EDITORIALS ON NOY'S SONA 2014 

THE INQUIRER: DREAM AND NIGHTMARE 

At the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s first State of the Nation Address, in 2010, he captured the hopes of a scandal-weary public with a simple declaration: “Puwede na muling mangarap”—We can dream again. Today, as he delivers his fifth Sona, he will find a public worried about the possibility that yesterday’s dreams have turned into a nightmare.
Like the predecessor he has striven to be the opposite of, Mr. Aquino will fulfill his constitutional duty to report to the nation with impeachment complaints pending against him. Like Gloria Arroyo, he will meet a warm, even passionate reception inside the halls of Congress but a cooler one outside. And like her, he will present his legislative program conscious of his diminished political capital; his ratings are markedly lower from their previous highs.

Seems like déjà vu all over again. The dominant mood of today’s audience is concern—that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) has been mismanaged, at best, or is really the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but on steroids, at worst. Is there no difference, then, between the corruption-plagued Arroyo administration and the presidency that succeeded it? We do not know if President Aquino will acknowledge this question directly, but we should expect him to answer it in great detail. He will in particular defend the DAP, because he has to. Under severe criticism, he has no choice but to emphasize the difference between the PDAF and the DAP, and belabor something that has been lost in the growing controversy. * READ MORE...

ALSO from Manila Standard: Seriously, now 

Call it a moment of tenderness. President Benigno Aquino III was teary-eyed toward the end of his one-and-a-half hour State of the Nation Address on Monday. He invoked the words of his late father: “the Filipino is worth dying for,” adding on them to say “the Filipino is worth living for,” and “the Filipino is worth fighting for.”  He went on to say that he is content and certain that even if he were no longer in the picture, many others would be there to continue what he had begun. He gave credit to the people, whom he repeatedly extolled as his bosses, for occasioning the transformation, the results of which the nation is supposedly feeling now. As a result, the applause from those present at the House of Representatives, mostly allies and friends, was resounding.

There was thankfully no spirited attack on the Supreme Court, either, a refreshing break from the unpresidential, if not juvenile, behavior we have been seeing of late. President Aquino seemed to take personally the High Court’s decision striking down some acts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program as unconstitutional, calling it a move to block reform. Despite these seemingly conciliatory acts, Mr. Aquino’s divisive slip was unconcealable especially in the times he was not congratulating himself and his do-no-wrong Cabinet members for all the good work they have supposedly done. First, he walked into the plenary hall sporting his favorite yellow ribbon on his chest, despite the clamor for him to wear something more unifying—for instance, a pin of the Philippine flag.

Of course, this President is never wrong. Ditching the yellow item would make it appear as though he finally recognized it promoted exclusivity—and he is not one to say could ever be wrong. Second, he quite predictably followed a then-versus-now, them-versus-us pattern in his speech. He began by reminding everybody how dark and despicable the conditions were when he came to power. And how his administration, God’s gift to the Filipino people, banished all that was evil and signaled the start of better times ahead. * READ MORE...

ALSO from Philstar: Full speed ahead   

A visibly emotional President Aquino asked his “bosses” the people yesterday for continued support as he pursues reforms in his final two years in office. Many of those reforms need legislation, and Congress has a lot on its plate even as it confronts corruption scandals implicating several of its members. Business groups have presented their “wish list” for the executive and legislative branches to work on as the 16th Congress begins its second regular session. The House of Representatives has promised to give priority to the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Freedom of Information Act even as it works with the Senate to pass within the year what is likely to become the most closely scrutinized national budget bill for 2015. The Senate leadership said public trust in the chamber must be restored as people wait for more lawmakers to be indicted and arrested on allegations of skimming funds from their pork barrel. Some of that trust can be restored if people see a better, transparent system of crafting and utilizing the annual national appropriation. President Aquino, rebuffed by the entire Supreme Court in his Disbursement Acceleration Program, asked Congress yesterday for a supplemental budget to continue DAP projects such as scholarships. * READ MORE...

ALSO from the Tribune: No mention of DAP in 2013 Sona 

In all of the one hour and forty-two minutes, the longest in memory for a presidential speech to open a new Congress session that Noynoy spent to deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) last year, not once did he mention the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the supposed immense benefit it provided the economy.
Yet strangely, he mentioned several of the projects that were supposedly funded by the DAP and trumpeted them as among the achievements of his administration.

