Oktubre po ng nakaraang taon, nilagdaan ang Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Katunayan nga po, siyam na araw pa lang ang nakakalipas mula nang lagdaan ang ikalawang annex ng kasunduan. Kumpiyansa po tayong masusundan pa ito ng mas magandang balita sa lalong madaling panahon.

Tiyak kong mulat ang lahat: Hindi biro ang proseso ng pagbubuo ng consensus; mabuti na lamang talaga at handang makinig, magbigayan, at magkita sa gitna ang magkabilang panig. Alam naman natin ang maaaring maging resulta kung magpapadaan tayo sa inip. Ang malinaw po sa akin: Ang mga salitang ating bibitawan ay dapat magbunga ng mga kilos na positibong makakaapekto sa lahat. Ang bawat linya sa binubuo nating kasunduan ay dapat maaaring itaga sa bato, at hindi ililista lamang sa tubig upang anurin na naman ng kasaysayan. [applause] Pinalaki po ako ng aking ama nang may isang salita, kaya’t sinasabi ko sa mga kapatid nating kasapi ng Bangsamoro: Anumang mapagkasunduan natin ay ipatutupad ng pambansang gobyerno. [applause]

Kailangan po ng tiwala sa usapan ng kapayapaan. Hindi automatic ang magkaroon ng tiwala, dahil na rin sa haba ng pinagdaanan. At ngayon, talagang dama na natin na gustong makipagkasundo ng magkabilang panig, at tayo naman ay nagpapakita na dapat talaga tayong pagkatiwalaan. At sa mga pumipigil sa pagkakaroon ng tiwala at naghahasik ng pagdududa: Masasabi mo bang Pilipino kang may malasakit sa kapwa mong Pilipino?

Umaasa po ako sa pakikiambag ng bawat Pilipino sa layunin natin para sa Bangsamoro. Ipakita po natin sa kanilang hindi sila nagkamali sa pagpili sa direksyon ng kapayapaan; ipamalas natin ang lakas ng buong bansa upang iangat ang mga probinsya sa Muslim Mindanao, na kabilang sa mga pinakamaralita nating mga lalawigan. [Applause] Tagumpay ng lahat ang ating hangarin; hindi tayo papayag na may kababayan tayong mapapag-iwanan habang may ibang nakakalamang. Nananawagan ako sa ating Kongreso: Nabuo na po ang Transition Commission na gagawa ng panukalang Bangsamoro Basic Law. Tatapusin ito alinsunod sa mga prinsipyo ng komprehensibong kasunduan para sa kapayapaan; maipasa po sana ninyo ito bago matapos ang 2014. [applause] Sa gayong paraan, may sapat tayong panahon para makapaghanda sa paghalal ng bagong pamahalaang Bangsamoro sa 2016.

Anuman pong pagbabagong tinatamasa natin ngayon ay naabot dahil hindi tayo nakuntentong sumunod lamang sa dinatnang status quo ng pamamahala. Matanong ko nga po: Ilan po ba sa inyo ang nakagamit ng tinatawag na Telepono sa Barangay? Hindi po ako magtataka kung wala. Isipin po ninyo, ayon sa DOTC: Mahigit 5 billion pesos ang ginastos para sa isang programang magdadala ng telepono sa mga kanayunan. Di po ba’t sayang lang ito, dahil sa loob ng maikling panahon matapos ang implementasyon, dahil hindi pa nga po tunay na tapos ang implementasyon niyan, dumami nang dumami ang may cellphone na Pilipino? Sino nga ba naman ang papansin sa mahigit 6,000 landline na ikinabit o ipinakabit nila, gayong may 100 milyon nang cellphone sa Pilipinas?

Heto pa po ang isang halimbawa ng pag-iisip sa gobyerno na kinailangan nating baguhin: Bumilitayo tayo ng walong combat utility helicopter, para daw sa mabilisang pagbiyahe ng ating mga sundalo. Ang problema: Sukat ba naman pong naka-mount ang baril sa may pintuan, at kailangang tanggalin kung may dadaan. Kung lalapag ka habang nagbabakbakan, ano ang silbi ng machine gun na nakatabi at hindi mapaputok? Wala bang nakaisip nito bago nagkapirmahan ng kontrata? Bakit naman po pinayagang mangyari ito?

Kailangan pong maging mas mahusay tayong mamimili. Hindi puwedeng palagi tayong nakasalalay sa sales talk ng mga supplier sa pagpili ng mga kagamitan natin. Inatasan natin ang DOST na bumuo ng grupo ng mga ekspertong hindi kayang bolahin ng mga supplier, lalo na po pagdating sa mga big-ticket items. Ang patakaran natin: Tamang pagkilala sa ugat ng problema; tamang pag-aaral na tutukoy sa tamang solusyon, na maaabot naman sa pamamagitan ng tamang metodolohiya. [applause]

Iyan po ang kaisipang pinagmulan ng ating tugon sa isyu ng mga informal settler sa Kamaynilaan. Kaya nga po, ang layunin nating ilayo sa panganib ang mga nagsisiksikan sa peligrosong bahagi ng lungsod: tinutupad na rin natin. Wala naman po sigurong kokontra kapag sinabi nating hindi tama ang kasalukuyan nilang kondisyon. Ayon po sa Article 2, Section 5, o ang general welfare clause ng ating Saligang Batas: “Dapat sundin ng Estado ang pagpapanatili ng kapayapaan at kaayusan, ang pangangalaga sa buhay, kalayaan at ari-arian, at ang pagtataguyod sa kagalingang panlahat upang matamasa ng buong sambayanan ang mga biyaya ng demokrasya.”

Dito po natin napatunayan: Nakikinig sa katuwiran ang Pilipino; kapag ipinakita mong malasakit ang iyong batayang prinsipyo, handa tayong makiisa. Bago po magbaklas ng mga bubong at magtibag ng mga pader, ipinaliwanag natin ang katuwiran ng ating desisyon: Maayos ang lilipatan, malapit sa sakayan, at kung magsisikap kayo, hindi magkukulang ang inyong pagkakakitaan. Nilinaw din po natin: Layunin nating magbigay-lingap sa mga nasa peligro—hindi sa sindikato. Batid nating sa tuwing inaabuso ng ilan ang pagmamalasakit ng estado, ipinapain rin nila sa alanganin ang buhay at kabuhayan ng napakaraming Pilipino.

Matapos nga pong maibiyahe ang isang pangkat sa relocation site, sila mismo ang nanghikayat sa mga dati nilang kapitbahay: Sumama na kayo. Mas ligtas dito. Ngayong taon po, prayoridad nating ilipat ang mahigit 19,400 pamilyang nagsisiksikan sa mga pangunahing daluyan ng tubig sa Metro Manila. Sa pagkakapit-bisig ng DILG, NHA, DSWD, MMDA, at DPWH, lumilinaw na po ang sagot sa suliraning ito.

