SONA 2014: 91 MINUTES, 85 ROUNDS OF APPLAUSE 

Length: 91 minutes interrupted by at least 85 rounds of applause; Not the longest Sona: Last year’s Sona was 102 minutes long. Thanked foreign donors for their assistance during Super Typhoon Yolanda and garnered one of speech’s longer applauses. Cited Albay’s zero casualty during Typhoon Glenda; praised Albay Gov. Joey Salceda Progress in high-profile killings—arrested those involved in the killing of Mayor Ernesto Balolong and businessman Richard King. Enumerated government acquisitions to modernize Armed Forces—new helicopters, country’s first landing craft utility ship BRP Tagbanua; 1.65 million employed from April 2013 to April 2014. Yet to come --Complete Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway until Urdaneta by 2014, and until La Union by 2015. Finish the Basilan Circumferential Road, which has been under construction since 2000
Open bidding for the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike before end of 2014; Rehabilitation of families affected by Zamboanga siege—start of transfer of affected families to housing in Martha Drive Subdivision by August. Total of 7,176 houses targeted to be finished over the next year. Fix 108.8 kilometers of roads, bridges and landslide-prone areas damaged by Yolanda. Continue to “Build Back Better” for those affected by Yolanda. AFP modernization: Two of 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets coming in next year; the rest expected to be delivered by end of 2017; 17 refurbished UH-1 helicopters expected by September. * READ MORE....

ALSO: Gains not felt by Filipinos - Bayan 

Most of the accomplishments said by President Benigno Aquino III during his 5th State of the Nation Address are not felt by majority of Filipinos, according to the militant group Bayan. Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said the so-called gains of the Aquino administration governing under the principle of "Daang Matuwid" (straight path) are not felt by ordinary Filipinos. "A lot was said about how things have changed. How we're supposedly ready for take off. A lot of it are not felt by the ordinary Filipino," Reyes said in his reaction to the SONA speech of Aquino before Congress on Monday. During the rally at Commonwealth Avenue, Reyes estimated that around 17,000 protesters joined and expressed their discontent with the Aquino administration. Authorities. however, said there were only 7,000 protesters along the highway. After a program near a shopping mall in the area, protesters torched an effigy of Aquino as "holDAPer" in reference to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program of the government. Rallyists tried to break through the police barricade but were prevented by a phalanx of anti-riot cops. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: In lieu of DAP, Noy seeks supplemental budget 

Apparently preparing for a possible rejection of his appeal on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), President Aquinio announced in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday that he would seek a supplemental budget from Congress to get some projects going. With Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the audience, the President did not mention the DAP in his 90-minute SONA. But he touted programs known to be funded by the stimulus program, the furor over which brought his peak 77 percent trust ratings to 55 percent recently. “The people should not be deprived of services, so we need a supplemental budget to ensure services don’t get stalled,” he said. He added Congress should issue a joint resolution clearly defining accumulated savings. With his pitching for a supplemental budget, Aquino indicated readiness to face whatever decision the Supreme Court (SC) issues on his appeal of the high court’s unanimous July 1 ruling against DAP. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy takes on critics; Calls them evil, vows to fight and
die for reforms

PHOTO: No bomb can stop me. President Benigno Aquino III declares that he is ready to fight to the death for the reforms of his administration during his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address before a joint session of Congress, led by Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III delivered an emotional speech for his fifth State of the Nation Address, saying he is ready to fight for good governance and economic reforms even if his critics might be plotting to liquidate him. Aquino’s voice started to break when he said that to renege on the opportunity to help the Filipino people is to turn his back on his parents whom he said sacrificed their lives for the country. “For as long as we are together and serving as each other’s strength, we will prove that the Filipino is worth dying for, ‘the Filipino is worth living for, and if I may add, the Filipino is worth fighting for,’” the President said.

The President, in an adlib portion of his SONA speech, said he is now on his second life after he survived an ambush attack during the 1987 coup d’etat. “Sometimes I cannot help but think if, with the opponents we are creating, will the time come that I go up a stage and it is already my last day? Will someone succeed in placing a bomb? Will those with evil intentions and those who want to bring back the rotten old ways succeed?” “And if that time comes that my second life ends, I can say that with all that we have achieved, I am contented. I am contented because I am sure that even if I die, there are a lot of people who will continue what we are now charting. Maybe that is really my role: to start this reform,” the President said. Aquino, however, did not say if there were concrete intelligence reports of certain groups that want him dead. Earlier in his speech, Aquino dismissed his critics as belonging to the minority and “living in their own world and reality.” “While we see concrete changes in our nation, all the more that they attack me. While the benefits of our reform program become clearer, our critics have slimmer chances of fooling the public, that is why they sow doubt on the minds of our people. They are desperate,” the President said. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Binay: Aquino’s speech ‘genuine’  

