MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino on Monday provided a glimpse into his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) as he cited the gains made by his administration in his 2nd year in office.
Speaking at the oath-taking of Liberal Party members in Baguio City, Aquino started his speech by talking about the heavy 4-hour traffic from Tarlac to Baguio due to the numerous construction projects along the way.
Aquino said that when he started as congressman in 1998, the usual line of government was that there are not enough funds to launch much needed projects.
“Now I am not saying that our country is drowning in cash but we now have the capability to give to our bosses what is due them all at once, without favoring anyone and in the quickest time possible,” he said in his speech at Benguet State University.
Aquino cited some of the gains in his 2 years in office. He said that in the past 2 years, he increased the number of beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program from 800,000 families to over 3 million.
“This is an investment, not alms,” he said.
He noted that 82% of the country’s population is enrolled in Philhealth.
He said the Philippines will also be self-sufficient in rice by 2013. He said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala also promised that if weather conditions cooperate, the country will start exporting higher-value rice next year.
Aquino said Philippine congressmen also sent a message to the judicial system that it is part of the country’s democratic system and that its power emanates from the people.
He said one person, referring to impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, did not believe this. “He is now a Mister and has no title,” he said.
The President said he has received several versions of the same question: how can you ensure that the reforms you have made will continue? In reply, he said it is everyone’s responsibility that lasting change will take effect in government and society.
He also echoed Transport Secretary Mar Roxas’ statement that joining the Liberal Party is not about being famous.
“We are here to make sure that our platform is government is strong so that even when I am gone, Mar [Roxas] is gone, Erin [Tañada] is gone and everyone on this platform is gone, there are still those who will render true service to the people and not just lip service. People who believe that we can change what we have grown accustomed to and that all we need is someone to stand up and lead,” he said.
He added: “My prayer is that in 2016, we have achieved significant change. We need you to make sure the change is not temporary but permanent.”