Isa pa pong halimbawa ng transpormasyon sa pamamahala: Di ba’t matagal ding nabinbin sa Kongreso ang mahahalagang batas? Nito pong nakaraang taon, naisabatas na, sa wakas, ang Sin Tax Reform Law at ang Responsible Parenthood Law. [applause] Nagpapasalamat tayo sa mga naging kasangga natin sa pagsusulong nito sa Kamara at Senado. Hindi ninyo inalintana ang mahabang proseso ng debate at konsultasyon; hindi kayo nagpadaig sa mga naghasik ng pagdududa upang harangin ang ating mabuting agenda. Tinitimbang ninyo kung ano ang kapaki-pakinabang sa mas nakakarami, at isinusulong ang tunay na serbisyo para sa Pilipino. [applause]

Ilalapit ko na rin po sa ating Kongreso ang ilang batas na makakatulong sa pagpapatuloy ng nasimulan nating pagbabago. Maamyendahan na po sana ang Cabotage Law, upang mas mapalakas ang kumpetisyon, at mapababa ang gastos sa transportasyon [applause] ng ating mga sakahan at industriya. Maisulong na rin po sana ang Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill, upang maging mas tapat, malinaw, at may pananagutan ang mga insentibong ibinigay natin sa mga negosyante. [applause] Paglaanan din po sana ng panahon ang Land Administration Reform Bill, upang maitimon sa iisang direksyon ang mga kawanihang nakatutok sa ating mga lupain, at nang sa gayon ay masigurong masinop at epektibo nilang magagawa ang kanilang trabaho. [applause]

Bukas na bukas din po, ihahain natin ang panukalang 2.268 trillion pesos na national budget sa Kongreso. Kumpiyansa po ako sa suporta at pakikibalikat ninyo upang mapatibay ang pondong ito na talaga naman pong masusing pinag-isipan. Makakatulong ito hindi lang para ituloy ang agenda ng positibong pagbabago, kundi upang mapaspas pa ang pag-arangkada natin tungo sa malawakang kaunlaran.

May ilan pong nagsasabi na kailangang patibayin ang Sandatahang Lakas. Sang-ayon po ako dito. Pero tila ba ang gusto nila ay ilagak ang bawat sentimo ng kabang bayan para sa fighter jets, tangke de guerra, at iba pang gamit pandigma. Hindi yata nila alam na ang isang fighter jet na nagkakahalaga ng 1.58 bilyong piso, ay katumbas ng 6,580 na bahay para sa mga pulis at sundalo, o halos 2,000 na silid-aralan para sa mga kabataan. At ano naman ang magagawa ng isang pirasong jet? Para maging epektibo, ang kailangan, mga squadron—at ang isa nito ay binubuo ng dalawampu’t apat na fighter jets. Sa halagang 1.58 billion pesos kada piraso, 37.92 billion pesos ang huhugutin sa kabang bayan para makabuo ng isang squadron. Paano naman ang missiles pati na rin ang practice missiles? Hindi rin po libre ang jet fuel, radar system, ground bases, at ground intercept controls. Hindi po talaga biro ang gastos para sa isang minimum credible defense posture; gagayahin pa ba natin ang iba, na handang kalimutan ang lahat para lang makuha ang nuclear option? Wala naman sigurong sasang-ayon dito. Babalansehin po natin ang ating mga pangangailangan. Aasikasuhin natin nang husto ang mga dapat tugunan sa ating lipunan, habang patuloy tayong nagiging mabuti at mahinahong kasapi ng pandaigdigang komunidad.

Alam naman natin dati, ang batayan ng desisyon, puro pulitika. Gagawin ang lahat para kumapit sa kapangyarihan, kapalit ang pagdurusa ng kasalukuyan at susunod na henerasyon ng Pilipino. Tingnan po natin kung ano ang kinahantungan ng pag-ipit sa pagtataas ng pasahe sa LRT at MRT. Ang tinatayang gastos sa bawat biyahe ng pasahero ng LRT, 40 piso. Ang bayad ng pasahero, 15 piso. Ibig sabihin, sagot ng pamahalaan ang natitirang 25 piso. Sa MRT po, 60 piso ang totoong gastos: 15 piso sa pasahero, 45 piso sa gobyerno– sa huli, bawat Pilipino, abunado. Nasa Mindanao ka o Visayas ka man, na ni minsan ay hindi nakatuntong sa LRT o MRT, kasama ka sa pumapasan nito.

Ang masaklap pa nga po: Dahil ipinamigay na ng nakaraang mga pinuno ang commercial development rights natin dito, bawat pisong maaaring makalap mula sa mga poster at billboard na nakapaskil sa stasyon o sa tren man, napupunta sa pribadong kumpanya kaysa sa gobyerno. Ang puwede sanang pagkunan ng pantustos sa maintenance at operasyon, nawala pa.

Siguro naman po, makatuwirang ilapit man lang natin sa ibinabayad sa aircon bus ang pasahe ng LRT at MRT, upang maituon ang subsidiya sa iba pang serbisyong panlipunan.

Nakita naman po ninyo: wala tayong balak magpamana ng problema sa susunod sa atin. Ang totoo nga po, ang mga proyektong dati’y nilulumot lang, ngayon, napapakinabangan na ng mamamayan. Tingnan na lang natin ang Ternate-Nasugbu Road. Kung tutuusin, anim na kilometro lang ang haba ng kalsadang ito na nagkokonekta sa Cavite, Batangas, at Metro Manila, pero ‘yang anim na kilometrong iyan, inabot pa ng halos dalawampung taon bago ito matapos. Binuksan na natin ang isang bahagi nito, at pag nakumpleto ang natitirang slope protection, ganap na ang magiging pakinabang ng kalsada sa mga motorista.

Nariyan din po ang Aluling Bridge sa Ilocos Sur. Taong 1978 pa po inilatag sa papel ang pagpapatayo nito. Siniguro na nating hindi lamang din papel ang mamanahin ng susunod sa atin: Nitong Marso, sa wakas, natapos na ito at sinimulan na rin natin noong nakaraang buwan ang operasyon ng Laguindingan Airport, na isang henerasyon naman ang pagitan mula nang inisip at isakatuparan. [applause]

Ilang dekada ring naghintay ang industriya ng semiconductors na magkaroon ng laboratoryong kayang makipagsabayan sa pasilidad ng ibang bansa. Hindi na po natin pinahaba ang kanilang paghihintay. Nitong nakaraang Mayo, sa pangunguna ng DOST, pinasinayaan natin ang Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory. Dati, kailangan pang ipadala ang mga produkto sa ibang bansa para suriin. Hindi natin nasasagad ang kita; hindi rin nasasagad ang potensyal ng industriya na manghikayat ng puhunan. Dahil po sa pasilidad na ito na tinaguriang ADMATEL, ngayon, dito na susuriin ang mga produkto, at masusulit ang mga bentahe ng manggagawang Pilipino sa larangan ng electronics. Inaasahan nga po nating lalo pang lalakas ang industriyang nag-ambag ng halos 44 percent ng ating exports noong 2012. [applause]

Sa tulong naman po ng ating Big Man sa Senado na si Manong Frank Drilon, [applause] natapos na ang mahigit limampung taon na paghihintay ng mga Ilonggo; nasimulan na ang Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project II sa Iloilo. Ano po ba ang mga pakinabang nito?

Tinataya pong 24,000 magsasaka sa kalakhang Iloilo ang mahahatiran nito ng buong-taong irigasyon. Dahil dito, maaaring dumoble ang ani ng mga magsasaka ng palay. Linawin po natin: Ang sakop nitong 31,840 hectares ng lupaing mapapatubigan, may dagdag na aning bigas na 146,013 metric tons. Katumbas po ito ng halos walumpung porsyento ng aangkatin nating buffer stock ng bigas para sa 2013. [applause]

Bukod pa po ito sa iba pang benepisyo ng proyekto tulad ng pag-iwas sa malawakang baha sa Iloilo, at ang dagdag na 6.6 megawatts ng hydropower. May ambag din ito sa supply ng tubig para sa ilang bahagi ng probinsya, at sa industriya ng ecotourism doon. Dagdag pa rito, nasa 17,000 trabaho ang malilikha ng proyekto; oras na maging fully operational naman ito, tinatayang 32,000 Pilipino ang mabibiyayaan ng sapat na pagkakakitaan. [applause] Una raw po inisip itong proyektong ito noong 1960.

Mulat din po tayong marami sa ating mga kababayan ang nananabik na makita ang mga bunga ng ating Public Private Partnership projects. Alam din po nating may mga tila naiinip na sa kahihintay para rito.