Vice President Jejomar Binay believed the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno Aquino III was “genuine” and noted how the Chief Executive turned emotional near the end of his hour-and-a-half long speech. “His speech was very emotional [and] when you appeal to the heart there is always that presumption that it’s genuine,” Binay told reporters. When asked what he thought was lacking in Aquino’s speech, Binay said he would have wanted to hear about the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. On Aquino’s call to the people that the next president should be one to continue the reforms he has put in place and whose integrity is not doubted, Binay said for him it meant someone who is wise and has a track record in government. “[I think it means that] the main basis for selecting whom you are going to vote for the next election is one who will be experienced, has the wisdom, and has the track record as an executive,” Binay said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino tears up in his 5th Sona; ‘The Filipino is worth
living for’ 

President Aquino choked up, surprising his audience, and left not a dry eye in the house as he wrapped up his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) talking about his parents who fought for democracy, the legacy they left, and how he would not let his administration’s detractors take away the gains his presidency had achieved the past four years. Aquino’s celebrity sister, Kris Aquino, was seen crying in the VIP gallery and wiping away her tears.
The President was optimistic that his program, dubbed “daang matuwid,” could extend far beyond his six-year term so long as the public would choose the path of “transformation” and pick his rightful successor in 2016.
“To my bosses: You gave me the chance to lead our country’s transformation. If I refused the challenge you laid before me, it is like saying I will help prolong your agony and my conscience cannot take that. If I turned my back on the chance given to me, it is like turning my back on my father and mother, and everything that they sacrificed for us. That will never happen,” the President said in Filipino. And then his voice cracked. Regaining his composure, the President continued: “As we tread on the straight path, you chose what is good and what is right; you remained true to me—and I remain true to you.” Some of the people in the audience stood up in one of the most loudly applauded parts of his 91-minute speech. “The transformation we are enjoying now can become permanent with the help of the Lord. As long as our faith and trust is complete, and as long as we become each other’s strengths, we will continue to prove that ‘the Filipino is worth dying for,” “the Filipino is worth living for,” and I will add: ‘The Filipino is worth fighting for,’” Aquino said. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) First timers: Former Aquino backers turn their backs on him 

People not known to join past protest actions against President Aquino, such as award-winning
scriptwriter Ricky Lee and satirist Mae Paner (aka Juana Change), were at a huge rally against the President’s fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday. “The people now have a different view of this government. There’s a growing desperation and anger among the people,” Lee, who wrote the script of Nora Aunor’s highly acclaimed movie “Himala,” said of the crowd gathered a few kilometers from the House of Representatives where Aquino delivered his address. “As long as there are people sleeping on the streets, as long as there’s hunger, the state of the nation is not OK. It’s that simple,” the scriptwriter said. Lee said he supported Aquino in the 2010 presidential election.

Paner joined the protest calling for Aquino’s impeachment, wearing a Filipiniana dress she once wore in an election campaign for him in 2010. Anticrime crusader Dante Jimenez and about 30 members of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption were also among the first-timers at the Sona rally. “President Aquino has failed to realize that the worsening corruption results in increased criminality in our society. We cannot fight crimes if we cannot address corruption,” said Jimenez. Straight path ends in cliff --“I was ‘yellow’ before,” Paner told the crowd on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, referring to the President’s political campaign color. “I’m sorry that I supported him. I thought the lives of ordinary people would improve under his administration,” said Paner, a petitioner in one of the three impeachment complaints against Mr. Aquino. “It turned out that at the end of his straight path is a cliff,” she said. Paner told the crowd to watch out for her costume change when she goes to the House to attend the President’s Sona. She was among the hundreds of people in the gallery of the House of Representatives as the President delivered his address. Paner, the comedian known as “Juana Change” who campaigned for Aquino in 2010, stayed behind and attempted to heckle the President during the latter part of his speech. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Cops fire water cannons on charging Sona protesters; no one hurt 

The initially uneventful rallies at the State of the Nation Address ended violently after protesters stormed toward the police barricade, prompting authorities to douse them with red-tinted water. The “firing” of the so-called water cannons from four fire trucks lasted around 20 minutes after 5 p.m. Monday as President Aquino rounded up his speech. However, National Capital Region Police Office Director Carmelo Valmoria assessed the SONA protests as still peaceful. “Yes, despite what happened, I’d say the rally was generally peaceful,” the Task Force Kapayapaan commander said after the angry militants backed off and dispersed voluntarily. The Task Force Kapayapaan had initially expected a peaceful dispersal after the program of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and its affiliates. Valmoria said there was no one injured and no one arrested in Monday’s conduct of the rallies.

He justified the use of the water cannons, saying things could have been worse. “We allowed the protesters to hold their rallies the whole day, which they did peacefully. Then they try to breach the barricade,” Valmoria pointed out.
Toward the end of the program, tension began rising as chants got louder and angrier, alerting anti-riot policemen to reform their ranks. As the lawmen beefed up their line, scores of militants charged at them, not minding the concrete barrier, steel fence and barbed wire that served as a first line of defense. Minutes later, red-tinted water began leaking from a hose connected to one of the fire trucks. At least four fire trucks— two behind the line, and two along the center island— trained their hoses on the protesters. The unfazed militants stood their ground, waving their banners and flags—and so did the anti-riot policemen, who held their shields firmly and banging their truncheons in cadence. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

91 minutes, 85 rounds of applause


President Aquino receives a standing ovation after delivering his 5th State of the Nation Address at the joint session of the 16th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, July 28, 2014. Aquino’s 91-minute address was interrupted by at least 85 rounds of applause. RYAN LIM/Malacanang Photo Bureau

MANILA, JULY 29, 2014 (INQUIRER) Length: 91 minutes interrupted by at least 85 rounds of applause; Not the longest Sona: Last year’s Sona was 102 minutes long.         

