(English translation) Benigno S. Aquino III, Third State of the Nation Address, July 23, 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

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]

State of the Nation Address: Traditions and History

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)

Local Government Code Anniversary

October 10, 2011
The landmark on local autonomy and decentralization known as the Local Government Code of 1991 will mark its 20th year of implementation on October 10 of this year. In recognition of the development opportunities provided by this milestone legislation, the Union of Local Authorities in the Philippines (ULAP) is spearheading the celebration of the gains of its 20 years of implementation.

The theme of this 20th anniversary celebration is “Local Government Code: 20 years of Gains Towards A More Meaningful Autonomy.” The celebration aims to reflect on the two decades of accomplishments made possible by the LGC, highlight continuing challenges in local governance within the framework of the LGC that need to be addressed and explore possibilities for future evolution of the code provisions in enhance local autonomy towards national development . As a way of increasing awareness of the general public on local governance issues, a series of parallel activities at the local and national level will be organized.

State of the Nation Address of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III (English Translation)

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 25, 2011]

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Chief Justice Renato Corona and the honorable Justices of the Supreme Court; honorable members of the diplomatic corps; members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; Local Government Officials; members of our Cabinet; members of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police; to my fellow servants of the Filipino people;

And to my beloved countrymen, my Bosses:

I stood before you during my inauguration and promised: we would do away with the use of the wang-wang. This one gesture has become the symbol of change, not just in our streets, but even in our collective attitude.

Over the years, the wang-wang had come to symbolize abuse of authority. It was routinely used by public officials to violate traffic laws, inconveniencing ordinary motorists—as if only the time of the powerful few, and no one else’s, mattered. Instead of behaving like public servants, they acted like kings. This privilege was extended to their cronies and patrons, who moved along the streets as if they were aristocracy, indifferent to those who were forced to give way and were left behind. Abusing privilege despite promising to serve—this is the wang-wang mindset; this is the mindset of entitlement.

They had no right to do this. The law authorizes only the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and police vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances to use sirens in the fulfillment of their official duties—no one else. Yet the flagrant abuse we bore witness to prompts us to ask: if they felt it their privilege to flout the simplest traffic laws, how could we expect them not to help themselves to a share of projects funded by the Filipino people?

Do you want the corrupt held accountable? So do I. Do you want to see the end of wang-wang, both on the streets and in the sense of entitlement that has led to the abuse that we have lived with for so long? So do I. Do you want to give everyone a fair chance to improve their lot in life? So do I.

We have fought against the wang-wang, and our efforts have yielded results. Just this year, the number of Filipinos who experienced hunger has come down. Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June—equivalent to a million Filipino families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly every day.

As for business, who would have thought that the stock market would reach seven record highs in the past year?  At one time, we thought that for the PSE Index to reach 4,000 points would be, at best, a fluke. We now routinely exceed this threshold.

Our once low credit ratings have now been upgraded by Moody’s, Standard and Poors, Fitch, and Japan Credit Ratings Agency—in recognition of our prudent use of funds and creative financial management. These improved credit ratings mean lower interest on our debts. Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers 23 billion pesos in the first four months of this year. This is enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries for the entire year.

Let me remind you: in the nine and a half years before we were elected into office, our credit ratings were upgraded once, and downgraded six times by the different credit ratings agencies. Compare this to the four upgrades we have achieved in the single year we have been in office. This was no small feat, considering that the upgrades came after ratings agencies have grown considerably more conservative in their assessments, especially in the wake of criticism they received after the recent American financial crisis.  But while they have downgraded the ratings of other countries, they have upgraded ours, so that we are now just one notch below investment grade. Our economic team is hard at work to sustain the momentum.

And allow me to share more good news from the Department of Energy: having rid the DOE of wang-wang, we have revived the confidence of investors in our energy sector. 140 companies, all ready to participate in the exploration and strengthening of our oil and natural gas resources, can attest to this. Compare this to the last energy contracting round in 2006, which saw the participation of only 35 companies. Just last Friday, a new contract was signed for a power plant to be constructed in the Luzon grid, so that by 2014, our country will have a cheaper, more reliable source of energy.

There is confidence and there is hope; the government is now fulfilling its promises. And I cannot help but remember a woman I spoke with during one of my first house-to-house campaigns. She lamented: “It won’t matter who wins these elections. Nothing will change. I was poor when our leaders campaigned, I am poor now that they are in office, and I will still be poor when they step down.” This is a grievance echoed by many: “Our leaders didn’t care about us then, our leaders don’t care about us now, and our leaders will not care about us tomorrow.”

Given the persistence of the wang-wang attitude, wasn’t their sentiment justified? This was the attitude that allowed helicopters to be bought as if they were brand new, but had in fact already been extensively used. This was the attitude that allowed GOCC officials, like those in the Philippine National Construction Corporation, to pay themselves millions of pesos in bonuses, even as they failed to render decent service and plunged their respective agencies deeper into debt. Before they stepped down from their positions, the former heads of the PNCC gifted themselves with two hundred and thirty-two million pesos. Their franchise had lapsed in 2007; their collections should have been remitted to the national government. They did not do this, and in fact even took advantage of their positions: the bonuses they allotted to themselves in the first 6 months of 2010 was double the amount of their bonuses from 2005-2009. Yet they had the audacity to award themselves midnight bonuses, when they had already drowned their agencies in debt.

To end the wang-wang culture in government, we employed zero-based budgeting to review programs. For this year and the last, zero-based budgeting has allowed us to end many wasteful programs.

For example, we uncovered and stopped an ill-advised plan to dredge Laguna Lake. We would have borrowed 18.7 billion pesos to remove 12 million cubic meters of silt—which would have re-accumulated within three years, even before the debt could be fully paid. We also uncovered a food-for-school program with no proper targeting of beneficiaries, and other initiatives that were funded without apparent results. All of these were discontinued, and the funds rechanneled to more effective programs.