The belated drumming up of the DAP as a necessary program to spur growth and one which Noynoy even warned recently before his allies in the business sector that the Supreme Court ruling declaring Palace acts creating the DAP as unconstitutional, may cause economic paralysis was in stark contrast to Noynoy appearing to be unconscious of the existence of the program last year. Noynoy, in his 2013 speech, bragged about the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda)-Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) scholars. He said of the 503,521 people who have graduated from their programs, an estimated six out of 10 have found jobs. He further claimed that before, according to studies conducted by DBM (Department of Budget and Management), from 2006 to 2008, only 28.5 percent of Tesda graduates found jobs.

Last year, under Tesda’s IT-BPO program, 70.9 percent of the graduates found employment. Under the electronics and semi-conductor program, the percentage of employed graduates reached 85 percent. That Tesda project was item 36 in the DBM’s DAP list which got P1.1 billion funding and part of the first batch of DAP projects signed in 2011. He also mentioned Hacienda Luisita, the vast estate owned by his family in Tarlac saying “If there is one topic my name is often associated with, that would have to be Hacienda Luisita. I would like to inform you that back in February, in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court, the Department of Agrarian Reform has completed the list of qualified beneficiaries for the land in Luisita.” Not only that, he may have added, the compensation packages for landowners including Hacienda Luisita Inc. were promptly delivered courtesy of the DAP.* READ MORE...

ALSO from MALAYA: 5TH SONA; PNOY HIGHLIGHTS ACCOMPLISHMENTS 

President Aquino gave a rundown of his administration’s economic gains in his fifth and second to the last state of the nation address yesterday. The President started off his almost two-hour SONA reminding Filipinos of the troubles he inherited from the previous administration but lost no time in defending, albeit subtly, the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) by illustrating how DAP funds given to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) were recouped in just a year through taxes paid by TESDA scholars who found jobs. About. P1.6 billion in DAP funds were spent for TESDA’s training program, benefitting 223,615 scholars. Aquino went on to say how the country was able to reduce its poverty incidence by 3 percentage points – or 2.5 million Filipinos out of poverty – from 27.9 percent in 2012 to 24.9 percent in 2013.

Aquino also boasted about the investment ratings upgrade obtained by the country by Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s in 2013 due to better fiscal management. “This boosted investor confidence on the Philippines,” Aquino said. With the government’s ability to pay P40 billion of its debt and other reforms, Aquino said, the country is now getting noticed by foreign investors. “The Philippines is on an economic takeoff. We are now more open for business,” the President said in Filipino. He even challenged the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to match or exceed the P23.47 billion monthly investment registrations it makes before the end of his term. From 1995 to end March, PEZA registered P2.63 trillion in investments of which 40 percent or about P1 trillion came in during the Aquino administration. Aquino also said the country is experiencing industrial peace with only less than 10 notices of strike filed every month, which serves as an attraction to investors. “From 115 notices in 2013 only one turned out as a strike, the lowest in the history of DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment),” he said. Aquino said the government would not introduce new taxes other than sin tax law but vowed to plug leakages in the system. At the start of his term, he said, tax collection was P1.094 trillion in 2010 and improved to P1.536 trillion in 2013 which he attributed to improved tax collection. * READ MORE BUSINESS SECTOR COMMENTS...

ALSO from the SunStar: Same-same

WE WAITED, hoping to have an incisive editorial about the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno C. Aquino III. Long before it ended, all we could wrap our brains around was how the applause seems louder than the expected sound logically generated by those we see applauding every time the cameras pan around. Well into the speech, the office broke out in loud laughter upon seeing Kris Aquino wipe her tears when the president turned teary-eyed after quoting his father’s famous quote, “The Filipinos are worth dying for.”

Sorry, folks, Freedom of Information is definitely not a priority of this administration. We should have realized that a long time ago. It never was. We liked the ending though. When he said, “Palagay ko naman po naramdaman na niyo kung ano ang pagbabagong karapatan ng bawat pilipino at bahala na kayong ituloy ito.” That’s it, folks, especially Mindanaoans, we’re on our own as we have always been on our own. We don’t need to wait the whole day and try to catch each word for the 93-minute speech interrupted 83 times by the unusually loud applause. But then, we’ve always been on our own, aren’t we? In fact, we better able to thresh out and flesh out all our problems on our own. We should have known that the moment the president said that we are his boss at his inaugural speech.