Thanked foreign donors for their assistance during Super Typhoon Yolanda and garnered one of speech’s longer applauses
Cited Albay’s zero casualty during Typhoon Glenda; praised Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.

Progress in high-profile killings—arrested those involved in the killing of Mayor Ernesto Balolong and businessman Richard King.

Enumerated government acquisitions to modernize Armed Forces—new helicopters, country’s first landing craft utility ship BRP Tagbanua; 1.65 million employed from April 2013 to April 2014.

Yet to come

Complete Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway until Urdaneta by 2014, and until La Union by 2015
Finish the Basilan Circumferential Road, which has been under construction since 2000
Open bidding for the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike before end of 2014
Rehabilitation of families affected by Zamboanga siege—start of transfer of affected families to housing in Martha Drive Subdivision by August. Total of 7,176 houses targeted to be finished over the next year.
Fix 108.8 kilometers of roads, bridges and landslide-prone areas damaged by Yolanda
Continue to “Build Back Better” for those affected by Yolanda
AFP modernization: Two of 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets coming in next year; the rest expected to be delivered by end of 2017; 17 refurbished UH-1 helicopters expected by September

* Other target military purchases: Brand-new 8 Bell combat utility helicopters, 2 antisubmarine helicopters, 10 AgustaWestland-109 helicopters, 2 light-lift aircraft, 3 medium-lift aircraft and radar systems, among others
50,629 M4 assault rifles expected in the next months

Legislate pension reform in order to gain funds to hire more policemen and buy new equipment for PNP
800,000 MT of rice imported to fill buffer stocking requirement to be completed by September
Blamed rice hoarders for hike in rice prices, said importation is government response to counteract them, challenged rice hoarders to go up against the state and expressed confidence state will win. Promised to investigate suspected rice hoarders and their accomplices.

Agrarian reform: Completion of Cadastral survey by 2015 after 102 years
Will suggest legislation to extend delivery of notices of coverage
Bangsamoro: Working on Bangsamoro Basic Law and push for its passage
Progress in high profile killings—government following good lead on murder of race driver Enzo Pastor
Hits critics: My critics are those who don’t want transformation.
Only one criteria for successor: One who will continue my reforms

Quotes:
“The Filipino is worth dying for. The Filipino is worth living for. The Filipino is definitely worth fighting for.”
“Buong-buo ang tiwala ko: Nasa eksena man ako o wala, tutungo ang Pilipino sa dapat niyang patunguhan.”

FROM PHILSTAR

Gains not felt by Filipinos - Bayan By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated July 28, 2014 - 8:12pm 0 59 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Most of the accomplishments said by President Benigno Aquino III during his 5th State of the Nation Address are not felt by majority of Filipinos, according to the militant group Bayan.

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said the so-called gains of the Aquino administration governing under the principle of "Daang Matuwid" (straight path) are felt by ordinary Filipinos.

"A lot was said about how things have changed. How we're supposedly ready for take off. A lot of it are not felt by the ordinary Filipino," Reyes said in his reaction to the SONA speech of Aquino before Congress on Monday.

During the rally at Commonwealth Avenue, Reyes estimated that around 17,000 protesters joined and expressed their discontent with the Aquino administration.

Authorities. however, said there were only 7,000 protesters along the highway.

After a program near a shopping mall in the area, protesters torched an effigy of Aquino as "holDAPer" in reference to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program of the government.

Rallyists tried to break through the police barricade but were prevented by a phalanx of anti-riot cops.

In lieu of DAP, Noy seeks supplemental budget By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 29, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Apparently preparing for a possible rejection of his appeal on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), President Aquinio announced in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday that he would seek a supplemental budget from Congress to get some projects going.

With Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the audience, the President did not mention the DAP in his 90-minute SONA. But he touted programs known to be funded by the stimulus program, the furor over which brought his peak 77 percent trust ratings to 55 percent recently.

“The people should not be deprived of services, so we need a supplemental budget to ensure services don’t get stalled,” he said.

He added Congress should issue a joint resolution clearly defining accumulated savings.

With his pitching for a supplemental budget, Aquino indicated readiness to face whatever decision the Supreme Court (SC) issues on his appeal of the high court’s unanimous July 1 ruling against DAP.

* Palace officials had earlier said they would bow to the final ruling of the SC.

Aquino said the Department of Budget and Management has prepared its proposed national budget for 2015 pegged at P2.6 trillion.

He also hinted at supporting a bill that would delineate budgetary functions, so as to give the executive department more leeway in addressing pressing concerns of the state, without ignoring Congress’ authority.

Silent on judiciary

Unlike in his July 24 televised national address where he made scathing remarks against SC justices – including his four appointees – Aquino was silent about his misunderstanding with the judiciary yesterday.

