A Boholano View of Jose “Pepe” Abueva
The Bohol Chronicle
August 2, 2015
About 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, July 27, the nation watched our President deliver his fifth and last “State of the Nation” address. I watched him on television in my room at the Bohol Tropics Hotel in Tagbilaran. (I just happened to be there to receive my recognition as one of the eight “Today’s Outstanding Boholanos in the World” in the evening.)
President P-Noy’s 5th and last “State-of-the-Nation Address.” In our history this was the longest SONA ever delivered: 2 hours and 12 minutes. The SONA is required of every President in our 1987 Constitution. Much of his address was indeed very substantive. A good part of it was also used to thank his colleagues and fellow leaders, supporters, even relatives and his yaya. He also used a great deal of posted interviews and films. Speaking entirely in Tagalog, he evidently meant to reach out to as many citizens nationwide. By this he has succeeded more than any other Filipino president.
Here are the “SONA HIGHLIGHTS: AQUINO’S REPORT CARD 5.”
- Appointed people with integrity and independence (Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Commission on Audit Chair Grace Pulido-Tan, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima).
- Increased the dividends of government-owned and -controlled corporations to P131.86 billion in five years
- Increased BIR collections to P1.3 trillion.
- No more reenacted budgets (unlike under some presidents) .
- Better world perception of the Philippines: “Asia’s Rising Tiger,” “Asia’s Rising Star,” and “Asia’s Bright Spot.”
- Increased foreign investments with P6.2 billion in 2014, the highest in our history.
- Increased local investments with P2.09 billion.
- 8-percent growth of the manufacturing sector.
- Lower unemployment rate, at 6.8 percent, the lowest in the past decade.
- Better labor and management relations; total strikes down to only 15.
- Expanded beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to 4.4 million households.
- By 2013, no more backlogs in the number of textbooks, classrooms and chairs.
- Started to implement K to 12 Program.
- 6 million finished TESDA courses; with 71.9 to 91.26 employment rate.
- Doubled Phil-Health beneficiaries to 89.4 million; covered the poorest 40 percent by 2014.
- Completed the Cadastral Survey.
- Accomplished 78 percent of Sitio Electrification Program.
- Philippine air carriers now off European Union blacklists.
- European Maritime Safety Agency continues to recognize our maritime education certificates (saving the jobs of 800,000 Filipino mariners).
- In process to buy out the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) private maintenance contractor.
- Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization—acquired/bought 2 C-130, three C-295 medium lift transport. and 2 2-212 light lift transport, 6 landing craft utility, 12 FA-50 fighter, etc. Completed 56 modernization. projects and approved 30 more.
- PNP equipment to “shoot, scoot and communicate”—302 patrol jeeps of 2,523 bought have been delivered; 12, 399 handheld radios; 30,136 long firearms; 3,328 investigative kids and 16,867 radios.
- Oplan Lambat-Sibat able to arrest 163,00 wanted persons and neutralize over 1,000 gangs; decreased homicide cases to 23 per week.
- Built 57,000 housing units for men and women in the armed services.
- Infrastructure: completed Lullutan Bridge in Isabela province and Jalaur River Multipurpose Project in Iloilo. province; started/ongoing projects include Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project Phase 2 in Tarlac, Basilan. Circumferential Road, Muntilupa-Cavite Expressway.
- 50 ongoing public-private partnership projects.
- SWS survey: 8 out of 10 Filipinos trust the Philippines will be among the “developed countries.”
- European Commission lifted yellow card/ban for Philippine fish products. “SONA HIGHLIGHTS. AQUINO’S REPORT CARD 5.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. July 28, 2015.
Frequent and loud applause from the Senate and House of Representatives and guests. Indeed the President had an appreciative and cheerful direct audience who liked whom they saw and heard personally.
Loud approval from business. This report came from PDI reporters who said it was because this sector benefits the most from his reforms that provide a springboard for the country to continue to grow economically. The President emphasized the gains made in terms of his anticorruption campaign and on the infrastructure front, his focus. He contrasted the country’s present situation with the state of things before he came to office in 2010. He stressed that investors continued to line up to bid for big ticket projects under his Administration’s public-private (PPP) program.
Expressed failure of President P-Noy. “Serbisyo palpak,” said Gabriela Rep. Emmie de Jesus. Mapang-aping asendero, said Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap. “Walang pagbabago” said other lawmakers. The President’s mention of the need for passing the anti-dynasty bill was too late in his term, as if he did not seriously mean it, and did not want to offend his political friends who mostly belong to family dynasties. Militant critics emphasized the real need is system change. Former Bayan Representative Teddy Casiño said: “There was no straight path under Aquino. The past five years of Aquino were a ‘failed leadership.” The President’s mention of the need for passing the anti-dynasty bill was too late in his term, as if he did not seriously mean it and did not want to offend his political friends. According to the latest Social Weather Stations report, the nation’s self-rated poverty is unchanged at 51 percent. Some 11.2 million families consider themselves poor, while 8.1 million consider themselves food-poor.
President P-Noy’s Full and Final Report on His Presidency (2010-2016). Before he turns over his presidency to his successor on June 30, 2016—the President we shall elect in May 2016—President P-Noy will deliver a more important and comprehensive address to the Filipino people to fulfill his national accountability for his full six-year term as the 12th President of the Republic: June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2016.
The opportunity will be provided him by the University of the Philippines Public Lectures on the Presidency and Administration of Benigno S. Aquino III. These lectures are to be delivered by the members of his Cabinet starting about March 20, 2016; and concluded by his own valedictory lecture/address to the nation in the first week of May 2016. All the lectures will be edited and published in one volume: The Presidency and Administration of Benigno S. Aquino III (2010-2016).
As the outgoing 12th President of the Republic of the Philippines, President Benigno S. Aquino III will be able to give a copy of the volume to his successor on June 30, 2016, the presidential turnover ceremony at Rizal Park in Manila.
We should remember that outgoing President Corazon C. Aquino presented an autographed copy of her book, The Aquino Administration: Record and Legacy (1986-1992). U.P. Public Lectures on the Presidency and Administration of Corazon C. Aquino. 1992, to her successor, President Fidel V. Ramos on June 30, 1992.
Altogether our Center for Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy, U.P. National College of Public Administration and Governance, produced three volumes on The Presidency and Administration of Corazon C. Aquino in 2002-2003. I respectfully request President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to see these books again.
- The Aquino Administration: Record and Legacy (1986-1992).
- The Aquino Presidency and Administration (1986-1992). Contemporary Assessments and “The Judgment of History?”
- Corazon C. Aquino: Early Assessments of Her Political Leadership and Her Place in History.