Isakonteksto po natin. Noong 2010, pag-upo natin sa puwesto, 6.5 percent na lang ng programmable budget ng taon, o 100 billion pesos lamang, ang iniwan sa atin. Ang 93.5 percent po, inilaan na sa kung saan-saan ng ating sinundan. Kaya naman, lumapit tayo sa pribadong sektor. Ang sabi natin: kulang kami sa pondo, halina’t mag-ambagan tayo upang maipatayo ang mga kinakailangang imprastruktura.

May balakid din po tayong kinaharap nang magsimula ang PPP. Luma na ang mga pag-aaral na basehan ng mga proyekto; kulang sa kaalaman ang burukrasya para ipatupad ito. Idagdag pa natin ang publikong nagsawa nang magtiwala sa mga kontratang pinapasok ng gobyerno.

Gayumpaman, sa anuman pong situwasyon, ang ating prinsipyo: Gagawin na lang din natin, gawin na natin nang tama. Wala tayong balak na pumasok sa kuwestiyonableng kontrata ngayon, para lang ipamana ang problema sa susunod na administrasyon. Kailangang dumaan sa tamang proseso ang bawat proyekto, para masigurong ang perang inyong pinaghihirapan ay napupunta sa dapat nitong kalagyan.

Ngayon pa lang, nakikita na natin ang epekto ng maayos, tapat, at hayag na paglalatag sa PPP projects. Dati, may isang paliparan lang na maipagawa, napakalaki nang balita. Ikumpara po natin ngayon: bukod sa pinapakinabangan na ang paliparan sa Laguindingan, sabay-sabay din ang proseso ng pagsasaayos at modernisasyon ng Tacloban Airport, Bicol International Airport, New Bohol Airport, Mactan Airport, at Puerto Princesa Airport. Ang Daang Hari-SLEX link road ang pinakamabilis na PPP project na nai-award sa alinmang administrasyon, nang walang shortcut na dinaanan ang proseso. [applause] Ang mga ito, at ang napakarami pang ibang ipinapatayo at ipapatayong imprastruktura, ay manganganak ng isang lipunang hitik sa oportunidad.

Mahaba po ang listahan ng mga suliraning minana, at tinutugunan na natin. Halimbawa: Ang madalas na pag-brownout sa Mindanao. Mula’t sapul pa lang, naglalatag na tayo ng solusyon para dito, ngunit batid nating ang problemang isang dekadang binalewala ay hindi masosolusyonan sa isang tulog lang. Sa ngayon, patuloy ang paggawa natin ng mga hakbang upang tugunan ang mga kakulangan at agarang pangangailangan. Nariyan po ang pagtulong natin sa electric cooperatives upang makapagpasok sila ng generator sets ng magpapabawas sa brownout. Magtutuloy-tuloy ito hanggang makumpleto na ang mga plantang magsu-supply ng kuryente sa rehiyon.

Pero hindi po talaga mauubos ang mga kontra. Kesyo tataas daw ang presyo ng kuryente kapag may gensets dahil diesel ang ginagamit. May hydropower ngayon dahil tag-ulan, kaya umuugong na naman ang reklamo laban sa mga genset. Pero pagpasok ng tag-init, tiyak, marami na naman pong magrereklamo sa walong oras na brownout.

Sa ibang bahagi naman po ng Pilipinas, gusto nating magtayo ng mga planta. Habang umuunlad kasi ang ekonomiya, tumataas din ang konsumo natin ng kuryente, at kailangang dagdagan ang supply nito. Gusto ba nating kapag sinagad na ang mga pagkukunan, saka lang tayo gagawa ng planta? Ang pagawa po niyan dalawa hanggang tatlong taon bawat planta. Hindi po kabuteng basta na lang susulpot ang mga ito.

Kung maganda ang mungkahi, handa naman po tayong makinig, pero sana naman ay makuha ng mga miron ang kabuuang konteksto ng situwasyon. Halimbawa po ang planta sa Redondo, Zambales. Pina-TRO dahil mas maganda raw ang renewable. Sinabi rin po ba nilang mas mahal itong ipatayo, at mas mahal din ang magiging presyo ng enerhiya? Sinabi po kaya nilang hindi nito kayang tugunan ang baseload, o ang kapasidad na kailangang laging nariyan para hindi mag-brownout? Magtatayo ka ng wind; paano kung walang hangin? Kung solar, paano kung makulimlim? Lilinawin ko lang po: Naniniwala rin ako sa renewable energy at suportado natin ito, pero dapat ding may mga baseload plant na sisigurong tuloy-tuloy ang daloy ng kuryente sa ating mga tahanan at industriya. Mag-iingay pa rin po kaya ang mga kumokontra, kung busy na sila sa kapapaypay dahil nag-brownout na? [applause] Ang sa akin lang po: makiambag sana tayo sa paghahanap ng solusyon.

Tutal din po, nagtatapatan tayo: Pag-usapan naman natin ang pagsasaayos ng NAIA 3. Masalimuot po ang usapang ito. Dumaan na ito sa dalawang arbitration; naipanalo na sana natin pareho, pero binaliktad ang desisyon ng isa dahil sa technicality. Kaya nga po ngayon, pinaghahandaan ang muling pagdinig nito. Dagdag na komplikasyon po ang isyu ng warranty sa pagpapatapos ng NAIA 3—hindi naman puwedeng ‘pag may umusbong na depekto, pasensyahan na lang, dagdag-gastos pa. Kaya nga po nang ipinaliwanag sa atin na bibigyan tayo ng maayos na warranty ng orihinal na contractor, pumayag tayo. Pero gusto nating manigurado; gusto nating kumpletuhin nang tama at buo ang proseso, at hihingin ko po ang inyong pag-unawa ukol sa isyung ito.

Malinaw na po ngayon: Iisa ang tuon ng bawat metro kuwadrado ng sementong ibinubuhos natin bilang pundasyon ng mas maunlad na bansa: Pakinabang sa bawat isa—hindi politika. Kung dati, gumagawa ng kalsada kung saan lang kursunada, at nagpapatayo ng tulay kung saan kaibigan ni Madam si Mayor, ngayon, sumusunod na tayo sa isang pambansang plano. Walang paborito, walang transaksyunalismo, walang padrino; bawat piso, nakatuon sa ating pagpaspas tungo sa malawakang pag-unlad.

Ang maaasahan po natin sa mga susunod na taon: mga paliparan at daungang lalapagan ng kalakal at turista; mga kalsadang sisigurong husto ang pakinabang ng lahat sa malalaking proyektong ito; mga power plant na pagmumulan ng sapat na kuryente at magpapatakbo sa mga industriya. Ito ang magsisilbing balangkas na magsasanga ng iba pang inisyatibang dadaluyan ng oportunidad para kay Juan at Juana dela Cruz—mula sa mga magsasakang may sapat nang patubig at mabilis nang naibebenta ang ani, hanggang sa mga construction worker na nagtitindig ng mga bagong gusali; mula sa patuloy na pag-usbong ng mga call center, hanggang sa pagdami ng mga negosyanteng handang magpasok ng kapital sa bansa. Nagsulong tayo ng mga tamang proyekto sa tamang halaga; ginawa natin ito nang may tamang kalidad; at natapos o matatapos ito sa tamang panahon, dahil tama at karapat-dapat ang mga taong nagpapatupad nito.

Pag-usapan po natin ang trapiko: Di po ba’t tinatayang 2.4 billion pesos ang nawawala sa ating ekonomiya kada araw, dahil sa buhol-buhol na trapik sa Kamaynilaan? Kabilang sa mga proyekto nating pihadong magpapaluwag dito ay ang Integrated Transport System. Ang mga bus na nagsisiksik sa mga kalsadang punung-puno na nga, ginagawan natin ng terminal sa mga lugar na hindi kasing-sikip. Napapakinabangan na nga po ang terminal sa Parañaque, at nakapila na rin ang sa Quezon City at Muntinlupa. Ang pamprobinsyang bus ay hanggang dito nalang sa mga terminal na ito ng wala nang makipagsiksikan sa EDSA.

