Archive for July, 2012

State of the Nation Address

of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines

[English translation of the speech delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, on July 23, 2012]

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; eminent Justices of the Supreme Court; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; honorable members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate; our leaders in local government; members of our Cabinet; uniformed officers of the military and of the police; my fellow public servants; and, of course, to my Bosses, the Filipino people, a pleasant afternoon to all.

This is my third SONA. It wasn’t too long ago when we began to dream again; when, united, we chose the straight and righteous path; when we began to cast aside the culture of wang-wang, not only in our streets, but in every sector of society.

It has been two years since you said: We are tired of corruption and of poverty; it is time to restore a government that is truly on the side the people.

Like many of you, I have been a victim of the abuse of power. I was only 12 years old when Martial Law was declared. For seven years and seven months, my father was incarcerated; we lived in forced exile for three years. I saw for myself how many others also suffered.

These experiences forged the principles I now live by: Where a citizen is oppressed, he will find me as an ally; where there is an oppressor, I will be there to fight; where I find something wrong in the system, I will consider it my duty to right it.

Martial Law ended long ago and when it did, we were asked: “If not us, then who?” and “If not now, then when?” Our united response: let it be us, and let it be now. The democracy that was taken from us by force was reclaimed peacefully. And in so doing, we brought light to a dark chapter in our history.

Let it not be forgotten: Martial Law was borne because a dictator manipulated the Constitution to remain in power. And to this day, the battle rages: between those who seek a more equitable system, and those who seek to preserve their privileges at the expense of others.

The specters of a lost decade haunted us from our first day in office.

There was the North Rail contract—an expensive project that became even more expensive after renegotiation. Ironically, the higher cost came with fewer public benefits; a fleet of 19 train sets was reduced to three, and the number of stations, from five to two. To make matters worse, the debts incurred from the project are now being called in.

We had GOCCs handing out unwarranted bonuses, despite the losses already suffered by their agencies. We had the billions wasted by PAGCOR on—of all things—coffee. We had the suspect management practices of the PNP, which involved ignoring the need to arm the remaining 45 percent of our police force, just to collect kickbacks on rundown helicopters purchased at brand-new prices.

We were left with little fiscal space even as debts had bunched up and were maturing. We were also left a long list of obligations to fulfill: A backlog of 66,800 classrooms, which would cost us about 53.44 billion pesos; a backlog of 2,573,212 classroom chairs, amounting to 2.31 billion pesos. In 2010, an estimated 36 million Filipinos were still not members of PhilHealth. Forty-two billion pesos was needed to enroll them. Add to all this the 103 billion pesos needed for the modernization of our Armed Forces.

To fulfill all these obligations and address all our needs, we were bequeathed, at the start of our term, 6.5 percent of the entire budget for the remaining six months of 2010. We were like boxers, sent into the ring blindfolded, with our hands and feet bound, and the referee and the judges paid off.

In our first three months in office, I would look forward to Sundays when I could ask God for His help. We expected that it would take no less than two years before our reforms took hold. Would our countrymen be willing to wait that long?

But what we know about our people, and what we had proven time and again to the world was this: Nothing is impossible to a united Filipino nation. It was change we dreamed of, and change we achieved; the benefits of change are now par for the course.

Roads are straight and level, and properly paved; this is now par for the course.

Relief goods are ready even before a storm arrives. Rescue services are always on standby, and the people are no longer left to fend for themselves. This is now par for the course.

Sirens only blare from the police cars, from ambulances, and from fire trucks—not from government officials. This is now par for the course. The government that once abused its power is finally using that power for their benefit.

Reforms were established as we cut wasteful spending, held offenders accountable for their actions, and showed the world that the Philippines is now open for business under new management.

What was once the sick man of Asia now brims with vitality. When we secured our first positive credit rating action, some said it was pure luck. Now that we have had eight, can it still just be luck? When the Philippine Stock Exchange index first broke 4,000, many wondered if that was sustainable. But now, with so many record highs, we are having trouble keeping score: For the record, we have had 44, and the index hovers near or above 5,000. In the first quarter of 2012, our GDP grew by 6.4 percent, much higher than projected, the highest growth in the Southeast Asian region, and the second only to China in the whole of Asia. We are second only to China. Once, we were the debtors; now, we are the creditors, clearly no laughing matter. Until recently, we had to beg for investments; now, investors flock to us. Some Japanese companies have said to us, “Maybe you’d like to take a look at us. We’re not the cheapest but we’re number one in technology.” Even the leader of a large British bank recently came looking for opportunities.

Commentators the world over voice their admiration. According to Bloomberg Business week, “Keep an eye on the Philippines.” Foreign Policymagazine, and even one of the leaders of ASEAN 100, said that we may even become “Asia’s Next Tiger.” Ruchir Sharma, head of Morgan Stanley’s Emerging Market Equities said, “The Philippines is no longer a joke.” And it doesn’t look like he’s pulling our leg, because their company has invested approximately a billion dollars in our markets. I only wish that the optimism of foreign media would be shared by their local counterparts more often.

And we are building an environment where progress can be felt by the majority. When we began office, there were 760,357 household-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Our target: 3.1 million within two years. By February of this year, the three millionth household-beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya had been registered. Next year, we will enroll 3.8 million households—five times what we had at the beginning of our term.

This is a long-term project, with far-reaching impact. The research is in its initial stages, but already the figures show promise. Based on data from the DSWD: 1,672,977 mothers now get regular checkups; 1,672,814 children have been vaccinated against diarrhea, polio, measles, and various other diseases; 4.57 million students no longer need to miss school because of poverty.

When we first took office, only 62 percent of Filipinos were enrolled in PhilHealth. Enrollment was not necessarily based on need but on being in the good graces of politicians. Now, 85 percent of our citizens are members. This means that since we received our mandate, 23.31 million more Filipinos have access to PhilHealth’s array of benefits and services.

And here’s even better news: the 5.2 million poorest households identified by our National Household Targeting System will now fully benefit from PhilHealth’s programs, free of charge. Because of the Department of Health’s No Balance Billing Policy, treatment for dengue, pneumonia, asthma, cataracts—as well as treatments for catastrophic diseases like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and acute leukemia—can be availed of for free by our poorest countrymen.

The process for our poorest PhilHealth members: Enter any government hospital. Show you PhilHealth card. Get treatment. And they return to their homes without having to shell out a single centavo.

One of the briefings I attended noted that four out of ten Filipinos have never seen a health professional in their entire lifetime. Other figures are more dire: Six out of ten Filipinos die without being attended to by health professionals.

But whatever the basis, the number of Filipinos with no access to government health services remains a concern. And we are acting on this: In 2010, ten thousand nurses and midwives were deployed under the RNHeals Program; to date, we have deployed 30,801. Add to this over 11,000 Community Health Teams tasked to strengthen the links between doctors and nurses, and the communities they serve.

And today, because of efficient targeting, they are deployed to where they are most needed: to areas that have been for so long left in the margins of society. We have sent our health professionals to 1,021 localities covered by the Pantawid Pamilya, and to the 609 poorest cities and municipalities, as identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

This new system addresses two issues: thousands of nurses and midwives now have jobs and an opportunity to gain valuable work experience; at the same time, millions of our countrymen now have increased access to quality health care.

But we are not satisfied with this. What we want: true, universal, and holistic health care. This begins not in our hospitals, but within each and every household: Increased consciousness, routine inoculation, and regular checkups are necessary to keep sickness at bay. Add to this our efforts to ensure that we prevent the illnesses that are in our power to prevent.

For example: Last year, I told you about our anti-dengue mosquito traps. It is too early to claim total victory, our scientists are rigorous about testing, but the initial results have been very encouraging.

We tested the efficacy of those mosquito traps in areas with the highest reported incidence of dengue. In 2011, traps were distributed in Bukidnon—which had recorded 1,216 cases of dengue in 2010. After distribution, the number of cases decreased to 37—that is a 97 percent reduction rate. In the towns of Ballesteros and Claveria in Cagayan, there were 228 cases of dengue in 2010; in 2011, a mere eight cases were recorded. In Catarman, Northern Samar: 434 cases of dengue were reported in 2010. There were a mere four cases in 2011.

This project is in its initial stages. But even this early on, we must thank Secretaries Ike Ona of DOH and Mario Montejo of DOST; may our gratitude and applause spur them into even more intensive research and collaboration.

Challenges remain. The high maternal mortality ratio in our country continues to alarm us. Which is why we have undertaken measures to address the healthcare needs of women. We, too, want Universal Health Care; we want our medical institutions to have enough equipment, facilities, and manpower.

We can easier fulfill all these goals, if the Sin Tax Bill—which rationalizes taxes on alcohol and tobacco products—can be passed. This bill makes vice more expensive while at the same time raising more money for health.

And what of our students—what welcomes them in the schools? Will they still first learn the alphabet beneath the shade of a tree? Will they still be squatting on the floor, tussling with classmates over a single textbook?

I have great faith in Secretary Luistro: Before the next year ends, we will have built the 66,800 classrooms needed to fill up the shortage we inherited—of this, we expect 40,000 for this year.  The 2,573,212 backlog in chairs that we were bequeathed will be addressed before 2012 ends. This year, too, will see the eradication of the backlog of 61.7 million textbooks—and we will finally achieve the one-to-one ratio of books to students.

We are ending the backlogs in the education sector, but the potential for shortages remains as our student population continues to increase. Perhaps Responsible Parenthood can help address this.

For our State Universities and Colleges: We have proposed a 43.61 percent increase in their budget next year. A reminder, though, that everything we do is in accordance to a plan: There are corresponding conditions to this budget increase. The SUC Reform Roadmap of CHED, which has been deliberated and agreed upon, must be enacted to ensure that the students sponsored by the state are of top caliber. Expect that if you work to get high marks in this assignment, we will be striving just as hard to address the rest of your needs.

Year after year, our budget for education has increased. The budget we inherited for DepEd last 2010 was 177 billion pesos. Our proposal for 2013: 292.7 billion pesos. In 2010, our SUCs were allocated a budget of 21.03 billion pesos. Since then, we have annually raised this allocation; for next year, we have proposed to set aside 37.13 billion pesos of our budget for SUCs. Despite this, some militant groups are still cutting classes to protest what they claim is a cut in SUC budgets. It’s this simple: 292.7 is higher than 177, and 37.13 is higher than 21.03. Should anyone again claim that we cut the education budget, we’ll urge your schools to hold remedial math classes. Please, attend these classes.

When we assumed office and began establishing much-needed reform, there were those who belittled our government’s performance. They claimed our achievements were mere luck, and what impact they may have as short-lived. There are still those who refuse to cease spreading negativity; they who keep their mouths pursed to good news, and have created an industry out of criticism.

If you have a problem with the fact that, before the year ends, every child will have their own chairs and own set of books, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I do not want you to go to school.”

If you take issue with the fact that 5.2 million of the country’s poorest households can now avail of quality healthcare services without worrying about the cost, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I do not want you to get better.”

If it angers you that three million Filipino families have been empowered to fulfill their dreams because of Pantawid Pamilya, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I will take away the hope you now have for your future.”

The era where policy was based on the whims of the powerful has truly come to an end. For example, the previous leadership of TESDA generously distributed scholarship vouchers—but neglected to fund them. Naturally, the vouchers bounced. The result: over a thousand schools are charging the government 2.4 billion pesos for the vouchers. One person and one administration wanted to show off; the Filipino people are paying for that now.

When Secretary Joel Villanueva assumed the post, he was not daunted by the seemingly impossible reforms that his agency needed to enact. Despite the staggering debt inherited by TESDA, it still trained 434,676 individuals under the Training for Work Scholarship Program. The TESDA Specialists Technopreneurship Program likewise delivered concrete victories—imagine: each of the 5,240 certified Specialistas are earning 562 pesos a day, or 11,240 pesos a month. This is higher than the minimum wage.

From infancy, to adolescence, to adulthood, the system is working for our citizens. And we are ensuring that our economy’s newfound vitality generates jobs.

Let us keep in mind: there are about a million new entrants to the job market every year. The jobs we have produced within the past two years total almost 3.1 million.

As a result, our unemployment rate is declining steadily. In 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8 percent. In April 2011, it dropped to 7.2, and dropped further to 6.9 this year. Is it not an apt time for us to dream of a day where any Filipino who wishes to work can find a job?

Look at the BPO sector. Back in the year 2000, only 5,000 people were employed in this industry. Fast forward to 2011: 638,000 people are employed by BPOs, and the industry has contributed 11 billion dollars to our economy. It has been projected that come 2016, the year I will bid you farewell, it will be bringing in 25 billion dollars and will be employing 1.3 million Filipinos. And this does not include the estimated 3.2 million taxi drivers, baristas, corner stores, canteens, and many others that will benefit from the indirect jobs that the BPO industry will create.

A large portion of our job-generation strategy is building sufficient infrastructure. For those who have gone to Boracay on vacation, you have probably seen our newly christened terminal in Caticlan. The plan to expand its runway has also been laid out.

And we will not stop there. Before the end of my term, the New Bohol Airport in Panglao, New Legaspi Airport in Daraga, and Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental will have been built. We will also upgrade our international airports in Mactan, Cebu; Tacloban; and Puerto Princesa Airport, so they can receive more passengers; in addition to remodeling the airports in Butuan, Cotabato, Dipolog, Pagadian, Tawi-Tawi, Southern Leyte, and San Vicente in Palawan.

I am the fourth president to deal with the problems of NAIA Terminal 3. Airplanes are not all that take off and land here; so did problems and anomalies. Secretary Mar Roxas has already said: Before we convene at the next SONA, the structural defects we inherited in NAIA 3 will have been fully repaired.

This June, the LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension project began to move forward. When completed, it will alleviate traffic in Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Cavite. In addition to this, in order to further improve traffic in Metro Manila, there will be two elevated roads directly connecting the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways. These will be completed in 2015 and will reduce travel time between Clark and Calamba to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Before I leave office, there will be high-quality terminals in Taguig, Quezon City, and Parañaque, so that provincial buses will no longer have to add to the traffic on EDSA.

Perceptions have also changed about a department formerly notorious for its inadequacies. I still remember the days when, during the rainy season, the Tarlac River would overflow and submerge the MacArthur Highway. The asphalt would melt away; the road would be riddled with potholes, until it ended up impassable.

As the representative of my district, I registered my complaints about this. The Department of Public Works and Highways’ reply: we know about the problem, we know how to solve it, but we have no money. I had to appeal to my barangays: “If we don’t prioritize and spend for this ourselves, no one will fix it, and we will be the ones who suffer.” Back in those days, everyone called upon the government to wake up and start working. The complaints today are different: Traffic is terrible, but that’s because there’s so much roadwork being done. May I remind everyone: We have done all this without raising taxes.

We will not build our road network based on kickbacks or favoritism. We will build them according to a clear system. Now that resources for these projects are no longer allocated haphazardly, our plans will no longer end up unfulfilled—they will become tangible roads that benefit the Filipino people. When we assumed office, 7,239 kilometers of our national roads were not yet fixed. Right now, 1,569 kilometers of this has been fixed under the leadership of Secretary Babes Singson. In 2012, an additional 2,275 kilometers will be finished. We are even identifying and fixing dangerous roads with the use of modern technology. These are challenges we will continue to address every year, so that, before end of my term, every inch of our national road network will be fixed.

We have fixed more than roads; our DPWH has fixed its system. Just by following the right process of bidding and procurement, their agency saved a total of 10.6 billion pesos from 2011 to June of this year. Even our contractors are feeling the positive effects of our reforms in DPWH. According to the DPWH, “the top 40 contractors are now fully booked.” I am hopeful that the development of our infrastructure continues unimpeded to facilitate the growth of our other industries.

The improvement of our infrastructure is intertwined with the growth of our tourism industry. Consider this: In 2001, the Philippines recorded 1.8 million tourist arrivals. When we assumed office in 2010, this figure had grown to only around 3.1 million. Take note: Despite the length of their time in office, the previous administration only managed to add a mere 1.3 million tourist arrivals—and we contributed half a year to that number. Under our administration, we welcomed 2.1 million tourist arrivals by June 2012. More will arrive during peak season, before the end of the year, so I have no doubt that we will meet our quota of 4.6 million tourist arrivals for 2012. This means that we will have a year-on-year increase of 1.5 million tourists. The bottom line: In two years, we would have had a bigger growth in tourist arrivals, compared to the increase charted by the previous administration in their nine years. We are not singing our own praises; we are merely stating the truth.

