By Ding Cervantes  —  Given the magnitude of the challenge facing the nation, President Arroyo may need nothing less than a six-year honeymoon, neophyte Rep. Reynaldo Aquino said yesterday.

"President Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) revealed a huge challenge in leadership, administration and management that her administration could do well without unnecessary distractions from divisive politicking and criticisms," Aquino said. "What she needs, for our nation’s sake, is help from everyone."

Aquino, who served three terms as mayor of this city before he was elected congressman representing Pampanga’s third district, described the President’s SONA as "an honest-to-goodness appraisal of the difficult, if not dangerous, condition besetting the country."

"It was a straightforward, businesslike and clear statement of the challenge every Filipino, from the President to the peasant, is confronted with to ensure national survival," he said.

Administration lawmakers have likewise urged the people to rally behind Mrs. Arroyo after she set the country’s new direction yesterday. The President emphasized, among others, the need to balance the budget and pursue the development agenda.

Lakas-CMD (Christian-Muslim Democrats) lawmakers Reps. Del de Guzman (Marikina), Isidoro Real Jr. (Zamboanga del Sur), Eduardo Veloso (Leyte) and Nationalist People’s Coalition Rep. Vincent Garcia (Davao City) lauded Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. for committing to prioritize the new tax reform bill in support of the government’s pro-poor programs.

"The tough times call for our immediate and united action to address the fiscal deficit. We all have to sacrifice in order to overcome the adverse effect of the huge deficit. We should do away with excesses in spending," Real said.

Aquino stressed that "the country’s politicians should be the first to heed the President’s call for cooperation to address the country’s pressing issues and concerns because they hold the key to political stability."

"Much of the President’s agenda for the next few years require political will, not only from the President but also from other politicians in Congress, the local governments and further down the line of the government bureaucracy," he said.

He also warned that unless the country’s politicians align themselves with the President on these major issues, there isn’t much to expect by way of results.

The Pampanga lawmaker said that the President’s performance in the next six years "will be a watershed for the country’s political, economic, and social condition."

"She will have her hands full and with the honeymoon for her entire term, I am confident that she will deliver as she has promised," Aquino explained.

Meanwhile, Cavite Rep. Gilbert Remulla said that Mrs. Arroyo’s SONA this year is acceptable. "Most of the things that she said are substantive and essential to put our country on the right track," Remulla said. However, he bewailed that the President seemed to have missed out on one important issue — population control.

The Cavite lawmaker stressed that even if the government succeeds in substantially increasing its revenues from taxes and attracting more investments in the next few years, the economy would not grow because of the burden of overpopulation.

"I hope that the President would come out with a pro-population management policy statement soon," he said. — With Ric Sapnu

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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