There are two more Sonas to go. Having listened to five, we now understand why so much attention is being given on the gowns of the ladies in the House. There, we find something new every year. Something to gawk at, something to pan. No wonder too that journalists make it a point to count the number of times the crowd breaks out in applause. In these two, nothing is repeated. Last year, there were 88 rounds of applause, the year before, the Sona was interrupted by applause 120 times. This was the record so far as his 2012 Sona got only 48 rounds, while his first Sona only got 29. See? Nothing is ever the same when you count the rounds of applause and take tabs of the ladies’ gowns. We can’t say the same of the address. No wonder. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO from the Manila Bulletin: Two positions at opposite ends of the spectrum

In the Senate last Thursday, Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad defended anew the projects launched under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). “At no other period in our recent history has the Philippine bureaucracy achieved so much in so little time, thanks to innovative governance,” he said. The next day, Vice President Jejomar Binay (photo), speaking before the Rotary Club of Makati, said that while innovative reforms in the government should be pursued, these should never exceed the limits set by the Constitution. These two points of view are the key positions at opposite ends of a wide spectrum of public opinion.

The first is the basic reason the Aquino administration launched the DAP—to stimulate national – particularly economic – development, which is often held back down by so much political maneuvering along with bureaucratic deadwood. The second is the reason we have a Constitution at all – to have rules in place so that the rights of the people are preserved at all times. In this case, it is the right of the people to decide where their tax money goes and the Constitution states that only Congress, whose members are elected by the people, may decide where public funds, the people’s money, may be spent. There are some political systems in the world in which only one person – a monarch – decides where public money goes. There are other systems where it is a group that decides – an autocracy, or the inner group in a one-party system. Each system has its advantages. In one, great things can be accomplished in a hurry, without the need for so much discussion, some of it coming from narrow vested interests but with loud voices. The other system sometimes takes a long time to decide and projects can get derailed even before they are started; but when a project goes underway, the people are assured that it is the product of the consensual decision of their elected representatives. * READ  MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Dream and nightmare

MANILA, JULY 29, 2014 (INQUIRER) At the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s first State of the Nation Address, in 2010, he captured the hopes of a scandal-weary public with a simple declaration: “Puwede na muling mangarap”—We can dream again.

Today, as he delivers his fifth Sona, he will find a public worried about the possibility that yesterday’s dreams have turned into a nightmare.

Like the predecessor he has striven to be the opposite of, Mr. Aquino will fulfill his constitutional duty to report to the nation with impeachment complaints pending against him. Like Gloria Arroyo, he will meet a warm, even passionate reception inside the halls of Congress but a cooler one outside. And like her, he will present his legislative program conscious of his diminished political capital; his ratings are markedly lower from their previous highs.

Seems like déjà vu all over again. The dominant mood of today’s audience is concern—that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) has been mismanaged, at best, or is really the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but on steroids, at worst. Is there no difference, then, between the corruption-plagued Arroyo administration and the presidency that succeeded it?

We do not know if President Aquino will acknowledge this question directly, but we should expect him to answer it in great detail. He will in particular defend the DAP, because he has to. Under severe criticism, he has no choice but to emphasize the difference between the PDAF and the DAP, and belabor something that has been lost in the growing controversy.

* There is no proof of corruption; not even the impeachment complaints endorsed by militant left party-list representatives allege personal gain on the part of the President or his Cabinet in any alleged abuse of government funds. (Hence, Sen. JV Ejercito’s attempt to attack the DAP as technical malversation.) We can expect the President to identify specific projects benefited by the DAP, and perhaps even ask beneficiaries of these projects to stand up and be recognized.

But adopting this stance means assuming a defensive posture, which is hardly conducive to meeting the political objective behind every Sona: The mustering of public and political support for the government’s policy agenda. There are major policy initiatives that the Aquino administration must see through in the second year of the 16th Congress. Chief of these is the Bangsamoro Basic Law, whose draft remains the subject of a vigorous debate within the administration even before it can be filed in Congress.

The freedom of information bills are also part of the Aquino agenda; since they require greater transparency and accountability from public officials, they will face considerable resistance from some legislators. Not least, three incumbent senators are now in detention, on plunder charges related to the so-called pork barrel scam. Seeing their trial through will require public and political support.

After four full years into its term, the best way for the Aquino administration to gather substantial support for these and other initiatives in its policy agenda is to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and pledge to do better. This approach means accepting the argument of incompetence that has been leveled at it. In particular, the failures at the Department of Energy and the inexplicable sluggishness at the Department of Transportation and Communications must be recognized—and rectified.