But Secretary Mon Jimenez is still not satisfied. He says: If 24.7 million tourists came to Malaysia in 2011, and around 17 million visited Thailand, would it be too far-fetched to have ten million tourists visiting the Philippines annually by 2016? And if the Filipino people continue to embody the same solidarity that allowed the Puerto Princesa Underground River to become one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, there is no doubt that we will be able to achieve this. As we have already announced to the entire world: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Secretary Mon Jimenez has been at his post for less than a year, but we are already reaping the fruits of the reforms we have laid down. So, when it comes to tourism, we are confident in saying, “It’s really more fun—to have Secretary Mon Jimenez with us.”

When it comes to growth and development, agriculture is at the top of our priorities. Secretary Alcala has been working nonstop to deliver us good news. Before, it seemed as though the officials of DA cultivated nothing but NFA’s debts. The NFA that our predecessors took over had a 12-billion peso debt; when they left office, they then bequeathed to us a debt of 177 billion pesos.

For so long in the past, we were led to believe that we were short 1.3 million metric tons of rice, and that we needed to import 2 million metric tons to address this shortage. They ordered rice as like it was unlimited—but because we had exceeded far more than what we needed, imported rice went to rot in the warehouses.

In just our first year, we redcued the annual shortage of 1.3 million metric tons to just 860,000 metric tons. This year, it is down to 500,000—including a buffer stock to dip into in times of calamity. And, if the weather cooperates, we’ll be able to export rice next year.

Secretary Alcala has said that key to our success is a feasible irrigation program and the assiduous implementation of the certified seeds program. What is galling is that this knowledge is not new—it simply wasn’t applied. If they had only done their jobs right, where could we have been by now?

Look at our coconut industry: Coconut water, once treated as a waste product, is now being utilized by our farmers. From 483,862 liters exported in 2009, to 1,807,583 liters in 2010, to a staggering 16,756,498 liters of cocowater exported in 2011. And where no one previously paid heed to coconut coir, we are now experiencing a shortage due to the high demand of exporters. We are not wasting this opportunity: We are buying the machines that will process the coco fibers. We have allocated 1.75 billion pesos to invest in, and develop, this sector.

My mother initiated the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. It is only just that this program sees its conclusion during my term.

We are improving the system, so that we can more swiftly and more efficiently realize agrarian reform. The government is doing everything in its power to ensure that our farmers can claim as their own the land they have tilled and nurtured with their sweat.

There are those, however, who wish to obstruct us. I say to them: We will obey the law. The law says, the nation says, and I say: Before I step down, all the land covered by CARP will have been distributed.

Let me shed some light on our advances in the energy sector. In the past, an electrical wire needed only to reach the barangay hall for an entire barangay to be deemed energized. This was the pretext for the claim that 99.98 percent of the country’s barangays had electricity. Even the delivery of so basic a service was a deception?

We challenged DOE and NEA, allocating 1.3 billion pesos to light up an initial target of 1,300 sitios, at the cost of one million pesos per sitio. And the agencies met the challenge—they lit up 1,520 sitios, at a total cost of 814 million pesos. They accomplished this in three months, instead of the two years it took the people that preceded them. Secretary Rene Almendras, I give you credit; you never seem to run out of energy. With public service, you are not only ever-ready, but like an energizer bunny too—you keep on going, and going, and going.

We have suffused the nation with light—and it is this light, too, that has exposed the crimes that occur in the shadowed corners of society. What the Filipino works so hard for can no longer be pilfered. Crime volume continues to decline across the country. In 2009, over 500,000 crimes were recorded—this year, we have cut that number by more than half, to 246,958. Moreover, 2010’s recorded 2,200 cases of carnapping has likewise been reduced by half—to 966 cases this 2011.

It is these facts that, we hope, will be bannered in headlines. We do not claim that we have ended criminality, but I’m sure no one would complain that it has been reduced. In the span of just a little more than a year, haven’t we finally put Raymond Dominguez in jail, after years of  being in and out of prison? Charges have been filed against two of his brothers as well, and they are now serving time, too. Of the two suspects in the Makati bus bombing of the past year—one is dead, and the other is living in a jail cell. He shares the same fate as the more than ten thousand individuals arrested by PDEA in 2011 for charges relating to illegal drugs.

Pacquiao does not fight every day, and so we can’t rely on him to bring down the crime rate. Which is why we’re strengthening our police force. When this administration began, 45 percent of our police carried no guns and probably relied on magic charms as they chased criminals. But now we have completed the bidding—and we are now testing the quality—for an order of 74,600 guns, which we will provide our police, so that they may better serve and protect the nation, our communities, and themselves.

Let us now talk about national defense. Some have described our Air Force as all air and no force. Lacking the proper equipment, our troops remain vulnerable even as they are expected to be put in harm’s way. We cannot allow things to remain this way.

After only one year and seven months, we have been able to allocate over 28 billion pesos for the AFP Modernization Program. This will soon match the 33 billion pesos set aside for the program in the past 15 years. And we’re only getting started: if our proposed AFP modernization bill is passed in Congress, we will be able to allocate 75 billion pesos for defense within the next five years.

The 30-million dollar fund entrusted to us by the United States for the Defense Capability Upgrade and Sustainment of Equipment Program of the AFP is now ready as well. This is in addition to their assistance in improving the way we patrol our shores under the Coast Watch Center of the Philippines, which will soon be established.

At this moment, the Armed Forces is likewise canvassing equipment such as cannons, personnel carriers, and frigates. Before long, the BRPRamon Alcaraz, our second Hamilton class cutter, will drop anchor, to partner with the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. We are not sending paper boats out to sea. Now, our 36,000 kilometers of coastline will be patrolled by more modern ships.

And perhaps it is an apt time for our Armed Forces to clean up their hangars, because we will be having equipment arriving soon to further fortify our defenses. Finally, our one and only C-130 that has been roaming our skies for the past 36 years will have partners: Two more C-130s will once again be operational. Before this year ends, we are hopeful that the twenty-one refurbished UH-1H Helicopters, the four combat utility helicopters, the radios and other communication equipment, the rifles, the mortars, the mobile diagnostic laboratories, and even the station bullet assemblies we have purchased will be delivered. Come 2013, ten attack helicopters, two naval helicopters, two light aircraft, one frigate, and air force protection equipment will also be arriving.

And it is not only through better equipment that we demonstrate our commitment to help our police and our soldiers. We have eased their financial burdens through the 22,000 houses that have been built under the AFP–PNP housing program.

We are not doing this because we want to be an aggressor, we are not doing this because we want escalation. This is about keeping the peace. This is about protecting ourselves—something that we have long thought impossible. This is about the life of a soldier who risks his life every day; this is about his family, who awaits his safe return, despite the challenges that confront him.

Let’s listen to some of the beneficiaries of these programs tell us in their own words how their lives have been changed.

[Video starts]

“We thank the Lord God for giving us this opportunity and these blessings. Also, because we have such a good President. Through these projects, we know he has the well-being of our armed forces and law enforcers at heart.” – SPO1 Domingo Medalla [PNP Housing Beneficiary]

“We’re doing our best to get by, and I’m doing my best to get my kids to go to school. That’s my only mission in life: to give my kids a proper education, so that they will do right in the world. They need good parenting for that. I’m thankful for the conditional cash transfer program. I learned a lot from it.” – Eva Neri [CCT beneficiary]

“It’s a great help that our family is one of—if I’m not mistaken, one of the first—beneficiaries of the Category Z Package of PhilHealth. I’m so thankful for this. My child getting sick is not something to look forward to, but if that happens, PhilHealth will be there to ease the burden.” – Kristine Tatualla [PhilHealth beneficiary]

“I was one of the participants of the Oakwood Mutiny. The change that is happening today, it’s what we’ve been fighting for. These days, because of President Aquino’s housing program, it’s possible for us to own our own homes.” – PFC Rolly Bernal [AFP Housing Beneficiary]

[Video ends]

Now that the people care for them, the more impassioned our soldiers are in winning the peace. We consider the 1,772 outlaws whose violence has come to an end a great triumph. One example is the infamous terrorist, Doctor Abu, who will never again strike fear in the hearts of our countrymen. We also celebrate the peace and quiet that has returned to places where our countrymen were once deafened by gunfire. As a result of our solidarity: 365 barangays have been liberated from the enemy, 270 buildings and schools have been repaired, and 74 health centers have been built.

While we are on the subject of peace, let us talk about a place that has long stood as a symbol of frustrated hopes. Before our reforms in the ARMM began, what we had were ghost students walking to ghost schools on ghost roads, to learn from ghost teachers. Some of the apparitions that haunted OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman: Four schools found with ghost students; we are also investigating the teachers whose names do not appear in the list of the Professional Regulation Commission, as well as the government workers not listed in the plantilla. Fifty-five ghost entries have been taken off the payroll. The previous scheme of regraveling roads again and again just to earn money has been outlawed. To avoid abuse, we have ended cash advances for agencies. Now, the souls of the ghosts in voters lists can rest in peace. This is why, to OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman, we can say to you: You are indeed a certified ghost buster.

What we have replaced these phantoms with: real housing, bridges, and learning centers for Badjaos in Basilan. Community-based hatcheries, nets, materials to grow seaweeds, and seedlings that have benefited 2,588 fishermen. Certified seeds, gabi seedlings, cassava, rubber, and trees that are bearing fruit for 145,121 farmers. And this is only the beginning. 183 million pesos has been set aside for the fire stations; 515 million pesos for clean drinking water; 551.9 million pesos for healthcare equipment; 691.9 million pesos for daycare centers; and 2.85 billion pesos for the roads and bridges across the region. These are just some of the things that will be afforded by the aggregate 8.59 billion pesos the national government has granted the ARMM. Also, allow me to clarify: This does not include the yearly support that they receive, which in 2012 reached 11.7 billion pesos.

Even those who previously wanted to break away are seeing the effects of reform. Over the past seven months, not even a single encounter has been recorded between the military and the MILF. We recognize this as a sign of their trust. With regard to the peace process: Talks have been very open; both sides have shown trust and faith in one another. There may be times when the process can get a little complicated, but these are merely signs that we are steadily moving closer to our shared goal: Peace.

We likewise engaged stakeholders in a level-headed discussion in crafting our Executive Order on mining. The idea behind our consensus we reached: that we be able to utilize our natural resources to uplift the living conditions of the Filipinos not just of today, also of the following generations. We will not reap the rewards of this industry if the cost is the destruction of nature.

But this Executive Order is only the first step. Think about it: In 2010, 145 billion pesos was the total value derived from mining, but only 13.4 billion or 9 percent went to the national treasury. These natural resources are yours; it shouldn’t happen that all that’s left to you is a tip after they’re extracted. We are hoping that Congress will work with us and pass a law that will ensure that the environment is cared for, and that the public and private sectors will receive just benefits from this industry.

Let us talk about the situation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. Once, the government, which is supposed to give aid, was the one asking for aid. Today, even when the storm is still brewing, we already know how to craft clear plans to avoid catastrophe.

Talking about disasters reminds me of the time when a typhoon struck Tarlac. The dike collapsed due to the rains; when one of the barangay captains awoke, the floods had already taken his house, as well as his farming equipment. Fortunately, the entire family survived. But the carabao they had left tied to a tree wasn’t as lucky; it was strangled to death from the force of the flood.

Many of those affected by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and Sendong were just as defenseless. We lost so many lives to these natural disasters. And now, through Project NOAH, all our anti-disaster initiatives have been brought inside one boat, and we no longer leave the evacuation of families up to mere luck. We now have the technology to give fair warning to Filipinos in order to prepare for and avoid the worst.

Our 86 automated rain gauges and 28 water level monitoring sensors in various regions now benefit us directly and in real-time. Our target before the end of 2013: 600 automated rain gauges and 422 water level sensors. We will have them installed in 80 primary river basins around the country.

Yet another change: Before, agencies with shared responsibilities would work separately, with little coordination or cooperation. Now, the culture of government is bayanihan—a coming together for the sake of the people. This is what we call Convergence.

There have always been tree planting programs in government—but after the trees have been planted, they were left alone. Communities that needed livelihood would cut these down and turn them into charcoal.

We have the solution for this. 128,558 hectares of forest have been planted across the country; this is only a fraction of the 1.5 million-hectare farmlands to be laid out before we step down. This covers the communities under the National Convergence Initiative. The process: When a tree is planted, the DWSD will coordinate with communities. In exchange for a conditional cash transfer, communities would take care of the trees; some would help nurture seeds in a nursery. 335,078 individuals now earn their livelihood from these activities.

The private sector has likewise taken part in a program that hands out special coffee and cacao beans to communities, and trains the townsfolk, too, to nurture those seeds into a bountiful harvest. The coffee is planted in the shade of the trees that in turn help prevent flooding and protect the people. The company that hands out the seeds are sure buyers of the yield. It’s a win-win situation—for the private sector, the communities with their extra income, and the succeeding generations that will benefit from the trees.

Illegal logging has long been a problem. From the time we signed Executive Order No. 23, Mayor Jun Amante has confiscated lumber amounting to more than six million pesos. He has our gratitude. This is just in Butuan; what more if all our LGUs demonstrated the same kind of political will?

The timber confiscated by DENR are handed over to TESDA, which then gives the timber to communities they train in carpentry. From this, DepEd gets chairs for our public schools. Consider this: What was once the product of destruction has been crafted into an instrument for the realization of a better future. This was impossible then—impossible so long as the government turned a blind eye to illegal activities.

To those of you without a conscience; those of you who repeatedly gamble the lives of your fellow Filipinos—your days are numbered. We’ve already sanctioned thirty-four DENR officials, one PNP provincial director, and seven chiefs of police. We are asking a regional director of the PNP to explain why he seemed deaf to our directives and blind to the colossal logs that were being transported before his very eyes. If you do not shape up, you will be next. Even if you tremble beneath the skirts of your patrons, we will find you. I suggest that you start doing your jobs, before it’s too late.

From the womb, to school, to work, change has touched the Filipino. And should a life of government service be chosen, our people can expect the same level of care from the state, until retirement. Our administration will recognize their contributions to our society as public servants, and will not withhold from them the pensions they themselves contributed to.

Consider: some retirees receive less than 500 pesos a month. How does one pay for water, power, and food, daily? Our response: With the New Year comes our resolution that all old-age and disability pensioners will receive no less than five thousand pesos monthly. We are heartened that we can meet their needs now, without jeopardizing their future benefits.

The face of government has truly changed. Our compensation levels are at par with the private sector’s at the entry level. But as you rise through the ranks, private-sector pay overtakes the government.

We will close that gap in time; for now, we have good news for government employees: Performance-Based Incentives. In the past, even poorly performing agencies would not have any employees with ratings lower than “very satisfactory.” To maintain smooth interpersonal relations, supervisors would have a hard time giving appropriate ratings. Exceptional employees are not recognized: their excellence is de-incentivized, and receive the same rewards as laziness and indolence.

Here is one of our steps to respond to this. Starting this year, we will implement a system in which bonuses are based on their agency’s abilities to meet their annual targets. Employees now hold the keys to their own advancement. Incentives may reach up to 35,000 pesos, depending on how well you do your jobs. This is in addition to your across-the-board Christmas bonus.

We are doing this not only to boost morale and to show due appreciation of our public servants. This is, above all, for the Filipino people, who expect sincere and efficient service—who expect that they will continue to be the sole Bosses of our workers in government.

There have always been people who have questioned our guiding principle, “If there is no corruption, there is no poverty.” They ask if good governance can put food on the table. Quite simply: Yes.

Think about it: Doing business in the Philippines was once considered too risky—the rules were too opaque and they were constantly changing. A person shaking your hand one day may pick your pocket the next.

Now, with a level playing field, and clear and consistent rules, confidence in our economy is growing. Investments are pouring in, jobs are being created, and a virtuous cycle has begun—where empowered consumers buy more products, and businesses hire more people so they can expand to keep up with the growing demand.

Prudent spending has allowed us to plug the leaks in the system, and improved tax collection has increased revenues. Every peso collected is properly spent on roads, on vaccines, on classrooms and chairs—spent on our future.

We have fixed the system by which we build roads, bridges, and buildings—they now go where they are truly needed. Our roads are properly paved; products, services, and people reach their destination quickly and with greater ease.

Because of good governance in agriculture, food production has increased, prices don’t fluctuate, wages are stable, and our economy is stronger.

It is true: A resilient and dynamic economy resting on the foundations of good governance is the best defense against global uncertainty. We have been dismantling the obstacles to progress for two years, and now, our success can only be limited by how hard we are willing to work for it.

We achieved all these things even as countries around the world were surmounting their own challenges.

We exist in this world with others. And so it is only appropriate that even as we attend to our own problems, we remain vigilant about some events that affect us.

The situation in Bajo de Masinloc has been the source of much discussion. Chinese fishermen entered our territory. Our patrol boats intercepted some of their ships, which contain endangered species. As your leader, it is my duty to uphold the laws of our country. And as I did, tension ensued: on one hand, the Chinese had their Nine-Dash Line Theory laying claim to almost the entire West Philippine Sea; on the other, there was the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea, which recognized the rights of many countries, including that of China itself.

