MANILA, JULY 24, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Amy R. Remo - President Benigno Aquino’s long and “exhaustive” State of the Nation Address drew praises from some of the country’s biggest business groups, which commended the government’s thrust for integrity and inclusive growth.

At the same time, however, business groups like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) were expecting to hear an action plan and road maps that would enable the country — both the government and the private sector–to achieve target growths.

In a phone interview, Philexport president Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis noted that this year’s SONA was really more a “report of what has been happening.”

“Nothing much new in the speech, so I wished there’d be more of road maps on infrastructure and timetables. I was also hoping to hear more on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) but there were no mention,” Ortiz-Luis explained.

“I was also hoping that there would be mention on mining as well. But I’m happy that the President talked about tourism. Then again, it’s just a report, it’s a report of accomplishment and not a plan. I don’t know what it should be but I would have wanted to hear more about road maps,” he further explained.

“It’s especially crucial that President Aquino mention a more specific timetable because we’re already halfway through his administration,” he further said.

PCCI president Miguel B. Varela, meanwhile, gave the government the thumbs up, noting that it was “very good to hear very positive things in the country and the opportunities that have opened.

“You can see the leader’s determination to work hard to achieve further growth. He certainly put things in proper perspective,” Varela said in a separate phone interview on Monday.

“The President has the determination to do the right things and achieve the necessary growth targets… He has mentioned his push for legislative initiatives like the rationalization of incentives, which is important,” Varela further said.

Varela, however, said there was no mention of specific actions and activities, which he said should be defined to attain the growth targets of the Aquino administration.

In a separate interview, MAP president Melito S. Salazar Jr. noted that this year’s SONA was an “exhausting speech.”

“But the message was loud and clear – gains made because of good governance; less than good performance means departure of officials concerned; determination to demand better performance or else; infrastructure improved and more for the future,” Salazar explained.

“I would have wanted the president to identify areas where the public could do their share. A call for national discipline and following rules and regulations especially traffic laws would have been good,” he said.

“I believe the President sounded the need for faster and better results knowing the few remaining years in office. Overall, I am satisfied with the speech. I just hope the rest of government, especially the judiciary and legislature, follow his lead,” Varela further said.

Varela, however, pointed out that while in some areas the President was pretty specific, such as infrastructure, in other areas, he was not so.

“On trade and industry, plans and road maps were not given. I would have wanted a statement on how Philippines will be competitive given the challenges of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015,” he further said.


SONA 2013 is Aquino's longest but less applauded vs. 2012 Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom . By Kim Arveen Patria | Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom – 7 hours ago.

President Benigno Aquino III on Monday delivered his longest State of the Nation Address (SONA) so far, but has been applauded less frequently than last year.

Facing the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Aquino delivered a 102-minute, slightly longer than last year’s 91-minute SONA.

Lawmakers and guests at the Session Hall of the Batasang Pambansa however broke into applause 88 times during his speech, versus 120 times in his SONA last year.

His 2013 SONA was nonetheless more warmly received than his speech in 2012, which was interrupted only 48 times, as well as his first SONA, for which he got 29 rounds of applause.

Aquino’s speech this year focused mostly on highlighting achievements during his watch, including stellar economic reforms and improved delivery of public services.

“SONA po ninyo ito,” Aquino said, lauding Filipinos who “roused their fellow citizens from apathy, challenged the cynics in our midst, and made the stubborn see reason.”

True to his SONA tradition, he also hit the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for leaving behind a government in crisis for her successor.

“Mahaba po ang listahan ng mga suliraning minana, at tinutugunan na natin,” Aquino said, adding that he intends to leave behind no problems for the next president.

While it is his longest, Aquino’s 11,642-SONA was a far cry from the one Ferdinand Marcos delivered in 1969, the longest so far at 30,427 words.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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