BELOW are highlights of President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) delivered at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday, July 28, 2014.
Aquino concludes Sona
He ended his Sona at 5:34 p.m. The session was adjourned two minutes after.
Aquino’s Sona this year received 86 applauses.
Appeal to Bosses
Aquino appealed to his “bosses” to continue the change and transformation that his administration has started.
“Buong-buo ang tiwala ko, nasa eksena man ako o wala, tutungo ang Pilipino sa tama niyang kalalagyan.”
Aquino mentioned government officials, religious leaders, military and artists like Ogie Alcasid when he cited their good deeds and urged them to continue what they’re doing. He made special mention of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who despite their political differences, had been with him and his family for a long time.
Worth fighting for
President Aquino quoted his father when he said toward the end of his speech: “The Filipino is worth dying for.”
He added these lines: “The Filipino is worth living for… The Filipino is worth fighting for.”
His sister, celebrity Kris Aquino, was seen on TV crying.
Reminder to people, appeal
Aquino reminded the Filipino people to continue the reforms started by his administration, citing he only has one Sona left to deliver. Aquino’s term will end in 2016.
He also asked the public to continue to support him, as he vowed that he will never turn his back on them because doing so would mean turning his back on his parents, Ninoy Aquino and former President Corazon Aquino. He turned emotional when he made this appeal.
Aquino on critics
Filipinos are now on their way to progress despite criticisms. With unity, we will succeed, Aquino said.
Aquino said the administration has to look for other funds for the government’s anti-crime campaign with the suspension of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). He asked Congress to pass a resolution that will clarify concepts in the budget.
Aquino promised to work hard to achieve justice for victims of crimes, including Cebuano businessman Richard King, Mayor Ernesto Balolong, and car racer Enzo Pastor. Suspects in their murder were arrested by the police.
Reforms in Customs
The Bureau of Customs has been reformed, with the appointment of new commissioners and deputy commissioners. Aquino cited an increase in cash collections with the reforms being done within BOC.
Bangsamoro Basic Law
The government signed a peace deal with the MILF, but Aquino said the signing was just the start of a long process. He said the draft Bangsamoro law should be acceptable to all, thus it should pass scrutiny.
His administration targets to pass the law before the end of 2014 so as not to delay the peace process. He asked Congress for understanding.
The government is trying to solve power shortage in the country, with solutions being readied to address the shortage comes summers 2015. Aquino acknowledged that the El Nino is a threat to hydropower producers.
Government has been investigating officials who have links to rice smugglers.
Arrest of CPP-NPA rebels
Aquino cited in his Sona the arrest of CPP-NPA leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife. Praised the military and police for the arrest and claimed the communist movement is declining.
Yolanda rehab master plan
Aquino said it takes one year for relief operations to be done and for rehabilitation to start, but in just eight months, the UN declared that the Philippines is already in the rehabilitation stage.
The rehabilitation plans for Cebu, Iloilo, Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte and Tacloban City were approved, and that the Department of Budget and Management is tasked to release at least P96 billion for these areas.
Aquino called on Congress to help implement the rehabilitation plans.
Thank you, donors
Aquino thanked other countries, as well as non-government organizations and communities from all over the world for assisting the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda.
He also thanked the Cabinet members who played roles in the rescue and rehabilitation of Yolanda victims, including Cesar Purisima, Joel Villanueva, Joseph Abaya, Voltaire Gazmin, Mar Roxas and Dinky Soliman.
Disasters: Typhoon Yolanda
By Christmas 2013, power had been restored in all municipalities affected by Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2013. About 1.7 million families were affected by the typhoon, while 44 provinces were hit. In these places, infrastructure and public utilities were down.
Aquino called for an extraordinary cooperation to help Filipinos affected by the typhoon get back on their feet.
Disasters: Bohol-Cebu quake
Power in Tagbilaran City, Bohol was restored a week after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which occurred on October 15, 2013. One in every 25 critical bridges in Bohol were rehabilitated. The DILG has funded rehabilitation of public markets, water systems, town halls, and other infrastructures that were destroyed or damaged by the tremor.
Disasters: Zamboanga siege
Aquino thanked the military and police for showing their courage and sacrifices during the Zamboanga siege in September 2013, saying more than 100 civilians were saved.
Housing aid worth P2.57 billion was released to the National Housing Authority and DPWH for the Zamboanga siege victims.
The government has bought equipment, ships, and helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Two fighter jets will be delivered in 2015. Radar system and other equipment will also be purchased to modernize the military.
On the part of the Philippine National Police, the one to one police to pistol ration has been achieved by the current administration.
Out of the 115 notices of strike filed in 2013, only one pushed through. Aquino said the government targets a zero strike in 2014.
Seven Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects worth P62.6 billion was awarded by the Aquino administration, exceeding the 6 PPPs approved by the three previous administrations.
Aquino vows to award more PPP projects, and he praised the Public Works department headed by Secretary Rogelio Singson for achieving the agency’s targets of building 12,184 kilometers of roads and bridges and for curbing corruption.
The government’s budget for infrastructure has “more than doubled” from P200.3 billion in 2011 to P404.3 billion in 2014.
Poverty incidence was reduced to 24.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013, from the 27.9 percent in the same period in 2012 because of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program for the poorest of the poor.
The CCT has been expanded to include children aged up to 11 years old.
Aviation Safety Standards
The European Union now allows the Philippine Airlines to fly to Europe, allowing Filipinos direct access to London from Manila. The Cebu Pacific Airline was also allowed to fly to EU in 2014.
The Philippines has also expanded airline operations in the United States after safety concerns on the local aviation industry were lifted in 2013. With this, more flights will bring in more investors and tourists in the country, said Aquino.
Economic Growth/Credit Rating
Aquino said the Philippine economy is on the upswing, backed by credit rating upgrades, favorable assessment from international aviation experts and larger spending on infrastructure.
“Our economy and our country are indeed taking off, and we are already realizing even greater aspirations,” he said.
Three international credit rating agencies — Moody’s, Fitch Group and Standard and Poor’s — gave the Philippines investment grade ratings in 2013, opening more investments for the country.
The Philippines tax collection also increased from P1.039 trillion in 2010 to P1.536 trillion in 2013.
The DAP, says Aquino, infused P1.6 billion for the training-for-work scholarship program of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), benefiting 223,615 individuals. Of this number, 66 percent representing 146,731 graduates landed jobs.
The government invested P7,155 in each scholar.
“This is good governance: The right intentions, practices, and results. Everyone wins,” he said. “We worked hard to accumulate the funds government has today, which is why we will not tolerate wasting it.”
Aquino’s arrival in Batasan
President Benigno Aquino III arrives at the Batasang Pambansa around 3:30 p.m. Monday. He entered the session hall and was welcomed by the lawmakers and guests around 3:56 p.m. before the Congress joint session was called to order. He started his Sona, his fifth since he assumed office in 2010, at 4:02 p.m.