We demonstrated utmost forbearance in dealing with this issue. As a sign of our goodwill, we replaced our navy cutter with a civilian boat as soon as we could. We chose not to respond to their media’s harangues. I do not think it excessive to ask that our rights be respected,  just as we respect their rights as a fellow nation in a world we need to share.

There are those who say that we should let Bajo de Masinloc go; we should avoid the trouble. But if someone entered your yard and told you he owned it, would you agree? Would it be right to give away that which is rightfully ours?

And so I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice. Help me relay to the other side the logic of our stand.

This is not a simple situation, and there can be no simple solutions. Rest assured: We are consulting experts, every leader of our nation, our allies—even those on the other side—to find a resolution that is acceptable to all.

With every step on the straight and righteous path, we plant the seeds of change. But there are still some who are committed to uprooting our work. Even as I speak, there are those who have gathered in a room, whispering to each other, dissecting each word I utter, looking for any pretext to attack me with tomorrow. These are also the ones who say, “Let go of the past. Unite. Forgive and forget so we can move forward as a people.”

I find this unacceptable. Shall we simply forgive and forget the ten years that were taken from us? Do we simply forgive and forget the farmers who piled up massive debts because of a government that insisted on importing rice, while we could have reinvested in them and their farmlands instead? Shall we forgive and forget the family of the police officer who died while trying to defend himself against guns with nothing but a nightstick?

Shall we forgive and forget the orphans of the 57 victims of the massacre in Maguindanao? Will their loved ones be brought back to life by forgiving and forgetting? Do we forgive and forget everything that was ever done to us, to sink us into a rotten state? Do we forgive and forget to return to the former status quo? My response: Forgiveness is possible; forgetting is not. If offenders go unpunished, society’s future suffering is guaranteed.

True unity and reconciliation can only emanate from genuine justice. Justice is the plunder case leveled against our former president; justice that she receives her day in court and can defend herself against the accusations leveled against her. Justice is what we witnessed on the 29th of May. On that day, we proved that justice can prevail, even when confronted with an opponent in a position of power. On that day, a woman named Delsa Flores, in Panabo, Davao del Norte, said “It is actually possible: a single law governing both a simple court reporter like me, and the Chief Justice.” It is possible for the scales to be set right, and for even the rich and powerful to be held accountable.

This is why, to the next Chief Justice, much will be demanded of you by our people. We have proven the impossible possible; now, our task is reform toward true justice that continues even after our administration. There are still many flaws in the system, and repairing these will not be easy. I am aware of the weight of your mandate. But this is what our people tasked us to do; this is the duty we have sworn to do; and this what we must do.

Our objectives are simple: If you are innocent, you will appear in court with confidence, because you will be found not guilty. But if you are guilty, you will be made to pay for your sins, no matter who you are.

I would also like to thank Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, for accepting the challenges that came with the position. She could have turned down the responsibility, citing her retirement and volunteering others for the job—but her desire to serve the nation won out. This generosity was met with a grenade in her home. Ma’am, more challenges will come; in time, perhaps, they’ll give you the same monikers they’ve given me—a greedy capitalist who is also a communist headed toward dictatorship because of the reforms we have been working so hard to achieve.

I thank you for your work, and I thank you for being an instrument of true justice—especially at the height of the impeachment trial. I thank, too, the two institutions that form our Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—which were weighed and measured by the Filipino people, and were not found wanting.

To everyone that ensured that our justice system worked well: You weathered many challenges and criticism, and even misgivings; couple that with the anxiety over possible failure, of having to face the ire of those you went up against, after a mission lost. But you did not falter. The Filipino people were relying on you, and you proved that their faith was rightly placed. You did not fail the nation; you further brightened our futures.

Let me remind you that our fight does not end with the ousting of one corrupt official, with the suspension of an anomalous contract, or the systemic overhauling of a government office. I call upon Congress to pass our amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, that we may strengthen our measures to hold the corrupt accountable.

Every town that has and will be lighted; the highways, bridges, airports, trains, and ports we have built; fair contracts; the peace in our cities and our rural areas; every classroom, desk, and book assigned to a child; every Filipino granted a future—all of these, we have achieved in just two years. We have advanced an agenda of reform in these last two years, a marked contrast to our suffering in the decade that came before.

If we share the same ideals and work for the same goals, then we are bound by a shared agenda. But if you are against us, it only follows that you are against what we are doing. Whoever stands against the agenda for genuine change—can the people really count them as being on their side?

Elections are fast approaching. You, our Bosses, will be our compass. I ask you, “Boss, what direction will we take? Do we continue treading the straight and righteous path, or do we double-back—toward the crooked road that leads to a dead end?”

I remember well those early days when we first started working. I was keenly aware of the heavy burdens we would face. And I was among those who wondered: Is it possible to fix a system this broken?

This is what I have learned in the 25 months I have served as your president: Nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible because if the Filipino people see that they are the only Bosses of their government, they will carry you, they will guide you, they themselves will lead you toward meaningful change. It isn’t impossible for the Philippines to become the first country in Southeast Asia to provide free vaccines for the rotavirus. It isn’t impossible for the Philippines to stand strong and say, “The Philippines is for Filipinos—and we are ready to defend it.” It is not impossible for the Filipino who for so long had kept his head bowed upon meeting a foreigner—it is not impossible for the Filipino, today, to stand with his head held high and bask in the admiration of the world. In these times—is it not great to be a Filipino?

Last year, I asked the Filipino people: Thank those who have done their share in bringing about positive change in society. The obstacles we encountered were no laughing matter, and I believe it is only right that we thank those who shouldered the burdens with us, in righting the wrongs brought about by bad governance.

To all the members of my Cabinet: my sincerest thanks. The Filipino people are lucky that there are those of you ready to sacrifice your private and much quieter lives in order to serve the public, even if you know that you will receive smaller salaries, dangers, and constant criticism in return.

And I hope that they will not mind if I take this opportunity to thank them today: to Father Catalino Arevalo and Sister Agnes Guillen, who have nurtured and allowed my spiritual life to flourish, especially in times of greatest difficulty: my deepest gratitude.

This is my third SONA; only three remain. We are entering the midpoint of our administration. Last year, I challenged you to fully turn your back on the culture of negativism; to take every chance to uplift your fellow Filipinos.

From what we are experiencing today, it is clear: You succeeded. You are the wellspring of change. You said: It is possible.

I stand before you today as the face of a government that knows you as its Boss and draws its strength from you. I am only here to narrate the changes that you yourselves have made possible.

This is why, to all the nurses, midwives, or doctors who chose to serve in the barrios; to each new graduate who has chosen to work for the government; to each Filipino athlete who proudly carries the flag in any corner of the globe, to each government official who renders true and honest service: You made this change possible.

So whenever I come face to face with a mother who tells me, “Thank you, my child has been vaccinated,” I respond: You made this happen.

Whenever I come face to face with a child who tells me, “Thank you for the paper, for the pencils, for the chance to study,” I respond: You made this happen.

Whenever I come face to face with an OFW who tells me, “Thank you, because I can once again dream of growing old in the Philippines,” I respond: You made this happen.

Whenever I come face to face with a Filipino who says, “Thank you, I thought that we would never have electricity in our sitio. I never imagined living to see the light,” I respond: You made this happen.

Whenever I come face to face with any farmer, teacher, pilot, engineer, driver, call center agent, or any normal Filipino; to every Juan and Juana dela Cruz who says, ”Thank you for this change,” I respond: You made this happen.

I repeat: What was once impossible is now possible. I stand before you today and tell you: This is not my SONA. You made this happen. This is the SONA of the Filipino nation. Thank you.

State of the Nation Address
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines

[Delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, on July 23, 2012]

Maraming salamat po. Maupo ho tayong lahat.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay; mga dating Pangulong Fidel Valdez Ramos at Joseph Ejercito Estrada; ang ating mga kagalang-galang na mahistrado ng Korte Suprema; mga kagalang-galang na kagawad ng kalipunang diplomatiko; mga kagalang-galang na miyembro ng Kamara de Representante at ng Senado; mga pinuno ng pamahalaang lokal; mga miyembro ng ating Gabinete; mga unipormadong kasapi ng militar at kapulisan; mga kapwa kong nagseserbisyo sa taumbayan; at, siyempre, sa akin pong mga boss, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

Ito po ang aking ikatlong SONA, at parang kailan lang nang nagsimula tayong mangarap. Parang kailan lang nang sabay-sabay tayong nagpasyang tahakin ang tuwid na daan. Parang kailan lang nang sinimulan nating iwaksi ang wang-wang, hindi lamang sa kalsada kundi sa sistemang panlipunan.

Dalawang taon na ang nakalipas mula nang sinabi ninyo, “Sawa na kami sa korupsyon; sawa na kami sa kahirapan.” Oras na upang ibalik ang isang pamahalaang tunay na kakampi ng taumbayan.

Gaya ng marami sa inyo, namulat ako sa panggigipit ng makapangyarihan. Labindalawang-taong gulang po ako nang idineklara ang Batas Militar. Bumaliktad ang aming mundo: Pitong taon at pitong buwang ipiniit ang aking ama; tatlong taong napilitang mangibang-bansa ang aking pamilya; naging saksi ako sa pagdurusa ng marami dahil sa diktadurya. Dito napanday ang aking prinsipyo: Kung may inaagrabyado’t ninanakawan ng karapatan, siya ang kakampihan ko. Kung may abusadong mapang-api, siya ang lalabanan ko. Kung may makita akong mali sa sistema, tungkulin kong itama ito. [Applause]

Matagal nang tapos ang Batas Militar. Tinanong tayo noon, “Kung hindi tayo, sino pa?” at “Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?” Ang nagkakaisang tugon natin: tayo at ngayon na. Ang demokrasyang ninakaw gamit ang paniniil at karahasan, nabawi natin sa mapayapang paraan; matagumpay nating pinag-alab ang liwanag mula sa pinakamadilim na kabanata ng ating kasaysayan.

Ngunit huwag po nating kalimutan ang pinag-ugatan ng Batas Militar: Kinasangkapan ng diktador ang Saligang Batas upang manatili sa kapangyarihan. At hanggang ngayon, tuloy pa rin ang banggaan sa pagitan ng gusto ng sistemang parehas, laban sa mga nagnanais magpatuloy ng panlalamang.

Mula sa unang araw ng ating panunungkulan, walang ibang sumalubong sa atin kundi ang mga bangungot ng nawalang dekada.

Nariyan po ang kaso ng North Rail. Pagkamahal-mahal na nga nito, matapos ulitin ang negosasyon, nagmahal pa lalo. Sa kabila nito, binawasan ang benepisyo. Ang labingsiyam na train sets naging tatlo, at sa mga estasyon, mula lima, naging dalawa. Ang masaklap pa po, pinapabayaran na sa atin ang utang nito, now na.

Nariyan ang walang pakundangang bonus sa ilang GOCC, sa kabila ng pagkalugi ng kanilang mga ahensya. Nariyan ang isang bilyong pisong pinasingaw ng PAGCOR para sa kape. Nariyan ang sistemang pamamahala sa PNP na isinantabi ang pangangailangan sa armas ng 45 porsiyento ng kapulisan, para lang kumita mula sa lumang helicopter na binili sa presyong brand new.

Wala na ngang iniwang panggastos, patung-patong at sabay-sabay pa ang mga utang na kailangang bayaran na. Mahaba ang iniwang listahan na tungkulin nating punuan: Ang 66,800 na backlog sa classrooms, na nagkakahalaga ng tinatayang 53.44 billion pesos; ang 2,573,212 na backlog sa mga upuan, na nagkakahalaga naman ng 2.31 billion pesos. Nang dumating tayo, may halos tatlumpu’t anim na milyong Pilipinong hindi pa miyembro ng PhilHealth. Ang kailangan para makasali sila: maaaring umabot sa 42 billion pesos. Idagdag pa po natin sa lahat ng iyan ang 103 billion pesos na kailangan para sa modernisasyon ng Hukbong Sandatahan. Sa harap ng lahat ng ito, ang iniwan sa ating pondo na malaya nating magagamit: 6.5 percent ng kabuuang budget para sa natitirang anim na buwan ng 2010. Para po tayong boksingerong isinabak sa laban nang nakagapos na nga ang mga kamay at paa, nakapiring pa ang mga mata, at kakampi pa ng kalaban ang referee at ang mga judge.

Kaya nga sa unang tatlong buwan ng aming panunungkulan, inaabangan namin ang pagdating ng Linggo para maidulog sa Panginoon ang mga bangungot na humaharap sa amin. Inasahan naming mangangailangan ng ‘di bababa sa dalawang taon bago magkaroon ng makabuluhang pagbabago. Bibigyan kaya tayo ng sapat na pag-unawa ng taumbayan?

Subalit kung may isang bagay mang nakatatak na sa ating lahi, at makailang ulit na nating pinatunayan sa buong mundo: Walang hindi makakaya ang nagkakaisang Pilipino. Nangarap po tayo ng pagbabago; nakamit natin ang pagbabago; at ngayon, karaniwan na ito. [Applause]

Ang kalsadang pinondohan ninyo ay tuwid, patag, at walang bukol; ang tanging tongpats ay aspalto o semento. Karaniwan na po ito.

Ang sitwasyon kung paparating ang bagyo: nakaabang na ang relief, at hindi ang tao ang nag-aabang ng relief. Nag-aabang na ring umalalay ang rescue services sa taumbayan, at hindi tayo-tayo lang din ang sumasaklolo sa isa’t isa. Karaniwan na  po ito.

Ang wang-wang sa lansangan, galing na lang sa pulis, ambulansya, o bumbero—hindi sa opisyal ng gobyerno. Karaniwan na rin po ito. Ang gobyernong dating nang-aabuso, ngayon, tunay na kakampi na ng Pilipino. [Applause]

Nagpatupad po tayo ng reporma: tinanggal ang gastusing hindi kailangan, hinabol ang mga tiwali, at ipinakita sa mundong open for business under new management na ang Pilipinas.

Ang dating sick man of Asia, ngayon, punung-puno na ng sigla. Nang nagkaroon tayo ng positive credit rating action, ang sabi ng iba, tsamba. Ngayong walo na po sila, tsamba pa rin kaya? [Applause] Sa Philippine Stock Exchange index, nang una nating nahigitan ang 4,000 na index, may mga nagduda. Ngayon, sa dami ng all-time high, pati economic managers, nahirapan yata sa pagbilang, at ako rin po ay nagulat: nakakaapatnapu’t apat na pala tayo, at bihira nang bumaba sa 5,000 ang index. [Applause] Nito pong first quarter ng 2012, ang GDP growth natin, 6.4 percent; milya-milya ang layo niyan sa mga prediksyon, at pinakamataas sa buong Southeast Asian region; pangalawa po ito sa Asya, sunod lang tayo sa Tsina. [Applause] Kung dati po, tayo ang laging nangungutang, ngayon, hindi po birong tayo na ang nagpapautang. [Applause] Dati po’y namamalimos tayo ng investments; ngayon, sila na ang dumadagsa. Ang mga kumpanyang Hapon, sa isang pagpupulong po namin, ang sabi ay, “Baka gusto n’yo kaming silipin. Hindi nga kami ang pinakamura, pero una naman kami sa teknolohiya.” Pati pinuno ng isa pong malaking bangko sa Inglatera, kamakailan nakipag-usap sa atin, ang sinabi, maisali sana sila sa ating kinukunsulta sa usapang pinansyal.

Sa bawat sulok ng mundo, nagpapakita ng paghanga ang mga komentarista. Ayon sa Bloomberg Businessweek, and I quote: “Keep an eye on the Philippines.” Ang Foreign Policy magazine, pati isa sa mga pinuno ng ASEAN 100, nagsabing maaari daw tayong maging, and I quote, “Asia’s Next Tiger.” [Applause] Sabi ni Ruchir Sharma, pinuno ng Emerging Market Equities and Global Macro ng Morgan Stanley, I quote: “The Philippines is no longer a joke.” At mukha naman pong hindi siya nambobola, dahil tinatayang isang bilyong dolyar ang ipinasok ng kanyang kumpanya sa atin pong bansa. [Applause] Sana nga po, ang kaliwa’t kanang paghanga ng taga-ibang bansa, masundan na rin ng lokal na tagapagbalita. [Applause]

Sinisiguro po nating umaabot ang kaunlaran sa mas nakakarami. Alalahanin po natin: Nang mag-umpisa tayo, may 760,357 na kabahayang benepisyaryo ang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Tinarget [target] natin itong paabutin sa 3.1 million sa loob ng dalawang taon. Pebrero pa lang po ng taong ito, naiparehistro na ang ikatlong milyong kabahayang benepisyaryo ng Pantawid Pamilya. [Applause] Sa susunod na taon naman, palalawakin pa natin ang sakop nito sa 3.8 milyong bahay; limang beses po ang laki niyan sa dinatnan natin.

