BUSINESS GROUPS WEIGH IN ON PNoy'S SONA 2014 

"Wala pong duda, more open for business na nga po ang Pilipinas." President Aquino earned another round of applause after this statement during his fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday. Aquino said this after boasting that the aviation industry is improving following the International Civil Aviation Organization's lifting of the ban for direct international flights. These improvements attracted more investors to the country. In his speech, the President enumerated three investment-grade ratings that the country was able to accumulate last year from Fitch's, Standard & Poors, and Moody's Investor Service. Last May, S&P stepped up the country's rating from BBB-, which is the lowest investment grade rating, to BBB.

Aquino also shared how the Philippines is catching up with the other leading countries in Asia in terms of economic improvement. The President presented statistics showing that unemployment rate has decreased as more attention is given to labor problems. Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Ed Lacson said he sees hopes the President's proposal to approve a supplemental budget for this year in Congress will help clear the air on issues surrounding government savings. Lacson said the speech met his expectations especially when Aquino noted the campaign to clean the government of corrupt practices. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino’s SONA gets mixed reviews from business community 

President Benigno Aquino III delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 28. President Benigno Aquino III received mixed reactions from the business community even as he cited the economic strides and improvements under his administration during his State of the Nation Address on Monday. Among the breakthroughs he mentioned during his speech was the seven Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects awarded in four years under his administration. The combined worth of the projects is P62.6-billion But according to University of Asia & the Pacific economics professor Vic Abola, the number of PPPs awarded was disappointing as the process was painfully slow and inconsistent. "Masyadong mabagal ang pag-award ng PPP dahil pabago-bago ang rules," Abola said. "Besides, what were awarded are just minor projects and big ticket projects like the Mactan Cebu International Airport are still being disputed by Cebu officials," he added.

Aquino has a little less than two years before the end of his term in 2016, the economist said. "Kailangan maumpisahan na agad ang mga PPP na iyan. Hihintayin pa ba natin ang susunod na administration? Before the end of the year and his administration, may pag-asa pa," Abola said. Aquino also cited the investment grade ratings from three major debt watchers and upgrades in the aviation industry that all made the Philippines "more open for business" to the world. He also lauded the construction of over 12,000 kilometers of roads and the country having fewer poor in 2013. "The numbers presented in his speech were impressive," Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Edgardo Lacson said in a separate phone interview.

However, the Aquino administration should still be pressed to deliver more infrastructure, inclusvie growth and employment, he said. "He still has two years to do that, there's still plenty of time," Lacson said. But for Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Alfredo Yao, the highlight of SONA was when the Aquino humbled himself by indirectly admitting that the Supreme Court was right in declaring some parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) What Aquino did not say: How to be a statesman 

“You wanted a statesman, he showed you how to be a statesman.” Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras on Monday made this statement to explain why President Aquino veered away from making direct attacks against the past administration, his critics and his pet peeves in the Cabinet as he used to do in his first four State Of the Nation Addresses (Sonas). Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said he knew something was amiss when the President started off his speech on a somber note. “Since 10 minutes into the speech, I realized that he was going to adopt an above the fray speech, and mentioning the three senators would have been a discordant note,” Bello said.

The President was widely expected to cite the arrests of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla as a sort of trophy in his “daang matuwid” campaign, which prompted more senior politicians like Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to caution him against “gloating” in his speech. That he glossed over the Department of Justice-National Bureau of Investigation’s efforts in the pork plunder cases was for many the biggest omission in his televised speech. Almendras told the Inquirer that the President had no intention of “putting down” the three senators in his speech. “He is not the kind who hits other people when they are down. It could also be sub judice,” Almendras said. In his previous Sonas, the President made former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a target even if the Pampanga representative was already in hospital detention for plunder.
Back on present, future --* READ MORE...

ALSO from Business Mirror: ‘Sona lacked guidance on important measures’

BUSINESS groups acknowledged the accomplishments noted by President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (Sona), particularly citing the commitment to continue reforms for the next two years. They, however, said it would have been better if the issues affecting the business community were discussed in detail. Alfredo M. Yao (photo), president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the joint resolution being pushed by the President to clarify issues related to government spending, as well as the promised crusade for continued reforms, were appreciated; but lamented the much-awaited pieces of legislation such as the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill were not mentioned. The head of the largest business organization in the country said this may be due to “time constraints.” But the President’s humble gesture at the end of his speech on reforms that are yet to be delivered were appreciated as well, he said. Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., said the prevailing issues that impact his sector, such as the port congestion, compliance to regulations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for importers, power issues and concrete actions to boost foreign direct investment inflow could have been addressed in the Sona. * READ MORE...