Nowhere in his speech did he mention the judiciary, which he had warned of a constitutional crisis if the ruling on DAP is not reversed.

Instead, he vented his ire on his critics whom he described as a “noisy few.”

He again defended his four-year record on good governance and even took a swipe at media for its negative reports.

“The news is full of negativism. They are the ones making noises in their own world,” Aquino said.

He said negative reports were “becoming more frequent, searing, and intense.”

“They’re desperate. Why are they angry? Because their businesses are getting affected,” he declared. “Lahat sila nagkukutsabahan para iligaw tayo sa ligaw na landas (They’re colluding with one another to lead us to the road to nowhere).”

“The truth is they had been hitting us even before we took office,” he said.

He said he is determined to face his accusers. “Iilan lang sila at di hamak na napakarami natin (They’re just a few, and we outnumber them),” he said. Marvin Sy, JessDiaz

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

PNoy takes on critics; Calls them evil, vows to fight and die for reforms By Joyce Pangco Panares | Jul. 29, 2014 at 12:01am


No bomb can stop me. President Benigno Aquino III declares that he is ready to fight to the death for the reforms of his administration during his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address before a joint session of Congress, led by Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Lino Santos

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III delivered an emotional speech for his fifth State of the Nation Address, saying he is ready to fight for good governance and economic reforms even if his critics might be plotting to liquidate him.

Aquino’s voice started to break when he said that to renege on the opportunity to help the Filipino people is to turn his back on his parents whom he said sacrificed their lives for the country.

“For as long as we are together and serving as each other’s strength, we will prove that the Filipino is worth dying for, ‘the Filipino is worth living for, and if I may add, the Filipino is worth fighting for,’” the President said.

The President, in an adlib portion of his SONA speech, said he is now on his second life after he survived an ambush attack during the 1987 coup d’etat.

“Sometimes I cannot help but think if, with the opponents we are creating, will the time come that I go up a stage and it is already my last day? Will someone succeed in placing a bomb? Will those with evil intentions and those who want to bring back the rotten old ways succeed?”

“And if that time comes that my second life ends, I can say that with all that we have achieved, I am contented. I am contented because I am sure that even if I die, there are a lot of people who will continue what we are now charting. Maybe that is really my role: to start this reform,” the President said.

Aquino, however, did not say if there were concrete intelligence reports of certain groups that want him dead.

Earlier in his speech, Aquino dismissed his critics as belonging to the minority and “living in their own world and reality.”

“While we see concrete changes in our nation, all the more that they attack me. While the benefits of our reform program become clearer, our critics have slimmer chances of fooling the public, that is why they sow doubt on the minds of our people. They are desperate,” the President said.

* Aquino said his critics aim to retain the status quo and bring down his administration.

“Our noisiest of critics are those who do not want transformation because they were able to commit abuses and benefit from the old ways,” the President said.

“But the truth is, our critics are not against me: they are against our people who are benefiting from the straight path. My bosses, my critics are against you,” he added.

The President said he has already become used to having “negative comments for breakfast, verbal abuse for lunch, and insults for dinner, plus intrigues for a midnight snack.”

He said he expects it that even after he has finished his term, his critics will continue to hound him.

“My will is strong to face our opponents because I know my critics are only few and we are far greater in number than them. We will succeed in this fight, because we are in the right,” Aquino said.

The President also appealed to the public to ensure that his reform agenda is continued even beyond 2016.

“You will be facing a crossroads anew. You will decide whether to continue the reforms we have started. In 2016, you will choose a new leader for our country. For my part, if we want our reform agenda to continue and to be implemented even quicker, there should only be one basis in choosing my successor: who is without doubt committed in continuing the transformation we have initiated?”

The President played up several accomplishments, including the benefits reaped through the discredited Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Aquino said he will ask for a supplemental budget from Congress for the DAP projects that had to be stopped with the Supreme Court unanimous ruling declaring certain acts under the DAP as unconstitutional.

He also asked Congress to pass a joint resolution to clarify the definitions and concepts that are still being debated upon relative to the DAP.

“You in the legislature, as the ones who wrote the law, can shed light and clarify these,” he said.

The President cited the investment grade credit ratings received by the country from the top three rating agencies - Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch - as concrete signs of economic growth.

He said the Philippines has successfully hosted the World Economic Forum East Asia Summit this year and will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation next year.

Aquino also boasted of the seven projects under the Public-Private Partnership program that have already been awarded since 2011.

Aquino said the seven projects were worth P62.6 billion and were higher than the six solicited PPP contracts awards during the past three administrations.

The President did not say, however, that there were 54 projects lined up for the PPP program, and that only seven or less than 20 percent have been awarded so far.

Aquino also assured the public that the government is doing all that it can to address the projected thin power supply in Luzon by the summer months of 2015.

“I have tasked Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to coordinate with the Joint Congressional Power Commission, the Energy Regulatory Commission, industry stakeholders, and consumers in coming up with a plan to address our power problem,” the President said.

Aquino also addressed the spiraling prices of agricultural products, including garlic and rice.