Pangmatagalan po ang impact ng proyektong ito. Hindi pa kumpleto ang mga pag-aaral, pero ngayon pa lang, maganda na ang ipinapakita ng numero. Base sa listahan ng DSWD: may 1,672,977 na mga inang regular nang nagpapacheck-up. Idagdag pa natin, 1,672,814 na mga batang napabakunahan laban sa diarrhea, polio, tigdas, at iba pa. 4.57 million na estudyanteng hindi na napipilitang mag-absent dahil sa kahirapan. [Applause]

Sa kalusugan naman po: Nang dumating tayo, animnapu’t dalawang porsiyento lamang ng mga Pilipino ang naka-enrol sa PhilHealth. Ang masaklap, hindi pa masiguro kung lahat sila ay kabilang sa mga totoong nangangailangan ng kalinga ng estado, o buwenas lang na malapit sa politiko. Ngayon po, 85 percent ng lahat ng mamamayan, miyembro na nito. [Applause] Ang ibig pong sabihin, 23.31 million na Pilipino ang naidagdag sa mga saklaw ng PhilHealth mula nang bigyan tayo ng mandato. [Applause]

Ang maganda pa rito: ang 5.2 million na pinakamahirap na kabahayang tinukoy ng National Household Targeting System, buong-buo at walang-bayad nang makikinabang sa benepisyo ng PhilHealth. [Applause] Dahil po sa No Balance Billing policy ng Department of Health, ang lunas para sa dengue, pneumonia, asthma, katarata, gayundin ang pagpapagamot sa mga catastrophic disease tulad ng breast cancer, prostate cancer, at acute leukemia, makukuha na nang libre ng mga pinakamahirap nating kababayan. [Applause]

Ito po ang proseso ng pagpapagamot para sa kanila: Papasok ka sa alinmang ospital ng gobyerno. Ipapakita mo ang iyong PhilHealth card. Magpapagamot ka. At uuwi kang maginhawa nang walang inilabas ni isang kusing.

Sabi nga po sa isa sa mga briefing na dinaluhan natin, apat sa sampung Pilipino, hindi man lamang nakakakita ng health professional sa tanang buhay nila. Sa iba po, mas malaki pa: may nagsasabing anim sa bawat sampung Pilipino ang pumapanaw nang malayo sa kalinga ng health professional. Anuman ang ating pagbatayan, hindi po maikakaila: nakakabahala ang bilang ng mga Pilipinong hindi naaabot ang serbisyong pangkalusugan ng pamahalaan. Tinutugunan na po natin ito. Mula sa sampung libo noong dumating tayo, umabot na sa 30,801 ang mga nurse at midwife na ating nai-deploy sa ilalim ng RNHeals Program. [Applause] Idagdag pa po natin sa kanila ang mahigit labing-isang libong Community Health Teams na nagsisilbing tulay upang higit na mapatibay ang ugnayan ng mga doktor at nurse sa komunidad.

At kung dati tutungo lamang ang mga nurse kung saan makursunadahan ng kanilang hepe, ngayon, dahil sa tamang targeting, kung saan sila kailangan, doon sila ipinapadala: [applause] sa mga lugar na matagal nang naiwan sa laylayan ng lipunan. Ipinadala po natin ang ating mga health professional sa 1,021 na pook na saklaw ng Pantawid Pamilya, at sa 609 na pinakamahihirap na lungsod at munisipyo, ayon sa pag-aaral ng National Anti-Poverty Commission. [Applause]

Dalawang problema po ang natutugunan nito: bukod sa nagkakatrabaho at nabibigyan ng work experience ang libu-libong nurse at midwife na dati ay walang mapaglalaanan ng kanilang kaalaman, nagiging abot-kamay din ang dekalidad na kalinga para sa milyun-milyon nating kababayan.

Subalit hindi pa po tayo makukuntento rito, dahil ang hangad natin: kalusugang pangkalahatan. Nagsisimula ito hindi sa mga pagamutan, kundi sa loob mismo ng kanya-kanya nating tahanan. Ibayong kaalaman, bakuna, at checkup ang kailangan upang mailayo tayo sa karamdaman. Dagdag pa po diyan ang pagsisikap nating iwasan ang mga sakit na puwede namang iwasan.

Halimbawa: Nabanggit ko ang mosquito traps kontra dengue noong nakaraang taon. Alam naman po ninyo, ang mga siyentipiko mahigpit sa pagsisiyasat. Kaya maaga pa para sabihing siguradong-sigurado na tayo, pero nakakaengganyo po ang mga paunang resulta nitong programang ito.

Sinubok natin ang bisa ng mosquito traps sa mga lugar kung saan naitala ang pinakamataas na insidente ng dengue. Sa buong probinsya ng Bukidnon noong 2010, may 1,216 na kaso. Nang inilagay ang mga mosquito trap noong 2011: mukhang nakatulong dahil bumaba ito sa tatlumpu’t pito; 97 percent raw po ang reduction nito. [Applause] Sa mga bayan ng Ballesteros at Claveria sa Cagayan, may 228 na kaso ng dengue noong 2010. Pagdating ng 2011, walo na lang ang naitala. Sa Catarman, Northern Samar: 434 na kaso ng dengue noong 2010, naging apat na lang noong 2011. [Applause]

Panimulang pag-aaral pa lamang po ito. Pero ngayon pa lang, marapat na yata nating pasalamatan sina Secretary Ike Ona ng DOH at Secretary Mario Montejo ng DOST, [Applause] Wala ho tayong masyadong umento, baka sa palakpak n’yo’y  ganahan silang lalong magsaliksik at mag-ugnayan.

Marami pa po tayong kailangang solusyonan. Nakakabahala ang mataas pa ring maternal mortality ratio ng bansa. Kaya nga po gumagawa tayo ng mga hakbang upang tugunan ang pangangailangan sa kalusugan ng kababaihan. Nais din nating makamit ang Universal Health Care, at magkaroon ng sapat na kagamitan, pasilidad, at tauhan ang ating mga institusyong pangkalusugan.

Sa pagtugon natin sa mga ito, malaki ang maiaambag ng Sin Tax Bill. Maipasa na po sana ito sa lalong madaling panahon. [Applause] Mababawasan na ang bisyo, madadagdagan pa ang pondo para sa kalusugan.

Ano naman kaya ang sasalubong sa kabataan pagpasok sa paaralan? Sa lilim ng puno pa rin kaya sila unang matututo ng abakada? Nakasalampak pa rin kaya sila sa sahig habang nakikipag-agawan ng textbook sa kaklase nila?

Matibay po ang pananalig natin kay Secretary Luistro: Bago matapos ang susunod na taon, ubos na ang minana nating 66,800 na kakulangan sa silid-aralan. [Applause] Uulitin ko lang po, next year po ‘yan; 40,000 pa lang ho this year. Ang minana po nating 2,573,212 na backlog sa upuan, tuluyan na rin nating matutugunan bago matapos ang 2012. [Applause] Sa taon din pong ito, masisimot na rin ang 61.7 million na backlog sa textbook upang maabot na, sa wakas, ang one is to one ratio ng aklat sa mag-aaral. [Applause] Sana nga po, ngayong paubos na ang backlog sa edukasyon, sikapin nating huwag uling magka-backlog dahil sa dami ng estudyante. Sa tingin ko po, Responsible Parenthood ang sagot dito. [Applause]

At para naman po hindi mapag-iwanan ang ating mga State Universities and Colleges, mayroon tayong panukalang 43.61 percent na pag-angat sa kanilang budget para sa susunod na taon. [Applause] Paalala lang po: lahat ng ginagawa natin, may direksyon; may kaakibat na kondisyon ang dagdag-budget na ito. Kailangang ipatupad ang napagkasunduang SUC Reform Roadmap ng CHED at ng kaukulang mga state universities and colleges, upang siguruhing dekalidad ang magiging produkto ng mga pamantasang pinopondohan ng estado. Kung mataas ang grado ninyo sa assignment na ito, asahan naman ninyong dodoblehin din namin ang kayod para matugunan ang mga natitirang pangangailangan po ninyo. [Applause]

Panay addition po ang nagaganap sa ating budget sa edukasyon. Isipin po ninyo: ang budget ng DepEd na ipinamana sa atin noong 2010, 177 billion pesos. Ang panukala natin para sa 2013: 292.7 billion pesos. [Applause] Noong 2010, 21.03 billion pesos ang budget para sa SUCs. Taunan po iyang dinagdagan upang umabot na sa 37.13 billion pesos na panukala natin para sa 2013. [Applause] Pero sa kabila nito, ngayon pa lang, may nagpaplano nang magcut-classes para mag-piket sa Mendiola. Ganito po kasimple: ang 292.7 ay mas malaki sa 177, at ang 37.13 ay mas malaki sa 21.03. Kaya kung may nagsasabi o magsasabi pa ring binawasan natin ang budget ng edukasyon, kukumbinsihin na lang namin ang inyong mga paaralan na maghandog ng remedial math class para sa inyo. [Laughter and applause] At sana naman po, sa mga klaseng ‘to, pakiusap po namin, sana itong klaseng remedial na nga eh pasukan naman po ninyo.

Nang maupo tayo, at masimulan ang makabuluhang reporma, minaliit ng ilan ang pagpapakitang-gilas ng pamahalaan. Kundi raw buwenas, ningas-kugon lang itong mauupos rin paglaon. May ilan pa rin pong ayaw magretiro sa paghahasik ng negatibismo; silang mga tikom ang bibig sa good news, at ginawang industriya na ang kritisismo.

Kung may problema kayo na bago matapos ang taon, bawat bata ay may sarili nang upuan at aklat, tingnan ninyo sila, mata sa mata, at sabihin ninyong, “Ayaw kong makapag-aral ka.”

Kung masama ang loob ninyo na ang 5.2 million na pinakamahihirap na kabahayang Pilipino ay maaari nang pumasok sa ospital nang hindi iniintindi ang gastos sa pagpapagamot, tingnan ninyo sila ulit, mata sa mata, at sabihin ninyong, “Ayaw kong gumaling ka.”

Kung nagagalit kayo na may tatlong milyong pamilyang Pilipino nang tumutungo sa katuparan ng kanilang mga pangarap dahil sa Pantawid Pamilya, tingnan ninyo sila, mata sa mata, at sabihin ninyong, “Ibabalik ko kayo sa kawalan ng pag-asa.” [Applause]

Tapos na ang panahon kung kailan choice lang ng makapangyarihan ang mahalaga. Halimbawa, ang dating namumuno sa TESDA, nagpamudmod ng mga scholarship voucher; ang problema, wala palang nakalaang pondo para rito. Natural, tatalbog ang voucher. Ang napala: 2.4 billion pesos ang sinisingil ng mahigit isanlibong eskwelahan mula sa pamahalaan. Nagpapapogi ang isang tao’t isang administrasyon; sambayanang Pilipino naman ang pinagbabayad ngayon.

Pumasok si Secretary Joel Villanueva; [applause] hindi siya nagpasindak sa tila imposibleng pagbabagong dapat ipatupad sa kanyang ahensya. Sa kabila ng malaking utang na minana ng TESDA, 434,676 na indibidwal  pa rin ang kanilang hinasa sa ilalim ng Training for Work Scholarship Program. [Applause] Kongkretong tagumpay din po ang hatid ng TESDA Specialista Technopreneurship Program (mas mahirap pong bigkasin kaysa sa resulta). Biruin po ninyo, bawat isa sa 5,240 na sertipikadong Specialistas, kumikita na ngayon ng 562 pesos kada araw o 11,240 pesos kada buwan. Mas malaki pa po ito sa minimum wage. [Applause]

Mula sa pagkasanggol, hanggang sa pagkabinata, gumagana na ang sistema para sa mamamayan. Sinisiguro nating manganganak ng trabaho ang pagsigla ng ating ekonomiya.

Alalahanin po natin, para tumabla lang, kailangang makalikha taun-taon ng isang milyong bagong trabaho para sa mga new entrants. Ang nalikha po natin sa loob ng dalawang taon: halos 3.1 million na bagong trabaho. [Applause]

Ito po ang dahilan kung bakit pababa nang pababa ang unemployment rate sa bansa. Nang dumating tayo, eight percent ang unemployment rate. Naging 7.2 ito noong Abril ng 2011, at bumaba pa lalo sa 6.9 ngayong taon, sa buwan rin ng Abril. [Applause] ‘Di po ba makatwirang mangarap na balang araw, bawat Pilipinong handang magbanat ng buto, may mapapasukang trabaho?

Tingnan na lamang po natin ang BPO sector. Noong taong 2000, limanlibo katao lang ang naempleyo sa industriyang ito. Fast forward po tayo ngayon: 638,000 katao na ang nabibigyang trabaho ng mga BPO, at labing-isang bilyong dolyar ang ipinasok nito sa ating ekonomiya noong taong 2011. [Applause] Ang projection nga po ng industriya, pagdating ng 2016, kung saan ako po ay magpapaalam na sa inyo, 25 billion dollars na ang maipapasok nito, at makakapag-empleyo ng 1.3 million na mga Pilipino. [Applause] Hindi pa po kasama rito ang tinatayang aabot sa 3.2 million na mga taxi driver, barista, mga sari-sari store, karinderya, at marami pang ibang makikinabang sa mga indirect jobs na malilikha dahil sa BPO industry.

Malaking bahagi din po ng ating job-generation strategy ang pagpapatayo ng sapat na imprastraktura. Sa mga nakapagbakasyon na sa Boracay, nakita na naman ninyo ang bagong-binyag nating terminal sa Caticlan. Nakalatag na rin po ang plano upang palawakin ang runway nito.

Magkakaroon pa po ‘yan ng mga kapatid. Bago matapos ang aking termino, nakatayo na ang New Bohol Airport sa Panglao, [applause] New Legaspi Airport sa Daraga, at Laguindingan Airport sa Misamis Oriental. [Applause] Ia-upgrade na rin po natin ang ating international airports sa Mactan, Puerto Princesa, at Tacloban. [Applause] Dagdag pa po diyan ang pagpapaganda ng mga airport sa Butuan, Cotabato, Dipolog, Pagadian, Tawi-Tawi, Southern Leyte, at San Vicente sa Palawan. [Applause] Kami po sa Tarlac ay maghihintay na lang. [Laughter]

Pang-apat na Pangulo na po akong sasalo sa problema ng NAIA 3. Hindi lang po eroplano ang nag-take off at nag-landing dito: maging mga problema’t anomalya, lumapag din. Nagbitiw na po ng salita si Secretary Mar Roxas: bago tayo magkita sa susunod na SONA, maisasaayos na ang mga structural defects na minana natin sa NAIA 3. [Applause]

Nitong Hunyo po, nagsimula na ring umusad ang proseso para sa LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension project, na magpapaluwag sa trapik ng Las Piñas, Parañaque, at Cavite. [Applause] Dagdag pa diyan, para lalong mapaluwag ang traffic sa Kamaynilaan at mapabilis ang pagtawid mula North Luzon hanggang South Luzon Expressway, magkakaroon ng dalawang elevated NLEX–SLEX connector. Matatapos po ang mga ito sa 2015. [Applause] Magiging one hour and 40 minutes na lang ang biyaheng Clark papuntang Calamba oras na makumpleto ang mga ito. Bago po tayo bumaba sa puwesto, nakatayo na rin ang mga dekalidad na terminal sa Taguig, Quezon City, at Parañaque na paparadahan ng bus biyaheng probinsya, [applause] upang hindi na sila makisiksik pa sa EDSA.

Nagbago na po ang takbo ng usapan tungkol sa ahensyang dati’y itinuturing na pugad ng kapalpakan. Naalala ko po dati: Kapag tag-ulan at umapaw ang Tarlac River, nalulunod ang MacArthur Highway. Tutunawin nito ang aspalto; magbabaku-bako ang kalsada hanggang sa tuluyan na nga itong mawawala. Bilang kinatawan noon ng aking distrito, inireklamo ko po ito. Ang tugon ng DPWH: alam namin ang problema, alam namin ang solusyon, pero wala kaming pera. Kinailangan ko pong makiusap sa aking mga barangay, at ang sabi ko po sa kanila ay “Kung hindi natin ito uunahin, walang gagawa nito, at tayo rin ang mapeperhuwisyo.” Dati, panay ang “hoy, gising!” sa gobyerno, bakit wala daw kasing ginagawa. Ngayon ang reklamo, “Sobra namang trapik, ang dami kasing ginagawa.” [Laughter and applause] Paalala lang din po: naisasaayos na natin ang mga kalsadang ito nang hindi nagtataas ng buwis. [Applause]

Bubuo tayo ng mga daanan, hindi ayon sa kickback o kursonada, pero ayon sa isang malinaw na sistema. Dahil hindi na bara-bara ang paglalagak natin ng pondo para sa mga proyekto, hindi na ito mapapako sa plano, totoong kalsada na ang pakikinabangan ng Pilipino. Nang maupo po tayo sa puwesto, 7,239 kilometers sa ating national road network ang hindi pa naisasaayos. One thousand five hundred sixty-nine kilometers na nito ang naipaayos natin sa ilalim ng pamamahala ni Secretary Babes Singson; [applause] sa 2012, 2,275 kilometers pa ang maidadagdag na natapos na rin po. Pati po ang mga kalsada at kurbadang mapanganib, tinutukoy at inaayos na gamit ang pinakabagong teknolohiya. Taun-taon po nating bubunuin ito, upang bago matapos ang aking termino, bawat pulgada ng ating national road network, maayos na po. Siyempre ‘wag lang po n’yo dagdagan ang national road network.