The budget is the clearest manifestation of the straight path upon which we tread. I say to those who would lead us astray: if you will further disadvantage the poor, do not even think about it. If all you would do is to fill your own pockets, do not even think about it. If it is not for the benefit of the Filipino people, do not even think about it.

I wish we could say that we had completely eliminated the wang-wang attitude, but in some parts of our consciousness, it still persists.

It still exists in the private sector. According to the BIR, we have around 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers: lawyers, doctors, businessmen who paid a total of 9.8 billion pesos in 2010. This means that each of them paid only an average of 5,783 pesos in income tax—and if this is true, then they each must have earned only 8,500 pesos a month, which is below the minimum wage. I find this hard to believe.

Today we can see that our taxes are going where they should, and therefore there is no reason not to pay the proper taxes. I say to you: it’s not just the government, but our fellow citizens, who are cheated out of the benefits that these taxes would have provided.

We are holding accountable—and we will continue to hold accountable—those who practice this culture of entitlement in all government offices, as there are still some who think they can get away with it. A district in Region 4B, for example, began a project worth 300 million pesos, well beyond the 50 million pesos that district engineers can sign off on their own.  But they could not leave such a potentially large payday alone.

So they cut the project up into components that would not breach the 50 million peso limit that would have required them to seek clearance from the regional and central offices. They tried to keep this system going. And often, since lump-sum funding was being used for the projects, no questions were asked about the plans or project details. They could have been spinning webs and they would have still been given the funds, so long as they knew someone in power.

Secretary Babes Singson did not let them get away with this. He removed the district engineer from his post, and suspended the awarding of the project in an effort to uncover other anomalies that may have happened. A thorough investigation of all those involved in the case is underway; we will blacklist all contractors proven to have engaged in foul play.

Because the project had to be delayed, Filipinos who would have otherwise benefited from them are still made to face unnecessary inconveniences.

These anomalies are not limited to Region 4B. We are putting an end to them. We are eliminating the patronage politics that had been prevalent in DPWH, and replacing it with a culture in which merit prevails. All projects must have work programs; we will require those involved in projects to submit well thought out plans for consideration, so that each project complements the other. We have also instituted an honest and transparent bidding process to provide equal opportunity to interested contractors.

Because of this, we have already saved 2.5 billion pesos, and expect to save 6 to 7 billion by the end of this year. The most important thing, however, is that now, we can count on well-paved roads—as opposed to the fragile pothole-ridden paths that our people had grown used to. Once, we believed that the system in the DPWH was impossible to fix; but look—it’s possible, and we’re fixing it.

Even in agriculture, the culture of wang-wang once persisted. Before we came into office in 2010, the Philippines imported 2.3 million metric tons of rice, which was already a million metric tons more than the 1.3 million that we needed. We even had to pay extra for warehouses to store the rice acquired through excessive importation.

How many years have we been over-importing rice? Many Filipinos thought that there was nothing we could do about it.

We proved them wrong in the span of a year. What was once an estimated yearly shortage of 1.3 million metric tons is down to 660,000—that’s almost half of the original amount. Even with our buffer of 200,000 metric tons as contingency against natural calamities, it is still significantly less than what was once the norm.

Our success in this sector was not brought about by mere luck. This is simply the result of doing things right: using the most effective types of seedlings, and careful and efficient spending on irrigation. In the past year, we irrigated an additional 11,611 hectares of fields, not to mention the near 212,000 hectares of land we were able to rehabilitate. The result: a 15.6 percent increase in rice production.

We envision two things: first, an end to over-importation that only serves to benefit the selfish few. Second: we want rice self-sufficiency—that the rice served on every Filipino’s dinner table is planted here, harvested here, and purchased here.

Let us look back on the situations of many of our policemen a year ago. The average salary of a common PO1 in Metro Manila is around 13,000 pesos. Around 4,000 pesos or about a third of their salaries goes directly to paying the rent. Another third goes to food, and the final third is all that is left for electricity and water bills, commuting, tuition fees, medicine, and everything else. Ideally, their salaries match their expenses—but this is not always the case. Those whose salaries are not enough would probably resort to taking out some loans. What happens when the interest piles up and they end up having to spend even more of their salaries? Will they still be able to do the right thing when tempted with an opportunity to make a quick buck?

This is why, this July, we have followed through on the housing promise we made in February. We were able to award 4,000 Certificates of Entitlement to Lot Allocation. This is only the first batch of the 21,800 houses we will have constructed by the end of the year. Awarding our men in uniform these houses will turn their 4,000 peso rent expense into an initial 200 peso per month payment for a house that is all theirs. The cash they once paid for rent can now be used for other needs.

I hear that there are still more than a thousand houses left, so for our policemen and our soldiers who have not yet submitted their papers, this is the last call for this batch of houses. But do not worry, because this housing program will continue next year, covering even more people and more regions. The NHA is already preparing the sites for housing projects in Visayas and Mindanao, with an expanded list of beneficiaries that will also include employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and of the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Speaking of security, does enhanced security not also enhance our national pride? There was a time when we couldn’t appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard. Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue.

At times I wonder if the stories about some of our past stand-offs are true—that when cannons were aimed at our marines, they could only reciprocate by cutting down a coconut tree, painting it black, and aiming it back. True or not, that time is over. Soon, we will be seeing capability upgrades and the modernization of the equipment of our armed forces. At this very moment, our very first Hamilton Class Cutter is on its way to our shores. We may acquire more vessels in the future—these, in addition to helicopters and patrol crafts, and the weapons that the AFP, PNP, and DOJ will buy in bulk to get a significant discount. This goes to show how far we can go with good governance; we can buy equipment at good prices, without having to place envelopes in anyone’s pockets.

We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours. We are also studying the possibility of elevating the case on the West Philippine Sea to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, to make certain that all involved nations approach the dispute with calm and forbearance.

