MANILA,  July 26, 2004
President Arroyo fulfilled 80 percent of the commitments she made in last year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), according to a report released by the House of Representatives over the weekend.

But the "report card" — prepared by the House committee on oversight chaired by Albay Rep. Jose Salceda — gave the Arroyo administration low marks in several major concerns including the reduction of power rates, modernization of the military and police, and construction of new urban rail lines.

In his report, Salceda praised the administration for having "consistently and substantially complied with its SONA commitments for the past three years."

"There has been a steady rise in the accomplishment rate of the executive from only 63 percent of SONA targets in 2001 to 67 percent in 2002 and 80 percent in 2003," he said.

Salceda said that in a set of "25 quantifiable targets," Mrs. Arroyo’s 20 "positive" performances outweighed her "five negative performances."

He said that, while she was preoccupied with the little details in her first two SONAs, last year Mrs. Arroyo shifted to the "big picture and the long term."

The shift in focus was partly responsible for the reduction in "time-bound and measurable targets from 35 in 2001 to 32 in 2002 and 25 in 2003."

Salceda said that in three years of monitoring the SONA the oversight committee has observed the link between funding and the ability of the Arroyo administration to fulfill its commitments.

He said the ballooning budget deficit has become a perennial, if not convenient, scapegoat of many agencies.

"Only a credible deficit reduction program resulting in a balanced budget can ensure that SONA commitments will secure the requisite public support and thus prompt positive consequences in the daily lives of the Filipino masses," he said.

Among the sectors where the President got high marks for compliance were in agriculture, land distribution and housing.

In agriculture, the administration got a rating of 92 percent, with its release of P17.278 billion of the P20 billion Mrs. Arroyo promised the sector as part of the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act.

The report also noted the substantial progress made in the MALMAR irrigation project in Mindanao. Estimated to be 90 percent complete, the project will benefit at least 4,500 farm families when it is finished by December this year.

Mrs. Arroyo exceeded expectations in her commitments on land reform. The 351,361 hectares distributed by the Department of Agrarian Reform as of March 2004 translated to 117.12 percent compliance.

The administration achieved an even higher 182.45 percent compliance in its commitment to distribute 100 ancestral domain titles.

In housing, Mrs. Arroyo exceeded by 137 percent her target of providing houses for 240,000 workers, with 328,877 workers benefiting from her program.

But the President received bad marks in her commitments to construct new MRT lines, reduce power rates, modernize the police and armed forces, and put a school in every barangay.

The report said Filipinos considered the reduction in power rates as one of the most critical indicators of underperformance with respect to the SONA.

It said that, while negotiations between the Department of Energy and 20 of 35 independent power producers are expected to result in savings of up to $2.95 billion, the moves are hardly felt by consumers because of the burden of the controversial purchased power adjustment (PPA) agreement.

With its failure to commit P1 billion for the modernization of the Philippine National Police, the administration has decided to focus on reorganization.

The administration managed to put only 946 school buildings in far-flung barangays, well short of its target of 1,617 buildings.

But the report praised the President for her positive marks in the fights against corruption, terrorism and illegal drugs. — Paolo Romero

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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