Hindi lang kalsada, kundi pati sistema, isinasaayos sa DPWH. Dahil sa pagsunod sa tamang proseso ng bidding at procurement, 10.6 billion pesos na ang natipid ng kanilang ahensya mula 2011 hanggang nitong Hunyo. [Applause] Maging mga kontratista, batid ang positibong bunga ng reporma sa DPWH. Sabi nga po nila, “Ang top 40 na kontratista, fully booked na raw po.”

Sana po hindi maantala ang pagpapatayo natin ng iba pang imprastraktura para hindi rin mapurnada ang paglago ng ibang industriya.

Kaakibat ng pagpapaunlad ng imprastraktura ang paglago ng turismo. Isipin po ninyo: Noong 2001, ang tourist arrivals sa ating bansa, 1.8 million. Nang dumating po tayo noong 2010, naglalaro ito sa 3.1 million. Mantakin po ninyo: sa hinaba-haba ng kanilang administrasyon, ang naidagdag nilang tourist arrivals, 1.3 million lamang; may ambag pa kaming kalahating taon diyan. Tayo naman po, Hunyo pa lang ng 2012, 2.1 million na turista na ang napalapag. [Applause] Mas marami pang dadagsa sa peak season bago matapos ang taon, kaya hindi ako nagdududang maaabot natin ang quota na 4.6 million na turista para sa 2012. [Applause] Ibig sabihin po, 1.5 million na turista ang ating maidadagdag. Samakatuwid, sa dalawang taon, mas malaki ang magiging paglago ng ating tourist arrivals, kumpara sa naidagdag ng pinalitan natin sa loob ng siyam at kalahating taon. Hindi po tayo nagtataas ng bangko; nagsasabi lang po tayo ng totoo. [Applause]

Pero hindi nakuntento rito si Secretary Mon Jimenez. Sabi niya, kung sa Malaysia may bumisitang 24.7 million na turista noong 2011, at kung sa Thailand naman tinatayang 17 million, sa dinami-dami ng magagandang tanawin sa ating bansa, hindi naman siguro suntok sa buwan kung mangarap tayong pagdating ng 2016, sampung milyong turista na ang bibisita sa Pilipinas kada taon. [Applause] Kung patuloy na magkakaisa ang sambayanang Pilipino, gaya ng ipinamalas nating hirangin ang Puerto Princesa Underground River bilang isa sa New Seven Wonders of Nature, walang dudang makakamtan natin ito. Ang pahayag nga po natin sa daigdig: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” [Applause] Kahit wala pang isang taon sa puwesto si Secretary Mon Jimenez, nagagapas na natin ang positibong bunga ng ating mga naipunlang reporma. Masasabi nga po nating pagdating sa turismo, “It’s really fun—to have Secretary Mon Jimenez as our Secretary.” [Applause]

Kung paglago po ang usapan, nasa tuktok ng listahan ang agrikultura. Kayod-kalabaw po si Secretary Alcala upang makapaghatid ng mabubuting balita. [Applause] Binisita po niya ang lahat ng probinsya hindi para mangampanya sa sarili pero para ikampanya ang programa ng Department of Agriculture. Dati, para bang ang pinapalago ng mga namumuno sa Department of Agriculture ay ang utang ng NFA. Twelve billion pesos ang minana nilang utang; ang ipinamana naman nila sa atin, 177 billion pesos.

Hindi po ba’t noon, pinaniwala tayo na 1.3 million metric tons ang kakulangan sa bigas, at para tugunan ito, ‘di bababa sa two million metric tons ang kanilang inangkat noong 2010. Parang unlimited rice sila kung maka-order ng bigas, pero dahil sobra-sobra, nabubulok lang naman ito sa mga bodega. Ang 1.3 million metric tons, unang taon pa lang, napababa na natin sa 860,000 metric tons. [Applause] Ngayong taon, 500,000 na lang, kasama pa ang buffer sakaling abutin tayo ng bagyo. [Applause] Huwag lang po tayong pagsungitan ng panahon, harinawa, sa susunod na taon ay puwede na tayong mag-export ng bigas. [Applause]

Ang sabi po ni Secretary Alcala: ang susi dito, makatotohanang programa sa irigasyon at masigasig na implementasyon ng certified seeds program. [Applause] Ang masakit po, hindi bagong kaalaman ito; hindi lang ipinapatupad. Kung dati pa sila nagtrabaho nang matino, nasaan na kaya tayo ngayon?

Tingnan rin po natin ang industriya ng niyog at ang cocowater na dati tinatapon lang, ngayon, napapakinabangan na ng magsasaka. Noong 2009, 483,862 liters ng cocowater ang iniluwas natin. Umangat po ito ng 1,807,583 liters noong 2010. Huwag po kayong magugulat, noong 2011, 16,756,498 liters [applause]—puwede ho bang ulitin iyon?—16,756,498 liters ng cocowater ang in-export ng Pilipinas. Ang coco coir naman, kung dati walang pumapansin, ngayon may shortage na dahil pinapakyaw ng mga exporter. Hindi natin sasayangin ang pagkakataong ito. Bibili pa tayo ng mga bagong makinang magpoproseso ng bunot para makuha ang mga hiblang ginagawa mula sa coco coir. Sa susunod na taon, lalo nating mapapakinabangan ang industriya ng niyog. Naglaan na tayo ng 1.75 billion pesos upang mamuhunan at palaguin ito. [Applause]

Sinimulan po ng aking ina ang Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Nararapat lamang na matapos ang programang ito sa panahon ng aking panunungkulan. [Applause]

Isinasaayos na po ang sistema upang mapabilis ang pagpapatupad ng repormang agraryo. Ginagawa ng pamahalaan ang lahat ng hakbang upang maipamahagi sa ating magsasaka ang mga lupaing diniligan at pinagyaman ng kanilang pawis. Subalit mayroon pa rin pong ayaw paawat sa pagtatanim ng mga balakid. Ang tugon ko sa kanila: susunod tayo sa batas. Ang atas ng batas, ang atas ng taumbayan, at ang atas ko: Bago ako bumaba sa puwesto, naipamigay na dapat ang lahat ng lupaing sakop ng CARP. [Applause]

Liwanagin naman po natin ang nangyayari sa sektor ng enerhiya. Mantakin po ninyo: Dati po, umabot lang ang kawad ng kuryente sa barangay hall, “energized” na raw ang buong barangay. Kaya ganoon na lang kung ipagmalaki nilang 99.98 percent na raw ng mga barangay sa bansa ang may kuryente. Pati ba naman sa serbisyong dapat ay matagal nang napapakinabangan ng Pilipino, nagkakagulangan pa? Kaya nga po, para subukan ang kakayahan ng DOE at NEA, naglaan tayo ng 1.3 billion pesos para pailawan ang unang target na 1,300 sitios, sa presyong isang milyong piso bawat isa. Nang matapos sila, ang napailawan sa inilaan nating pondo: 1,520 sitios, at gumastos lamang sila ng 814 million pesos. [Applause] Nagawa nila ito sa loob lamang ng tatlong buwan, at mas marami pa pong gagawin sa taong ito hanggang maubos ‘yang 36,000 na sitiong walang kuryente. Kay Secretary Rene Almendras, bilib talaga ako sa iyo; [applause] parang hindi ka nauubusan ng enerhiya. Sa paghahatid-serbisyo, hindi ka lang ever-ready, nagmistulang energizer bunny ka pa—you keep on going, and going, and going. [Applause]

Nangingibabaw na nga po ang liwanag sa ating bayan—liwanag na nagsiwalat sa krimeng nagaganap sa madidilim na sulok ng lipunan. Ang pinagsisikapang kitain ng Pilipino, hindi na magagantso. Patuloy po ang pagbaba ng crime volume sa buong bansa. Ang mahigit limandaan libong krimen na naitala noong 2009, mahigit kalahati po ang nabawas: 246,958 na lamang iyan nitong 2011. Dagdag pa rito, ang dating dalawanlibo’t dalawandaang kaso ng carnapping noong 2010, lampas kalahati rin ang ibinaba; 966 na lang po iyan pagdating ng 2011.

Ito nga po sana ang dalhin ng ating mga headline. Hindi po natin sinasabing wala nang krimeng nagaganap, pero palagay ko naman po, wala dapat magalit na nangalahati na ito. Si Raymond Dominguez na matagal nang labas-masok sa kulungan, hindi ba’t sa loob lamang ng mahigit isang taon, nasentensyahan at naipakulong na? Ang dalawa pa niyang kapatid ay sinampahan na rin natin ng kaso at kasalukuyan na ring nakabilanggo. May dalawang suspect sa bus bombing sa Makati noong nakaraang taon, ang isa po’y pumanaw na; ‘yung isa, humihimas na ng rehas. Kakosa niya ang mahigit sampung libong sangkot sa ilegal na droga na inaresto ng PDEA nitong 2011. [Applause]

Alam po nating hindi araw-araw ang laban ni Pacman, at hindi puwedeng iasa dito ang pagbaba ng krimen. Kaya nga po pinalalakas natin ang puwersa ng kapulisan. ‘Di po ba, nang dumating tayo, apatnapu’t limang porsyento ng ating kapulisan ang walang baril at umaasa sa anting-anting habang tumutugis ng masasamang-loob? [Laughter] Mayroon pong nanalo na sa bidding, tinitiyak na lamang nating dekalidad ang kanilang mga produkto. Pagkatapos ng proseso, at itong taon po nating inaasahan ito, maipagkakaloob na ang 74,600 na baril na magagamit nila upang ipagtanggol at alagaan ang bayan, lipunan, at sarili. [Applause]

Dumako naman po tayo sa usapin ng pambansang tanggulan. May mga nagsabi na po na ang ating Air Force, “all air, at no force.” [Laughter] Imbes na alagaan ng estado, para bang sinasadyang ilagay sa alanganin ang ating mga sundalo. Hindi po tayo makakapayag na manatiling ganito.

Makalipas nga lang po ang isang taon at pitong buwan, nakapaglaan na tayo ng mahigit dalawampu’t walong bilyong piso para sa AFP Modernization Program. Aabutan na nito ang tatlumpu’t tatlong bilyong pisong pondo na ipinagkaloob sa nasabing programa sa nakalipas na labinlimang taon. [Applause] Bumubuwelo pa lang po tayo sa lagay na ‘yan. Kapag naipasa na ang panukala nating AFP modernization bill sa Kongreso, makakapaglaan tayo ng pitumpu’t limang bilyong piso para sa susunod na limang taon.

Kasado na rin po ang tatlumpung milyong dolyar na pondong kaloob ng Estados Unidos para sa Defense Capability Upgrade and Sustainment of Equipment Program ng AFP. Bukod pa po ito sa tulong nila upang pahusayin pa ang pagmanman sa ating mga baybayin sa ilalim ng itatayong Coast Watch Center ng Pilipinas.

Nagka-canvass na rin po ang Sandatahang Lakas ng mga kagamitan tulad ng mga kanyon, armored personnel carrier, at frigates. Hindi magtatagal, dadaong na ang karelyebo ng BRP Gregorio del Pilar sa ating pampang. Sa Enero, aangkla na po sa Pilipinas ang BRP Ramon Alcaraz, ang pangalawa nating Hamilton class cutter. ‘Di na po bangkang papel ang ating ipapalaot; [applause] ngayon, mga hi-tech at dekalidad na barko na ang tatanod sa 36,000 kilometers nating coastline.

Mainam na rin po siguro kung maglilinis-linis na ng mga hangar ang ating Sandatahang Lakas, dahil darating na ang mga kagamitang lalong magpapatikas sa ating tanggulan. Sa wakas, may katuwang na po ang kaisa-isa nating C-130 na tatlumpu’t anim na taon nang rumoronda sa himpapawid. Dalawa pang C-130 ang magiging operational ulit sa taong ito. Bago matapos ang taong ito, inaasahan nating maide-deliver na ang binili nating dalawampu’t isang refurbished UH-1H Helicopter, apat na combat utility helicopters, mga radyo’t iba pang communication equipment, rifles, mortars, mobile diagnostic laboratories, kasama na ang bullet station assembly para sa arsenal. [Applause] Pagdating naman po ng 2013, lalapag na ang sampung attack helicopters, dalawang naval helicopters, dalawang light lift aircraft, isang frigate, at mga force protection equipment. [Applause]

At hindi lang po natin sa armas ipinaparamdam ang pagkalinga sa ating pulis at kasundaluhan. Nabawasan na rin po ang mga pasanin nila sa pamumuhay dahil sa mahigit dalawampu’t dalawang libong bahay ang naipatayo na sa ilalim ng AFP–PNP housing program. [Applause]

Hindi po ito tungkol sa pakikipaggirian o pakikipagmatigasan. Hindi ito tungkol sa pagsisiga-sigaan. Tungkol ito sa pagkamit ng kapayapaan. Tungkol ito sa kakayahan nating ipagtanggol ang ating sarili—isang bagay na kay tagal nating inisip na imposible. Tungkol po ito sa buhay ng isang sundalong araw-araw sumasabak sa peligro; tungkol ito sa pamilya niyang nag-aabang na makabalik siyang ligtas, ano man ang kanyang makaharap. Hayaan nating ang ilang mga benipisyaryo ang magsabi sa pagbabago ng buhay po nila:

[Video starts]

“Nagpapasalamat sa Poong Maykapal. Binigyan kami ng ganitong pagkakataon—binigyan ng blessing na ganito. Pangalawa, ‘yung pagkakaroon natin ng mabait na pangulo. Itong proyekto na ito ay hindi niya kami pinababayaan—mga kapulisan at mga sundalo—sandatahan ng ating Pilipinas.” - SPO1 Domingo Medalla [PNP Housing Beneficiary]

“Kinakaya namin, ma’am. Pero ginagawan ko talaga ng paraan na makapasok sila [sa eskuwela]. ‘Yun lang talaga, ma’am, ang misyon ko sa buhay na mapaaral sila, maibigay ko ‘yung tamang edukasyon, na hindi maging gusgusin ang anak ko, hindi kaawa-awa[an] ng mga tao, may magulang na dapat magtaguyod. At, napapasalamat ako sa Pantawid [Pamilya Program], ma’am, dahil may natutunan ako ditong malaki.” - Eva Neri [CCT beneficiary]

“Malaking tulong na isa kami—ang alam ko kauna-unahan na nakinabang at nakikinabang pa sa package na ‘to na Category Z Package ng PhilHealth. Nagpapasalamat kami nang sobra at hindi man maganda na nagkaroon ng sakit ang anak ko, pero mayroong PhilHealth na tutulong at handang tumulong sa mga gastusin namin.” - Kristine Tatualla [PhilHealth beneficiary]

“Noong araw na nasama ako sa isang Oakwood Mutiny—‘yung pinaglalaban namin, ito na po ‘yung hinihintay namin para sa pagbabago at ito na po ang pagkakataon natin para magkaroon tayo ng sariling bahay lalong lalo na sa programa ng ating presidente na si Benigno Aquino III.” - PFC Rolly Bernal [AFP Housing Beneficiary]

[Video ends]

At ngayon ngang inaaruga na sila ng taumbayan, lalo namang ginaganahan ang ating kasundaluhan na makamtan ang kapayapaan. Tagumpay pong maituturing ang dalawandaan at tatlong rebeldeng sumuko at nagbabalik-loob na sa lipunan, at ang 1,772 na bandidong nawakasan na ang karahasan. Halimbawa po, ang kilabot na teroristang si Doctor Abu, na hindi na makakapaghasik ng kaniyang lagim. Nagpupugay rin po tayo sa panunumbalik sa katahimikan sa mga lugar na matagal nang biningi ng putukan. Ang resulta nga po ng bayanihan: 365 na barangay ang naagaw sa kamay ng kaaway, 270 na gusali’t paaralan ang naipaayos, at 74 health centers ang naipagawa. [Applause]

Kung kapayapaan na lang din po ang usapan, dumako naman tayo sa lugar na matagal naging mukha ng mga mithiing ‘di makamtan-kamtan. Bago po magsimula ang mga reporma natin sa ARMM, at alam naman po n’yo, may mga ghost students doon, na naglalakad sa isang ghost road, tungo sa isang ghost school, para magpaturo sa isang ghost teacher. Ang mga aparisyon pong gumulantang kay OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman: [applause] Apat na eskuwelahan na natagpuang may ghost students; iniimbestigahan na rin ang mga teacher na hindi lumilitaw ang pangalan sa talaan ng Professional Regulation Commission, gayundin ang mga tauhan ng gobyernong hindi nakalista sa plantilya. Limampu’t limang ghost entry ang tinanggal sa payroll. Ang dating paulit-ulit na pagsasaboy ng graba sa kalsada para lang pagkakitaan ng pera, bawal na. Wala nang cash advance sa mga ahensya, para maiwasan ang pagsasamantala. Ang mga multo sa voters list, mapapatahimik na ang kaluluwa. [Applause] Kaya nga po kay OIC Gov. Mujiv Hataman, ang masasabi natin: talaga namang isa ka nang certified ghost buster.