Our efforts to enhance the capabilities of our men and women in uniform are already succeeding. In the first six months of 2010, we had 1,010 cases of car and motorcycle theft. Compare that to the 460 cases in the first six months of 2011. Unfortunately, it is the one or two high-profile cases that make the headlines, and not the bigger picture—the fact that there is a large drop in car and motorcycle thefts, and that we have returned a higher percentage of stolen cars to their rightful owners.

And here is another example of positive change in law enforcement. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was signed in 2003. Unfortunately, because the government did not properly implement it, only 29 individuals were convicted in a period of seven years. In just one year, we have breached that amount, convicting 31 human traffickers. Perhaps, this is the “sea change” that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was referring to; and because of this change, the Philippines has been taken off the Tier 2 Watchlist of their Trafficking in Persons Report. If we had not been removed from this watchlist, the assistance we have been receiving from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others, would have been jeopardized.

Allow me to talk about jobs now. Our foremost pledge to the Filipino people was to create more jobs, and we have delivered. In April 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8%; in April 2011, it was at 7.2%.

To put things into perspective: We must all remember that the ranks of the unemployed represent a moving target. Every year, thousands of fresh graduates join the ranks of job hunters. Last year, the number of unemployed Filipinos in our labor force grew after many of our countrymen who earned a temporary living from election-related jobs—the people assigned to hanging buntings, the people tasked with clearing a path for politicians in crowds of people, the drivers, and other campaign staff—were laid off. But, despite all this, our results make our success evident: one million and four hundred thousand jobs were created last year.

Before, our foremost ambition was to work in another country. Now, the Filipino can take his pick. As long as he pursues his dreams with determination and diligence, he can realize them.

The number of jobs generated in our country can only grow from here. According to the Philjobnet website, every month there are 50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies. We will not allow this opportunity to go to waste; at this very moment, DOLE, CHED, TESDA, and DepEd are working together to address this issue. Curricula will be reviewed and analyzed to better direct them to industries that are in need of workers, and students will be guided so that they may choose courses that will arm them with the skills apt for vacant jobs.

Despite the demand for these jobs, there are still people who are being left behind. What do we do with them? First, we identified the poorest of the poor, and invested in them, because people are our greatest resource. Of the two million families registered with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 1.6 million are already receiving their conditional cash transfers. Through the initiative and leadership of Secretary Dinky Soliman, we have been able to give much needed assistance to an average of more than 100,000 families per month. I am optimistic that we will reach our target of 1.3 million additional beneficiaries this year. With a compliance rate of 92%, millions of mothers are already getting regular check-ups at public health centers, millions of babies are being vaccinated against common diseases, and millions of school-aged children are now attending classes.

With these significant early results, I am counting on the support of the Filipino people and Congress to expand our Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Before the end of 2012, we want to invest in the future of 3 million poor families.

We are giving these poor families a chance to improve their lives, because their progress will be the country’s progress. How can they buy products and services from businesses if they do not have a proper income? When a poor father turns to crime in order to feed his family, who would he victimize, if not us? When people cannot properly take care of themselves and fall ill, do we not run the risk of getting sick as well?

We are laying down the foundations for a brighter future for the poor. For example, in the health sector: PhilHealth beneficiaries increased during elections, as the agency was used as a tool for dispensing political patronage. Today, we identify beneficiaries through the National Household Targeting System, to make sure that the 5.2 million Filipino families who benefit from PhilHealth are those who really need it.

Let us turn our attention to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The politics there have been dominated by horse-trading and transactional politics. During national elections, whoever is in power in ARMM is free to manipulate the electoral machinery in his region, ensuring that non-allies do not get votes. That Mayor or Governor then demands payment for his services come the ARMM election, and it is the administration’s turn to manipulate the electoral machinery to secure the win of their candidate.

According to the Commission on Audit, in the office of the regional governor of ARMM, eighty percent of the funds disbursed were for cash advances that cannot be justified. If those funds had not gone to waste, a child could have gone to school. Instead, we built ghost bridges to reach ghost schools where only ghost teachers went to work.

We want ARMM to experience the benefits of good governance. And so, the solution: Synchronization—candidates in ARMM will run at the same time as candidates in other parts of the country. There would be less opportunity for them to employ command votes for political patrons. The result would be fairer elections. Thank you to Congress for passing the law synchronizing ARMM with the national elections.

And why do we need to postpone the elections? Because, in their desire to return to or retain power, many are prepared to engage in corrupt practices just to win again. Imagine if we had listened to the critics, and allowed the election to proceed under these circumstances. We would have perpetuated the endless cycle of electoral fraud and official abuse that has led ARMM to become one of the poorest regions in the country.

I do not doubt that the reforms we are putting in place will yield concrete results. When we talk about the straight and righteous path, we talk about that new road that was built in Barangay Bagumbayan in Sta. Maria, Laguna. When we say clean government, we are talking about the clean water that residents in Barangay Poblacion in Ferrol, Romblon now enjoy. When we refer to the light of change, we also refer to the electricity that now powers light bulbs in Barangay San Marcos in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. This is happening in many other places, and we will make it happen everywhere in our country.

Government agencies are now focused on realizing this; they are working together to creatively solve the problems that have long plagued our country.

Have we not had flooding problems, which we know are caused by the incessant and illegal cutting down of trees? The old solution: A tree-planting photo opportunity, whose sole beneficiaries are politicians who want to look good. They plant trees, but they do not ensure that the trees would remain standing after they leave.

One of the possible solutions we are studying is to make the stewardship of these trees beneficial to communities. They will be given coffee and cacao seeds to plant. While they wait for harvest, they will receive stipends for safeguarding the trees planted to mitigate flooding. We are looking at informal settlers, who are currently crammed into our cities, as possible beneficiaries of this program.  We will be investing in the people, even as we invest in the environment.

Who could have thought that little over a year ago, we could accomplish this? Today, we dream; one day soon, these dreams will be a reality.