“Once our additional rice import arrives, hoarders will be forced to sell their stock. If hoarders want to go head to head with the government, they are free to try the will of the state. But they should remember that their rice stock will only last for six months before the grains rot. They will not profit once we flood the market with our additional importation,” he said.

The President also lauded Customs for collecting P117 billion from January to April this year, up by 20 percent for the same period in 2013.

Aquino did not say that the Customs collections for the first four months this year fell short of the January-April target of P130.571 billion.

The President also mentioned in his speech the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which peace panels from the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are trying to iron out amid language kinks and provisions that are unconstitutional.

“I ask Congress for understanding. We need to go through every provision in the draft BBL. To the extent that I can, I shall push for a draft law that is just, reasonable, and acceptable to all,” he said.

He also urged members of Congress to make good of their earlier promise to have the draft BBL passed by the end of the year to pave the way for the holding of a plebiscite by the first quarter of 2015 and the installation of a Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Binay: Aquino’s speech ‘genuine’ By Matikas Santos |INQUIRER.net8:21 pm | Monday, July 28th, 2014


Vice President Jejomar Binay. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay believed the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno Aquino III was “genuine” and noted how the Chief Executive turned emotional near the end of his hour-and-a-half long speech.

“His speech was very emotional [and] when you appeal to the heart there is always that presumption that it’s genuine,” Binay told reporters.

When asked what he thought was lacking in Aquino’s speech, Binay said he would have wanted to hear about the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

On Aquino’s call to the people that the next president should be one to continue the reforms he has put in place and whose integrity is not doubted, Binay said for him it meant someone who is wise and has a track record in government.

“[I think it means that] the main basis for selecting whom you are going to vote for the next election is one who will be experienced, has the wisdom, and has the track record as an executive,” Binay said.

Vice President Jejomar Binay believed the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno Aquino III was “genuine” and noted how the Chief Executive turned emotional near the end of his hour-and-a-half long speech.
“His speech was very emotional [and] when you appeal to the heart there is always that presumption that it’s genuine,” Binay told reporters.

When asked what he thought was lacking in Aquino’s speech, Binay said he would have wanted to hear about the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

On Aquino’s call to the people that the next president should be one to continue the reforms he has put in place and whose integrity is not doubted, Binay said for him it meant someone who is wise and has a track record in government.

“[I think it means that] the main basis for selecting whom you are going to vote for the next election is one who will be experienced, has the wisdom, and has the track record as an executive,” Binay said.

Aquino tears up in his 5th Sona; ‘The Filipino is worth living for’ By Christian V. Esguerra and DJ Yap, Nikko Dizon |Philippine Daily Inquirer12:53 am | Tuesday, July 29th, 2014


President Aquino delivering his fifth Sona: The Filipino is worth living for.

MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino choked up, surprising his audience, and left not a dry eye in the house as he wrapped up his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) talking about his parents who fought for democracy, the legacy they left, and how he would not let his administration’s detractors take away the gains his presidency had achieved the past four years.

Aquino’s celebrity sister, Kris Aquino, was seen crying in the VIP gallery and wiping away her tears.

The President was optimistic that his program, dubbed “daang matuwid,” could extend far beyond his six-year term so long as the public would choose the path of “transformation” and pick his rightful successor in 2016.

“To my bosses: You gave me the chance to lead our country’s transformation. If I refused the challenge you laid before me, it is like saying I will help prolong your agony and my conscience cannot take that. If I turned my back on the chance given to me, it is like turning my back on my father and mother, and everything that they sacrificed for us. That will never happen,” the President said in Filipino.

And then his voice cracked. Regaining his composure, the President continued: “As we tread on the straight path, you chose what is good and what is right; you remained true to me—and I remain true to you.”

Some of the people in the audience stood up in one of the most loudly applauded parts of his 91-minute speech.

“The transformation we are enjoying now can become permanent with the help of the Lord. As long as our faith and trust is complete, and as long as we become each other’s strengths, we will continue to prove that ‘the Filipino is worth dying for,” “the Filipino is worth living for,” and I will add: ‘The Filipino is worth fighting for,’” Aquino said.

* The President’s late parents, assassinated opposition leader Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and President Corazon Aquino were the country’s icons of democracy, toppling the 20-year conjugal dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and then first lady, now Leyte Rep. Imelda Marcos.

The late senator famously declared, as he continued to oppose Marcos that “the Filipino is worth dying for.”

Three years after his death, his widow, Corazon, was swept to the presidency in a four-day bloodless uprising now known as the Edsa Revolution.

President Aquino faces his toughest year yet in office, facing three impeachment cases stemming from the outlawed Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP) and the Philippine-US security pact, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) meant as a deterrent in the country’s territorial dispute with China, and the lowest approval rating in four years.

‘Second life’

Aquino spoke of a “second life” after surviving a gunshot wound in the 1989 coup against his late mother, then President Corazon Aquino.

He said he could not help but think about the gravity of the nation’s problems. He said there were times on his speaking engagements the thought came that taking the stage would be his last day. He said he had thought about someone successfully exploding a bomb, or someone with dark thoughts would return the nation to the old corrupt ways.

“Should those times happen and I am on my second life, can I tell myself I am happy with what I had accomplished?