Ang pumalit po, at pinapalit na: pabahay, tulay, at learning center para sa mga Badjao sa Basilan. Mga community-based hatchery, lambat, materyales para maglinang ng seaweeds, at punlang napakinabangan ng 2,588 na mangingisda. Certified seeds, punla ng gabi, cassava, goma, at mga punong namumunga para sa 145,121 na magsasaka. Simula pa lang po iyan; nakalaan na ang 183 million pesos para sa mga municipal fishing port projects sa ARMM; 310.4 million pesos para sa mga istasyon ng bumbero; 515 million pesos para sa malinis na inuming tubig; 551.9 million pesos para sa mga kagamitang pangkalusugan; 691.9 million pesos para sa daycare centers; at 2.85 billion pesos para sa mga kalsada at tulay na babagtas sa rehiyon. Ilan lang po iyan sa patutunguhan ng kabuuang 8.59 billion pesos na ipinagkaloob ng pambansang gobyerno para isakatuparan ang mga reporma sa ARMM. [Applause] Lilinawin ko rin po, hindi pa kasama rito ang taunang suportang natatanggap nila, na ngayong 2012 ay umabot sa 11.7 billion pesos. [Applause]

Miski po ang mga dating gustong tumiwalag, nakikita na ang epekto ng reporma. Kinikilala natin bilang pahiwatig ng kanilang tiwala ang nakaraang pitong buwan, kung kailan walang nangyaring sagupaan sa pagitan ng militar at ng MILF. Sa peace process naman po, hayag at lantaran ang usapan. Nagpapamalas ang magkabilang panig ng tiwala sa isa’t isa. Maaaring minsan, magiging masalimuot ang proseso; signos lang po ito na malapit na nating makamit ang nag-iisa nating mithiin: Kapayapaan.

Mapayapang pag-uusap rin po ang prinsipyong isinulong natin upang mabuo ang ating Executive Order ukol sa pagmimina. Ang kaisipan sa likod ng nabuong consensus: mapakinabangan ang ating likas na yaman upang iangat ang buhay ng Pilipino, hindi lamang ngayon kundi pati na rin sa susunod na salinlahi. Hindi natin pipitasin ang ginintuang bunga ng industriyang ito, kung ang magiging kabayaran ay ang pagkasira ng kalikasan. [Applause]

Ngunit unang hakbang lamang ito. Isipin po ninyo, noong 2010, 145 billion pesos ang kabuuang halaga na nakuha mula sa pagmimina, subalit 13.4 billion pesos lamang o siyam na porsyento ang napunta sa kaban ng bayan. Ang likas na yaman, pag-aari ninyo; hindi tayo papayag na balato lang ang mapupunta sa Pilipino. Umaasa po tayo sa pakikiisa ng Kongreso upang makapagpasa ng batas na sisigurong napapangalagaan ang kalikasan at matitiyak na makatarungan ang magiging pakinabang ng publiko at pribadong sektor sa mga biyayang makukuha natin mula sa industriyang ito. [Applause]

Pag-usapan po natin ang situwasyon sa Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. Dati, ang gobyernong dapat tumutulong, nanghihingi rin ng tulong. Ngayon, nasa Pasipiko pa lang ang bagyo, alam na kung saan idedestino ang ayuda, at may malinaw nang plano upang maiwasan ang peligro.

Tuwing pag-uusapan nga po ang sakuna, lagi kong naaalala ang nangyari po sa amin sa Tarlac noong minsang bumagyo. Sa lakas ng ulan, bumigay ang isang dike. Nang nagising ang atin pong barangay captain, tinangay na ng baha ang kanyang bahay at mga kagamitang pangsaka. Buti nga po’t nailigtas ang buong mag-anak. Malas lang po ng kalabaw nilang naiwang nakatali sa puno; nabigti ito sa lakas ng ragasa.

Walang kalaban-laban din po ang marami sa tinamaan ng bagyong Ondoy, Pepeng, at Sendong. Napakarami pong nasawi sa paghagupit ng mga delubyong ito. Sa ilalim ng bagong-lunsad na Project NOAH, isinakay natin sa iisang bangka ang mga inisyatiba kontra-sakuna, at hindi na rin po idinadaan sa tsamba ang paglilikas sa mga pamilya. Gamit ang teknolohiya, nabibigyan na ng wastong babala ang Pilipino upang makapaghanda at makaiwas sa disgrasya.

Real-time at direkta na ang pakinabang ng walumpu’t anim na automated rain gauges at dalawampu’t walong water level monitoring sensors natin sa iba’t ibang rehiyon. Bago matapos ang 2013, ang target natin: animnaraang automated rain gauges at apatnaraan at dalawampu’t dalawang water level sensors. Ipapakabit po natin ang mga ito sa labingwalong pangunahing river basins sa buong bansa. [Applause]

Isa pa pong pagbabago: Dati, ang mga ahensya’y kanya-kanyang habulan ng numero, kanya-kanyang agenda, kanya-kanyang pasikatan. Ngayon, ang kultura sa gobyerno: bayanihan para sa kapakanan ng taumbayan. Convergence po ang tawag natin dito.

Dati pa naman po naglipana ang mga programa sa tree planting. Pero matapos magtanim, pababayaan na lang ang mga ito. Kapag nakita ng mga komunidad na naghahanap din ng kabuhayan, puputulin ang mga ito para gawing uling.

May solusyon na po rito. Mayroon na pong 128,558 hectares ng kagubatang naitanim sa buong bansa; bahagi lang po iyan ng kabuuang 1.5 million na ektaryang matatamnan bago tayo bumaba sa puwesto. [Applause] Nakapaloob po rito ang mga komunidad na nasa ilalim ng National Convergence Initiative. Ang proseso: pagkatanim ng puno, makikipag-ugnayan ang DSWD sa mga komunidad. Kapalit ng conditional cash transfer, aalagaan ang mga puno; mayroon ding mga magpapalago ng bagong punla sa nursery. Three hundred thirty-five thousand seventy-eight na po ang mga Pilipinong nakakakuha ng kabuhayan mula dito.

Sa isa nga pong programa, nakiambag din ang pribadong sektor, na nagbibigay ng espesyal na binhi ng kape at cacao sa komunidad, at tinuturuan silang alagaan at siguruhing mataas ang ani. Itinatanim ang kape sa ilalim ng mga puno, na habang nakatayo ay masisigurong hihigop ng baha at tutulong makaiwas tayo sa pinsala. Ang kumpanyang nagbigay ng binhi, sure buyer na rin ng ani. Panalo po ang mga komunidad na may dagdag kita, panalo ang pribadong sektor, panalo pa ang susunod na salinlahing makikinabang sa matatayog na puno. [Applause]

Matagal na pong problema ang illegal logging. Mula nga po nang lumapag ang EO 23, nakasabat na si Mayor Jun Amante ng mahigit anim na milyong pisong halaga ng troso. Nagpapasalamat tayo sa kanya. Sa Butuan pa lang ito; paano pa kung magpapakita ng ganitong political will ang lahat ng mga LGU?

Ang mga trosong nakukumpiska ng DENR, lalapag sa mga komunidad na naturuan na ng TESDA ng pagkakarpintero. Ang resulta: upuan para sa mga pampublikong paaralan na hawak naman ng DepEd. Isipin po ninyo, ang dating pinagmumulan ng pinsala, ngayon, tulay na para sa mas mabuting kinabukasan. Dati, imposible nga ito; imposible kung nagbubulag-bulagan ang pamahalaan sa ilegal na gawain.

Kaya kayong mga walang konsensya; kayong mga paulit-ulit isinusugal ang buhay ng kapwa Pilipino: maghanda na kayo. Tapos na ang maliligayang araw po ninyo. [Applause] Sinampolan na natin ang tatlumpu’t apat na kawani ng DENR, isang PNP provincial director, at pitong chiefs of police. Pinagpapaliwanag na rin po natin ang isang regional director ng PNP na nagbingi-bingihan sa aking utos at nagbulag-bulagan sa mga dambuhalang trosong dumaan sa kanilang tanawin. Kung hindi kayo umayos, isusunod namin kayo. Magkubli man kayo sa ilalim ng inyong mga padrino, aabutan namin kayo. Isasama na rin namin ang mga padrino ninyo. [Applause] Kaya bago pa magkasalubong ang ating landas, ako po’y muling makikiusap, mas maganda sigurong tumino na kayo.

Mula sa sinapupunan, sa pag-aaral at pagtatrabaho, may pagbabago nang haharap sa Pilipino. At sakaling piliin niyang magserbisyo sa gobyerno, tuloy pa rin ang pag-aaruga ng estado hanggang sa kanyang pagreretiro. Tatanawin ng pamahalaan ang kanyang ambag bilang lingkod-bayan, at hindi ipagdadamot sa kanya ang pensiyong siya rin naman ang nagpuhunan.

Isipin po ninyo, at ako po’y nagulat dito: may mga pensyonado tayong tumatanggap ng 500 pesos lamang kada buwan. Paano kaya niya ito pagkakasiyahin sa tubig, kuryente, at pagkain araw-araw? Ang atin pong tugon: Pagsapit ng bagong taon, hindi na bababa sa limanlibong piso ang matatanggap na buwanang pensyon ng ating old-age and disability pensioners. [Applause] Masaya tayong matutugunan natin ang pangangailangan nila ngayon, nang hindi isinusugal ang kapakanan ng mga pensyonado bukas.

Iba na po talaga ang mukha ng gobyerno. Sumasabay na po sa pribadong sektor ang ating pasahod para sa entry level. Pero kapag sabay kayong na-promote ng kaklase mong piniling mag-pribado, nagkakaiwanan na.

Mahahabol din po natin iyan; pero sa ngayon po, ang good news natin sa mga nagtatrabaho sa pamahalaan: Performance-Based Incentives. Dati, miski palpak ang palakad ng isang ahensya, very satisfactory pa rin ang pinakamababang rating ng empleyado. Dahil sa pakikisama, nahihirapan ang bisor na bigyan ng makatarungang rating ang mga tauhan niya. Nakakawawa tuloy ang mga mahusay magtrabaho. Nawawalan sila ng dahilan para galingan dahil parehas lang naman ang insentibo ng mga tamad at pursigido.

Heto po ang isa lamang sa mga hakbang natin upang tugunan ito. Simula ngayong taon, magpapatupad tayo ng sistema kung saan ang bonus ay nakabase sa pagtupad ng mga ahensya sa kanilang mga target para sa taon. [Applause] Nasa kamay na ng empleyado ang susi sa kanyang pag-angat. Ang insentibo, maaaring umabot ng tatlumpu’t limang libong piso, depende sa pagpapakitang-gilas mo sa iyong trabaho. Dagdag pa ito sa across-the-board na Christmas bonus na matatanggap mo.

Ginagawa natin ito, hindi lamang para itaas ang kumpiyansa at ipakita ang pagtitiwala natin sa ating mga lingkod-bayan. Higit sa lahat, para ito sa Pilipinong umaasa sa tapat at mahusay na serbisyo mula sa lingkod-bayan, at umaasang sila at sila lamang ang itinuturing na boss ng kanilang pamahalaan. [Applause]

Alam po niyo, sa simula pa lang mayroon nang mga kumukuwestiyon sa sinasabi nating, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Hanggang ngayon mayroon pa rin pong mangilan-ngilang nagtatanong: nakakain ba ang mabuting pamamahala? Ang simpleng sagot, “Siyempre.”

Isipin po natin ang ating pinanggalingan: Dati, parang “Wild West” ang pamumuhunan sa Pilipinas. May peligro na nga ang negosyo, sinagad pa ang risko dahil sa ‘di tiyak at nakalihim na patakaran. Kakamayan ka gamit ang kanan, kokotongan ka naman na gamit ang kaliwa.

Ngayon, dahil patas na ang laban, at may hayag at hindi pabagu-bagong mga patakaran, patuloy ang pagtaas ng kumpiyansa sa ating ekonomiya. Patuloy ang pagpasok ng puhunan; patuloy ang pagdami ng trabaho; patuloy ang positibong siklo ng pagkonsumo, paglago ng negosyo, at pagdami ng mamamayang naeempleyo. [Applause]

Dahil maayos ang paggugol ng gobyerno, walang tagas sa sistema. Dahil maayos ang pangkolekta ng buwis, lumalago ang kaban ng bayan. Bawat pisong nakokolekta, tiyak ang pupuntahan: Piso itong diretso sa kalsada, piso para sa bakuna, piso para sa classroom at upuan, piso para sa ating kinabukasan. [Applause]

Dahil maayos ang paggawa ng tulay, kalsada, at gusali, itinatayo ang mga ito kung saan kailangan. Maayos ang daanan, mas mabilis ang takbo ng produkto, serbisyo, at mamamayan.

Dahil maayos ang pamamahala sa agrikultura, tumataas ang produksyon ng pagkain, at hindi pumapalo ang presyo nito. Stable ang pasahod, at mas malakas ang pambansang ekonomiya.

Tunay nga po, ang matatag at malakas na ekonomiyang pinanday ng mabuting pamamahala ang pinakamabisang kalasag laban sa mga hamon na kinakaharap ng daigdig. Dalawang taon po nating binaklas ang mga balakid sa pag-unlad, at ngayon, tayo na lang mismo ang makakapigil sa ating sariling pag-angat.

Ginawa po natin ang lahat ng ito habang binubuno rin ng bawat bansa sa iba’t ibang sulok ng daigdig ang kani-kanilang problema’t pagsubok.

Hindi po tayo nag-iisa sa mundo, kaya’t habang tinutugunan natin ang sarili nating mga suliranin, angkop lamang na bantayan din ang ilang pangyayaring maaaring makaapekto sa atin.

Naging maugong ang mga kaganapan sa Bajo de Masinloc. May mga mangingisdang Tsinong pumasok sa ating teritoryo. Nasabat ng barko natin at nasabat sa kanilang mga barko ang endangered species. Bilang pinuno, kailangan kong ipatupad ang batas na umiiral sa ating bansa. Sa pagsulong nito, nagbungguan ang Nine-Dash Line Theory ng mga Tsino, na umaangkin sa halos buong West Philippine Sea, at ang karapatan natin at ng marami pang ibang bansa, kasama na ang Tsina, na pinagtibay naman ng United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea.

Ibayong hinahon ang ipinamalas natin. Ang barko ng Hukbong Dagat, bilang tanda ng ating malinis na hangarin, ay agad nating pinalitan ng barkong sibilyan. Hindi tayo nakipagsagutan sa mga banat ng kanilang media sa atin. Hindi naman po siguro kalabisan na hilingin sa kabilang panig na galangin ang ating karapatan, gaya ng paggalang sa kanilang mga karapatan bilang kapwa bansang nasa iisang mundong kailangang pagsaluhan.

Mayroon po tayong mga miron na nagsasabing hayaan na lang ang Bajo de Masinloc; umiwas na lang tayo. Pero kung may pumasok sa inyong bakuran at sinabing sa kanya na ang kanyang kinatatayuan ay sa kanya na, papayag ba kayo? Hindi naman po yata tamang ipamigay na lang natin sa iba ang sadyang atin talaga. [Applause]

Kaya nga po hinihiling ko sa sambayanan ang pakikiisa sa isyung ito. Iisa lang po dapat ang kumpas natin. Tulungan ninyo akong iparinig sa kabilang panig ang katuwiran ng ating mga paninindigan.

