MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III delivered a no-frills State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, and he sounded like his late father, "Ninoy," according to former Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr.
Locsin, who wrote many of the speeches of Noynoy's late mother, Cory, did not even consider Aquino's first SONA a speech. “It was certainly nowhere near the caliber of Cory,” he said.
What he noticed, however, was the fact that “it was an indictment. When he was talking, it was Ninoy Aquino. I was with Ninoy when he was at his most flamboyant. It was like bullets flying out of a machine gun…There was no vision, but facts.”
Lawyer Theodore Te agreed, saying the president was very much within character. “[The speech] was a bit dry…it was not too much of an inspiration, but it was very direct. His theme was clear.”
In a separate press statement, Vice President Jejomar Binay said the speech was simple, direct and truthful.
“There are difficulties and challenges ahead. President Aquino needs our whole-hearted support for him to succeed in facing these difficulties and challenges,” he said.
As in any other SONA, however, some provisions just did not bode well with political pundits.
Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno perceived that Aquino was getting “unsolicited offers” from the private sector with regard to accessing and funding government projects.
“The government does not work that way, you have to go through the process,” he said.
He also lambasted Aquino for wanting to amend the Procurement Law.
“That’s a wrong move. It’s one of the best that has been passed,” he said.
He noted that letting Congress touch it again will open the law to self-serving interests.
Te, for his part, said Aquino was still not thorough with regard to the thrust of the Truth Commission.
The lawyer noted the President merely noted he would soon be signing an Executive Order creating the Truth Commission.
Aquino first revealed the creation of the commission during the announcement of the Cabinet members. He said the Truth Commission will prosecute the anomalies done during President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s time.
“[What I understand] is that it will make the Ombudsman irrelevant,” he said.
He noted Aquino failed to answer how the commission would be able to serve its mandate and how it would go beyond the role of a constitutionally-embedded agency such as the Ombudsman.
Speech was wanting
Militant groups also found the speech wanting.
Bayan Muna secretary-general Renato Reyes, Jr. said: “It would have been better if he lessened debt spending in favor of social services. There was also no concrete pronouncements on employment and land reform and increased allocation for social services…”
“It also remains to be seen how the truth commission will actually work and if it will address the human rights abuses of the past regime,” he added.
For his part, former President Joseph Estrada also basically said the same.
“May mas malaki pa na nangyayaring graft and corruption. Inexpect ko na yun ang sasabihin niya. Well this is just the start, [I'm] hoping that there is a certainty of punishment, yun dapat patunayan,” he said.
Ombudsman to cooperate
Cabinet members, however, thought of the speech as something that should prod everyone to work together.
Over at the Office of the Ombudsman, Assistant Ombudsman Jose De Jesus, Jr. said: “We have heard the mission, vision, and the direction of governance of the president. We’ll cooperate with him in all these things, regarding anomalous matters mentioned in his speech. The Ombudsman has directed field investigators to expand their probe into these things.” -- with reports from ABS-CBN correspondents