MANILA, JULY 5, 2010
(STAR) By Aurea Calica No more late nights.

President Aquino now wakes up early as he has to travel across town from his home on Times Street in Quezon City to Malacañang in Manila.

He also has to allot extra time for traffic to report for work on time since his security escorts do not use sirens and have to stop at red lights.

Yesterday, the President showed up early for the 8 a.m. flag raising ceremony. And at the 63rd anniversary celebration of the Philippine Air Force at the Villamor Airbase, Pasay City, he arrived about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the public could expect the President to be a workaholic just like his predecessors and that he had quit being a night owl to be able to wake up early and fulfill his commitments. AdTech Ad

Mr. Aquino used to stay up late and had not denied that his only luxuries were eating out and watching movies. But the President said even when he was still campaigning he could no longer afford to do that because of his schedule.

Lacierda said Mr. Aquino was “very hands-on” in dealing with Cabinet members about his programs and priorities.

But smoking would still be part of Aquino’s “everyday habit,” Lacierda said, as it would take time for him to quit.

“He is trying to quit smoking but the decision will be up to him. He had said smoking is a stress reliever, so we will see. Besides, many are praying that he quit his smoking habit.”

Lacierda could not yet say if Mr. Aquino would personally go to the Department of the Interior and Local Government while he is still looking for a secretary for the department.

‘Unite and cooperate’

After his first flag-raising rites at Malacañang, Mr. Aquino asked employees to unite and cooperate so that the “spirit of people power” would live on.

“This is what brought us here to the Palace. I expect that this (people power spirit) will ever be there to guide us so we can fulfill our duties and responsibilities,” Mr. Aquino told some 150 Palace employees, many of whom worked during the incumbency of his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, from l986 to 1992.

Mr. Aquino said he did recognize some faces that were of great help when his mother’s presidency experienced crises.

Joining the President at the flag raising rites were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad.

In his speech that followed the singing of the National Anthem and the pledge to the flag, the President said he and his administration would need the backing of employees as he embarked on the task of nation building.

“Like what I mentioned last Wednesday (June 30), I cannot go to the right path alone. I need your help, loyalty to the service and understanding, especially during the times when I can no longer be talked to because of the many things I think about,” Mr. Aquino said.

“Let us help one another for the development of the Philippines and for the good future of the coming generation,” he said.

Mr. Aquino then thanked employees, especially those who had served in his mother’s administration and are now working for him.

“I have a lot of fond memories during the times we stayed here at the Palace. We made a lot of friends but also clashed with many people,” he said.

“In all the trials, you watched over us and took care of us. You never abandoned us.”

Mr. Aquino said he was unexpectedly standing before Palace employees as President and would carry the heavy problems of the nation with both joy and anxiety.

“For every day that passes, I am hoping that each and everyone of you can look into the mirror in your homes and say we all have been faithful to our fellow Filipinos,” he said.


By Delon Porcalla - As the wise would say, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Amid reports of aviation accidents involving planes of the Philippine Air Force, President Aquino made known his preference to use commercial planes on his local or foreign trips rather than use the country’s 30-year-old F-28 presidential aircraft, which he finds no longer airworthy.

“I was conscious earlier. One of those on display (at the PAF’s 63rd anniversary) is the F-28, the presidential aircraft which is at least 30 years old. I feel that it’s better for us to use a commercial plane,” he told newsmen in a chance interview.

Mr. Aquino was the guest of honor at the PAF’s anniversary yesterday at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, where he awarded men and women who showed courage in their duties.

“You have seen the assets of the PAF. I’m hoping that it’s just a representation of the types of air assets that we have as opposed to the total inventory that was on display,” he said. AdTech Ad

Nonetheless, Mr. Aquino said that in the event of travels, “my comfort will be the last priority.”

Mr. Aquino’s predecessor, former President Gloria Arroyo, had reportedly used the 30-plus-seater presidential jet in the initial stage of her administration in 2001. She had been traveling either through commercial or chartered plane in the last days of her government.

In the alternative, presidential guards have been using the F-28 presidential jet, aside from the F-27 turbo prop.

Economy first

But before he even ventures into any foreign trip, President Aquino wants to make sure that all should be well first with the economy, which is his first order of business when he took the reins of government last June 30.

“Before I make any plans of a foreign nature, let me be sure that the domestic front is well covered already and we’re headed towards where we want to get to,” he said.

Mr. Aquino said he is bent on attending international conferences, both in the US and Europe, but he will make it a point to address domestic concerns first, because more urgent and pressing.

“All foreign trips have value, like the one in Europe where you get to meet the entire membership of the EU. It’s very cost-effective and it’s very tempting to accept the offer immediately,” Mr. Aquino said.

Last month before he was pro-claimed, Mr. Aquino candidly admitted that he does need not a new or renewed passport, to prove that he will not be a globe-trotting head of state unlike his predecessors.

“In fact, at the present time, I don’t have a passport because I don’t really enjoy traveling outside of the country. But if it is necessary, then I will do it,” he said in a live interview with TV 5.

Already, Aquino - only son of martyred Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon Aquino - had invitations from no less than the leader of the free world, US President Barack Obama, although this will be done at the appropriate time.

“I intend to travel where it is clearly beneficial to the people and as much as possible, I would rather send lower level delegations that are smaller, more efficient for the country’s interest,” he said.

But Mr. Aquino acknowledged that there are heads of state who may send invites that can hardly be rejected. The last time he traveled was during the time of President Joseph Estrada, which was in 1998, and that his passport has expired.

Unlike his predecessors who traveled often and had huge delegations, at the expense of taxpayers’ money, Mr. Aquino assures the public that his administration still has a daunting task of reviving an economy saddled with huge budget deficits.

The Liberal Party stalwart earlier disclosed to a panel of editors and reporters of The STAR that he does not intend to travel often once elected into office, and that he has no particular country in mind to visit.

“Foreign trips will not be my priority. Maybe I will just visit those countries that have extended an invitation. But that will not be my priority in my first 100 days. We have so many problems to solve,” he said.

He reiterated this right after he won, when reporters staked out in Hacienda Luisita, where he stayed before Congress conducted a joint canvass for purposes of tabulating the votes for president and vice president.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved