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Aquino highlights achievements of ‘Daang Matuwid’ in his last SONA

Breaking News • 06:10 AM Tue Jul 28, 2015

MANILA -– President Benigno Aquino III on Monday highlighted in his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) the long list of achievements of his administration that has even eclipsed the feat of his predecessor.Feeling slightly ill, the President arrived at 3:35 p.m. and skipped the traditional walk but welcomed by Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Sonny Belmonte Jr.The President entered the Batasang Pambansa session hall at exactly 4 p.m. and was greeted with standing ovation and loud applause from the huge crowd.President Aquino started his two-hour SONA by citing some of his accomplishments such as the newly opened Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway, the first major project of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program.He recalled the long list of scandals and anomalies he inherited but his administration managed to correct through his Daang Matuwid (straight path) governance.Some of the controversies that President Aquino cited include the Fertilizer Fund scam, the NBI-ZTE deal and the Hello Garci scandal, all under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now under hospital arrest.”Noong mga panahong iyon, maski bata, natutuhan na ang salitang 'scam'. Pag-upo naman natin sa puwesto, sunud-sunod nating nadiskubre ang kalokohan ng ating pinalitan. (During those times, even small children knew the word ‘scam’. As we took over, we discovered series of anomalies of our predecessor),” the President said.President Aquino said he appointed individuals particularly Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales who have integrity and political will to fight graft and corruptionHe said the strong political will of his administration to fight corruption has resulted in the detention of three senators -– Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”May mga nagsasabiand mag-move on na raw tayo. Ako naman po ay naniniwala sa sinabi ni George Santayanaand Ang makalimot sa mali ng nakaraan, garantisadong uulitin ito (Some people sayand let’s move on. But I believe to what George Santayan saidand Those who forget the wrong of the past, these will be surely repeated),” the President said.President Aquino said his administration needed only five years to almost double the revenues collected by his predecessor, referring to the collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenues (BIR) and the Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC).The President said the BIR collection hit Php1 trillion for the first time, commending BIR commissioner Kim Henares for a job well done.The BIR collection reached Php1.3 trillion in 2014 from only Php778.6 billion recorded by his predecessor.”Kim Henares has been relentless against tax evaders,” President Aquino said.The President said the GOCCs under his administration collected a total of Php131.86 billion dividends for the last five years, besting the Php84.14 billion in remittances that the Arroyo administration collected from 2001 to 2009.President Aquino also trumpeted the economic achievements of his administration, making the country as the Asia’s Rising Tiger, Asia’s Star and Asia’s Bright Spot. Malinaw ang sinasabi nito sa mga negosyanteand sulit mamuhunan sa Pilipinas (The message of this to our businessmen is clearand it is worth to invest in the Philippines), he said.The President also cited the investment grades that the Philippines received from various credit rating agencies and the record high US$ 6.2-billion net foreign direct investments (FDI).”Nabawasan na ang peligro sa pagnenegosyo rito. Ngayon, mas mababa ang interes at mas mahaba ang panahon ng pagbababayad ng utang na nakaka-engganyo sa mga negosyanteng tumaya sa Pilipinas. Sa pagpapatayo at pagpapalawak ng negosyo, sisigla ang kalakalan, lalakas ang kompetisyon at dadami ang oportunidad. Lahat ito direktang resulta ng pagsulong ng reporma sa daang matuwid,” he said.The President also highlighted the unemployment rate that went down to 6.8 percent, the first in a decade, and resulted to the decrease in the number of overseas Filipino workers from 9.51 million in 2011 to 9.07 million on 2014.The figure became evident in the number of labor strikes that significantly decreased from 199 to only 15 strikes.”In 2013, we have only labor strike, this was the lowest in history. Thank you to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, the pastora of Cabinet. Thank you Linda, he said.Due to the economic reforms, the President said the annual average growth in the manufacturing sector has been increased from three percent from 2001 to 2009 to 8 percent from 2010 to 2014.Under his administration, the President said the reenacted budget has been eliminated by passing on time the proposed national budget through the help of the Senate and the House of Representatives.”Agarang maipapasa ang GAA (General Appropriation Act), mas mapapabilis ang pagdating ng serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan, at mas maagang maiibsan ang kanilang paghihirap,” the President said.He said the government has also focused on jobs-skills matching to further improve the employment rate.”The principle of our leadershipand Instead of giving them fish, let’s teach them how to fish,” the President said.This, he said, can be achieved through the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) which already helped 4.4 beneficiaries.Through the 4Ps, the President said the government was able to reduce the number of out of school youth from 2.9 million to only 1.2 million.The President also trumpeted his accomplishments in education, erasing the 61.7-million textbook, 2.5-million chair and 66,800 classroom backlogs.With the help of the local government partners, the government has also addressed the 145,287 teachers shortage.President Aquino said the timely passage of the 2016 National Budget would further help in addressing the remaining problems in the education sector.He said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has also contributed in providing jobs to its 7.8 million graduates.The President also highlighted his achievements in the health sector through Philippine National Health Insurance or PhilHealth which for the past five years has increased its members from 47 million to 89.4 million Filipinos.President Aquino said his administration was also successful in implementing reforms in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), resulting in the arrival of new equipments that strengthened the capability of the military.He cited the performance of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in neutralizing the high-value target criminals, including international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan , and the handling of security for Pope Francis and other government leaders who visited the country for the last five years.”More world leaders will be coming to our country to attend the APEC Summit,” the President said.The Chief Executive got the longest and loudest applause when he appealed to lawmakers to pass the Anti-Dynasty Law.He also urged Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a codification to the two major peace agreements – Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).President Aquino also took the opportunity to thank all members and non-members of his Cabinet who helped him in taking the roads through the straight path.He also thanked Drilon and Belmonte for their timely advices in the face of challenges his administration encountered for the past five years.The President also expressed gratitude to the all men and women who became his partners from his election campaign in 2010 up to present.He asked his bosses to continue the reforms he started by choosing the next leaders who will not bring country back to the crooked path.”If the straight path will continue, in one generation, we will become first world (country). On the other hand, if we will go back to crooked way, we will forever wait for nothing,” the President said.President Aquino said he might not be the perfect President but he did his best to leave a nation which is progressive, equitable and enjoying a changed country.”Now we can face the world heads up and say, I can, the Filipino can, this is just the start. Yes, the start of a country which cannot be turned down, instead will serve as model to the world,” he said. (PNA)LGI/JFM

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