(ALSO from Yahoo News by VERA Files) People’s SONA: Boss ‘fires’ PNoy

As the rains poured on Monday, sentiments of discontent from the protesters also poured when President Benigno Simeon Aquino III delivered his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives. “If we were his ‘boss,’ then he’s fired,” 18-year-old Yurie Leigh Lim said. Lim, a first-time protester in SONA, said he did not feel Aquino’s efforts to address the basic needs of the citizens, pushing him to join about 8,000 others at the “People’s SONA.” “I did not see his ‘tuwid na daan (straight path).’

This is evident in the slow rehabilitation efforts after typhoon Yolanda hit. In day-to-day situations, we can feel this when prices of basic commodities increase,” he said. According to Lim, also a member of the youth group Anakbayan, he sees joining the SONA as an avenue to let the government hear the demands of the masses.
“Being a member of the youth is not an excuse not to see that nothing has been done. We to oust Aquino because he only worsens the problem of the people,” he said. Some first-time protesters like Lim added to the contingent of militant groups that march every year along Commonwealth toward the Batasan Complex where  the annual SONA is delivered.


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Business groups weigh in on PNoy's SONA

MANILA, JULY 29, 2014 (ABS-CBN) By Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News – "Wala pong duda, more open for business na nga po ang Pilipinas."

President Aquino earned another round of applause after this statement during his fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday.

Aquino said this after boasting that the aviation industry is improving following the International Civil Aviation Organization's lifting of the ban for direct international flights. These improvements attracted more investors to the country.

In his speech, the President enumerated three investment-grade ratings that the country was able to accumulate last year from Fitch's, Standard & Poors, and Moody's Investor Service.

Last May, S&P stepped up the country's rating from BBB-, which is the lowest investment grade rating, to BBB.

Aquino also shared how the Philippines is catching up with the other leading countries in Asia in terms of economic improvement.

The President presented statistics showing that unemployment rate has decreased as more attention is given to labor problems.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Ed Lacson said he sees hopes the President's proposal to approve a supplemental budget for this year in Congress will help clear the air on issues surrounding government savings.

Lacson said the speech met his expectations especially when Aquino noted the campaign to clean the government of corrupt practices.

* He believes that this will help him gain trust from the public amid the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) controversy.

"Marami namang expectation ng mga negosyante ang nai-deliver naman within his four years, kagaya ng paglilinis ng gobyerno, nai-deliver niya ‘yun kaya nga tumaas ang tiwala ng taong bayan sa gobyerno,

Meanwhile, the Makati Business Club (MBC) lauded Aquino's declaration that the “Filipino is worth fighting for,” saying this gives them hope that the administration will continue its reforms and pursue inclusive growth.

"We applaud the President's reaffirmation that the Philippines is worth dying for, living for and fighting for. That gives us all hope that the reforms will continue, that good governance will continue and that inclusive growth will continue to be pursued,” said MBC executive director Peter Perfecto.

The MBC also said they are optimistic the President listened and will deliver on their recommendations for his last two years in office.

"The business sector sent its recommendations for his last two years and we remain optimistic that, though not mentioned in the SONA speech, the government will listen and deliver," said Perfecto.

Greg Navarro, president of Management Association of the Philippines, said there were several accomplishment reports presented but what to expect next was not mentioned.

He was waiting for the President to mention the Freedom of Information bill, economic and trade plans, and industry road maps.

"I think the main objective of this SONA is to appeal for continued trust and support and we have to see the people's reaction," he said.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Aquino’s SONA gets mixed reviews from business community By DANESSA RIVERA, GMA NewsJuly 28, 2014 8:28pm 1 65 0 285


SONA PNoy delivers his 5th SONA.

President Benigno Aquino III delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 28.

President Benigno Aquino III received mixed reactions from the business community even as he cited the economic strides and improvements under his administration during his State of the Nation Address on Monday.

Among the breakthroughs he mentioned during his speech was the seven Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects awarded in four years under his administration. The combined worth of the projects is P62.6-billion

But according to University of Asia & the Pacific economics professor Vic Abola, the number of PPPs awarded was disappointing as the process was painfully slow and inconsistent.

"Masyadong mabagal ang pag-award ng PPP dahil pabago-bago ang rules," Abola said.