“I am satisfied that when I am gone, many will pursue the path we have taken. Maybe that is my role, to get things going,” he said.

Filipino worth fighting for

In seeking to inspire the public toward sustaining the “transformation” achieved under his administration, the President recalled the words of his late father who said, “The Filipino is worth dying for.”

“I would like to add: The Filipino is worth living for. The Filipino is worth fighting for,” he said.

Unlike in previous Sonas, the President was relatively less combative and was more sentimental on how the gains of “daang matuwid” were now manifested in Philippine society.

Aquino opted not to assail the Supreme Court in his biggest speech of the year, despite three recent public addresses lambasting the magistrates for declaring his DAP unconstitutional.

Instead, he spoke of the need to stop certain DAP-funded projects “to ensure that we follow the decision of the Supreme Court” against the economic stimulus program.

He urged Congress to pass a supplemental budget for 2014 to fund such projects, plus a joint resolution that would “clarify definitions and concepts” apparently on the pooling and realignment of government savings.

Prior to the Sona, he attacked the magistrates and warned of a “collision” between the executive and the judiciary, which might require the “intervention” of the administration-controlled legislature.

Change is being felt

Faced with growing public discontent, the President sought to remind the public of the country’s political and economic conditions prior to his election in 2010, and what had been achieved under his watch.

“I think the transformation is now being felt by each Filipino and it’s up to you to continue this,” he said in Filipino.

Citing the projected water shortage in Metro Manila by 2021, he said he had approved the construction of the Kaliwa Dam Project in Quezon province and the rehabilitation of Angat Dam’s pipelines.

There’s also the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike, the biggest of a total of P62.6-billion public-private partnership projects approved as of December 2011. Bidding will start before the end of the year.

Aquino said the dike would reduce flooding, ease traffic in the area and clean up the waters of Laguna Lake.

On the looming power crisis, he said he had tasked Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to coordinate with the Joint Congressional Power Commission, Energy Regulatory Commission, consumers and the entire power sector in coming up with a solution.

Petilla earlier recommended that the President be granted emergency powers so the government could purchase and operate power generators. But Aquino said the solution was “not as simple” as going to a store and saying, “I would like to buy a 600-megawatt generator and kindly install it tomorrow.”

Despite the promise of rice self-sufficiency before, the President trumpeted the importation of more rice. He said the rest of the 800,000 metric tons of imported rice for “buffer stocking” would arrive by September. Another 500,000 MT would be imported soon, on top of a similar volume that could be made available in case of calamities.

DAP casualty

A purported casualty of the Supreme Court’s decision against the DAP was the Philippine National Police, for whom new pieces of equipment were supposed to be purchased using funds pooled under the questionable acceleration budget program. The President cited the PNP’s “Oplan Lambat,” which yielded 862 vehicles and 29 firearms in Metro Manila.

Aquino assured the public that the government would go after those behind “high-profile killings” such as those of Pangasinan town Mayor Ernesto Balolong, businessman Richard King, and race car driver Ferdinand Pastor.

The creation of the Bangsamoro region only merited less than five minutes in the Sona, even though it is one of the most delicate security issues his administration is facing now because of a major snag in the peace process.

The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels are hammering out an “agreed version” of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) after the latter accused the Malacañang review team of watering down the original draft put together by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

MILF chief negotiator and BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal was in the audience, together with fellow negotiator Datu Al Camlian. It was the first time for both Iqbal and Camlian to attend the Sona.

Seemingly addressing the MILF, the President stressed that his administration has no intention of breaking the trust established between the two parties after a long war and long-drawn negotiations.

“We’ve gone far because of trust. And we don’t have any plans of breaking this trust,” the President said. He said that the government now keeps to its word.

Highlights of achievements
Aquino ticked off highlights of his achievements:
– Of 223,615 scholars of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, 146,731 are now employed.
– Expanded conditional cash transfer worth P12.3 billion has begun this month.
– 2.5 million Filipinos now above the poverty line.
– Good fiscal management has led to lower debt-to-GDP ratio.
– 42 percent of investments at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority made within first four years of Aquino administration; remaining 58 percent made in the last 15 years.
– International Civil Aviation Organization removed “significant safe concerns on the Philippines” in 2013.
– Good labor-management relations creating climate conducive to investments.
– 12,184 kilometers of roads (equivalent to four roads connecting Laoag City to Zamboanga City) built.
– P62.6 billion worth of PPP projects awarded since December 2011.
– Major infrastructure projects: Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building, Naia Expresssway Project Phase 2, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, Aluling Bridge, Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, Ternate-Nasugbu Road, Basilan Circumferential Road, Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike.
– Neda-approved projects: Laoag City Bypass Link Road Project, Cebu Bus Rapid Transit Project, LRT Line 1 South Extension and Line 2 East Extension, Busuanga Airport, Clark Green City in Capas, Tarlac.
– DREAM-LiDAR project under Project Noah which identifies areas to be flooded.
– 1 is to 1 police-to-pistol ratio.
– More guns, aircraft for AFP.
– Additional 1.65 million Filipinos employed from April 2013 to April 2014.

