NEW YORK – Filipino-Americans tuned in early Monday morning to listen to President Benigno Aquino III’s 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Aquino renewed his commitment to end corruption in the Philippines, saying that the fight is personal for him.
“Do you want the corrupt to be held accountable? So do I. Do you want to see the end of “wang-wang” both on the streets and in the sense of entitlement that has led to the abuse that we have lived with for so long? So do I,” Aquino said.
“Do you want to give everyone a fair chance to improve their lot in life? So do I,” he added.
Filipino-Americans in New York have mixed reactions to Aquino’s speech.
Some Fil-Am activists are not convinced, and a day before the SONA, members of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) held a protest in the Woodside community, saying that the true state of the Philippines needs to come out.
“Today, we come together for the real State of the Nation Address... the people’s State of the Nation Address,” said Danielle Galan.
“In the country, people are continuing to suffer with lack of education, lack of food and lack of support,” added Irma Bajar.
Another Fil-Am, Christina Hilo, called on Aquino to start doing his work, especially for migrants in the United States.
But leaders of the group US Pinoys for Good Governance said Aquino should be applauded for his efforts to create new jobs.
In his SONA, Aquino said, “Our foremost pledge to the Filipino people was to create more jobs, and we have delivered. In April 2010, the unemployment rate was 8%, in April 2011, it was at 7.2%.”
On ending hunger, Aquino said, “Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June – equivalent to a million Filipino families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly every day.”
“We are impressed,” said Gloria Navarrete. “He’s sincere in his efforts.”
But what pleased these Fil-Am leaders all the more is Aquino’s commitment to defend the Philippine territories, particularly the Spratly Islands.
“He dealt with it head-on,” said Rodel Rodis. “He made it clear that what belongs to the Philippines belongs to the Philippines.”
Rodis added that protecting the Spratlys and its oil is a must.
“Nine or 10 million overseas Filipinos bring $17-billion in remittances. But $50-billion in oil revenues there would erase the need for us to send Filipino workers abroad,” Rodis said.
US Pinoys for Good Governance had supported Aquino’s candidacy in last year’s election. -- With reports from Don Tagala.
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