We cannot reasonably expect President Aquino, or indeed any president, to use the political rite of the State of the Nation Address to announce the firing of Cabinet secretaries; Mr. Aquino, in addition, is known to support his political allies to the sometimes bitter end.

But what a jolt to the public mood, what an inspired move, if in today’s Sona he thanked Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya for their services, and then replaced them.

If the administration had not filed a motion for reconsideration in the Supreme Court, we could add Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to the list. The President can thank him for his service, laud his innovations in the budget system, and then publicly accept his offer of resignation.

Farfetched? To end the nightmare lying in wait for all of us, one can—one should—dream again.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Seriously, now By Manila Standard Today | Jul. 29, 2014 at 12:01am


Call it a moment of tenderness. President Benigno Aquino III was teary-eyed toward the end of his one-and-a-half hour State of the Nation Address on Monday.

He invoked the words of his late father: “the Filipino is worth dying for,” adding on them to say “the Filipino is worth living for,” and “the Filipino is worth fighting for.”

He went on to say that he is content and certain that even if he were no longer in the picture, many others would be there to continue what he had begun. He gave credit to the people, whom he repeatedly extolled as his bosses, for occasioning the transformation, the results of which the nation is supposedly feeling now.

As a result, the applause from those present at the House of Representatives, mostly allies and friends, was resounding.

There was thankfully no spirited attack on the Supreme Court, either, a refreshing break from the unpresidential, if not juvenile, behavior we have been seeing of late. President Aquino seemed to take personally the High Court’s decision striking down some acts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program as unconstitutional, calling it a move to block reform.

Despite these seemingly conciliatory acts, Mr. Aquino’s divisive slip was unconcealable especially in the times he was not congratulating himself and his do-no-wrong Cabinet members for all the good work they have supposedly done.

First, he walked into the plenary hall sporting his favorite yellow ribbon on his chest, despite the clamor for him to wear something more unifying—for instance, a pin of the Philippine flag.

Of course, this President is never wrong. Ditching the yellow item would make it appear as though he finally recognized it promoted exclusivity—and he is not one to say could ever be wrong.

Second, he quite predictably followed a then-versus-now, them-versus-us pattern in his speech. He began by reminding everybody how dark and despicable the conditions were when he came to power. And how his administration, God’s gift to the Filipino people, banished all that was evil and signaled the start of better times ahead.

* Finally, he minced no words for his critics—members of the orchestra of negativism, he called them. According to the President, those who criticize him are desperate. They do not have any other agenda but to bring the government down and sabotage the gains that the administration has made. They refuse the change that is happening, he said, because they benefit from the old ways and want to maintain the status quo.

President Aquino once again reduced all of us into two-dimensional characters. In this world, he and his allies are the good guys and anybody who dared disagree with them are the bad ones. It never occured to the President that those who see room for improvement just want him to do his job better, not bring him down.

Or perhaps he realizes that, but refuses to acknowledge it and rejects it outright because it is much better to resort to simplistic portrayals.

We decide to take Mr. Aquino seriously this time, but he will have to buttress his feel-good words with subsequent action and statesman-like behavior in the next two years.

FROM PHILSTAR

EDITORIAL - Full speed ahead (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 29, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

A visibly emotional President Aquino asked his “bosses” the people yesterday for continued support as he pursues reforms in his final two years in office. Many of those reforms need legislation, and Congress has a lot on its plate even as it confronts corruption scandals implicating several of its members.

Business groups have presented their “wish list” for the executive and legislative branches to work on as the 16th Congress begins its second regular session. The House of Representatives has promised to give priority to the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Freedom of Information Act even as it works with the Senate to pass within the year what is likely to become the most closely scrutinized national budget bill for 2015.

The Senate leadership said public trust in the chamber must be restored as people wait for more lawmakers to be indicted and arrested on allegations of skimming funds from their pork barrel. Some of that trust can be restored if people see a better, transparent system of crafting and utilizing the annual national appropriation. President Aquino, rebuffed by the entire Supreme Court in his Disbursement Acceleration Program, asked Congress yesterday for a supplemental budget to continue DAP projects such as scholarships.

* Congress must work on the supplemental budget on top of the proposed 2015 General Appropriations Act. The deliberations on the GAA must not be bogged down by attempts to restore a modicum of the individual discretion over billions in public funds that lawmakers and other officials used to enjoy. And while it is inevitable that the legislature will be distracted by the legal woes of many lawmakers, the 16th Congress must not be diverted from its tasks.

As the business groups’ wish list shows, there’s still much work to be done to sustain reforms, accelerate development and make economic growth inclusive. The reforms and achievements of the Aquino administration must be sustained beyond the President’s term. Accomplishing this calls for a Congress that is fully focused on the work ahead.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

No mention of DAP in 2013 Sona Written by Tribune Editorial Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

In all of the one hour and forty-two minutes, the longest in memory for a presidential speech to open a new Congress session that Noynoy spent to deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) last year, not once did he mention the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the supposed immense benefit it provided the economy.

Yet strangely, he mentioned several of the projects that were supposedly funded by the DAP and trumpeted them as among the achievements of his administration.

The belated drumming up of the DAP as a necessary program to spur growth and one which Noynoy even warned recently before his allies in the business sector that the Supreme Court ruling declaring Palace acts creating the DAP as unconstitutional, may cause economic paralysis was in stark contrast to Noynoy appearing to be unconscious of the existence of the program last year.

Noynoy, in his 2013 speech, bragged about the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda)-Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) scholars. He said of the 503,521 people who have graduated from their programs, an estimated six out of 10 have found jobs. He further claimed that before, according to studies conducted by DBM (Department of Budget and Management), from 2006 to 2008, only 28.5 percent of Tesda graduates found jobs.

Last year, under Tesda’s IT-BPO program, 70.9 percent of the graduates found employment. Under the electronics and semi-conductor program, the percentage of employed graduates reached 85 percent.

That Tesda project was item 36 in the DBM’s DAP list which got P1.1 billion funding and part of the first batch of DAP projects signed in 2011.

He also mentioned Hacienda Luisita, the vast estate owned by his family in Tarlac saying “If there is one topic my name is often associated with, that would have to be Hacienda Luisita. I would like to inform you that back in February, in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court, the Department of Agrarian Reform has completed the list of qualified beneficiaries for the land in Luisita.”

Not only that, he may have added, the compensation packages for landowners including Hacienda Luisita Inc. were promptly delivered courtesy of the DAP.

* In item 24 of the DAP list it stated that P5.46 billion in landowners compensation was assumed by the program as the amount is not yet available in the annual appropriation.

Noynoy also mentioned the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project II in Iloilo which was undertaken he said “with the help of our Big Man in the Senate, Sen. Franklin Drilon.”

He also mentioned the preventing of widespread flooding in Iloilo, and adding 6.6 megawatts in hydro-power to the energy requirements of the province.

The Jalaur River Project will create around 17,000 jobs; and once it becomes fully operational, an estimated 32,000 Filipinos will be given decent livelihoods, he said.

It seems that the project that appeared as item 44 in the DBM’s DAP list and funded with P450 million was among the political payback of Drilon from the Palace for his pivotal role in the impeachment and eventual ouster of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

It was also Drilon, according to now detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who passed around P50 million worth of projects in “incentives” to senator-judges right after the conviction of Corona in 2012. Drilon then was head of the Senate finance committee.

In all of Noynoy’s marathon bluster in the 2013 Sona, not once did he mention the DAP nor any stimulus program being responsible for the projects he cited as benefiting the nation.

Apparently, his silence was an indication of the Palace efforts to conceal the Palace money pool which did not become a public item before Estrada bared the P50-million extra pork to legislators in a privilege speech last September.

The dearth of information about the DAP before Estrada’s speech also indicated the absence of any intention by the Palace to make it a public concern.

The omission of the DAP in the previous speeches of Noynoy indicates bad faith.

FROM MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHTS

5TH SONA; PNOY HIGHLIGHTS ACCOMPLISHMENTS July 29, 2014 BY IRMA ISIP AND JIMMY CALAPATI

President Aquino gave a rundown of his administration’s economic gains in his fifth and second to the last state of the nation address yesterday.

The President started off his almost two-hour SONA reminding Filipinos of the troubles he inherited from the previous administration but lost no time in defending, albeit subtly, the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) by illustrating how DAP funds given to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) were recouped in just a year through taxes paid by TESDA scholars who found jobs.

About. P1.6 billion in DAP funds were spent for TESDA’s training program, benefitting 223,615 scholars.

