PNoy heaps praise on Singson anew

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2014 10:28 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2014 06:28 AM

Why Singson almost didn't accept TOFIL award

MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III heaped praise anew on Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson who was one of the honorees of the 2013 The Oustanding Filipino (TOFIL), a recognition which Singson said he almost declined.

In his remarks, Singson cited "the many turbulent waters" that he had to go through "especially early in January which even made me consider not to accept this award."

He did not name any specific incident but controversies marred the construction of bunkhouses for survivors of typhoon "Yolanda" with a newspaper report published early this year saying that the bunkhouses were overpriced.

Singson later said that there was no overpricing but that substandard materials may have been used. He said contractors would not be paid if the DPWH's standards were not met.

But Aquino has virtually cleared him of any wrongdoing as he lauded Singson for helping rid his agency of its image as one of the most corrupt agencies.

Aquino also credited Singson for the money that the government managed to save in various government projects.

"Kapag si Kalihim Babes ang pumirma sa isang proyekto, alam mong sulit ang gagastusin sa kaban ng bayan at hindi mapupunta sa bulsa ng kung sino lang. Kung babalikan ninyo ang mga ginawa kong SONA nitong nakaraang mga taon, makikita n'yong madalas kong ibida si Kalihim Babes," Aquino said.

"Hindi ako magsasawang magbigay ng papuri sa kanyang kakayahan na mapanatili ang mga nagawang positibo, habang hindi natatakot na humarap sa mga bagong hamon at nagpapatupad ng mga repormang napapakinabangan ng maraming Pilipino sa literal na kongkretong paraan," he added.

The President jested that he only has one problem with Singson, poking fun at the secretary's nickname, "Babes."

"Alam po n'yo, kung mayroon man akong hindi nagustuhan kay Secretary Babes ay dahil 'pag kausap ko siya sa telepono, at sasabihin ko sa dulo ay 'Thank you, Babes,' marami pong nakalingon sa akin at iniisip kung sino ang kausap ko lalo na po ang media," Aquino said, prompting the audience to laugh.

Other TOFIL honorees were forester and wood anatomist Dr. Arsenio B. Ella for the category environmental conservation and sustainable development, and Project Noah Executive Director Dr. Mahar Lagmay for geology and earth sciences.

The TOFIL is a joint project of Insular Life and the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate.