Half way through his administration, President Benigno S. Aquino III delivered yesterday (July 22, 2013) his 4th State of the Nation Address. In front of many Congressional Representatives and Senators of the Republic at their joint session in Batasan Complex, President PNoy reports the gains of his government and policies that needed to be addressed in the next half of his presidency.
I have witnessed all his 3 previous SONAs and one thing that makes me happy about his speeches is the consistency in delivering it in our native language. From the 1st SONA up to this latest one, he delivered it all in plain Filipino. For me language is one important factor in every SONA of the President because that is his bridge to the people. It should be clear and easily comprehensible for the people to easily get what the government is doing for their welfare and what are its plans to uplift their standard of living.
The SONA as always is not a perfect report. There will always be hits and misses considering the large scope of government work. And for this year here are the hits and misses that I have observed.
One of the highlights in his 4th SONA are the reforms in Education. The lower price of textbooks that brought billions of savings for DepEd which can be used in rehabilitation and constructions of school buildings.
Gains in the agricultural sector was also highlighted again this year with its 3.3% growth from 2012’s 1.1%. The President also reported the decrease in rice imports from 500K metric tons in 2012 to 350K metric tons this 2013, meaning we are still on target to achieve rice self sufficiency. For the fishing industry, most lauded was the cold storage facility to be created in Bataraza, Palawan to help fishermen sell their fresh catch instead of converting it to “tuyo” which will be sold in much lower price.
Another important area that I think the President addressed was the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land to its rightful beneficiaries. That was one issue that keeps hounding the President since he occupied the presidency. And now that it will be distributed as mandated by the Supreme Court decision, it is one victory for agrarian reform. Just hope other hacienderos will follow suit.
Metro Manila flooding is another major recurring problem of the government. Many projects were already made to ease the flooding but it seemed none is working as floods during rainy season continues to drown the metro. Good thing the government has allotted 6.2 billion pesos for the Blumentritt Interceptor Catchment area project. With this I hope the flooding will be lessen if not removed.
Tourism industry was really great this year evident by large increase in tourist arrivals both local and international. With the efforts of DOT, our country became darling of international travel sites and magazines as one of the best places to go.
And the biggest hit, the report on the gains in economy. With 7.8% GDP growth in the 1st quarter of 2013, Philippines became the best performing economy in South East Asian region. The back to back ratings upgrade from different credit ratings agencies also boosted the country’s economy attracting more foreign investors.
Since the campaign period for the Presidential elections, it was already known that the President is in support of enacting the Freedom of Information Bill. But 3 years after getting the seat, FOI Bill is still pending in congress and no signal of it certifying as urgent. How come that he changed his mind of this considering the bill is one tool to aid his anti-corruption agenda? For the past SONAs this is one policy that I’m waiting to be addressed but still being by passed.
In his previous SONAs, PPPs or Public Private Partnership project were bannered as government’s plans to improve the country’s infrastructure projects. But where is the report on this PPP projects? How many were already implemented? Or are they implemented at all? Since it was already brought our before, they should have at least update the people what’s happening with this project.
There was also no mention on concrete plans in creating new jobs to lower the unemployment rate, thus I barely hear report from DOLE. And lastly with the recent issue involving Senators and Congressmen with regards to their dreaded PDAF, no mention at all if the government is at least considering its abolishment.
The SONA of the President will never be perfect. This year may be recorded as his longest address but there are still points left. But nonetheless, one important thing about it is the inspiration it conveys. The positive outlook that it delivered to the people and the optimism it brings. With the current situation in our country, there are still more work to do but knowing the sky is clear and the sun is shining brighter towards our direction is a great factor to believe we can. And just like what the President said in his closing statement ” Ako po si Noynoy Aquino; ipinagmamalaki ko sa buong mundo: Pilipino ako. At talagang napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito.”, indeed being Filipino nowadays is really something and should always be proud of.