MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino assured the nation Tuesday that his administration's services, especially for the most needy, would be accelerated in the next half of his term.
“Wait for it. In a sense, the best is yet to come,” he said.
Speaking at the 67th anniversary celebration of the University of the Philippines Beta Sigma fraternity at the Eastwood Richmonde Hotel in Quezon City Monday night, Aquino said he had been going over the draft of his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be delivered on Monday and realized that so many things still have to be done.
“First of all, I would like to apologize because we’re a bit late,” he said.
“I can really feel the traffic in Metro Manila while on my way here. We are confident that in the second chapter of our term, our services will gain more speed. This is a good opportunity to further strengthen our cooperation in achieving our collective goal as a united country.”
He had gone over the SONA and talked to his speechwriters for about three hours on Monday and told them they had a long way to go, he added.
Aquino said his SONA would reflect the real status of the country, as well as his administration’s commitments and principles to achieve inclusive growth.
It was important to lay down realities besetting the country to spur more active discourse and collective action among the citizenry, he added.
Aquino expressed hope that the gathering would inspire the country’s fraternity members to participate more actively in nation-building while his administration continued efforts to widen the avenues towards far-reaching and sustainable opportunities for the Filipino people.
He lauded Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, who belong to UP Beta Sigma Fraternity, for helping his administration revitalize the country.
They were among the Cabinet members he could count on, he added.
Aquino described his relationship with his Cabinet members as more of having “consultations” and “always with a smile.”
He denied that he would lecture them everyday and make them feel like giving a dissertation when presenting their budgets or programs.
It did not mean, however, they were soft on those that must be caught and punished when people were complaining they were not doing enough, he added.
Aquino said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was able to round up more than 400 trucks of illegal logs, while the Department of Agriculture contributed to the increase of the country’s gross domestic product last year.
In discussing the budget, one of the things they tackled was the fisheries sector that had always been on the downtrend and which must be amply supported since of the many poor came from this industry, he aded.
Aquino said they are looking at a place in Palawan where they would set up a port together with the necessary facilities like cold storage.
There are many fishing grounds but the markets where the fishermen can sell their catch are too far away, and the government will address this, he added.
Aquino said that should be the focus of the government.
“Help them, they have the facilities, and they can improve their earning, their lives will be better and the whole nation will benefit,” he said.
Aquino said they also have plans for the coconut industry, especially intercropping.
“We would come to a point where the poorest Filipinos were no longer those involved in coconut and the fisheries sector,” he said.
“And I have to give credit to Procy Alcala. He is the main man, he is an effective communicator. Procy is really ‘can do’.” – With Reinir Padua, Non Alquitran