"Besides, what were awarded are just minor projects and big ticket projects like the Mactan Cebu International Airport are still being disputed by Cebu officials," he added.

Aquino has a little less than two years before the end of his term in 2016, the economist said.

"Kailangan maumpisahan na agad ang mga PPP na iyan. Hihintayin pa ba natin ang susunod na administration? Before the end of the year and his administration, may pag-asa pa," Abola said.

Aquino also cited the investment grade ratings from three major debt watchers and upgrades in the aviation industry that all made the Philippines "more open for business" to the world.

He also lauded the construction of over 12,000 kilometers of roads and the country having fewer poor in 2013.

"The numbers presented in his speech were impressive," Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Edgardo Lacson said in a separate phone interview.

However, the Aquino administration should still be pressed to deliver more infrastructure, inclusvie growth and employment, he said.

"He still has two years to do that, there's still plenty of time," Lacson said.

But for Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Alfredo Yao, the highlight of SONA was when the Aquino humbled himself by indirectly admitting that the Supreme Court was right in declaring some parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

* "He was humble enough to ask for a joint resolution from both houses to clear up the issue on savings under DAP," Yao said.

Aquino cited the benefits from the controversial DAP but at the same time called on Congress to pass a joint resolution clarifying the definition of terms related to government spending—such as savings—which have been mired in controversy after the SC declared some parts of DAP unconstitutional.

The issue as regards the DAP has marred the "tuwid na daan" campaign of the Aquino administration, Eagle Equities Inc. president Joseph Roxas said.

"So far he's done okay with his fight against corruption but with the DAP, it's like putting your foot in your mouth," Roxas said.

"You cannot justify a wrong with another wrong," he added.

Roxas also said the President might have missed an important economic factor in his speech.

"He forgot to mention about the truck ban in Manila. That's really a problem in ports and in the delivery of goods," Roxas said.

"He should have put his foot down and overruled the City of Manila," he added.

Earlier in July, Abola said the citywide truck ban in Manila could derail the Philippine economy from achieving continued growth that Malacañang should step in and stop city from implementing the policy.

Last February, the local government banned cargo trucks from Manila's main thoroughfares from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., a move that created a backlog in deliveries to, through and from the Port of Manila. —NB, GMA News

FROM THE INQUIRER

What Aquino did not say: How to be a statesman By Gil C. Cabacungan |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:19 am | Tuesday, July 29th, 2014


Philippine President Benigno Aquino III delivers his 5th State of the Nation Address during the joint session of the 16th Congress at the House of Representatives in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines Monday, July 28, 2014. AP

MANILA, Philippines—“You wanted a statesman, he showed you how to be a statesman.”

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras on Monday made this statement to explain why President Aquino veered away from making direct attacks against the past administration, his critics and his pet peeves in the Cabinet as he used to do in his first four State Of the Nation Addresses (Sonas).

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said he knew something was amiss when the President started off his speech on a somber note.

“Since 10 minutes into the speech, I realized that he was going to adopt an above the fray speech, and mentioning the three senators would have been a discordant note,” Bello said.

The President was widely expected to cite the arrests of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla as a sort of trophy in his “daang matuwid” campaign, which prompted more senior politicians like Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to caution him against “gloating” in his speech.

That he glossed over the Department of Justice-National Bureau of Investigation’s efforts in the pork plunder cases was for many the biggest omission in his televised speech.

Almendras told the Inquirer that the President had no intention of “putting down” the three senators in his speech. “He is not the kind who hits other people when they are down. It could also be sub judice,” Almendras said.

In his previous Sonas, the President made former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a target even if the Pampanga representative was already in hospital detention for plunder.

Back on present, future

* “If you noticed, only 15 percent of his speech is about the past, the bulk of his speech is about the present and the future. The President only has 700 days in his term and his main priority is to map out his plans to meet his other goals,” Almendras said.

Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said this was by far the best Sona of the President.

“He stuck to the issues by talking about the problems of the country and the daily problems of the people, what he has done and what he plans to do. He just tickled his critics, unlike before when he carried a punch. He is a human being; he also has a right to get hurt,” said Tiangco in a text message.

Former Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said he was “glad” the President had stopped slamming Arroyo and her administration in his Sona. “He hinted at issues in the past administration but he gave no specifics. This shows that, at the least, the President has moved on,” said Suarez

Belmonte said he was not surprised by the marked change in tone of the President’s Sona.

“His speech was a different tack altogether … and really won over everyone there and beyond,” said Belmonte.