At nariyan din po ang dalawang connector road na magdurugtong sa North at South Luzon Expressway. Ang totoo nga po, dekada sitenta pa lang, plano nang ipatayo ang tinawag nilang Metro Manila Highway. Ito sana ang magkokonekta sa dalawang expressway, upang hindi na kailangang bunuin ang ilang oras na biyaheng babagtas pa sa kahabaan ng EDSA. Ang problema po: Nag-atas si Ginoong Marcos ng mga batas na pabor sa kanyang crony. Nakatali tayo sa pagsunod sa mga batas na ito: Sino mang magpatayo ng imprastruktura sa lugar na iyon, dapat kasosyo ang korporasyon ng kanyang kaibigan. Masaklap po: nae-extend ng 30 taon ang kanilang prangkisa sa tuwing magkakabit sila ng kahit isang dipa lang ng kalsada sa orihinal. Dagdagan pa po natin: nang kumita ang kumpanya, hindi nakumpleto ang pagpapalawig o pagpapaunlad sa mga imprastraktura’t daan. Tandaan po niyo na dapat umabot sa Carmen, Rosales sa Pangasinan at Lucena sa Quezon ang mga kalsadang nabanggit at yung Metro Manila Highway o Expressway, hanggang ngayon wala pa. Nang nalugi naman, nakuha pang ipasa sa gobyerno ang utang. Ilalapit ko na po ito sa ating Kongreso: silipin po nating muli ang Presidential Decrees 1113 at 1894.

Sa kabila nito, tuloy po ang mga proyekto natin. Mayroon tayong walong kilometrong four-lane elevated expressway na kokonekta sa C3 Road sa Caloocan patawid ng España, hanggang sa PUP sa Sta. Mesa. Mayroon ding mahigit labing-apat na kilometrong six-lane elevated tollway na babagtas mula Balintawak, hanggang Buendia, sa Makati. Ang Common Alignment naman po ng dalawang kalsadang ito, lima’t kalahating kilometrong six-lane elevated expressway mula PUP sa Sta. Mesa, patawid sa kalagitnaan ng Osmeña at Quirino Avenue, hanggang Buendia sa Makati. Oras na mabuksan ang kalsada, ang biyaheng SLEX hanggang NLEX na dati’y inaabot ng dalawang oras, kaya nang takbuhin ng labinlimang minuto. Ang Clark naman hanggang Calamba na pumapalo noon sa tatlong oras, halos mangangalahati at magiging isang oras at apatnapung minuto. [applause] Kada araw, tinatayang limampu’t limang libong motorista ang makikinabang sa mga ito. Tipid sa oras, tipid sa gas, menos sa polusyon, lalago pa ang komersiyo’t turismo. Talaga namang win-win situation, di po ba?

Sa loob nga po ng tatlong taon, pinatunayan nating ang mga ahensyang dati’y pugad ng kurapsyon ay maaaring maging ehemplo ng tapat at epektibong paglilingkod. Ilan po sa mga simple ngunit epektibong pagbabagong isinagawa ni Secretary Singson sa DPWH: Wala nang letter of intent, na ginagamit ng mga bidder para magkuntsabahan; pinasimple ang proseso ng bidding, kaya mas marami nang nagkukumpitensya para sa proyekto, at mas sulit na ang presyong nakukuha ng gobyerno. Nasa oras na ring magbayad ang gobyerno, kaya mas naeengganyo ang mahuhusay na contractor na makiambag sa pagtatayo ng pambansang imprastruktura. Dahil sa tapat na pamamahala, 18.4 billion pesos na ang natitipid ng DPWH, na inilalaan para sa iba pang makabuluhang proyekto. [applause]

Bilang halimbawa ng resulta ng mabuting pamamahala, tingnan natin ang Tagumbao Bridge sa Gerona, Tarlac. Sa totoo lang, congressman pa lang po ako, iminungkahi ko na ito. May mga nasasakupan kasi tayong kailangan pang umikot ng dalawang bayan para tawirin ang umaapaw na ilog tuwing tag-ulan. Sabi ko nga po sa mga dating administrasyon: Sa inyo na ang buong PDAF ko, magawa lang ito. Kung puwede sana installment plan. Pero wala pong nangyari. Lumawak lang ang idurugtong ng tulay dahil sa nababakbak na pampang.

Kasalukuyan na po nating ginagawa ang Tagumbao Bridge. At heto po ang kuwento ngayong tayo na ang nagpapatupad nito: Nasa 334 million pesos ang aprubadong pondo; pero dahil sa tamang pangangasiwa’t tapat na paggugol, naibaba ito sa 226 million pesos. [applause] Suma-tutal, nakatipid tayo ng mahigit 108 million pesos nang hindi isinasakripisyo ang kalidad ng ipinapagawang tulay. At lalong maganda pa nga po, ang natipid na pondong ito ay magagamit sa pagpapagawa ng dike at river training works para sa Phase II ng proyekto.

Dumako naman po tayo sa turismo. Ayon sa banyagang pahayagang Oriental Morning Post, the “Best Tourist Destination of 2012” tayo. Parang na-inlove ang Shanghai Morning Post sa ating bansa, nang binansagan nila tayong “Most Romantic Destination of 2012.” [applause] Hopefully they will love us more. [applause] Sabi naman ng Scuba Diving Magazine, “Best Diving Destination” ang Pilipinas. [applause] “Best Island” naman daw ang Palawan, kung tatanungin ang Travel + Leisure Magazine. Kulang na nga lang po ay tawagin na tayong paraiso. [applause]

Hindi na po nakakapagtakang sa mauugong na papuring tulad nito, naitala natin noong 2012 ang 4.3 million tourist arrivals sa ating bansa—isang panibagong record high. 21.4 percent na po ang inilalago ng numerong ito mula nang pumasok tayo noong 2010, kung kailan nasa tinatayang 3.1 million na turista pa lang ang bumibisita sa atin. Pagdating naman sa ating domestic travelers, ang target natin dati para sa taong 2016 ay 35.5 million tourists. Pero nitong 2011 pa lamang po, nalampasan na natin ito sa 37.5 million domestic tourists. [applause] Ngayon, sa momentum nating ito, tiwala tayong maaabot ang bagong target na 56.1 million bago matapos ang 2016. [applause]

Ang mas malakas na sektor ng turismo, manganganak ng mas maraming trabaho. Tinataya ng DOT na nakapag-ambag ang turismo ng 3.8 million na trabaho noong 2011. Ang totoo nga po, hindi lang mga lugar na may magagandang tanawin ang nakikinabang sa pagdayo ng turista, kundi pati ang mga karatig-bayang maituturing na tourism support communities: Ang mga lugar na pinanggagalingan ng pagkaing inihahanda sa mga resort, ng mga souvenir na ibinebenta, at ng iba pang mga produkto’t serbisyong nagsisilbing bukal ng kaunlaran para sa mga lalawigan.

Malamang, narinig na rin po ninyo ang mga good news na lumapag kamakailan sa bansa. Noong Marso, inalis po ng International Civil Aviation Organization ang significant safety concerns na ipinataw sa Pilipinas. Bunga po ito ng mga reporma sa aviation industry upang siguruhing pasok sa pandaigdigang pamantayan ang aviation safety sa Pilipinas. [applause] Dahil po dito, sa wakas, noon lamang ika-10 ng Hulyo, muli nang pinahintulutan ng European Union ang direktang paglipad ng ating flag carrier sa Europa. [applause]

Isipin po ninyo, paano kaya kung dati pa inayos at pinalakas ang ating aviation industry? Di po ba’t sayang ang pagbisita ng mga turistang nawalan ng ganang dumalaw sa Pilipinas dahil dito? Naglahong trabaho, pondo, at oportunidad—ito ang resulta ng lumang sistema ng pamamahala.

