Philippine President Noynoy Aquino’s SONA A Change maker – Having lived in the Philippines for a while specially during the time of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo I would say that the new President’s SONA is a breather and gives hope to millions of Filipinos.
PNoy, as President Aquino is fondly called by the media, begins his speech by acknowledging key people in the Joint Session of Congress including Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Former President Fidel Ramos, Former President Joseph Estrada and Former House Speaker Joe de Venecia.
President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) then proceed to give a glimpse of the current state of the country based on what they have found in their initial assessment of the country.
Among those that President Aquino’s SONA mentioned as among the anomalies during Rep. Gloria Macapaga-Arroyo’ term includes the over importation of rice where rice stocks ended up rotting in warehouses, excessive perks of high officials of the GSIS, 130 million pesos of classroom funds, and other missing appropriations that were not delivered or used for other purposes.
“We had been deliberately deceived on the real status and condition of our country,” says Aquino during his SONA. He is referring to how Arroyo and her cohorts tried to paint good picture of the country when in fact they are siphoning government funds.
He summarized what had happened by saying that 90% of the 2010 budget are already spent and only 10% remains. President Aquino says that there leaves the government about 1% to be spent in the next months for the new administration.
President Noynoy Aquino’s SONA then proceeded on how his administration will change all of this. He mentioned about the rehabilitation of watersheds and dams and the protection of the environment, a peace process that is fully supported and a fast resolution to extra-judicial killings.
President Aquino said that his government will be based on transparency and good governance and that corruption will no longer be a culture. He also said that government processes will be made faster so that services can be delivered easily.
President Aquino also mentioned major infrastructure and modernization development in which the government will not be spending a centavo. Among these projects is the proposal to develop an expressway running from Manila passing to Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, and Cagayan Valley.
Another proposal, President Aquino says is the possible lease of the Navy headquarters in Roxas Boulevard and the Naval Station at Fort Bonifacio. The proposal states that the investor will pay for the cost of the transfer of the Navy Headquarters to Camp Aguinaldo (although I find this stupid because a Navy HQ should be near the coastline). In exchange the investor will immediately give $100M. In addition to that, Aquino also said that the investor will also give shares of the company earnings to the government.
Another very concrete plan of action is in fast tracking business application. President Aquino in his SONA said that documents needed for business application will be brought down from 36 to 6 and the number of pages of the application form from 8 to a single page.
Other noticeable changes which President Noynoy Aquino delivers in his SONA were the increase in the number of years for Basic Education in the Philippines which he propose to be elevated to the 12-years global standard, funding for classrooms, service contracting through the GASTPE, increase in the conditional cash transfers to help poor students, and an increase in the coverage of PhilHealth (a Philippine health care plan).
There were other changes and also Bills which the new President asked the help of the House of Representatives and the Senate. He calls on them to help pass his legislative agenda.
Though, President Aquino delivered his State of the Nation Address in Filipino, I salute him because before considering foreigners to understand what he is saying he keeps in mind that his primary audience is the people of the Philippines.
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