This same creativity is in display with the innovations that are already being implemented. We have developed low-cost traps that kill mosquito larvae, probably contributing to the nearly fourteen percent decrease in dengue incidents; coconut coir fibers that are normally just disposed of have been used as a cost-effective way to strengthen our roads; we have landslide sensors that warn when soil erosion has reached dangerous levels; we have developed early flood warning systems for riverside communities. All of these are products of Filipino creativity.

DOST and UP have even teamed up to develop a prototype monorail system, which could potentially provide a home grown mass transport solution that would cost us as little as 100 million pesos per kilometer, much cheaper than the current cost of similar mass transit systems. The potential savings could result in more kilometers of cheap transport, decongesting our urban centers and allowing rural communities easier access to centers of commerce and industry.

Let me reiterate: These proposals were developed by Filipinos for Filipinos. Do you remember the time when we were unable to even dream of these kinds of projects? I am telling you now: We can dream about them, we are capable of achieving them, and we will achieve them. Isn’t it great to be a Filipino living in these times?

All of these things we are doing will be wasted if we do not do something to end the culture of corruption.

To my colleagues in public service, from those at the top and to every corner of the bureaucracy: Do we not feel the pride that working in government now brings? That, now, we are proud to be identified as workers in government? Will we waste this honor?

I call on our Local Government Units: Those of you who are in the best position to understand the needs of your constituents can expect greater freedom and empowerment. But we trust that in providing for your communities, you will remain committed to the straight path, and will not lose sight of the interest of the whole nation.

For instance, there are some municipalities that want to tax the electricity transmission lines that run through their jurisdictions. Although this will augment local coffers, the rest of the Filipino people will have to deal with higher electricity rates. Let us try to balance the interests of our constituencies with that of the nation as a whole.

It is imperative that our programs remain in sync, because the progress of the entire country will also redound to progress for your communities. Let us do away with forward planning that only looks as far as the next election, and think of the long-term national good.

Ultimately, we have to unite and work together towards this progress. I thank the Congress for passing laws regarding GOCC Governance, ARMM Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’ Mandatory Immunization, and Women Night Workers.

Last year, Congress demonstrated their support by approving the budget even before the year ended. The timely passage of the budget allowed projects to be implemented more quickly. Tomorrow we will deliver to Congress our budget proposal for 2012. I look forward once again to its early passage so that we can build on our current momentum.

We have already made progress, but we must remember: This is only the beginning, and there is much left for us to do. Allow me to present to Congress some of the measures that will bring us closer to the fulfillment of our pledge to the nation.

We aim to give due compensation to the victims of Martial Law; to grant our house help the salaries and benefits that they deserve; and to improve the system that awards pensions to our retired soldiers. We likewise support the expansion of the scope of scholarships granted by DOST to outstanding yet underprivileged students; the advancement of universal quality healthcare; the responsible management of the environment; and the formation of facilities that will ensure the safety of our citizens during times of great need and calamity.

Our agenda also includes the development of BuCor, NBI, NEA, and PTV 4, so that, instead of lagging behind the times, they will better fulfill their mandate of public service.

Not everything we want to do will be explained today, but I invite you to read the budget message, which contains a more comprehensive plan for the coming year.

Some of my critics say that I take this campaign against corruption personally. It’s true: doing what’s right is personal. Making people accountable—whoever they may be—is personal. It should be personal for all of us, because we have all been victimized by corruption.

What is wrong remains wrong, regardless of how long it has been allowed to persist. We cannot simply let it pass. If we ignore the crimes of the past, they will continue to haunt us. And if we do not hold people accountable, then they will do it again and again.

The truth is, we have uncovered so many anomalies. In PAGCOR, the previous management apparently spent one billion pesos on coffee alone. At one hundred pesos per cup, that would be ten million cups of coffee over the last several years. Where did all that coffee go? Who drank it? Perhaps we can find the people who consumed all that coffee and ask if they have been able to sleep in the last few years.

When the new Ombudsman, former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, takes office, we will have an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and abuses in government. I expect that this year, we will have filed our first major case against the corrupt and their accomplices. And these will be real cases, with strong evidence and clear testimonies, which will lead to the punishment of the guilty.

We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals. I have utmost confidence that the DOJ is fulfilling its crucial role in jailing offenders, especially in cases regarding tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption, and extrajudicial killings.

We are not leaving anything to chance; good governance yields positive results. Think about it: We have realized our promise of providing the public with the services that it needs and implementing programs to help the poor without having to raise our taxes.

This has always been the plan: to level the playing field; to stop the abuse of authority; and to ensure that the benefits of growth are available to the greatest number.

We have put an end to the culture of entitlement, to wang-wang: along our roads, in government, in our society as a whole. This will bring confidence that will attract business; this will also ensure that the people’s money is put in its rightful place: Funding for infrastructure that will secure the sustained growth of the economy, which will then give rise to jobs, and public service that guarantees that no one will be left behind. More opportunities for livelihood will be opened by tourism; the strengthening of our agriculture sector will ensure that every Filipino will have food on his table. We will invest on those who were once neglected. All this will create a cycle wherein all available jobs are filled, and where businesses flourish through the empowerment of their consumers.

I am aware that, until now, there are still a few who complain about our style of governance. But you have seen our style, and its ensuing results. You have seen their style, and, especially, where that took us. Anyone with their eyes open can clearly see which is right.

We are steering our government in a clear direction. A country where opportunity is available; where those in need are helped; where everyone’s sacrifices are rewarded; and where those who do wrong are held accountable.

I remember a woman warning me during the campaign: “Noy, be careful, you will be stepping on many toes.”

Sometimes, I do worry about what I am doing. But I am heartened because you are with me, and we stand on the side of what is right.

I thank the priests and bishops who have continued to dialogue with us, like Cardinals Rosales and Vidal. Cardinal Rosales and I may not be the closest of friends, but I believe that he did all that he could to reduce the tensions between the church and the government. The election of Archbishop Palma, defender of human rights and of the environment, as head of the CBCP only bolsters my confidence that the state and the clergy will be able to engage each other in a positive manner. I likewise thank my Cabinet, who have sacrificed their personal comfort to fulfill the national agenda. I give special mention to PAGASA, who now truly delivers reliable advice and warnings during times of calamity.

