PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III praised Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II Friday, giving the presumptive presidential candidate for the Liberal Party a boost during ceremonies to mark the country’s 117th Independence Day.
“You know, Mar Roxas, a true son of Panay, advanced this initiative,” the President said, referring to the Negros Island Region, which combines two provinces under one regional group.
“Like in the past, we know that whenever we task Mar Roxas to lead a project or program, you can expect that initiative will succeed.”
Aquino said the initiative was the result of consultations with the leaders of local communities, governors and representatives and even the local chambers of commerce.
“This is why, when Secretary Mar Roxas put forward this suggestion, and after all the necessary consultations were undertaken, we took action by signing the executive order,” Aquino said.
Aquino said the initiative would benefit both Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.
“Recently, I signed an executive order creating the Negros Island Region, which brings the two provinces under one regional grouping. Consider this: those two provinces, which belong to the same island, were in the past part of two different regions. This meant that while they were in one island, and shared the same set of concerns, they had to share resources with provinces from other regions to address those problems,” he said. Next page
He said with the one-island region, the allocation of funds by the government for this single region becomes more focused and bring about the faster implementation of projects.
“Indeed, I am confident that so long as we continue to tread the straight and righteous path, we will be able to continue the positive changes we experience at present. In this period of evolving technology and social media, we have the greater wherewithal, and the deeper responsibility to contribute in finding solutions to our shared problems. It is my hope that, instead of being a burden to our fellowman, we would do our utmost, contribute what we could to the best of our abilities, so that we may collectively uplift our whole nation,” Aquino said.
““One hundred and seventeen years have passed since we declared independence. We have truly freed ourselves from the bonds of colonizers. On the other hand, we now face a new challenge: combating corruption and poverty in our country. It is clear: it is through unity that our heroes won our freedom, and it is also through unity that we will likewise overcome the challenges of today,” said Aquino.
Aquino again played up his administration’s conditional cash program, a massive dole program that gives monthly stipends to poor families in exchange for their keeping their children in school.
The President said over 4.4 million households benefited from the program, 904,725 of which are in the Visayas, and 94,190 of which are in Iloilo.
In his recent visit to Japan, Aquino said, his reforms drew praise.
“However, theirs was a recurring question: How will we ensure that the reforms we set in place will be continued? My response to them: It is up to the Filipino people; they will continue the change, which they themselves started. They know what is right, from what is wrong. I am optimistic that they will choose the right leader, especially because they have seen what our agenda of good governance brings,” Aquino said.
Aquino’s praise Friday of Roxas came after he met twice with Senator Grace Poe about her plans for 2106, and the importance of continuing his reform program after he steps down from office next year.
Poe on Friday said she was hurt by a former congressman’s description of her as “ambitious.”
In an interview during the Independence Day celebration at Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan, Poe said she was hurt by statements made Thursday by former congressman Jacinto Paras.
“It’s his right, but I am hurt by his comment that I am ambitious--as if one didn’t have the right to serve others” Poe said.
She added that she was not bothered by the controversy over her length of residency—a requirement for seeking the presidency—or questions about her citizenship.
“It’s my chance to defend myself,” she said. “I have nothing to hide, and I do respect the law.” – With John Paolo Bencito
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