Conciliatory

Bello said the President “really tried to reach out to his critics and was conciliatory in his approach.”

“What was particularly masterful was his use of DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) projects to illustrate his good governance points, ending with an appeal to Congress to pass a supplemental budget and a law delineating the fiscal powers of the different branches of government. He came across here as respectful of the separation of powers,” Bello said.

For Bello, the biggest “hole” in the President’s speech was the freedom of information (FOI) bill.

“That was disappointing. On the other hand, he did mention land reform, though he could have been stronger on this,” Bello said.

The President had been expected to push for the FOI bill in his penultimate Sona.

“I was hoping that his speech would carry the FOI, but I didn’t expect it to be mentioned,” Sen. Grace Poe, main proponent of the FOI bill, told reporters. “While it wasn’t promptly addressed, I have no doubt of the personality of the President. As he said, he would carry on the reforms he has begun.”

When asked if she remained hopeful about the approval of the FOI, she said: “We were able to pass the FOI in the Senate without any certification. It’s not a hindrance.”

The Senate passed its version, Senate Bill No. 1733, in March.

Malacañang had balked at the President certifying the bill as urgent, deferring to the public to pressure House representatives to follow the senators’ lead in approving it.

Belmonte vowed the passage of the House version during his term, which ends in 2016.

The Senate took less than a year to pass the measure in the first regular session of the 16th Congress. The House has between now and June 2016 to do this.

Failed enforced disappearances

Yet again, the President failed to touch on the issue of enforced disappearances and extralegal killings.

Concepcion Empeño, mother of missing University of the Philippines student Karen Empeño, was among 28 personalities who filed an impeachment complaint against Aquino over the voided DAP.

During US President Barack Obama’s visit to Manila in late April, Aquino was confronted about the killings of journalists.

More than 50 journalist murders that took place from 2004 to 2013 remain unsolved, the Committe to Protect Journalists said in May.

Bello also said the President was able to “disarm his critics, at least temporarily.”

“The big losers were members of the extreme left who simply could not find an antidote to the President’s rhetorical skills and his sincerity. What was particularly pitiful was that hardly anyone noticed the walkout. What a wasted gesture! I did not realize they could be so amateurish. I could have given them good advice on how to do an effective walkout had they consulted me,” Bello said.

FROM THE BUSINESS MIRROR

‘Sona lacked guidance on important measures’ 28 Jul 2014 Written by Catherine N. Pillas



BUSINESS groups acknowledged the accomplishments noted by President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (Sona), particularly citing the commitment to continue reforms for the next two years. They, however, said it would have been better if the issues affecting the business community were discussed in detail.

Alfredo M. Yao, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the joint resolution being pushed by the President to clarify issues related to government spending, as well as the promised crusade for continued reforms, were appreciated; but lamented the much-awaited pieces of legislation such as the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill were not mentioned.

The head of the largest business organization in the country said this may be due to “time constraints.” But the President’s humble gesture at the end of his speech on reforms that are yet to be delivered were appreciated as well, he said.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., said the prevailing issues that impact his sector, such as the port congestion, compliance to regulations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for importers, power issues and concrete actions to boost foreign direct investment inflow could have been addressed in the Sona.

* Greg Navarro, president of the Management Association of the Philippines, in a text message, likewise noted that there was no mention of the FOI, as well as the regional and international trade agreements that the Philippines is seeking inclusion to, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or even the impending Southeast Asian economic integration. But Navarro gave leeway to the Chief Executive, saying “the main objective of the Sona is to appeal for continued trust and support, and we have to see the people’s reaction.”

Senate President Franklin Drilon said Mr. Aquino gave a good picture of the gains made by the administration and economic growth. “He gave a face to the progress that we have seen. I liked the few lines where he said gusto ba nating ipagpatuloy itong ating mga naumpisahan? So the continuity is very critical for us to be able to achieve our goals.”

“Although the President did not mention the FOI, I am still optimistic that this important measure will be passed under his leadership,” Senator Grace Poe said.

“I think all of the major issues were addressed. The Sona now is the best Sona he has delivered. If I will rate him 1 to 10, I will give him a 9. In fairness it’s the best Sona since his first in 2010,” United Nationalist Alliance Secretary General and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, a known Palace critic, said.

“It is probably his most emotional speech. He did not really provide a road map, but all in all, the things you expected from him, he did not say. He did not talk about Supreme Court decisions, he did not attack the justices of the [court]. That is a good start,” House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said.