And to those who may resist the change we are trying to bring about, this I say to you: I know what I must do, and my personal interests are nothing when compared to the interests of the nation. There are many of us who want what is right for this country; and there are more of us than you. To those of you who would turn back the tide of reform: you will not succeed.

To those who have chosen to tread the straight and righteous path alongside us: it is you who created this change, and it is you who will bequeath our success to your children. To the jeepney driver plying his route; to the teachers and students coming home from class; to the artists whose work inspires our sense of nationhood; to our policemen, our soldiers, our street sweepers, and our firemen; to you who work with honor, in the Philippines, in the oceans, or in other countries; our colleagues in government who stand steadfast with us, whatever province you come from, whatever party you belong to; every Filipino listening to me now—you made this happen.

You created a government that truly works for you. We still have five years left to ensure that we will not return to what once was. We will not be derailed, especially now that what we have begun has yielded so many positive results.

If you see a loophole in the system, do not take advantage of it. Let us not acquire through patronage what we can acquire through hard work. No more cheating, no more taking advantage of others, no more one-upmanship—because in the end we will all realize our shared aspirations.

Let us end the culture of negativism; let us uplift our fellow Filipinos at every opportunity. Why are there people who enjoy finding fault in our country, who find it so hard—as though it were a sin—to say something nice? Can we even remember the last time we praised a fellow Filipino?

Let us stop pulling our fellow man down. Let us put an end to our crab mentality. Let us make the effort to recognize the good that is being done.

If you see something right, do not think twice—praise it. If you see a policeman directing traffic, coatless beneath the rain—go to him and say, “Thank you.”

If you fall sick, and you see your nurse caring for you, when she could easily be treating foreigners for a higher salary—say, “Thank you.”

Before you leave school for home, approach your teacher who chose to invest in your future—say, “Thank you.”

If you chance upon your local leader on a road that was once riddled with holes, but is now smooth and sturdy—go to him and say, “Thank you, for the change you have brought.”

And so, to the Filipino nation, my Bosses who have steered us toward this day: Thank you very much for the change that is now upon us.

The Philippines and the Filipino people are, finally, truly alive.

Basahin ang orihinal na talumpati

The 2011 State of the Nation Address Technical Report

INTRODUCTION

“Tuwid na Daan” or the Straight Path is a phrase repeatedly mentioned by President Benigno S. Aquino III to pertain to his governance direction for the country.

Essential to this concept of “Tuwid na Daan” is the battle cry “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap.” The administration believes that corruption is the root cause of the country’s woes, and eliminating corruption will necessarily lead to renewed investor confidence, eventual growth and development, poverty reduction, and attainment of peace.

The straight path, however, does not only pertain to the President’s anti-corruption campaign. It also encompasses a way of doing things right, where the process is participatory; the programs are holistic; growth is sustained; the peace policy is comprehensive; and development is sustainable. Through the living examples of our leaders, led by the President, this re-awakened sense of right and wrong continues to be translated to economic value.

It is in this light that the accomplishments of the Aquino Administration, since the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2010, are being highlighted:

A. GOOD GOVERNANCE AND ANTI-CORRUPTION

Taking the initial step in the achievement of “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap”, where eradicating corruption is seen as the key approach to development, President Aquino laid the foundations for a clean, transparent, and responsive government.  Key reforms continue to be instituted to reduce red tape, enforce anti-corruption and anti-red tape laws, and penalize those who violate these laws. The government is also fixing the incentive structures to recognize merit and reward good performance with the aim of ensuring the sustainability of the Aquino reform agenda. These and other initiatives are presented below:

1. Institutionalizing Public Accountability

1.1. Reforming the budgeting and project identification processes

1.1.1. Government’s prudent expenditure management was a result of the use of the Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB) approach in 2010. The ZBB enables the government to identify and terminate programs that are no longer delivering intended outcomes. The savings generated from these terminated programs were channelled to programs that are performing well and to other priority programs to address critical gaps in education and health. As part of the ZBB approach, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is also gradually transferring Special Purpose Funds back to the departments for greater accountability and making the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) more transparent.

Due to the prudent management of public funds, the government has been able to provide P12 billion in funding for other key social and economic services that were not included in the 2011 General Appropriations Act, including:

  • P850 million for the salaries of 10,000 registered nurses hired and deployed to poor rural communities in the country;
  • P4.2 billion to build 20,000 houses for the military and the police; and
  • P423 million for the acquisition of the US Hamilton-class cutter, which will help strengthen the perimeter security within the Malampaya area

1.1.2. In an effort to address issues about the quality of road projects, the Road Board strengthened the identification and selection of projects funded by the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge through the proper use of the Highway Development Management version 4 (HDM-4), a planning tool that prioritizes or selects projects based on actual needs and economic considerations.

The Road Board also implemented standard unit costs nationwide that is 30% lower than previous cost estimates; and clearly defined the design and specification of its projects to make these conform to international standards, where previously, Programs of Work were not required.

1.1.3. The President directed the DBM to establish a comprehensive database of government manpower through an enhanced Government Manpower Information System (GMIS). The GMIS shall provide a complete and accurate database of all positions, incumbents, and authorized compensation in the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of the government, including Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), Government Financial Institutions (GFIs), and Constitutional Offices. The GMIS shall also be linked with the personnel information systems of concerned agencies such as the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

1.1.4. To eliminate wasteful spending and fund conversion in the military, the DBM changed its previous policy of releasing Personnel Services (PS) allotments in full to agencies. Now, releases of PS are done for filled positions only. This means that no amount is released to the agencies on top of their actual PS requirement.