Hindi po simple ang sitwasyon, at hindi magiging simple ang solusyon. Magtiwala po kayo, kumokonsulta tayo sa mga eksperto, at sa lahat ng pinuno ng ating bansa, pati na sa mga kaalyado natin—gayundin sa mga nasa kabilang panig ng usaping ito—upang makahanap ng solusyon na katanggap-tanggap sa lahat. [Applause]

Sa bawat hakbang sa tuwid na daan, nagpunla tayo ng pagbabago. Ngunit may mangilan-ngilan pa ring pilit na bubunot nito. Habang nagtatalumpati ako ngayon, may mga nagbubulung-bulungan sa isang silid at hinihimay ang aking mga sinasabi; naghahanap ng butas na ipambabatikos bukas. Sasabihin nila, “Salita lang ito, at hindi totoo ang tuwid na landas.” Sila rin po ang magsasabing hayaan na, magkaisa na; forgive and forget na lang para makausad na tayo.

Hindi ko po matatanggap ito. Forgive and forget na lang ang sampung taon na nawala sa atin? Forgive and forget na lang para sa magsasakang nabaon sa utang dahil sa kakaangkat natin ng bigas, gayong puwede naman palang pagyamanin ang ating sariling lupa?

Forgive and forget na lang ba para sa pamilya ng isang pulis na namatay nang walang kalaban-laban, dahil batuta lang ang hawak niya habang hinahabol ang armadong masasamang-loob?

Forgive and forget na lang ba para sa mga naulila ng limampu’t pitong biktima ng masaker sa Maguindanao? Maibabalik ba sila ng “forgive and forget?” [Applause] Forgive and forget ang lahat ng atraso ng mga naglubog sa atin sa bulok na estado? Forgive and forget para maibalik ang lumang status quo? Ang tugon ko, “Ang magpatawad, maaari; ang makalimot, hindi.” [Applause] Kung ang nagkasala ay hindi mananagot, gagarantiyahan mo ang pagpapahirap muli sa sambayanan.

Ang tunay na pagkakaisa at pagkakasunduan ay magmumula lamang sa tunay at ganap na katarungan. Katarungan ang tawag sa plunder case na isinampa laban sa dating pangulo. [Applause] Katarungan na bigyan siya ng pagkakataong harapin ang mga akusasyon at ipagtanggol ang kanyang sarili. Katarungan ang nasaksihan natin noong ikadalawampu’t siyam ng Mayo. Noong araw na iyon, pinatunayan natin: Posibleng mangibabaw ang katarungan kahit na ang kabangga mo ay may mataas na katungkulan. [Applause] Noong araw na iyon, may isang Delsa Flores sa Panabo, Davao del Norte, na nagsabing, “Posible palang iisang batas lang ang kailangang sundin ng court interpreter na tulad ko, at ng Punong Mahistrado.” [Applause]  Posible palang maging patas ang timbangan; maaaring isakdal at panagutin miski ang mayaman at makapangyarihan.

Kaya po sa susunod na magiging Punong Mahistrado, malaki ang inaasahan sa inyo ng sambayanan. Napatunayan na po nating posible ang imposible; ang trabaho natin ngayon, siguruhing magpapatuloy ang pagbabago tungo sa tunay na katarungan, matapos man ang ating termino. [Applause]  Marami pong sira sa sistemang kailangan ninyong kumpunihin, at alam kong hindi magiging madali ito. Alam ko po kung gaano kabigat ang pasanin ng isang malinaw na mandato; ngunit ito ang atas sa atin ng taumbayan; ito ang tungkuling ating sinumpaan; ito ang kailangan nating gampanan.

Simple lang ang hangad natin: Kung inosente ka, buong-loob kang haharap sa korte, dahil kampante kang mapapawalang-sala ka. Kung ikaw ang salarin, anuman ang apelyido mo, o gaano man karami ang titulong nakakabit sa iyong pangalan, may katiyakan din na pananagutan mo ang ginawa mong kasalanan. [Applause]

Salamat din po kay Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, [applause] sa pagtanggap ng hamon na maging tunay na tanod-bayan. Kung tutuusin, puwede na niyang tanggihan ang responsibilidad at sabihing, “Retirado na ako, puwede bang ‘yung iba na lang?” Subalit nangibabaw ang kaniyang malasakit sa bayan. Sa kabila nito, may nagregalo pa rin sa kanya ng granada sa bahay. [Laughter] Ma’am, may mga darating pa pong pagsubok; baka po paglaon, magaya na kayo sa akin na tinatawag, sabay-sabay pang tinatawag, na ganid na kapitalistang kakuntsaba o komunista din patungong diktador dahil sa masigasig na mga repormang ipinapatupad natin.

Bilib po ako sa inyong pagpapakitang-gilas at maraming salamat sa pagiging instrumento ng katarungan, lalo na noong kasagsagan ng impeachment trial. [Applause] Salamat din po sa dalawang institusyong bumubuo ng Kongreso: Sa Senado at Kamara de Representante, na tinimbang ng taumbayan at nakitang sapat na sapat.

Sa lahat po ng tumulong sa pagpapagana ng mga prosesong pangkatarungan: Dumaan kayo sa matinding pagsubok, batikos, at agam-agam; kasama pa ang kaba na kung natalo tayo, kayo ang unang pupuntiryahin ng kalaban. Pero ‘di kayo natinag. Umasa sa inyo ang Pilipino, at pinatunayan ninyong tama ang pag-asa sa inyo. Hindi ninyo binigo ang sambayanan; ipinaliwanag ninyo lalo ang ating kinabukasan. [Applause]

Paalala lang po: Hindi natatapos ang laban sa isang tiwaling opisyal na natanggal sa puwesto, sa isang maanomalyang kontratang napigil ipatupad, o sa isang opisinang naituwid ang pamamalakad. Kaya naman nananawagan po tayo sa Kongreso na ipasa ang panukala nating sa pag-amyenda sa Anti-Money Laundering Act, upang mas mapaigting pa natin ang pagpapanagot sa mga tiwali.

Itong tinatamasa natin ngayon: ang bawat nailawan at iilawan pang sitio; ang bawat daan, tulay, paliparan, tren, at daungan; ang bawat kontratang walang bukol; ang kaligtasan at kapayapaan mula lungsod hanggang nayon; ang pagbalik ng piring sa sistemang pangkatarungan; ang bawat classroom, upuan, at aklat na napasakamay ng kabataan; ang bawat Pilipinong nahahandugan ng bagong kinabukasan—ang lahat ng ito, naabot natin sa loob lamang ng dalawang taon.

Pagtabihin po natin ang dalawang taon na ito, at ang nakaraang siyam at kalahating taon na ating pinagdusahan. ‘Di po ba’t sumusulong na ang agenda ng pagbabago? Ang kapareho namin ng adhikain, malamang, kasama namin sa agendang ito. At kung kontra ka sa amin, siguro kontra ka rin sa ginagawa namin. Kung kumukontra sila sa agenda ng pagbabago, masasabi ba niyang sila’y nasa panig ninyo?

Paparating na naman po ang halalan. Kayo po, ang aming mga boss, ang tangi naming susundan. Ang tanong ko sa inyo, “Boss, saan tayo tatahak? Tuloy ba ang biyahe natin sa tuwid na landas, o magmamane-obra ba tayo paatras, pabalik sa daan na baluktot at walang patutunguhan?”

Naalala ko pa po noong nagsimula tayo. Mulat na mulat ako sa bigat ng pasaning sasalubong sa atin. Kabilang ako sa mga nag-isip: Kaya pa bang ituwid ang ganito kabaluktot na sistema?

Heto po ang aking natutuhan sa dalawampu’t limang buwan ng pagkapinuno: Walang pong imposible. [Applause] Walang imposible dahil kung nakikita ng taumbayan na sila ang tanging boss ng kanilang pamahalaan, bubuhatin ka nila, gagabayan ka nila, sila mismo ang mamumuno tungo sa makabuluhang pagbabago. Hindi imposible na ang Pilipinas ang maging kauna-unahang bansa sa Timog-Silangang Asya na magbibigay at nagbibigay ng libreng bakuna laban sa rotavirus. Hindi imposible para sa Pilipinas na tumindig at sabihing, “Ang Pilipinas ay sa Pilipino—at handa kaming ipagtanggol ito.” Hindi imposible na ang Pilipinong kay tagal nang yumuyuko tuwing may nakakasalubong na dayuhan—ang Pilipino, ngayon, taas-noong tinitingala ng buong mundo. [Applause] Talaga naman pong ang sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito.

Noon pong nakaraang taon, hiniling ko sa taumbayan, magpasalamat sa mga nakikiambag sa positibong pagbabago sa lipunan. Hindi po biro ang mga pagsubok na dinaanan natin, kaya angkop lamang na pasalamatan ang mga taong nakibalikat, sa pagkukumpuni sa mga maling idinulot ng masamang pamamahala.

Sa lahat ng miyembro ng aking Gabinete: Maraming, maraming salamat. [Applause] Mapalad po ang sambayanan at may mga tulad ninyong handang isuko ang pribado at mas tahimik na pamumuhay para maghatid ng serbisyo-publiko, kahit pa batid ninyong ang kapalit nito ay mas maliit na sweldo, panganib, at pambabatikos. Kaya maraming salamat muli.

Huwag din po sana nilang masamain dahil personal ko silang pangangalanan: Kina Father Catalino Arevalo, at Sister Agnes Guillen, na dumidilig at nagpapalago sa aking buhay spirituwal, lalo na sa mga panahong sukdulan ang pagsubok sa amin, maraming, maraming salamat din po. [Applause]

Ito po ang aking ikatlong SONA, tatlo na lamang din po ang natitira. Papasok na po tayo sa kalagitnaan ng ating liderato. Noong nakaraang taon, ang hamon ko sa inyo: iwaksi ang kultura ng negatibismo; sa bawat pagkakataon, iangat ang kapwa-Pilipino.

Batid po sa tinatamasa natin ngayon: hindi kayo nabigo. Sa inyo nagmula ang pagbabago. Ang sabi ninyo: posible.

Humaharap po ako sa inyo bilang mukha ng isang gobyernong kayo ang boss at kayo pa rin ang lakas. Inuulat ko lamang ang mga pagbabagong ginawa ninyong posible.

Kaya nga po sa lahat ng nurse, midwife, o doktor na piniling magsilbi sa mga baryo; sa bawat bagong graduate na piniling magtrabaho sa gobyerno; sa bawat atletang Pilipinong bitbit ang watawat saan mang panig ng mundo; sa bawat kawani ng pamahalaan na tapat na nagseserbisyo: Kayo po ang gumawa ng pagbabago. [Applause]

Sa tuwing haharap ako sa isang ina na nagsasabing, “Salamat at nabakunahan na ang aking sanggol,” ang tugon ko: Ikaw ang gumawa nito.

Sa tuwing haharap ako sa isang bata na nagsasabing, “Salamat sa papel at lapis, sa pagkakataong makapag-aral,” ang tugon ko: Kasama ka sa gumawa nito.

Sa tuwing haharap ako sa isang OFW na nagsasabing, “Salamat at puwede ko na muling pangaraping tumanda sa Pilipinas,” ang tugon ko: Ikaw ang gumawa nito.

Sa tuwing haharap ako sa isang Pilipinong nagsasabing, “Salamat, akala ko hindi na magkakakuryente sa aming sitio. Akala ko hindi ko na aabuting buhay ang liwanag na ganito,” ang tugon ko: Ikaw ang gumawa nito.

Sa bawat pagkakataon na haharap ako sa isang magsasaka, guro, piloto, inhinyero, tsuper, ahente sa call center, karaniwang Pilipino; sa bawat Juan at Juana dela Cruz na nagsasabing “Salamat sa pagbabago,” ang tugon ko sa inyo: Kayo ang gumawa nito. [Applause]

Inuulit ko po, posible na ang dating imposible. Humaharap po ako sa inyo ngayon, at sinasabing: hindi ko SONA ito. Kayo ang gumawa nito. SONA ito ng sambayanang Pilipino. Maraming, maraming salamat po at magandang hapon po sa lahat. [Applause]

On July 23, 2012, President Benigno S. Aquino III will deliver his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) during a joint session to mark the opening of the third regular session of the 15th Congress of the Philippines.

There have been 72 SONAs, and the forthcoming address of President Aquino III will be the 73rd since 1936 and the 26th since the restoration of democratic rule under the Fifth Republic in 1987.

The SONA delivered by the President is a yearly tradition wherein the chief executive reports on the status of the country, unveils the government’s agenda for the coming year, and may also propose to Congress certain legislative measures. The SONA is a constitutional obligation, as written in Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution: “[t]he President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.” Moreover, Article VI, Section 15 prescribes that the Congress “shall convene once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session.”

Traditions and Procedure

 

Session Hall of Batasan Pambansa during the 2011 SONA of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The President of the Philippines appears before Congress upon its invitation, for which purpose a joint session is held in the Session Hall of the House of Representatives. Congress issues tickets, and all preparations are undertaken with Congress as the official host.

On Monday morning, both the House of Representatives and the Senate hold their respective sessions in their respective chambers and elect their officials. Thereafter, a concurrent resolution is filed stating that both chambers are ready to hear the address of the President. Sessions of both Houses are suspended.

In the afternoon, the President is met at Batasan Pambansa, either planeside or carside, by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Sergeants-at-Arms of both Houses of Congress. The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces will then escort the President past the Honor Guard. At this point, the military escort of the President is relieved of duty and replaced by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives, symbolizing the independence of the Legislature. The President is then escorted to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO), which serves as the chief executive’s office in the House Representatives. The leaders of both chambers traditionally pay a courtesy call to the President in the PLLO.

A Welcoming Committee, appointed by and among peers in both Chambers of Congress, accompany the President into the Session Hall. Upon his entry to the Session Hall, the Speaker of the House announces the arrival of the President, who takes his position between the Senate President and the Speaker of the House. The Joint Session of Congress is thereafter called to order, followed by the singing of the national anthem and the invocation. After which, the President descends to the rostrum to deliver the SONA.

After the message of the President, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate close the Joint Session of Congress for their respective Chambers.

The life span of each Congress begins and ends with the election of members of the House of Representatives, who are to serve for three years. The life span of a Congress is subdivided in turn into three regular sessions, each corresponding to a calendar year. Thus, the SONA marks the opening of each regular session of Congress.

The number of each given Congress—for example, the present 15th Congress—is based on how many congresses were held since Philippine independence was recognized by the Americans on July 4, 1946. Thus, the last (which was the First) Congress of the Commonwealth of the Philippines became the First Congress of the Republic of the Philippines. This count was maintained until martial law was declared by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. With the restoration of the Bicameral Legislature in 1987, it was decided to maintain the count, taking up where the last pre-martial law Congress left off. Thus, the last Congress under the 1935 Constitution was the Seventh Congress, and the First Congress under the 1987 Constitution became the Eighth Congress.

The current 15th Congress will last until June 30, 2013.

Historical Evolution of the SONA

 

President Manuel L. Quezon delivers his 1940 message to the National Assembly in front of its Speaker Jose Yulo and United States High Commissioner Francis B. Sayre.

The First Philippine Republic borrowed European parliamentary tradition, wherein the head of state ceremonially opened sessions of the National Assembly. According to the 1899 Constitution, the President of the Philippines has the duty to open, suspend, and close Congress. The Constitution also gave the President the power to communicate to Congress through messages to be read to the National  Assembly by Secretaries of Government.

On September 15, 1898, President Emilio Aguinaldo delivered an address during the Inaugural Session of the Assembly of Representatives, more popularly known as the Malolos Congress. This speech was not a SONA because it was merely a congratulatory message to the Assembly instead of a constitutionally mandated report to the Legislature.

The practice of giving an annual report on the state of the Philippines was first enshrined in the Jones Law of 1916. The legal measure prescribed the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands to report to an executive office on the administration of the territory, which would then transmit the report to the President of the United States. According to the Jones Law, the report shall include the transactions of the government of the Philippine Islands to be submitted annually and as regularly as may be required.

Commonwealth of the Philippines

The SONA, as an annual practice we know it today, began during the Commonwealth of the Philippines. The 1935 Constitution, as amended, stated in Article VII, Section 5 that

[t]he President shall from time to time give to the Congress information on the state of the Nation, and recommend to its consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

Thus, the annual address to the Legislature became known as the SONA.

 

(Top) President Macapagal, third from right, poses between Speaker Villareal and Senate President Marcos after delivering his 1963 SONA; (middle) President Quirino in 1949; (below) President Roxas delivers his SONA in 1946.

The date of the opening of the sessions of the National Assembly was fixed, pursuant to Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 17, at June 16 of every year. The first SONA was delivered by President Manuel L. Quezon at the Legislative Building on June 16, 1936.

CA 49, however, amended CA 17 and designated the 16th of October as the date of the opening of the regular sessions of the National Assembly. As this fell on a Saturday in 1937, the second SONA was delivered by President Quezon on Monday, October 18, 1937.