First timers: Former Aquino backers turn their backs on himBy Erika Sauler, Jaymee T. Gamil and Jeannette I. Andrade, Marlon Ramos |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:03 am | Tuesday, July 29th, 2014


Protesters are dispersed with water cannon as they attempt to force their way closer to the House of Representatives to coincide with the State of the Nation Address (Sona) by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III Monday, July 28, 2014, in Quezon City. People not known to join past protest actions against President Aquino, such as award-winning scriptwriter Ricky Lee and satirist Mae Paner (aka Juana Change), were at a huge rally against the President’s Sona on Monday. AP

MANILA, Philippines—People not known to join past protest actions against President Aquino, such as award-winning scriptwriter Ricky Lee and satirist Mae Paner (aka Juana Change), were at a huge rally against the President’s fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.

“The people now have a different view of this government. There’s a growing desperation and anger among the people,” Lee, who wrote the script of Nora Aunor’s highly acclaimed movie “Himala,” said of the crowd gathered a few kilometers from the House of Representatives where Aquino delivered his address.

“As long as there are people sleeping on the streets, as long as there’s hunger, the state of the nation is not OK. It’s that simple,” the scriptwriter said. Lee said he supported Aquino in the 2010 presidential election.

Paner joined the protest calling for Aquino’s impeachment, wearing a Filipiniana dress she once wore in an election campaign for him in 2010.

Anticrime crusader Dante Jimenez and about 30 members of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption were also among the first-timers at the Sona rally.

“President Aquino has failed to realize that the worsening corruption results in increased criminality in our society. We cannot fight crimes if we cannot address corruption,” said Jimenez.

Straight path ends in cliff

“I was ‘yellow’ before,” Paner told the crowd on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, referring to the President’s political campaign color.

“I’m sorry that I supported him. I thought the lives of ordinary people would improve under his administration,” said Paner, a petitioner in one of the three impeachment complaints against Mr. Aquino.

“It turned out that at the end of his straight path is a cliff,” she said.

Paner told the crowd to watch out for her costume change when she goes to the House to attend the President’s Sona. She was among the hundreds of people in the gallery of the House of Representatives as the President delivered his address.

Paner, the comedian known as “Juana Change” who campaigned for Aquino in 2010, stayed behind and attempted to heckle the President during the latter part of his speech.

* A member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) was quick to confiscate Paner’s placard before she could create a commotion. Paner was not kicked out of the event, as she stayed slumped over her seat while the PSG stood eagle-eyed across the aisle for the rest of the affair.

Composer

Another newbie at the rally was composer Monet Silvestre.

He watched the President deliver his Sona speech last year at home, munching on potato chips as if viewing his favorite television show.

But he found himself in the middle of the sea of protesters on Monday, braving the light rains that briefly threatened to spoil the mass action.

Silvestre, one of the convenors of the Abolish Pork Movement, said he decided to join the rally to show his dissatisfaction with the administration and “to protect the future of my children who will inherit this kind of political system.”

He said it was the first time he attended a protest action during the yearly Sona of the President.

“I used to think that (taking your disgust) to the streets is a futile exercise. But marching in the streets and joining the protest is the least I can do as a Filipino trying to fight what I think is right,” he said.

“There is so much apathy and stereotyping in our society now that when you fight for what is right, you are regarded as a militant, a leftist, or activist. But we are all Filipinos. We seem to have forgotten that,” Silvestre said.

It was the second time for Erlinda Baruelo, 60, to join a protest rally, coming all the way from Angeles City.

Aling Erlinda, sustaining herself with sips of water from a soda bottle she cradled, watched her fellow protesters from the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and Gabriela as they held a short program near layers of barricades set up by the Philippine National Police on Commonwealth Avenue several meters from the Ever Gotesco Mall.

“He (President Aquino) should be prioritizing the poor,” said Erlinda, who claimed that she had neither seen nor felt any economic change since.

“All I want to hear from him is that he will give decent jobs to the poor,” she told the Inquirer.

Photo exhibit

Multimedia artist groups Southern Tagalog Exposure and Artists’ Arrest held a photography exhibit right on Commonwealth Avenue, as their way of protesting the Sona.

The exhibit, called “Ligalig: Portraits of Human Insecurity and Public Unrest,” was composed of 25 pictures of everyday Filipinos caught in sociopolitical issues ranging from poverty and labor disputes to environmental degradation and political prisoners, among other issues.

Though the exhibit was behind the protesters’ main stage in front of the Ever Gotesco mall, it still caught the attention of passersby by resourcefully using a parked jeepney as its art space.

“The concept is to expose the realities counter to the Presidential Sona. We want to show the real state of our nation, issues we face that until now have not been addressed by the government,” said photographer Kame Lagang, 23, project coordinator for Southern Tagalog Exposure.

The groups explained they also saw the exhibit as “a tool for telling stories that challenge official pronouncements,” read a tarpaulin poster explaining the photo display.

Biggest protest vs Sona

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said about 17,000 members of the group and its allied organizations attended the four-hour program in front of Ever Gotestco Mall on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

But police estimated the protesters at only 6,000. Aquino’s Sona was met by what could be the largest contingent of riot policemen deployed to keep guard against the protesters. Some 2,000 policemen were deployed at the rally site.