1.1.5. Moreover, the DBM launched on 20 July 2011 the Electronic Transparency and Accountability in Lump-sum Fund System (eTAILS). The eTAILS is a management information system that digitizes the processing of lump-sum funds and supports the timely disclosure of lump sum fund release information on the DBM website. This helps the government keep track of information on the release, while enabling the public to scrutinize how their money is being allocated.

1.2. Upholding transparent and competitive bidding

Allegations of collusion in the bidding of public works projects are being addressed through transparency reforms and strict adherence to public bidding rules. The DPWH now posts all projects on its website. The DPWH has also simplified bidding procedures by reducing the required 20 documents to just five (5) documents. It has also adopted a new cost structure for determining the approved budget cost (ABC), which minimizes leakage by reducing the allocation for indirect costs by as much as 8%. To cite an example, the DPWH was able to bid out the 7.53-km Plaridel By-pass Road Contract Package No. 2 in Bulacan for only P543 million in 2010, at one-third of the cost of the slightly longer 7.93-km Contract Package No. 1 that was bid out in July 2008. While the two projects are of the same road specifications, the cost of Contract Package No. 1 was 8.5% above the approved agency estimate while Contract Package No. 2 cost 23% lower than the agency estimate, saving a total of P163.2 million.

As a result of these reforms, the DPWH generated savings of P2.51 billion in taxpayers’ money from the 3,692 projects (civil works, goods, and consultancy services) from July 2010 to June 2011. The DPWH expects total savings of roughly P6 to P7 billion by the end of this year as a result of transparent and competitive bidding.  The savings can then be utilized for other priority development projects.

The P2.51 billion savings generated by the DPWH includes the P1.07 billion saved from the review and bidding of contracts under the Post-Ondoy and Pepeng Short-Term Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (POPSTIRP).

On 26 May 2010, the DPWH was granted a loan by the JICA worth P5.05 billion for 79 contract packages under the POPSTIRP. Of these contracts, 19 were cancelled due to lapses in the process. The 19 contracts were approved and signed even prior to the release of the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) for the project, which is against government procurement laws.

Likewise, the government has conducted open and competitive bidding for the reinsurance needs of the National Power Corporation (NPC), the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC). This generated savings amounting to over US$8 million or about P370 million from the lower bids of the winning re-insurers compared to the approved budget for the contract and last year’s premium. Moreover, the insured agencies get improved coverage by having lower deductibles that allow them to claim for losses or damages at lower participation limits.

1.3. Ensuring transparency and accountability in local governance

1.3.1. The DILG’s full disclosure policy, issued in August 2010, required all Local Government Units (LGUs) to be transparent to the public by posting in local bulletin boards, newspapers, and websites information on the utilization of government funds and the implementation of projects. As of 31 May 2011, a total of 1,473 LGUs (68 provinces, 119 cities and 1,286 municipalities) or 86% of the 1,714 LGUs nationwide have fully complied with this policy. For purposes of transparency, the DBM also posted the annual internal revenue allotment (IRA) from 2006 to 2010 per region from the provincial down to the barangay level on its website.

1.3.2. The DILG also awarded the LGU Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) to LGUs that have earned the Seal of Good Housekeeping. These LGUs have exhibited strong performance along the four (4) core governance areas, as follows:

  • Sound fiscal management, i.e., growth in local revenues over three (3) years, and no adverse report from the Commission on Audit (COA);
  • Transparency and accountability, i.e., strict adherence to the full disclosure policy, transparent procurement process, compliance with Anti-Red Tape Law, and functioning local special bodies; and
  • Valuing of performance monitoring, i.e., use of performance monitoring tools and regular reports to the public.
  • Good planning, i.e., having a comprehensive development plan and an Executive-Legislative Agenda;

In 2010, 30 or 4.85% of the 619 4th to 6th class municipalities successfully obtained the Seal of Good Housekeeping.

Beginning 2011, the coverage of the PCF was expanded to all provinces, cities and municipalities. Assessment is now ongoing and is focused on the COA audit opinion for CY 2010 and the posting of local budget and finances, bids, and public offerings. As of 17 June 2011, 13 or 46.43% of the 28 4th to 5th class cities and 218 or 35.22% of the 619 4th to 6th class municipalities subjected to assessment may now be conferred with the Seal and have the chance to get the PCF.

1.4. Providing quality service lanes to fast-track the provision of frontline services

1.4.1. In 2010, the Citizen’s Charter of the PNP was recognized by the CSC as one of the fully compliant government agencies implementing RA 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) of 2007.[1]

Also, the DILG Project Comprehensive Response to Eliminate (CURE) Red Tape in the LGUs is successfully being implemented at the local level wherein 94% or 1,613 LGUs (consisting of 75 provinces, 121 cities, and 1,417 municipalities) of the 1,714 LGUs nationwide have their respective citizen’s charters, public assistance or complaint desks, one-stop shops and/or courtesy lanes, thus improving the efficiency and effectiveness of LGUs in the delivery of basic goods and services.

1.4.2. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also improved its mechanisms for redress. From 2010 until the first quarter of 2011, 91,828 consumer complaints were received by its Consumer Welfare Desk, 90,577 or 98.7% of which were resolved.[2]

2. Addressing Graft and Corruption

2.1. Addressing allegations of corruption in the military and implementing reforms in the AFP.

2.1.1. In order to ensure transparency in the use of funds, apart from regular audits, the AFP has conducted five (5) unprogrammed or special audits on cash examinations and retiring special disbursing officers. Three (3) of these are on-going, one (1) report is being drafted, and one (1) completed.

The AFP-Office of Ethical Standard and Public Accountability (OESPA) noted 100% compliance with accountability measures, such as the filing of SALNs.[3] In compliance with the rules and regulations to minimize discretion on government deposits, particularly in line with the provisions of Executive Order (EO) No. 338, the AFP transferred a total of P159 million of the residual UN Reimbursement Fund (UNRF) to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) on 28 February 2011. To date, the total UNRF amount deposited with the BTr is P426 million. Moreover, all reimbursements from the UN are now directly being deposited to the BTr by the DFA.