Aquino went on to say how the country was able to reduce its poverty incidence by 3 percentage points – or 2.5 million Filipinos out of poverty – from 27.9 percent in 2012 to 24.9 percent in 2013.

Aquino also boasted about the investment ratings upgrade obtained by the country by Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s in 2013 due to better fiscal management.

“This boosted investor confidence on the Philippines,” Aquino said.

With the government’s ability to pay P40 billion of its debt and other reforms, Aquino said, the country is now getting noticed by foreign investors.

“The Philippines is on an economic takeoff. We are now more open for business,” the President said in Filipino.

He even challenged the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to match or exceed the P23.47 billion monthly investment registrations it makes before the end of his term.

From 1995 to end March, PEZA registered P2.63 trillion in investments of which 40 percent or about P1 trillion came in during the Aquino administration.

Aquino also said the country is experiencing industrial peace with only less than 10 notices of strike filed every month, which serves as an attraction to investors.

“From 115 notices in 2013 only one turned out as a strike, the lowest in the history of DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment),” he said.

Aquino said the government would not introduce new taxes other than sin tax law but vowed to plug leakages in the system.

At the start of his term, he said, tax collection was P1.094 trillion in 2010 and improved to P1.536 trillion in 2013 which he attributed to improved tax collection.

* Aquino also noted that his government doubled its budget for infrastructure from P200 billion in 2011 to P404.3 billion this year and went to add that so far the government has approved seven Public-Private Partnership projects worth about P62.6 billion.

The next big project, the Laguna Lakeshore expressway, is up for bidding before the end of the year.

The Department of Public Works and Highways, he said, constructed and paved some 12,184 kilometers of roads.

Aquino added that his administration was able to accomplish the full capitalization of the Bangko Sentral Pilipinas when it funded the remaining P40 billion out of the P50-billion needed since 1993.

The President also noted how the safety upgrade of the Philippines from the European Union and the United States would help boost tourism through direct flights by local carrier Philippine Airlines and “maybe soon Cebu Pacific (Air).”

The President also assured his administration would address the power crisis as well as the rice problem which he attributed to hoarders.

President Aquino said his administration would pass a supplemental budget for 2014 so as not to delay projects.

For 2015, the government is proposing a P2.26 trillion budget.

According to Edgardo Lacson, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines the numbers presented by President Aquino are impressive and his tone was conciliatory.

“He indirectly accepts the Supreme Court decision on DAP as he will seek Congress approval for supplementary budgets,” Lacson said.

Francis Chua, chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said President Aquino enumerated the successful projects of his administration with due credit to his Cabinet and anyone who helped along the way.

“This is a sign of leadership. He also impress upon us that he will continue to fight for the country and masses. I think he is sincere in serving the people,” Chua said.

Emilio Neri, lead economist at Bank of the Philippine Islands, hopes reforms started by the Aquino Administration, specifically those geared towards the economy, would not be impeded.

“(Reforms like) rationalization of fiscal incentives, we really need that. The (passage of the) freedom of information (bill), PPP projects, that are just starting could be affected,” Neri said.

“He could still do more (economic) reforms,” Neri said.

Those sentiments were also shared by Shanaka Jay Peiris, IMF’s resident representative to the Philippines, when he said the country’s growth is “predicated on fiscal spending” noting that a recovery must be in place after the slowdown in the first quarter.

Government spending in the first quarter of the year fell below program by 16 percent despite claims of the Aquino administration that expenditures were ramped up during the period to support the budgetary needs in Yolanda-affected areas.

Netting out interest payments, the government’s operational expenses was even lower than program by 19 percent.

Data from the Department of Finance also showed that the revenue collected in the first three months of 2014 was seven percent below target.

“It is hard to predict. What we are basically assuming (is that) the government’s plan will go according to plan,” Peiris said.

“If you look at the fiscal data, April-May spending slowed down a bit. We are assuming that that is temporary. We are expecting spending to pick up by the second half. We are assuming that the government will catch up on spending. First quarter spending was quite strong. We are expecting they will get close to their target by yearend,” he added.

Neri pointed out that he thinks the president is open to the idea that, because of impeachment complaints filed against him, his latest Sona could be his last.

“(It’s like) people could do what they want and parang “It’s fine with me.” That is part of democracy, of course we don’t’ want to be like Thailand,” Neri said.

Neri added there could be some speculations in both the equities and forex markets beginning today as “people may interpret his statements that he was about to give up.”