Kaya naman, simula’t sapul, nilabanan na natin ang katiwalian sa lahat ng antas ng pamahalaan at isinulong ang transpormasyon sa ating mga institusyon. Ang resulta: tunay na serbisyong pampubliko.

Tingnan na lang po natin ang lalim ng transpormasyong nangyari sa mga GOCC. Ang dating mga kumpanya ng bayang inaambagan mo pa dahil sa pagkalugi, naghahatid na ng dibidendo ngayon. Gamitin po nating halimbawa ang Philippine Reclamation Authority. Sa loob ng labintatlong taon bago tayo dumating, ang suma-total ng dibidendo ng PRA: 676.82 million pesos. Sa tuwid na daan, para sa 2012 lamang, ang dibidendo nila: isang bilyong piso. Napakalaking transpormasyon, di po ba? [applause]

Mabuting halimbawa rin ang Local Water Utilities Administration. Noong 2011, ang recorded net loss ng naturang GOCC: 950 million pesos. Pero dahil sa maayos na pangangasiwa, di lang nila nagawang balansehin ang kanilang mga libro; ayon sa kanilang report, umabot ang kanilang kabuuang kita sa 870 million pesos noong 2012. [Applause] Dahil dito, nagawa nilang makapag-remit ng 365 million pesos sa pamahalaan para sa taong iyon.

Isa pa pong halimbawa: Sa una kong SONA, isiniwalat natin ang kuwestyunableng kalakaran sa MWSS: patung-patong na bonus at allowance ang ibinigay sa sarili, sa kabila ng kapalpakan nilang tugunan ang pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan. Ang ahensya na nga po ang nag-ulat: Umabot sa 34 million pesos ang pagkalugi ng MWSS noong 2010. Hindi ito katanggap-tanggap. Kaya noong 2011, pinirmahan natin ang GOCC Governance Act, na nagsisilbing saligan ng katapatan, kredibilidad, at pananagutan sa pamamalakad ng ating mga GOCC. Ang ibinunga nito: Noong 2011, 333 million pesos ang kinita ng MWSS mula sa pagkalugi ng 34 million pesos. [Applause] Noong 2012 naman po, ang kinita nila: halos dalawang bilyong piso. Kakambal nito, lumago rin ang kanilang dibidendo: [applause] mula sa 150 million pesos noong 2011, umakyat ito sa 345 million pesos para sa 2012. Nakakalungkot nga po, na kung ano ang lalim ng pagbabagong itinanim ng mga pinuno ng MWSS, iyon din naman ang dumi ng putik na ibinabato sa kanila ng mga gusto pa ring kumapit sa lumang sistema.

Kaakibat ng pagtaas ng kumpiyansa sa ating mabuting pamamahala, ang patuloy na pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya. Ang resulta: Dalawang magkasunod na ten-place jump sa Global Competitiveness Index ng World Economic Forum. Sa unang pagkakataon, nakuha natin ang investment grade status mula sa dalawa sa tatlong pinakatanyag na credit ratings agencies sa mundo, at hindi malayong sumunod ang ikatlo. [Applause] Napanatili ang stabilidad ng presyo ng mga bilihin, at patuloy din ang pagbaba ng bahagi sa ating budget na pambayad-utang, at ang paglaki naman ng pondong nailalaan sa mga serbisyong panlipunan. Sa panahong matamlay ang pandaigdigang ekonomiya, nagpamalas tayo ng kahanga-hangang 6.8 percent GDP growth noong 2012. Nahigitan pa natin itong first quarter ng 2013, kung kailan naitala ang paglagong 7.8 percent—pinakamataas na recorded GDP sa Timog-Silangan, [applause] pati na sa Silangang Asya. Special mention po dapat ang 28.5 percent na ambag ng manufacturing sa inilaki ng ating ekonomiya. Inaasahan po nating aarangkada pa ang manufacturing sa mga darating na panahon.

Tinagurian na po tayo ngayon bilang “rising tiger,” ayon sa World Bank; “brightest spark,” ayon sa pahayag ng Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, at iba pang mga bansag na tumutukoy sa transpormasyong nangyayari sa ating bansa. Mula sa matuwid na paggugol ng pondo, hanggang sa epektibong koleksyon ng buwis; mula sa pagpapaunlad ng imprastruktura hanggang sa maaliwalas nang pagnenegosyo na lumilikha ng trabaho, talaga namang malinaw ang pahayag natin sa mundo: kaya nang makipagsabayan ng Pilipinas sa agos ng kaunlaran.

Hindi lang po sa ekonomiya o stadistika nakikita ang transpormasyon ng ating lipunan. Ngayon, alam na ng Pilipino: Mayaman ka man o mahirap, may kakilala sa poder o wala, kapag gumawa ka ng mali, mananagot ka. Tunay nang nakapiring ang katarungan. Hindi mababali ang atas ng ating mga Boss: Panagutin ang tiwali, at itama ang mali sa sistemang kaytagal nagpahirap sa ating bayan.

Pinapanagot na po natin ang dating namumuno ng TESDA dahil sangkot siya sa katakut-takot na tongpats sa ahensya. Halimbawa: Ang isang incubator jar, nagkakahalaga ng 149 pesos. Pero kay Ginoong Syjuco ayon sa mga datos 15,375 pesos. Ang normal na presyo ng dough cutter, 120 pesos. Ang presyo kay Ginoong Syjuco: 48,507 pesos. Linawin po natin, dough cutter ito, at hindi Hamilton Class Cutter. Baka nga po kapag hinarap na niya ang kasong isinampa ng Ombudsman, matuto nang magbilang itong si Ginoong Syjuco.

Nakahabla po ang dating mga opisyal ng PAGCOR na naglustay ng 26.7 million pesos para lamang gumawa ng pelikula; nagsunog ng 186 million pesos para sa isang partylist; at nagawa pang gamitin na pampapogi sa kampanya ang rice donations na nakalaan sana para sa mga biktima ng kalamidad.

Hinaharap na rin po ng mga dating pinuno ng PNP ang paratang ukol sa 131.6 million pesos na nawaldas para sa 75 depektibong rubber boat, at 104.99 million pesos para sa maanumalyang pagbili ng mga segunda-manong helicopter mula 2009 hanggang 2010. Mas mainam nga po kung masagot nila nang tama ang mga tanong ukol dito, nang matukoy natin kung may iba pang dapat managot.

Sa usaping Cadavero, PDAF, MRT 3, at iba pa: Dahil hindi alam ng ilang kritiko ang ginagawa namin, palagay nila wala kaming ginagawa sa mga isyung ito. Kung wala pang tangan na datos ang gobyerno at ipagsigawan naming, “Iimbestigahan namin kayo,” di ba’t para na rin naming sinabi sa mga kakasuhan na, “Paki tago naman po ng mahusay ang lahat ng ebidensya?” Kaya: tutungo tayo kung saan tayo ituturo ng katotohanan; ebidensya ang magdidikta sa ating mga hakbang.

Nang inihayag nating “walang wangwang,” hindi lang natin binaklas ang mga sirena ng mga naghahari-harian sa kalsada; binungkal din natin ang kultura ng katiwalian na noo’y tila nakaugat na sa mga pampublikong institusyon.