2.1.2. From July 2010 to June 2011, the AFP filed cases before the Sandiganbayan against 31 AFP officers for corruption-related charges while the cases of 21 AFP officers are with the Office of the Ombudsman.

2.1.3. The government also pursued the cleansing[4] of the AFP Retired and Veterans Pension Lists, which resulted in fund recoveries amounting to P4.685 billion. This amount was used to pay government’s current pension obligations and arrears to the veterans and pensioners. Moreover, through the anti-fixer campaign, three (3) Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) employees have been dismissed, 27 cases have been filed, and three (3) cases resolved.

2.1.4. On 14 June 2011, the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODESLA) formally charged Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit with acts and/or omissions constituting graft and corruption and betrayal of public trust. The case involves her entering into a Plea Bargaining Agreement with Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, wherein Gen. Garcia was allowed to plea to the lesser offense of indirect bribery and facilitating money laundering. The Ombudsman also ordered Gen. Garcia to restore to the government the amount of P135 million despite being accused of plundering P350 million.

Special Prosecutor Sulit was placed under preventive suspension for 90 days. The Office of the President will form a panel that will conduct the formal investigation on the case.

2.2. Addressing abuses and irregularities in government agencies

2.2.1. Arrested the abuses and funds misuse in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). An Audit of the ARMM Office of the Regional Governor covering the period January 2008 to September 2009 revealed that the funds received by the ORG for its operations were not properly utilized and managed and that transactions amounting to P1.003 billion could not be considered as valid and legitimate. Also, a total of P866.51 million in cash advances, or 80% of total disbursements made by the ORG, were released to the disbursing officers, in violation of the general rule that payments must be made by check.

As a result of these findings, the current ORG stopped the payment order against all checks drawable against the bank accounts of the ARMM Regional Government, terminated all contractual and co-terminus employees hired by the previous Regional Governor, conducted inventory reports on personnel and assets, and posted bids and awards and the ARMM budget on the ARMM website.

Likewise, the DILG recommended the filing of administrative charges against some ARMM officials and personnel for dishonesty, abuse of authority, gross misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. The DILG also recommended the filing of criminal cases because of the abuse of regional government resources.

An audit of the Province of Maguindanao had similar findings: that financial transactions amounting to P865.88 million were considered to be fictitious, as these were either denied by suppliers or supported with spurious documents.

Meanwhile, the DPWH-ARMM failed to properly utilize, manage, and record public funds amounting to P1.12 billion. Moreover, the COA found that the utilization of funds and implementation of programs and projects by the ARMM Social Fund Project – Project Monitoring Office (ASFP-PMO) fell short of the desired improvements as the purpose intended was not maximized and the implementation was found deficient.

A DILG-proposed roadmap aims to bring ARMM to the sustainable path of good governance. This entails the strengthening of bureaucratic reforms, sustained transparency and performance, improved ORG oversight and assistance to LGUs, stricter COA and Civil Service Commission (CSC) oversight on ARMM and LGU implementation of development projects, stepped up peace and order initiatives, and reforms in the electoral process.

The postponement of the August 2011 ARMM elections (as mandated by RA 10153) will provide an opportunity for ARMM to pursue this roadmap.

2.2.2. Suspended Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) officials. The Office of the Ombudsman found the LWUA Chairman and two other officers of the LWUA guilty of Grave Misconduct and of violating Republic Act (RA) No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) for the alleged unlawful investment of LWUA funds in the amount of P780 million in Express Savings Bank, Inc. (EXSBI),[5] without securing prior approval of the Monetary Board. On 4 July 2011, the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of the LWUA Chairman and the two LWUA officers.

Administrative complaints were also lodged with the Office of the President against five members of the LWUA Board of Trustees, including the Chairman, for grave misconduct arising from the acquisition of shares of stock of EXSBI. The Office of the President placed the members of the Board of Trustees on preventive suspension for 90 days.

2.2.3. Rationalized GOCC bonuses.  Early in the term of President Aquino, the administration discovered that officers and board members of several GOCCs enjoyed questionable bonuses and allowances. For example, a COA report disclosed that Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) employees received more than P150 million in improperly authorized allowances and bonuses in 2009. Also, the current Board of the PNCC has reviewed actions by the previous members of the Board who allegedly benefited from undue privileges and bonuses during their tenure. The current PNCC Board has also reduced manpower, terminated unnecessary positions, and rationalized administrative and support services. These cost-saving measures and reforms have resulted in the reduction of monthly expenses from about P22 million to P11 million.

The President thus ordered a comprehensive review culminating in the signing of the GOCC Governance Act of 2011. The Act strengthens government’s oversight of GOCCs through the creation of a Governance Commission for GOCCs.

As a result of the Department of Finance’s (DOF) better oversight, GOCCs remitted a total of P34.47 billion to the national government, inclusive of P27.29 billion in dividends, as of May 2011. This is one of the highest remittances made by GOCCs to date. In contrast, GOCC remittances in 2010 amounted to 26.99 billion.

2.2.4. Reforming the National Food Authority (NFA). The Food Staples Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program and NFA Roadmap were formulated to attain self-sufficiency in the country’s staple and to implement fundamental reforms in NFA Operations. NFA’s role is focused at maintaining buffer stocks of rice (30 days) and providing price support to small farmers.  Stocks for buffer stocking are accumulated by increasing domestic procurement while reducing the volume of importation by encouraging the private sector to participate more on importation. NFA’s policy of “buy high-store long-sell low” has shifted to a policy where NFA selling prices of rice are gradually increased to approach market levels with social welfare agencies handling subsidized rice if needed but buying stocks from NFA at market prices.

A system audit was conducted with the help of the private sector in order to evaluate the previous administration’s unusually large NFA rice importations and evaluate the agency’s legacy problems, with the end in view of not only ferreting out the truth but to recommend prescriptive measures to rehabilitate and strengthen the NFA.

