Wednesday, July 30, 2014

PNoy: Pinoys Are Worth Fighting For

Emotional but substantive was PNoy’s SONA (State of the Nation Address).

Quoting his late father Ninoy Aquino, PNoy said in his SONA, “The Filipino is worth dying for.” Followed it with “The Filipino is worth living for.” Then, from him, “ At idagdag ko naman po: the Filipino is definitely worth fighting for,"

What indeed, is the State of the Filipino nation today?

Right off the bat, the Filipino is fortunate to have a President who is good and honest and who is determined to follow the righteous path. In the process, he is expecting and exhorting others to follow. Many did but understandably, old habits die hard. As I said in a previous column, it takes a whole generation to reform society and its people.

The Philippines now has an investment grade status. It is a rating that is yearned and envied by many countries. The grade was obtained from Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard and Poor’s – the three recognized international “raters”.  Measured against the performance of other countries and against its own past, the country’s investment grade rating is unprecedented and, historically, a record. That alone, is a sign of good things to come. The burden of high interest payment for loans is reduced, and more investments are likely to follow.

 No other than the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has hailed the “Philippines as the next Asian “miracle” and a global model in fighting corruption, as it emerges from decades as a regional economic laggard.”

In fact, he further said President Benigno Aquino should take much of the credit for the turnaround, highlighting his ant-corruption campaign, efforts to build transparency in government and focus on “inclusive growth”.

Based on the data published by the International Monetary fund, in the years 2012 and 2013, the Philippines posted high GDP growth rates, reaching 6.8% in 2012 and 7.2% in 2013, the highest GDP growth rates in Asia, followed by China and Indonesia. The goal is to maintain such level of growth.

Battle Against Corruption

As of today, PNoy’s anti-corruption campaign has yielded some outcomes that show the government’s determination and commitment. It is following what I described in a previous column as GPS (Government Prosecution of the Sleazy).

For the first time in history, three Senators, the Mastermind of the Pork Barrel Scam (Napoles), and many other public officials are in prison for being charged with Plunder. Others are charged for lesser offenses of violation of ant-graft laws.  The expectation is that many more will be charged soon.

SONA 2014

PNoy’s SONA was 91 minutes long compared to last year’s 102 minutes. It garnered a total of 85 applauses.

The Philippine Inquirer published a summary of his SONA. I will mention some features of the report.

After the usual greetings, he thanked foreign donors for their assistance during Super Typhoon Yolanda. He cited Albay’s zero casualty during Typhoon Glenda; he praised Albay Gov. Joey Salceda. He reported the arrest of those involved in the killing of Mayor Ernesto Balolong and businessman Richard King.

He enumerated government acquisitions to modernize Armed Forces—new helicopters, country’s first landing craft utility ship BRP Tagbanua.

He reported that 1.65 million were employed from April 2013 to April 2014. He expects the completion of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway until Urdaneta by this year, and until La Union by 2015. He enumerated more infrastructure projects such as:

Fix 108.8 kilometers of roads, bridges and landslide-prone areas damaged by Yolanda; and Continue to “Build Back Better” for those affected by Yolanda.

AFP modernization was, he considers, an important achievement: Two of 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets coming in next year; the rest expected to be delivered by end of 2017; 17 refurbished UH-1 helicopters expected by September.

Other target military purchases: Brand-new 8 Bell combat utility helicopters, 2 antisubmarine helicopters, 10 AgustaWestland-109 helicopters, 2 light-lift aircraft, 3 medium-lift aircraft and radar systems, among others. The acquisition of 50,629 M4 assault rifles is also expected in the next months.

Legislating pension reform in order to gain funds to hire more policemen and buy new equipment for PNP is a priority.

On Agrarian reform: Completion of Cadastral survey by 2015 after 102 years. He will suggest legislation to extend delivery of notices of coverage.

On Bangsamoro: Working on Bangsamoro Basic Law and push for its passage.


Columnist Mel Sta. Maria reported that in a survey conducted by TV5, PNoy’s speech was received favorably by 84% of the listeners and watchers.
Even oppositionists and critics had something positive to say. In a statement, Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. praised Aquino for ditching macho posturing and politicking in the SONA and focusing instead on his programs.

Revilla said the President could have accomplished more in the past four years if he had adopted a similar track since taking office in 2010.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada also praised President Aquino for spending much of his SONA enumerating completed projects and accomplishments.
Both are in prison. They must have access to TV or the Internet.
The State of the Nation cannot be aptly described unless the status of DAP controversy is also included.  What has not been cleared by the Press in its reporting to the public is that DAP itself has not been declared unconstitutional. The Supreme Court declared only certain acts and practices as unconstitutional.  The misunderstanding in these acts and practices is in the definition of “savings” and other terms used.  This is why PNoy has asked for a clearer definition by Congress so that the legislative intent would not be misinterpreted.

The President also asked for a Supplemental Budget to fund the numerous DAP Projects that are in the pipeline and which he believes are beneficial to the people.

It looks like he really believes that “the Filipino is worth fighting for."

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