Pero magtapatan po tayo: Hanggang ngayon, may ilan pa ring ahensya ng gobyerno na ayaw yata talagang tumino. Nakakadismaya po ang lalim at ang pagsanga-sanga ng kanilang mga galamay sa ating burukrasya; malingat lang tayo, pihadong may aabusuhin at bibiktimahin na naman sila. Magpangalan na po tayo: sa Bureau of Immigration, paulit-ulit nating pinagsabihang ayusin ang pagbabantay sa ating mga daungan at paliparan. Pero paanong nakalabas ng bansa ang magkapatid na Joel at Mario Reyes, ang mga pangunahing suspek sa pagpaslang kay Gerry Ortega? Bakit nangyari pa rin na kitang-kita sa mismong CCTV ang pagtakas ng Koreano na si Park Sungjun? Wanted po siya sa Korea, at nanghingi ng tulong ang kanyang gobyerno upang hulihin siya. Anong mukha naman po ang ihaharap natin gayong mismong mga kawani ng ating gobyerno ang naghatid sa kanya at hinayaan siyang makatakas?

Nakakatuyo din po ng pasensya ang kultura ng “pwede na” sa National Irrigation Administration. Imbes na maglatag ng plano para sa mga bagong patubig, kuntento na sila sa paulit-ulit na rehabilitasyon ng mga irigasyon. Masabi lang na may nagawa, kahit puro patsi-patsing trabaho, masaya na sila. Noon nga pong kanilang anibersaryo, itinanong ko kung bakit nasa 60 percent na naman ang kanilang target ang naabot noong 2012, kung umabot na sila sa 87 percent noong 2011. Kinabukasan, nagkita kami ng magaling nilang administrador sa NEDA Board meeting. Ang sabi niya sakin, “Sir, ang dahilan kaya 60 percent lang, 40 percent daw po kasi ng target nila ay para sa Mindanao, bagyong Pablo ang dumating at tinamaan kaya na-delay sila ng 40 percent.” Kailan po ba tumama ang Pablo? Noong unang linggo ng Disyembre. Ibig sabihin, binalak niyang tapusin ang 40 percent ng kanyang trabaho para sa taon, sa loob lamang ng tatlong linggo. Hindi po natin kailangan ng ganitong uri ng pamamahala sa loob ng burukrasya.

Para namang nakikipagtagisan sa kapalpakan itong Bureau of Customs. Imbes na maningil ng tamang buwis at pigilan ang kontrabando, parang walang pakundangan ang pagpapalusot nila ng kalakal, pati na ng ilegal na droga, armas, at iba pa sa ating teritoryo. Tinataya nga po ng Department of Finance na mahigit 200 billion pesos ang kita na dumudulas lang at hindi napupunta sa kaban ng bayan. Saan po kayo kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha ang mga kawani sa ahensyang ito? [Applause] Marami pong gabi bago ako matulog, kulang na lang ay sabihin nilang, “Wala akong pakialam kung mapunta sa masasamang loob ang armas; wala akong pakialam kung ilang buhay ang masira ng droga; wala akong pakialam kung habambuhay na matigang ang mga sakahan. Ang mahalaga, yumaman ako; bahala ka sa buhay mo.” Hindi maaaring ganito ang kalakaran sa pamahalaan. Kung hindi mo nagagawa ang iyong trabaho, hindi ka karapat-dapat na manatili sa pwesto. [applause]

Kung matino kang kawani ng Bureau of Immigration, ng National Irrigation Administration, ng Customs, o ng kahit ano pang ahensya ng gobyerno, sana makiambag ka pa lalo. Hindi sapat na yumuko sa loob ng cubicle; bahagi ng trabaho mo ay ang pagpigil sa mali. Nasa tama kayo, kaya’t huwag po kayong magtago; padaliin ninyo ang pagnanais kong mahanap kayo; paaangatin ko kayo nang paaangatin upang ibandila ang inyong mabuting ehemplo, at mabago na ang maling kultura sa inyong mga naturang ahensya. [Applause]

Para naman po sa mga kawaning walang balak tumalikod sa kulturang wangwang: Tapos na ang pakikiusap. Nagkaroon kayo ng tatlong taon para ipakitang handa kayong umayos; ngayon, hahanapin, kung hindi pa kayo nahahanap, pero ‘yung ‘di talaga mahahanap, lalahatin na po natin kayong lahat; ngayon, pasensyahan tayo. [Applause]

Isabay na rin po natin sa pagbabago ang mga tiwaling miyembro ng Civil Service. Panahon pa lang po ng nanay ko, narinig ko na ang hirit na, “Ano ngayon kung utos ng Malacañang? Anim na taon lang kayo diyan.” Kailangan pong itama ang ganitong klaseng pag-iisip. Nananawagan po ako sa Kongreso: suriin natin ang ating Civil Service Code at PD 1, [applause] upang maisaayos ito sa lalong madaling panahon. Suportado ko ang pagbuo ng mekanismong magbabalik sa dangal ng serbisyo-publiko; na tanging mga tapat, mahuhusay at may prinsipyong mga lingkod-bayan lamang ang maaaring makapasok at manatili sa gobyerno.

Ngayon naman po, hayaan natin ang ating mga kababayang magpahayag ng transpormasyong nangyayari sa lipunan:



Ni minsan, hindi naman nagkulang ang bansa natin ng mga taong handang manindigan at lumaban, kahit gaano pa kalaki ang mga pagsubok sa kaniyang harapan. Nariyan ang tapang na ipinamalas ni Commodore Ramon Alcaraz noong Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig. Lulan ng isang Q-Boat na yari sa kahoy, sinagupa niya ang siyam na Zero fighter ng hapon, na itinuturing noon na isa sa pinakamodernong eroplano; tatlo nito ang napabagsak niya. Ang totoo nga po, tuluy-tuloy pa rin siyang lalaban, kung hindi pa ang sarili niyang mga pinuno ang nag-atas sa kanyang sumuko. Ang kagitingang ito ang araw-araw ding ipinapamalas ng mga sundalo nating nagtatanod sa mga pinakaliblib na kabundukan, at sa pinakamalalayo nating isla; mga kawal na tinitiis ang layo sa pamilya, at taas-noong naninindigan sa sinumang sumusubok sa ating soberanya. Hindi rin po kalabisang isiping ang mga tagumpay natin sa tuwid na daan ay maaaring pangarap pa rin hanggang ngayon kung wala ang mga miyembro naman ng ating Gabinete. Nang inalok ko silang maging bahagi ng ating pamahalaan, alam nilang hindi magiging madali ang kanilang trabaho. Subalit maituturing na biyaya na tinanggap nila ang hamon, nanumpa silang tutulong sa transpormasyon, at simula’t sapul, araw-araw silang nagsasakripisyo upang hindi masayang ang pribilehiyong paglingkuran kayo.

May mga katulad ni Kalihim Albert del Rosario. Kung ibabase sa tradisyon, ang unang opisyal na biyahe sa labas ng Pilipinas ng isang kalihim ay sa mga bansang may matibay at mapayapa tayong ugnayan. Ngunit pagkatapos niyang manumpa bilang Foreign Affairs Secretary, kumuha lang yata ng pambihis, lumipad agad si Secretary del Rosario patungong Libya; dumaan sa mahigit dalawampung checkpoint sa gitna ng putukan, at pinamunuan ang paglikas ng mahigit dalawampung libong Pilipino na naipit sa kaguluhan sa Libya. [Applause] Baka po magulat kayo pag narinig ninyo kung taga-saang bansa ang mga banyagang nakiangkas pa sa ating paglilikas. Iba na nga po ang Pilipinas ngayon: Imbes na tayo lang ang parating tinutulungan, ngayon, kaya na rin nating tumulong sa mga dayuhan. [Applause]Kung tutuusin, maaari namang tanggihan ni Secretary Albert ang pagtatrabaho sa gobyerno. Isa siyang respetado’t matagumpay na negosyante, at tiyak na mas magiging komportable siya sa pribadong buhay. Dati na rin po nating siyang nakiambag bilang ambassador sa Amerika. Puwede naman siyang nadismaya nang pababain siya sa puwesto, dahil tinutulan niya ang pagdeklara ng State of Emergency ng nakaraang administrasyon noong 2006. Pero tinawag po natin siya para bumalik, at tumugon siya. Ngayon po, nagbibigay siya ng mas malaki pang ambag bilang kalihim. Handa niyang ilagay ang sarili sa panganib, dahil alam niyang walang ibang sasaklolo sa Pilipino kundi ang kapwa rin Pilipino. Sa patuloy mong paninindigan para sa ating karapatan, saludo po ako sa inyo, Secretary Albert del Rosario. [applause]