Peiris also said the controversies surrounding the PDAF and DAP are not a “risk” but “if controversies lead to slow down in spending that could be a risk to growth.”

“In theory, there’s a budget there and it needs to be executed. Targets should be met,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund on Friday announced that it has revised downwards its growth forecast for the country for this year after the actual gross domestic product (GDP) figures slowed down in the first half.

The Fund now sees the country’s GDP averaging at 6.2 percent for the whole year, slightly lower than the 6.5 percent forecast they announced in March.

FROM SUNSTAR.COM

Editorial: Same-same Monday, July 28, 2014


WE WAITED, hoping to have an incisive editorial about the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno C. Aquino III. Long before it ended, all we could wrap our brains around was how the applause seems louder than the expected sound logically generated by those we see applauding every time the cameras pan around.

Well into the speech, the office broke out in loud laughter upon seeing Kris Aquino wipe her tears when the president turned teary-eyed after quoting his father’s famous quote, “The Filipinos are worth dying for.”

Sorry, folks, Freedom of Information is definitely not a priority of this administration. We should have realized that a long time ago. It never was.

We liked the ending though. When he said, “Palagay ko naman po naramdaman na niyo kung ano ang pagbabagong karapatan ng bawat pilipino at bahala na kayong ituloy ito.”

That’s it, folks, especially Mindanaoans, we’re on our own as we have always been on our own. We don’t need to wait the whole day and try to catch each word for the 93-minute speech interrupted 83 times by the unusually loud applause.

But then, we’ve always been on our own, aren’t we? In fact, we better able to thresh out and flesh out all our problems on our own. We should have known that the moment the president said that we are his boss at his inaugural speech.

There are two more Sonas to go. Having listened to five, we now understand why so much attention is being given on the gowns of the ladies in the House. There, we find something new every year. Something to gawk at, something to pan. No wonder too that journalists make it a point to count the number of times the crowd breaks out in applause. In these two, nothing is repeated. Last year, there were 88 rounds of applause, the year before, the Sona was interrupted by applause 120 times. This was the record so far as his 2012 Sona got only 48 rounds, while his first Sona only got 29.

See? Nothing is ever the same when you count the rounds of applause and take tabs of the ladies’ gowns.

We can’t say the same of the address. No wonder.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Editorial: Two positions at opposite ends of the spectrum July 29, 2014


BINAY

In the Senate last Thursday, Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad defended anew the projects launched under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). “At no other period in our recent history has the Philippine bureaucracy achieved so much in so little time, thanks to innovative governance,” he said.

The next day, Vice President Jejomar Binay, speaking before the Rotary Club of Makati, said that while innovative reforms in the government should be pursued, these should never exceed the limits set by the Constitution.

These two points of view are the key positions at opposite ends of a wide spectrum of public opinion.

The first is the basic reason the Aquino administration launched the DAP—to stimulate national – particularly economic – development, which is often held back down by so much political maneuvering along with bureaucratic deadwood.

The second is the reason we have a Constitution at all – to have rules in place so that the rights of the people are preserved at all times. In this case, it is the right of the people to decide where their tax money goes and the Constitution states that only Congress, whose members are elected by the people, may decide where public funds, the people’s money, may be spent.

There are some political systems in the world in which only one person – a monarch – decides where public money goes. There are other systems where it is a group that decides – an autocracy, or the inner group in a one-party system.

Each system has its advantages. In one, great things can be accomplished in a hurry, without the need for so much discussion, some of it coming from narrow vested interests but with loud voices. The other system sometimes takes a long time to decide and projects can get derailed even before they are started; but when a project goes underway, the people are assured that it is the product of the consensual decision of their elected representatives.

* The Supreme Court decided the way it did because it was following its role as guardian of the Constitution. It did not look into any government officials’ motives. It just looked at the Constitution and this said that “no money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.” Only Congress enacts laws. None of the 107 items released by the DBM as proposed or implemented under DAP are covered by laws; if they were, there would have been no need for them to be in DAP.

The discussion and the debate continues. As the Supreme Court’s spokesman recently said, the issue is far from over. A motion for reconsideration has been filed by the Executive Department and until the Supreme Court acts on that motion, any and all opinions may be aired.

Our hope is that when the Supreme Court finally makes its decision, all will bow to it – and strive to continue to strive for national development and progress, within the limits that have placed as part of our Constitution.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE