MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III remains in high spirits as he faces the country on Monday for the annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) amid threats of impeachment.
In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino has not been demoralized at all by recent news that his popularity ratings have taken a beating the Supreme Court declared parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.
“Hindi po natitinag ang determinasyon ng Pangulo. Hindi po nagbabago ‘yung kanyang masidhing commitment na maihatid sa kanyang mga boss ang mga ipinangakong reporma, matupad ang mga priority initiatives ng ating Philippine Development Plan,” Coloma said.
Three impeachment complaints filed at the House of Representatives have already been endorsed by lawmakers. The complaints cited, among others, Aquino’s role in pushing the DAP, as well as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement the government forged with the United States.
But Malacanang believes Aquino will survive the political turmoil affecting his administration.
Coloma did not detail what Aquino will discuss during his SONA, but pundits believe he will again tackle the DAP, which has been a favorite topic in his previous speeches.
One thing Coloma knows for sure is that Aquino will not resort to theatrics.
“Kilala naman po natin ang Pangulo at siya naman ay may simpleng paraan lamang ng komunikasyon. Ang mahalaga sa kanya ay ‘yung maunawaan ng mga mamamayan ang kanyang pahayag,” he said.
Coloma likewise announced that Aquino is also preparing to submit the national expenditure program for 2015.
“Nakatakda pong isumite ng pamahalaan ang 2015 national budget sa unang araw ng trabaho pagkatapos ng opening ng Kongreso katulad ng ginawa noong mga nakaraang taon para po maagang masimulan ang deliberasyon hinggil sa budget,” he said.
Militants also preparing to counter SONA
Meanwhile, militants will likely gather near the Batasang Pambansa to protest Aquino’s SONA, where an effigy of a swine – representing the pork of the different branches of government – will be burned later in the day.
Militants will also wear peach ribbons, which is a play of the word “impeach.”
Bayan Muna secretary general Renato Reyes slammed the military and police garrison at Commonwealth Avenue that is meant to prevent protesters from reaching the Batasan Road.
He noted that the PNP has imposed a “rally site” for SONA protesters “surrounded by razor-sharp concertina wires, steel fences and concrete barriers."
Not even during the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were such measures implemented. The regime continues to violate the people’s right to peaceably assemble,” Reyes added.
For Reyes, this only goes to show that Aquino is "terrified" of the "growing protest."
“On July 28, the people will gather in their thousands all over the country to denounce the Aquino regime and its policies. The people will protest systemic corruption and the plunder of public coffers in the name of the pork barrel system. The people will protest rising unemployment and poverty amid Palace claims of economic growth. The people will protest human rights violations and the violations of our national sovereignty,” he said.