MANILA, JULY 24, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Christina Mendez  - President Aquino’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday was generally well received, with many lawmakers describing it as clear, detailed and inspiring.

Senators Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Francis Pangilinan, Panfilo Lacson, Edgardo Angara, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Alan and Pia Cayetano, and Teofisto Guingona III were all positive about Aquino’s targets for the next year.

Escudero echoed the concerns of many that the economy should remain the top priority under the administration. He also sees the need for Congress to put the reproductive health (RH) bill to a vote to determine what the people really want.

Legarda said Aquino was able to tackle issues on healthcare, agriculture, classrooms and education, and climate change adaptation but wondered how the President can meet all his targets.

Lacson said the President had the numbers to back up his accomplishments, and that he was clear on his goals for the last three years of his term.

“On a scale of 1 to 10. I’m giving him a very objective 8.5 overall rating in regard to his administration’s accomplishments. The quantitative analysis showed clear numbers to back up his claims,” he said, expressing hope that all the gains achieved in his two years would be felt by the lowest sector in society sooner than later.

Sen. Estrada gave Aquino a grade of 9.9 although the bills on Responsible Parenthood and Sin Tax would still have to undergo strict scrutiny from lawmakers.

Honasan was happy that the President gave “a deadline for the agrarian reform program,” while Angara, who gave Aquino a grade of 7, said the SONA was a full narrative of the President’s accomplishments for the past year.

Guingona vowed to work further for the passage of the last amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering Act and expressed hope that Congress would also swiftly deal with the Sin Tax bill, as the President had wished.

Sen. Pia Cayetano welcomed Aquino’s announcement on the need to pass the RH bill.

Pangilinan also put emphasis on the need to improve the economy but said it is “critical that we lay down a strong foundation to achieve sustainable economic growth for our nation.”

Sen. Alan Cayetano gave the President a good grade and emphasized that there has been “transparency and accountability” under his administration.

Aquino’s congressmen-allies lauded his speech, saying it is clear on what the administration has achieved and what it intends to do.

“The SONA struck a perfect balance in telling what has been done and what will be done. It is part report card and part marching orders,” Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez said.

Rep. Florencio Noel of the party-list group An Waray said the SONA “gave us clear guideposts: that we can work together in creating more jobs, building more hope, and of course giving more opportunities for our people.”

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone described the President’s address as “a very comprehensive achievement report and a presentation of what he wants to accomplished during the remainder of his term.”

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara welcomed Aquino’s report on his administration’s economic gains, saying the fiscal reforms have earned for the country several credit rating upgrades, which translate into lower borrowing cost for the government and lower interest payments.

Nothing is impossible

Vice President Jejomar Binay said President Aquino clearly showed the public the reforms he has implemented.

“There are really many tangible benefits of his administration’s reform. We also saw the performance of his Cabinet,” he said, adding that aside from the support of his Cabinet, Aquino also needs the support of the people.

Former President Joseph Estrada said the present administration should double time in its campaign against graft and corruption.

“Justice has to be served fast. Well, I think in the first year it’s been slow. But now they went full time and I’m happy for him because he also created less unemployment,” he said, citing the Maguindanao massacre case, which has been pending in court for three years.

Estrada said the decrease in numbers of the unemployed is an indication that the present government is effective in providing jobs to the jobless.

Former President Fidel Ramos called on the people to support Aquino because “he is the skipper of the ship and we’re all aboard it.”

“Even with all the hardships and many things he failed to mention (in his SONA), let’s help him. Times are hard and we have a long way to go,” Ramos said.

Gripes and complains

But not everyone was happy with the President’s speech.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said Aquino was doing right in his effort to run after those who committed graft, including those from the previous administration, but said there must be due process.

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) president Sonny Matula said it seems that the issues of the workers are not in the radar of the President.

“No substantial words on the right to decent work and the evils of contractualization,” he said

Although they welcome the economic development plans of the Aquino administration, Matula said the workers are hoping they would get a share of the economic growth.

“We can have assurance of shares from the fruits of production if workers have bargaining power through their union. We support the increase of taxes on mining and workers’ participation in crafting mining policies,” he added.

However, Matula said, trade unions’ efforts to uphold their right of security of tenure appeared to be hard to hard to attain.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño the President’s SONA was a “smorgasboard of success stories and select statistics put together to paint a rosy but one-sided view of his administration’s performance.”

Grateful AFP

Meanwhile, the military yesterday thanked President Aquino for mentioning the modernization program in his SONA and for continuously supporting its upgrade efforts.

“We are indeed very grateful for the continued and unprecedented support of our present Commander-in-Chief to the modernization and capability upgrade program of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said in a statement.

“The realization of the goals of the program will further equip our soldiers to perform better and deliver more for the benefit of the people,” he added.

Burgos said Aquino never failed to look after the welfare of ordinary soldiers. He said the government’s housing program for uniformed personnel would allow them to focus more on their tasks. – Jess Diaz, Alexis Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano, Paolo Romero, Mayen Jaymalin, Danny Dangcalan

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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