With the approval of CA 244 on December 10, 1937, the date of the opening of the regular sessions of the National Assembly was again moved to the fourth Monday of every year, starting in 1938. President Quezon delivered his last SONA on January 31, 1941, as he would already be in exile the following year because of the Japanese occupation.

Second Republic

President Jose P. Laurel of the Second Philippine Republic was able to deliver his first and only message before the special session of the National Assembly, led by Speaker Benigno Aquino Sr., on October 18, 1943, four days after the Republic was established. This also took place in the Legislative Building, Manila. However, Laurel, who was one of the delegates who drafted the 1935 Constitution, pointed out in his address that the 1943 Constitution did not provide for a report to the Legislature on the state of the nation and that his speech was not a SONA. His message before the assembly, therefore, is not included in the roster of SONAs.

Restored Commonwealth

With the defeat of the Imperial Japanese forces and the reestablishment of the Commonwealth Government in the Philippines, the Congress of the Philippines, elected in 1941 and now a bicameral body, convened on June 9, 1945. During this special session, President Sergio Osmeña addressed the lawmakers at their provisional quarters in a converted school house at Lepanto Street in Manila and gave a comprehensive report on the work carried out by the Commonwealth Government during its three-year stay in Washington, DC. Furthermore, he described the conditions prevailing in the Philippines during the period of occupation and an acknowledgment of the invaluable assistance rendered by the guerrillas to the American forces in the liberation of the Philippines. This was President Osmeña’s first and only SONA.

The last SONA under the Commonwealth of the Philippines was delivered by President Manuel Roxas on June 3, 1946. After the establishment of the independent Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946, the SONA was to be delivered on the fourth Monday of January, pursuant to CA 244, starting with President Roxas’s address to the First Congress on January 27, 1947.

Third Republic

 

Ramon Magsaysay is flanked by Senate President Eulogio Rodriguez Sr. and Speaker Pro Tempore Daniel Romualdez during the 1956 SONA delivered at the Legislative Building, Manila.

Starting in 1949, the address was held at the reconstructed Legislative Building. Only once did a president not appear personally before Congress: On January 23, 1950, President Elpidio Quirino, who was recuperating at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, delivered his SONA to the Joint Session of Congress via radio broadcast through RCS in the United States that was picked up by the local radio network at 10:00 a.m., just in time for the opening of the regular Congressional session.

Martial Law and the Fourth Republic

 

President Ferdinand E. Marcos delivering the 1972 SONA in the Legislative Building in Manila.

The January tradition was continued until 1972. From 1973 to 1977, the SONA was delivered on the official anniversary of the imposition of martial law on September 21 of each year (official because martial law was actually imposed on September 23, 1972), and because Congress was abolished with the promulgation of the 1973 Constitution, these addresses were delivered before an assembly either in Malacañan Palace or at Luneta, except in 1976, when the address was given during the opening of the Batasang Bayan at the Philippine International Convention Center.

President Marcos began delivering the SONA at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City on June 12, 1978, during the opening session of the Interim Batasan Pambansa. From 1979 onward, the SONA was delivered on the fourth Monday of July, following the provisions of the 1973 and, later, 1987 Constitutions. The only exceptions have been in 1983, when the SONA was delivered on January 17 to commemorate the anniversary of the ratification of the 1973 Constitution and the second anniversary of the lifting of martial law, and in 1986, when President Corazon C. Aquino, who had declared a revolutionary government, did not deliver any SONA.

Fifth Republic

 

President Corazon C. Aquino’s 1987 SONA was published in the now defunct Malacañang Journal. The photo shows her on the rostrum of the Batasan Pambansa, with Speaker Ramon Mitra and Senate President Jovito Salonga.

With the restoration of Congress in 1987, President Corazon Aquino was able to deliver her SONA in the Session Hall of the House of Representatives at the Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City. Presidents Corazon C. Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno S. Aquino III all delivered their SONAs at the same venue.

Trivia: Presidents and Their State of the Nation Addresses

On July 26, 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III delivered his first SONA. It was the first SONA in history delivered entirely in Filipino. Past presidents have either delivered entirely in English or included some portions in the vernacular, starting with President Manuel L. Quezon, who used the single Tagalog word “kasamas” in the first SONA in 1936—the address wherein he proposed the creation of Filipino, the national language.

On July 25, 2011, during the second SONA of President Benigno S. Aquino III, an English translation of the address was delivered in real time for the benefit of the Diplomatic Corps. Thus, on his second year in office, President Benigno S. Aquino III has introduced two new innovations in the SONA tradition: the delivery of the address purely in Filipino and real-time translation.

The President who has delivered the most SONAs was Ferdinand E. Marcos, who held power from December 30, 1965 to February 26, 1986. He delivered 20 SONAs. Second to him is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who stayed in power for nine years and delivered nine SONAs.

Two presidents did not deliver SONAs because the Constitutions during their time made no provision nor requirement for a report to Congress: Aguinaldo and Laurel.

The president who delivered the least number of SONAs was President Sergio Osmeña, who delivered only one SONA upon the restoration of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1945.

President Ferdinand Marcos was the only President who did not deliver SONAs in front of Congress. He did this in 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1977.

President Elpidio Quirino was the only President who delivered a SONA via a radio broadcast, which was aired live in Congress while in session. At the time, he was confined at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States.

Upon her ascension to the Presidency in 1986, Corazon C. Aquino did not deliver a SONA, making it the only year since 1945 wherein a SONA did not take place. From 1942 to 1944, the years of the World War II occupation, there were no SONAs delivered.

 

A 32-sec newsreel, showing President Quezon delivering his 1938 State of the Nation Address. (Source: Thought Equity Motion)

What is a National Artist?

A National Artist is a Filipino citizen who has been given the rank and title of National Artist in recognition of his or her significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters.

The rank and title of National Artist is conferred by means of a Presidential Proclamation. It recognizes excellence in the fields of Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts, and Architecture or Allied Arts.

What is the Order of National Artists?

Those who have been proclaimed National Artists are given a Grand Collar symbolizing their status. Recipients of this Grand Collar make up the Order of National Artists. The Order of National Artists (Orden ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) is thus a rank, a title, and a wearable award that represents the highest national recognition given to Filipinos who have made distinct contributions in the field of arts and letters. It is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and is conferred by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation by both institutions.

As one of the Honors of the Philippines, it embodies the nation’s highest ideals in humanism and aesthetic expression through the distinct achievements of individual citizens. The Order of National Artists shares similarities with orders, decorations, and medals of other countries recognizing contributions to their national culture such as, the U.S. National Medal for the Arts, and the Order of Culture of Japan.

According to the rules of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, the Order of National Artists should be conferred every three years.

The insignia of the Order of National Artists

The insignia of the Order of the National Artists is composed of a Grand Collar featuring circular links portraying the arts, and an eight-pointed conventionalized sunburst suspended from a sampaguita wreath in green and white enamel. The central badge is a medallion divided into three equal portions, red, white, and blue, recalling the Philippine flag, with three stylized letter Ks—the “KKK” stands for the CCP’s motto: “katotohanan, kabutihan, at kagandahan” (“the true, the good, and the beautiful”), as coined by then first lady Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, the CCP’s founder. The composition of the Grand Collar is silver gilt bronze. In place of a rosette there is an enameled pin in the form of the insignia of the order.

When was the Order of National Artists created?

It was established by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1001, s. 1972, which created the Award and Decoration of National Artist, “to give appropriate recognition and prestige to Filipinos who have distinguished themselves and made outstanding contributions to Philippine arts and letters,” and which posthumously conferred the award on the painter Fernando Amorsolo, who had died earlier that year.

Legal basis of the Order of National Artists

Proclamation No. 1144, s. 1973 named the CCP Board of Trustees as the National Artist Awards Committee. Presidential Decree No. 208, s. 1973 reiterated the mandate of the CCP to administer the National Artist Awards as well as the privileges and honors to National Artists.

Executive Order No. 236 s. 2003, otherwise known as the Honors Code of the Philippines, conferred additional prestige on the National Artist Award by raising it to the level of a Cultural Order, fourth in precedence among the orders and decorations that comprise the Honors of the Philippines, and equal in rank to the Order of National Scientists and the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan. The National Artist Award was thereby renamed the Order of National Artists (Orden ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining). This reflected the consensus among government cultural agencies and the artistic community that the highest possible international prestige and recognition should be given our National Artists. Section 5 of EO 236 stated the President may confer the Order of National Artists “upon the recommendation of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).”

Executive Order No. 435, s. 2005 amended Section 5 (IV) of EO 236, giving the President the power to name National Artists without need of a recommendation, relegating the NCCA and the CCP to mere advisory bodies that may or may not be heeded. This expanded President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s flexibility to proclaim National Artists at her discretion, which led to the controversy of 2009 and the subsequent intervention of the Supreme Court by issuing a status quo ante order against the awardees that year.

Pending official amendments, it is the policy of the present administration to revert to the broad consensus that led to the original version of the Honors Code: where the President of the Philippines acts upon the recommendations of the CCP and the NCCA.

Process of nomination and conferment of the Order

 

Criteria for the Order of National Artists

1. Living artists who are Filipino citizens at the time of nomination, as well as those who died after the establishment of the award in 1972 but were Filipino citizens at the time of their death;

2. Artists who, through the content and form of their works, have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood;

3. Artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists;

4. Artists who have created a substantial and significant body of work and/or consistently displayed excellence in the practice of their art form thus enriching artistic expression or style; and

5. Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through:

• prestigious national and/or international recognition, such as the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, CCP Thirteen Artists Award and NCCA Alab ng Haraya;

• critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works;

• respect and esteem from peers.

Those submitting nominations for National Artist must submit the following:

• A cover letter from the nominating organization. The cover letter shall be accompanied by a Board Resolution approving the nomination concerned with the said resolution signed by the organization President and duly certified by the Board Secretary.

• A duly accomplished nomination form;

• A detailed curriculum vitae of the nominee;

• A list of the nominee’s significant works categorized according to the criteria;

• The latest photograph (color or black and white) of the nominee, either 5″ x 7″ or 8″ x 11″;

• Pertinent information materials on the nominee’s significant works (on CDs, VCDs and DVDs);

• Copies of published reviews; and

• Any other document that may be required.

To the following addresses:

The NATIONAL ARTIST AWARD SECRETARIAT Office of the Artistic Director Cultural Center of the Philippines Roxas Boulevard, 1300 Pasay City

The NATIONAL ARTIST AWARD SECRETARIAT Office of the Deputy Executive Director National Commission for Culture and the Arts 633 General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila

A member of the Order of National Artists are granted the following honors and privileges:

1. The rank and title of National Artist, as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines;

2. The insignia of a National Artist and a citation;

3. A lifetime emolument and material and physical benefits comparable in value to those received by the highest officers of the land such as:

a. a cash award of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) net of taxes, for living awardees;

b. a cash award of Seventy Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00) net of taxes, for posthumous awardees, payable to legal heir/s;

c. a monthly life pension, medical and hospitalization benefits;

d. life insurance coverage for Awardees who are still insurable;

e. a state funeral and burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani;

f. a place of honor, in line with protocular precedence, at national state functions, and recognition at cultural events.

____________________

Source: The NCCA’s National Artists of the Philippines GuidelinesFor more information on Philippine arts and culture, please visitwww.ncca.gov.ph

        

Appendix: The Roster of National Artists

 

Awardee

 

Date of Award

 

 

Category

1. Fernando Amorsolo (++) 1972 Painting
2. Francisca R. Aquino (+) 1973 Dance
3. Carlos V. Francisco (++) 1973 Painting
4. Amado V. Hernandez (++) 1973 Literature
5. Antonio J. Molina (+) 1973 Music
6. Juan F.  Nakpil (+) 1973 Architecture
7. Guillermo E. Tolentino (+) 1973 Sculpture
8. Jose Garcia Villa (+) 1973 Literature
9. Napoleon V. Abueva 1976 Sculpture
10. Lamberto V. Avellana (+) 1976 Theater and Film
11. Leonor O. Goquingco (+) 1976 Dance
12. Nick Joaquin (+) 1976 Literature
13. Jovita Fuentes (+) 1976 Music
14. Victorio C. Edades (+) 1976 Painting
15. Pablo S. Antonio (++) 1976 Architecture
16. Vicente S. Manansala (++) 1981 Painting
17. Carlos P. Romulo (+) 1982 Literature
18. Gerardo de Leon (++) 1982 Film
19. Honorata “Atang” dela Rama (++) 1987 Theater and Music
20. Antonio R. Buenaventura (+) 1988 Music
21. Lucrecia R. Urtula (+) 1988 Dance
22. Lucrecia R. Kasilag (+) 1989 Music
23. Francisco Arcellana (+) 1990 Literature
24. Cesar Legaspi (+) 1990 Visual Arts
25. Leandro V. Locsin (+) 1990 Architecture
26. Hernando R. Ocampo (++) 1991 Visual Arts
27. Lucio D. San Pedro (+) 1991 Music
28. Lino Brocka (++) 1997 Cinema
29. Felipe D. De Leon (++) 1997 Music
30. Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero (++) 1997 Theater
31. Rolando S. Tinio (++) 1997 Theater & Literature
32. Levi Celerio (+) 1997 Music & Literature
33. N.V.M. Gonzales (++) 1997 Literature
34. Arturo Luz 1997 Visual Arts
35. Jose Maceda (+) 1997 Music
36. Carlos Quirino (+) 1997 Historical Literature
37. J. Elizalde Navarro (++) 1999 Painting
38. Prof. Andrea Veneracion 1999 Music
39. Edith L. Tiempo (+) 1999 Literature
40. Daisy Avellana 1999 Theater
41. Ernani Cuenco (++) 1999 Music
42. F. Sionil Jose 2001 Literature
43. Ang Kiukok (+) 2001 Visual Arts
44. Ishmael Bernal (++) 2001 Film
45. Severino Montano (++) 2001 Theater
46. Jose T. Joya (++) 2003 Visual Arts (Painting)
47. Virgilio S. Almario 2003 Literature
48. Alejandro Roces (+) 2003 Literature
49. Eddie S. Romero 2003 Film & Broadcast Arts
50. Salvador F. Bernal (+) 2003 Theater & Design
51. Ben Cabrera 2006 Visual Arts
52. Abdulmari Asia Imao 2006 Visual Arts
53. Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera 2006 Literature
54. Ramon Obusan  (+) 2006 Dance
55. Fernando Poe Jr. (++) 2006 Film
56. Archt. Ildefonso Santos, Jr. 2006 Landscape Architecture
57. Ramon Valera (++) 2006 Fashion Design

Legend: (+) deceased; (++) posthumous conferment.

 

First posted June 29, 2012; updated July 11, 2012. in the Philippine Official Gazette.

Statement of Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte:
On the Proclamation of a National Day of Remembrance in honor of the late Rodolfo “Dolphy” Quizon Sr.

[Released on July 12, 2012]

Tonight President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Proclamation No. 433, declaring tomorrow, July 13, 2012 a National Day of Remembrance to honor the memory of the late Rodolfo “Dolphy” Quizon, Sr.

The President issued the proclamation in recognition of how the nation deeply feels the passing of Dolphy. In the proclamation, the President cited Dolphy as a man who will live on in Philippine cultural history—and in the hearts of many of his countrymen.

President Aquino in his proclamation said that every milestone that Dolphy marked in a career that spanned decades, raised the standards of the entertainment industry, and strengthened our cultural identity, giving innumerable aspirants an example to look up to.

The President also cited Dolphy as a philanthropist, whose encouragement of charitable causes was driven by a deep-rooted recognition of the promise within his fellowmen and a genuinely generous heart.

In citing Dolphy’s life and career, the President in his proclamation said it is appropriate to mark the memory of Mr. Quizon’s contributions to Philippine culture, arts, and entertainment; but that even as we grieve the loss of a cultural icon and a master of his field, we should never forget that Dolphy made generations of Filipinos laugh; he was unparalleled in tapping into our inherently jovial spirit—that both challenges and triumphs could be met with optimism and cheer; and that therefore, this was the greatest gift he gave the Filipino people, and this is the kindness that he will always be remembered for: Dolphy was relentless in reminding us all to always open ourselves to joy.

On the Day of National Remembrance, to honor the memory of the late Rodolfo “Dolphy” Quizon Sr. the President asks all our countrymen to reflect on the art and artistry, the personal kindness and generosity, and deep patriotism, of Dolphy, and the manner in which he exemplified in his works and life, the positive values of the Filipino people. The President asks all our countrymen to make this Day of Remembrance a celebration of the full life that Dolphy, with utmost generosity, shared with the country.

The President’s proclamation is in keeping with the wishes expressed by the late Dolphy himself, and his family, that he be remembered not with sadness, but with the same warmth and joy he brought to the lives of millions throughout his career.