Transpormasyon din po ang dulot ng inspirasyong hatid ng matitinong lingkod-bayan. Nagluksa ang milyun-milyong Pilipino sa pagpanaw ni Jesse Robredo. Sa loob ng halos dalawang dekada, namuno siya nang may husay, malasakit, at pagpapakumbaba sa Naga. Ang mga prinsipyong ito nga mismo ang dahilan kung bakit hiniram natin siya mula kay Congresswoman Leni, at sa tatlo nilang mga anak, at sa mga Nagueño, upang maging bahagi ng ating Gabinete. Kaya nga po, matapos ang trahedya, isa na siguro sa pinakamahirap na tungkuling ginampanan ko ang paghahatid ng balita kina Leni at kanilang mga anak.

Bukod sa pagluluksa, hindi ko maiwasang sisihin ang sarili ko dahil sa sinapit ni Jesse. Baka kung hindi ko siya hinikayat mapabilang sa Gabinete, buhay pa siya ngayon. Baka kung nanatili na lamang siya sa Naga, kapiling pa natin siya. Baka may isa pa ring Jesse Robredo na naglilingkod ngayon.

Subalit sa isang banda, alam kong hindi hahayaan ni Jesse na tumigil sa kanya ang pagbabago at pagtutuwid ng lipunan. Nabigyan lamang ako, at nabigyan din lamang si Jesse, ng pagkakataong maglingkod sa bansa dahil sa inyo. Hindi nag-iisa ang mukha ng pagbabago. Hindi na aabutin pa ng isandaang taon bago isilang ang susunod na mabuting tao, bago tumindig ang susunod na mabuting Pilipino.

May mga nagtatanong nga po lagi sa akin: Paano na sa 2016? Paano pag bumaba ka na? Tapos na rin ba ang tapat na pamamahala? Tapos na ba ang tuwid na daan?

Mga Boss, isipin nga po natin: Saan ba tayo nagmula? Kung may agam-agam kayo ngayon, ano ba naman ito kumpara sa agam-agam natin noong 2010? Di ba’t masaya na tayo noon na tapos na ang panahon ng kadiliman? Di ba’t noon, sapat nang mapalitan ang mga nasa kapangyarihan?

Ngayon, tinatamasa na natin ang pagbabago. Mula ito sa mga butil ng malasakit, ng pakikipagkapwa, ng pagkakawang-gawa; nanggaling ito sa milyun-milyong Pilipinong kahit sa pinakapayak na paraan, ay nagkusang makiambag sa transpormasyon ng bansa.

Sa pag-aambagang ito, tingnan ninyo ang ating narating: May nakaisip bang magiging abot-kamay na ang kapayapaan sa rehiyong apatnapung taon nang pinupunit ng hidwaan? Di ba’t gawa ito ng mga Morong handang magbaba ng armas at sinabing, halika, mag-usap na tayo, nagtitiwala ako? Di ba’t gawa ito ng karaniwang mamamayang nagsabing, Kapatid, pareho tayong Pilipino, tama na nga ang gulo? [applause]

Nang unang iminungkahi ang Pantawid Pamilya, nariyan ang tanong: Paanong maaabot ang kailangan nitong epekto; nasaan ang pondo para masaklaw ang lahat ng maralitang Pilipino? May nag-akala bang, matapos lamang ang tatlong taon, aabot sa halos apat na milyong kabahayan ang nagiging benepisyaryo nito? At di ba’t sila rin—ang bawat inang gumigising nang maaga para ipaghanda ang anak niyang papasok sa eskuwela, ang bawat batang nag-aaral nang mabuti—di ba’t sila rin ang nakiambag at patuloy na nakikiambag para magtagumpay ang programang ito?

May nag-akala bang mula sa pag-aangkat ng milyun-milyong toneladang bigas, sa pagtatapos pa lang ng 2012 ay 94 percent rice self-sufficient na tayo? May nag-akala bang ang dating “Sick Man of Asia,” sa loob lamang ng tatlong taon ng tapat na pamamahala, ay nasa investment grade status na? Sino nga po ba ang nag-isip na maipapatupad ang lahat ng serbisyong panlipunan natin ngayon, nang di nagtataas ng buwis maliban syempre sa Sin Tax? Di ba’t nakiambag dito ang bawat accountant, doktor, abugado, na ngayon ay nagbabayad ng tamang buwis? Di ba’t nakiambag tayong lahat dito?

May puwang pa ba para sa mga agam-agam? Ngayon pa bang natutupad na ang mga dating ni hindi natin magawang pangarapin, ngayon pa bang nakausad na tayo, at abot-kamay na ang ating mga hangarin—Boss, ngayon pa ba tayo magdududa?

Sa bawat Pilipinong nagtitiwala sa kapangyarihan ng maliliit na anyo ng kabutihan: Kayo nga po ang gumawa ng pagbabago. SONA po ninyo ito.

Sa bawat gurong bumabangon nang madaling-araw para magturo sa kanayunan: SONA mo ito. Sa bawat pulis na nagsilbi at hindi nanghingi ng kapalit: SONA po niyo ito.

Sa mga hindi panatag sa listahan ng mga tatakbo sa halalan, at kinatok ang kapitbahay para sabihing, “Huwag tayong makuntento, magtulungan tayong humanap ng karapat-dapat na pinuno,” SONA mo ito.

Sa bawat estudyanteng mulat sa mga napapanahong isyu sa lipunan, at sa halip na magreklamo lang sa Facebook ay nagmumungkahi ng solusyon: SONA mo ito. [applause]

Kay Brigadier General Ramon Mateo Dizon, paretirong pinuno ng Presidential Security Group, na kasama ko na noon pa, laban sa mga kudeta noong panahon ng nanay ko: Hanggang sa aking pagkapangulo, pinangalagaan mo ang seguridad ko, pati na ng personal at opisyal kong pamilya. Buong kumpiyansa akong pumunta, sa ibang bansa man o sa mga liblib na sulok ng Pilipinas. Chito, nakiambag ka rin sa pagbabago; tunay kang tapat sa watawat, sa Saligang Batas, at sa sambayanang Pilipino. [Applause] Siyempre, kung di ka inalalayan ng iyong butihing maybahay na si Jo-ann, hindi mo naabot ang iyong mga tagumpay. SONA ninyong dalawa ito. [Applause]

At sa lahat ng mga gumising sa nagtutulug-tulugan, sa mga nagmulat sa mga nagbubulag-bulagan, sa mga kumalampag sa mga nagbibingi-bingihan: SONA po ninyo ito. [applause]

Mahaba pa ang ating lalakbayin, at hindi natin kailanman sinabing madali o walang mga hadlang sa landas na ito. Subalit wala akong duda sa kakayahan nating lampasan ang anumang barikada. Hindi tsamba ang mga tagumpay na tinatamasa natin ngayon; huwag tayong papayag na maging panandalian lamang ang transpormasyon. Samantalahin natin ang pagkakataon upang gawing permanente ang pagbabago.