Tension engulfed the area around 5 p.m. when about 3,000 protesters carrying wooden placards tried to overrun the phalanx of truncheon-wielding personnel of the PNP’s Civil Disturbance Management personnel.

At the time, Bayan had just concluded its program, which included fiery speeches against the President and the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program from leaders of several militant groups.

Some of the protesters, belonging to the Kilusang Mayo Uno and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, removed the barbed-wire fence and concrete barriers that the police had set up to keep the protesters from getting near the House.

Red-tinted water

Personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection doused the protesters with red-tinted water to prevent them from breaking through the barricade.

Some young men, who Reyes said did not belong to Bayan and allied groups, were seen throwing stones at the police which apparently started the commotion.

At least two of the protesters threw their placards at the policemen as firemen were training their fire hoses at them.

But the defiant protesters did not budge and continued to chant “Oust Noynoy” with their clenched fists.

At least four fire trucks—two behind the line, and two along the center island—trained their hoses on the protesters. The “firing” of the water cannons lasted about 20 minutes as the President rounded up his speech.

Reyes said the protesters decided to get near the barricade as a sign of defiance against the administration. “We will not allow them to treat us like chickens in a cage.”

Police violated rights

Gilbert Boiser, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) director, said the policemen “obviously violated the human rights” of the protesters.

“First of all, they should not have used their water cannons. It’s not right to use that against the protesters. The policemen overreacted. The [protesters] have the right to get near the Batasang Pambansa to voice out their opinions,” he told reporters.

Boiser, who himself was soaking wet after the brief altercation, said the CHR would recommend appropriate charges against PNP personnel led by Chief Supt. Richard Albano, chief of the Quezon City Police District.

“We will call the attention of the police. They promised to observe ‘super-maximum tolerance.’ But they obviously failed to do that,” Boiser said.

Director Carmelo Valmoria, National Capital Region Police Office chief, justified the use of the water cannons, saying things could have been worse.

“We allowed the protesters to hold their rallies the whole day, which they did peacefully. Then they tried to breach the barricade,” he said.

Despite the incident, the Sona protests were still peaceful overall, the Task Force Kapayapaan commander said after the protesters backed off and dispersed voluntarily.

Valmoria said no one was injured and no one was arrested.

Shortly after the rally, sanitation volunteers started to clean up the garbage that the protesters left behind. Fliers and empty food packs were strewn on the westbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue. With a report from Frances Mangosing, INQUIRER.net

Cops fire water cannons on charging Sona protesters; no one hurt By Julie M. Aurelio |Philippine Daily Inquirer9:41 pm | Monday, July 28th, 2014


Photo by Nestor Corrales

MANILA, Philippines—The initially uneventful rallies at the State of the Nation Address ended violently after protesters stormed toward the police barricade, prompting authorities to douse them with red-tinted water.

The “firing” of the so-called water cannons from four fire trucks lasted around 20 minutes after 5 p.m. Monday as President Aquino rounded up his speech.

However, National Capital Region Police Office Director Carmelo Valmoria assessed the SONA protests as still peaceful.

“Yes, despite what happened, I’d say the rally was generally peaceful,” the Task Force Kapayapaan commander said after the angry militants backed off and dispersed voluntarily.

The Task Force Kapayapaan had initially expected a peaceful dispersal after the program of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and its affiliates.

Valmoria said there was no one injured and no one arrested in Monday’s conduct of the rallies.

He justified the use of the water cannons, saying things could have been worse.

“We allowed the protesters to hold their rallies the whole day, which they did peacefully. Then they try to breach the barricade,” Valmoria pointed out.

Toward the end of the program, tension began rising as chants got louder and angrier, alerting anti-riot policemen to reform their ranks.

As the lawmen beefed up their line, scores of militants charged at them, not minding the concrete barrier, steel fence and barbed wire that served as a first line of defense.

Minutes later, red-tinted water began leaking from a hose connected to one of the fire trucks.

At least four fire trucks— two behind the line, and two along the center island— trained their hoses on the protesters.

The unfazed militants stood their ground, waving their banners and flags—and so did the anti-riot policemen, who held their shields firmly and banging their truncheons in cadence.

* Behind the police barricade, another barrier made up of container vans was formed to protect another anti riot-unit lined up a few meters away.

One of the negotiators, Supt. Leslie Castillo, said the protesters brought with them cutters to cut through the barbed wire.

“They were meters away from our policemen when they got doused with water. But they did not break the barricade completely,” the official said.

Some of the wires were cut and some concrete barriers were felled, where some militants tried pushing their way in.
But they were held back by the water and another row of concrete barriers, where policemen were readying themselves.

Castillo said no negotiations took place since the rallyists had already cut through the wires, prompting the fire trucks to train the hoses on them.

Senior Supt. Procopio Lipana, Task Force CDM chief and the Quezon City Police District deputy director for operations, said there was no direct confrontation between the militants and the policemen.

“The protesters eventually fell back and dispersed shortly before 6 p.m.,” he added.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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