Liberal Party Rep. Roman Romulo of Pasig welcomed the President’s directive for Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to promptly conduct consultations with the Joint Congressional Power Commission, the Energy Regulatory Board, industry players and consumers, in order to find ways to avert a menacing power crisis by the summer of 2015.

“Surprisingly, the President’s Sona was calm, collected and composed. It was also noteworthy that the President personally thanked the countries that helped us during the times of crisis. I believe that the Sona was the best venue to show our gratitude. Now, Congress has a plateful of things to do,” Senator Nancy Binay said. With Jovee dela Cruz, Recto Mercene

FROM YAHOO NEWS BY VERA FILES

People’s SONA: Boss ‘fires’ PNoy By VERA Files | The Inbox – 5 hours ago


People's-SONA-By JANE MAREN DASAL, VERA Files
(Photos by Mario Ignacio IV and Mario Espinosa)

As the rains poured on Monday, sentiments of discontent from the protesters also poured when President Benigno Simeon Aquino III delivered his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives.

“If we were his ‘boss,’ then he’s fired,” 18-year-old Yurie Leigh Lim said.

Lim, a first-time protester in SONA, said he did not feel Aquino’s efforts to address the basic needs of the citizens, pushing him to join about 8,000 others at the “People’s SONA.”

“I did not see his ‘tuwid na daan (straight path).’ This is evident in the slow rehabilitation efforts after typhoon Yolanda hit. In day-to-day situations, we can feel this when prices of basic commodities increase,” he said.

According to Lim, also a member of the youth group Anakbayan, he sees joining the SONA as an avenue to let the government hear the demands of the masses.

“Being a member of the youth is not an excuse not to see that nothing has been done. We to oust Aquino because he only worsens the problem of the people,” he said.

Some first-time protesters like Lim added to the contingent of militant groups that march every year along Commonwealth toward the Batasan Complex where the annual SONA is delivered.

Amiel De Vera, 40, said he joined the SONA protest to call for judiciary independence and oppose the abolition of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and the imposition of tax on the benefits of court employees.

According to law, 80 percent of the JDF must be earmarked for living cost allowance of court employees while 20 percent will be allotted for office equipment.

“The investigation regarding the JDF is a form of bullying,” he said.

The Senate Justice Committee started conducting the investigation on the Judiciary Development Fund after Iloilo Rep. Neil Tupas recently endorsed a bill to abolish JDF.

Mar Aguilar, vice president of the Judiciary Employees Association, said aside from the JDF, they are entitled to additional compensation allowance which was not given them.

Evangeline Mendoza, 53, a member of party-list Anakpawis, said she finally joined this year’s People’s SONA as a protest to the demolition of their houses on Road 10 in Vitas, Tondo.

“Our call for him this year is to address the issue of housing for informal settlers. The National Housing Authority (NHA) has not been able to do anything regarding our relocation. We have to fight for our houses because it is our right to do so,” she said.

In last year’s SONA, Aquino promised to increase the 28,398 informal settler families which were relocated and given housing units.

Vengie Boller, also a victim of demolition in Tondo and a member of Anakpawis, said they now live on the roadside after having their homes demolished.

“We did not have a choice. The Department of Public Works and Highways said they do not have the funds so they will endorse us to the National Housing Authority. But we were ignored by the NHA because according to them, we were not part of the census,” she said.

Boller also protested against the human rights violations inflicted by the police and the demolition team.

“Bottles of tear gas were thrown at us by the police. Even the children were not spared. At an early age, they are already aware of violence because of the demolitions,” Boller said.

Former Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo said the issues by the protesters in this year’s SONA have been raised in the previous four addresses of Aquino.

“The situation of poverty, unemployment and human rights violations is still in a dismal state. The discrepancy between his administration’s performance and the satisfactory rating he got was large,” he said.

In his SONA, Aquino said the poverty rate in the country decreased from 27.9 to 24.9 percent, with 2.5 million Filipinos crossing the poverty line.

Aquino also said 1.65 million jobs were created from April 2013 to April 2014.

According to Ocampo, the thrust of the Aquino to counter corruption and to follow “daang matuwid” was “shattered” by the controversies created by the mishandling of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the unconstitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“The relationship between the population and the government is more confrontational this year because of the issues raised. But in our part, we are responsible and we avoid physical engagement,” Ocampo said.

Despite this, the People’s SONA ended with protesters being dispersed by water cannons after they attempted to march past the razor wire barriers to go toward the Batasan Complex.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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