Ito po ang aking ikaapat na SONA. Noong ako’y Congressman, ang mga taga-Tarlac ang aking lakas; nang ako’y maging Senador, at hanggang ngayon, sa aking pagkapangulo, nariyan ang sambayanan—Pilipinas, kayo ang aking lakas. [Applause] Sa patuloy nating pag-aambagan at pananalig sa kapwa at sa Maykapal, sinasabi ko po sa inyo: Kayo pa rin ang sisigurong magpapatuloy ang ating nasimulan; kayo ang sisigurong mabubura na nang tuluyan ang mga mukha ng katiwalian; kayo ang sisigurong hinding-hindi na tayo muling lilihis sa tuwid na daan.

Sinabi po sa akin dati: Noynoy, simulan mo lang at sinimulan nga po natin, at ngayon, kitang-kita na ang layo ng ating narating. Ngayon, Pilipino, ituloy natin ang pagkakapit-bisig, sabay nating arugain, pabilisin, at palawakin ang transpormasyon ng lipunan. Ako po si Noynoy Aquino; ipinagmamalaki ko sa buong mundo: Pilipino ako. At talagang napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito.

Maraming salamat po. Magandang hapon sa inyo. [applause]

Palace asks for sobriety among protesters

MALACAÑANG asked protesters to exercise discipline and sobriety after they broke the barriers that the police put up along Commonwealth Avenue leading to Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City where President Benigno Aquino III is set to deliver his State of the Nation Address (Sona) Monday afternoon.

“We call on the protesters converged on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, to exercise discipline and sobriety as they exercise their right to peacefully assemble,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

He said that the militant groups should bear in mind the inconveniences their actions may cause the general public. Read more

Drilon, Belmonte elected as new Congress leaders

MANILA (Updated 1:40 p.m.) — The 16th Congress opened Monday with the election of Senator Franklin Drilon as Senate President and Quezon City Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as House Speaker.

Both Drilon and Belmonte are allies of President Benigno Aquino III, who is set to deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) later today, July 22.

Drilon’s election as Senate President came seven years after yielding the position in a term-sharing agreement. Read more

3 party-lists join House before Sona

THE National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) proclaimed three more winning party-list groups in the May 13 polls just in time for the opening of the 16th Congress and President Benigno Aquino III’s fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.

Based on NBOC Resolution 0020-13 dated July 19, Ang National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples Action Na (ANAC-IP); Agbiag! Timpuyog Ilocano, Inc. (Agbiag!); and Append Inc. (Append) were proclaimed as 54th, 55th, and 56th winning party-list groups.

“The NBOC resolves to proclaim the following party-list groups as additional winners in the party-list elections without prejudice to the proclamation of other parties, organizations or coalitions, which may later on be established to be entitled to one guaranteed seat and/or additional seat,” said the NBOC resolution. Read more

Acceptance speech of House Speaker Belmonte

At the Opening Session of the 16th Congress

House of Representatives, Republic of the Philippines

22 July 2013, Plenary Hall, Batasang Pambansa Complex, Quezon City

ESTEEMED colleagues, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen –

It is a rare honor to once more be entrusted with the Speakership of this Chamber. This grave responsibility was first reposed on me briefly in 2001, and again in the 15th Congress.

Today, I am deeply humbled by your vote of confidence. I accept anew this duty, equally confident that, irrespective of our differing political affiliation, geographic or sectoral interest and persuasion, we will always stand strong and unified in our resolve not merely to consolidate the gains thus far realized, but to move towards our great future.

I pledge to honor that trust with a leadership that respects the voice of every member in all proceedings of this chamber and upholds the integrity of this assembly as a democratic institution of government.

Mula sa puso, maraming salamat sa inyong pagtitiwala.

Whether re-elected or as new members of this Chamber, we all witnessed the back-breaking burden legislators of this House bore to discard practices of the past and steer the country towards the proverbial matuwid na daan. In the past three years, it was this House which overhauled the appropriations process, and built the habit of the prompt enactment of a transparent and responsive national budget; this House which refused to shirk from the politically difficult task of impeachment and fortified the constitutional promise of accountability in government.

The ratings achieved by this House in successive public trust surveys are not only historic; they are likewise indicative of the transformation of this institution and of our efforts to place our national constituency front, back and center of our legislative agenda.

The remarkable improvements in the country’s competitiveness rankings, governance indicators and corruption indices; the investment grade credit ratings achieved under President Aquino; and the economic growths posted last year and in the first quarter of this year which are unsurpassed in the region are extraordinary feats which we achieved even as the world around us grappled with a stale, if not contracting, international economy and immense political disturbances.

The greatest error we can commit today is to mistake the past three years as ends in themselves, and not merely as a preview of the greater things to come.

Our task in the next three years must be to resist the costly temptation of resting on our laurels, to inspire greater belief in our collective capacity for greater accomplishment within our country and outside, and to marshal government resources towards making possible a more vibrant and resilient economy and people.

In close collaboration with the Senate and the Executive, we will craft a legislative agenda that will generate greater economic activity in our country.

Reducing the impediments to the ease of doing business even as we rationalize our incentives framework, and creating a more even and stable regulatory framework that will rid the private sector of its fears from funding our economic expansion, especially in such critical areas as power and energy, are essential if we are to sustain our growth and employ the jobless.

The habit of promptly enacting a national budget must be complemented by judiciousness in the use of public resources. The reprieve enjoyed by our people from additional taxes can be sustained without substantially impairing our future growth and expansion if efficiency in government spending is further strengthened and institutionalized in our appropriations act, and assiduously guarded through the oversight powers of this House.

Greater investment in public infrastructure and facilities must be encouraged, simultaneous with our concern for prudence in the use of public resources. As we pass laws that deter and close the avenues for corruption, so must we gain greater confidence in using public resources to address and anticipate the needs of our expanding economy.

We must nurture a legal ethos that mandates and extolls prudence in spending, and transparency and accountability in the use of public funds, especially in the use of Priority Development Assistance Funds or PDAF. Ambiguity must yield to specific, definite and verifiable development programs and projects for both district and party-list funded activities. A strict obedience to a much tightened guidelines in the use of public resources is the strongest guarantee of efficiency, ensuring that each peso spent generates exponential returns for our people.

For my part, my PDAF, since first serving as member of this Chamber in 1992, were spent strictly within my district in Quezon City, subject always to public scrutiny, and sometimes to criticism.

The 16th Congress coincides with the second half of President PNoy’s six year term. These three years are sometimes more difficult to manage because whiffs of the next election hang in the air. This time might not be too different. Nevertheless, I call upon all of you, my colleagues, to unite behind this administration’s and our reform agenda in the interest of our people so that the 16th Congress along with President Aquino’s term of office, ends, not with a strike out, but with a homerun.

Reforms in governance cannot be neglected. Government leaders must now augment our “kung walang kurap, walang mahirap” battle cry with “walang kukurap,” and marshall greater support for the President’s agenda towards a clean, honest, efficient and responsive public bureaucracy.

We must complete the modernization of our institutions and the processes they adopt, and rid them of wastages which equally robs our people of essential public services. Until our accomplishments in the transformation of government become convincingly irreversible, we can neither allow our present gains to be dissipated midstream nor frustrate anew the expectations of our people.

My colleagues, our beliefs and philosophies will undoubtedly require us to debate and disagree as we perform the legislative duties we will set up. But our democratic experience in the past Congress – the Congress which courageously tackled some of the most controversial and divisive measures – should remind us that our differences cannot remotely justify the obstruction of urgent and necessary legislation, but must in fact be used to enrich it.

With your help, ours will be a pro-active 16th Congress, one that refuses to squander the accomplishments of our predecessors but builds on them that we may finally bridge the realities of the present to the promise of our future.

Ours will be a visionary Congress that will anticipate our needs and steer our economy to a path of sustained, but especially, equitable and inclusive growth.

Together with you, we will be that Congress worthy of the trust reposed upon it by the constituency who elected us – the Filipino people.

Maraming salamat sa inyo at mabuhay tayong lahat. Mabuhay ang bansang Pilipinas!