PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III delivered an emotional speech for his fifth State of the Nation Address, saying he is ready to fight for good governance and economic reforms even if his critics might be plotting to liquidate him.
Aquino’s voice started to break when he said that to renege on the opportunity to help the Filipino people is to turn his back on his parents whom he said sacrificed their lives for the country.
“For as long as we are together and serving as each other’s strength, we will prove that the Filipino is worth dying for, ‘the Filipino is worth living for, and if I may add, the Filipino is worth fighting for,’” the President said.
The President, in an adlib portion of his SONA speech, said he is now on his second life after he survived an ambush attack during the 1987 coup d’etat.
“Sometimes I cannot help but think if, with the opponents we are creating, will the time come that I go up a stage and it is already my last day? Will someone succeed in placing a bomb? Will those with evil intentions and those who want to bring back the rotten old ways succeed?”
“And if that time comes that my second life ends, I can say that with all that we have achieved, I am contented. I am contented because I am sure that even if I die, there are a lot of people who will continue what we are now charting. Maybe that is really my role: to start this reform,” the President said.
Aquino, however, did not say if there were concrete intelligence reports of certain groups that want him dead.
Earlier in his speech, Aquino dismissed his critics as belonging to the minority and “living in their own world and reality.”
“While we see concrete changes in our nation, all the more that they attack me. While the benefits of our reform program become clearer, our critics have slimmer chances of fooling the public, that is why they sow doubt on the minds of our people. They are desperate,” the President said.
Aquino said his critics aim to retain the status quo and bring down his administration.
“Our noisiest of critics are those who do not want transformation because they were able to commit abuses and benefit from the old ways,” the President said.
“But the truth is, our critics are not against me: they are against our people who are benefiting from the straight path. My bosses, my critics are against you,” he added.
The President said he has already become used to having “negative comments for breakfast, verbal abuse for lunch, and insults for dinner, plus intrigues for a midnight snack.”
He said he expects it that even after he has finished his term, his critics will continue to hound him.
“My will is strong to face our opponents because I know my critics are only few and we are far greater in number than them. We will succeed in this fight, because we are in the right,” Aquino said.
The President also appealed to the public to ensure that his reform agenda is continued even beyond 2016.
“You will be facing a crossroads anew. You will decide whether to continue the reforms we have started. In 2016, you will choose a new leader for our country. For my part, if we want our reform agenda to continue and to be implemented even quicker, there should only be one basis in choosing my successor: who is without doubt committed in continuing the transformation we have initiated?”
The President played up several accomplishments, including the benefits reaped through the discredited Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Aquino said he will ask for a supplemental budget from Congress for the DAP projects that had to be stopped with the Supreme Court unanimous ruling declaring certain acts under the DAP as unconstitutional.
He also asked Congress to pass a joint resolution to clarify the definitions and concepts that are still being debated upon relative to the DAP.
“You in the legislature, as the ones who wrote the law, can shed light and clarify these,” he said.
The President cited the investment grade credit ratings received by the country from the top three rating agencies - Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch - as concrete signs of economic growth.
He said the Philippines has successfully hosted the World Economic Forum East Asia Summit this year and will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation next year.
Aquino also boasted of the seven projects under the Public-Private Partnership program that have already been awarded since 2011.
Aquino said the seven projects were worth P62.6 billion and were higher than the six solicited PPP contracts awards during the past three administrations.
The President did not say, however, that there were 54 projects lined up for the PPP program, and that only seven or less than 20 percent have been awarded so far.
Aquino also assured the public that the government is doing all that it can to address the projected thin power supply in Luzon by the summer months of 2015.
“I have tasked Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to coordinate with the Joint Congressional Power Commission, the Energy Regulatory Commission, industry stakeholders, and consumers in coming up with a plan to address our power problem,” the President said.
Aquino also addressed the spiraling prices of agricultural products, including garlic and rice.
“Once our additional rice import arrives, hoarders will be forced to sell their stock. If hoarders want to go head to head with the government, they are free to try the will of the state. But they should remember that their rice stock will only last for six months before the grains rot. They will not profit once we flood the market with our additional importation,” he said.
The President also lauded Customs for collecting P117 billion from January to April this year, up by 20 percent for the same period in 2013.
Aquino did not say that the Customs collections for the first four months this year fell short of the January-April target of P130.571 billion.
The President also mentioned in his speech the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which peace panels from the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are trying to iron out amid language kinks and provisions that are unconstitutional.
“I ask Congress for understanding. We need to go through every provision in the draft BBL. To the extent that I can, I shall push for a draft law that is just, reasonable, and acceptable to all,” he said.
He also urged members of Congress to make good of their earlier promise to have the draft BBL passed by the end of the year to pave the way for the holding of a plebiscite by the first quarter of 2015 and the installation of a Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
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