2.3. Investigation of Disadvantageous Projects and Contracts

2.3.1. Addressed PCSO’s exorbitant spending for advertisements. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) overspent its advertising budget by more than P2.14 billion from 2004 to 2010.[6] To conceal the expenses, parts of the amounts were debited to different accounts. Despite COA’s repeated recommendations to cut PCSO’s advertising expenses, the former PCSO Board still authorized more advertising expenses during the campaign period. The PCSO also sponsored concerts and produced a full length movie. These were done despite having unrecorded payables to TV, radio, and other media companies in the amount of P740 million. As a result of these anomalies, the current PCSO Board stopped the production of the television dramas, which saved P110 million; and, reduced its 2011 advertising budget by 40.8% from P928.3 million to P549.02 million. The current PCSO board was also able to obtain a 25% discount on all outstanding and valid advertising contracts. The savings from these reductions can now be rechanneled to more meaningful charitable projects.

The PCSO also spent an estimated P325 million for its intelligence funds from 2008 to 2010. The intelligence funds were allegedly used to pay for anti-jueteng operations, blood money, and for other discretionary uses. This practice has been discontinued by the present Board.

2.3.2. Cancellation of the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project. On 17 June 2011, the President cancelled the P18.5 billion Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project (LLRP) due to inconsistencies between the project components and its intended objectives; and the lack of transparency in the review and approval of the project. A DENR study found out that due to heavy deforestation and erosion, the areas to be dredged would end up being silted again in three (3) years without massive rehabilitation of the watersheds. The DENR further noted that the approval of the supply contract was done without any thorough review. In addition, the Project’s Economic Internal Rate of Return (EIRR) of 7.04%, which considers only the project’s quantified economic benefits, does not meet the 15% minimum hurdle rate or the minimum acceptable rate of return. In the end, despite the laudable objectives, the questionable project components of the LLRP justified its cancellation.

2.3.3. Reviewed the anomalous procurement of second-hand helicopters for the PNP Special Action Force. In 2009, the PNP procured three (3) Light Police Operational Helicopters (LPOH) for P104.99 million on the assumption that these were brand new. However, in 2011, the PNP Directorate for Logistics discovered that two (2) helicopters supplied by the Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corporation (MAPTRA) were previously owned by Asian Spirit, which leased the same to Lion Air, Inc. The PNP further discovered that two (2) helicopters, which were supposedly brand new, were used for five (5) years prior with flying times of 536.3 hours and 489.9 hours, respectively.[7]

The PNP Procurement Office also failed to recognize that MAPTRA was not an eligible supplier because it was just a newly-registered corporation at the time it transacted with the PNP. Thus, it had no record yet of completing a single contract similar to the contract to bid and of good standing as a supplier, which are requirements set by the law.[8] There was also an absence of authorized observers during the entire procurement process.[9] Lastly, the members of the inspection and acceptance committee (IAC) failed to exercise their duties with diligence as they did not possess the technical qualifications to perform the duty of the IAC that resulted in the acceptance of inferior goods.

2.4. Increasing Civil Society Participation in Governance

2.4.1. Implemented participatory budgeting. Six (6) national government agencies and three (3) GOCCs have piloted participatory budgeting with civil society organizations (CSOs), namely: the Department of Agriculture (DA); the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); the Department of Education (DepEd); the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); the Department of Health (DOH); the DPWH; the National Housing Authority (NHA); the NFA; and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC). Participatory budgeting helps increase governance transparency by engaging CSOs in the determination of the expenditure priorities of government.

The DPWH conducted its first CSO budget consultation for FY 2012 on 28 April 2011. CSO participation included the review, assessment, and evaluation of DPWH projects programmed for 2012.  A Budget Partnership Agreement (BPA) was signed between the DPWH and “Bantay Lansangan” (Roadwatch) on 15 March 2011 to ensure a continuous budget consultation process with the private sector. As of May 2011, at least 46 CSOs had been accredited as partners of the DPWH, while 52 others had pending accreditations prior to their submission and completion of the required documents.

2.4.2. Forging an integrity pact between government and the private sector. A private sector initiative to forge a pact of integrity between the government and the private sector is rapidly gaining momentum. As of June 2011, ten (10) agencies have signed on to the Integrity Initiative, namely: DTI, DBM, DepEd, DOF, DOLE, DND, DPWH, DOT, DOE, and DOTC as well as 550 private companies. The Integrity Initiative aims to reduce corruption in the public and private sectors through the voluntary enforcement of good governance norms based on a mutually agreed code of conduct. Agencies will soon ask suppliers and bidders to sign on to their agency integrity pacts.

On 22 February 2011, the DepEd forged an integrity pact with more than 80 of its suppliers and civil society partners to promote ethical, clean, and transparent business transactions, particularly with regard to the procurement of basic education goods and services.

2.4.3. Entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with civil society groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) on the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program. As of 22 July 2011, 222 national and local non-government organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) signed a MOA with the DSWD to empower their active participation in the implementation of the CCT Program to ensure good governance and transparency.

2.4.4. Invited CSO participation in monitoring infrastructure projects. The DPWH has also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a broad coalition of CSOs, NGOs, church organizations, and the academe for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of DPWH projects.

3. Professional, Motivated, and Energized Bureaucracy and Armed Forces

The government is committed to support the combat readiness and effectiveness of the Armed Forces; recruitment and retention of quality personnel; and upliftment of soldier morale and family wellness.

From July 2010 to June 2011, a total of P21.37 million was used to repair and maintain various AFP housing units; P39.60 million was also released for the housing assistance of AFP battle casualties; another P15.19 million has been released to support AFP battle casualties; and a total of 4,535 dependents of killed in action/wounded in action were awarded educational assistance.

3.1. The President committed to provide at least 20,000 housing units for the AFP and PNP in 2011. In this light, Administrative Order (AO) No. 9 “Directing the National Housing Authority to Formulate, Implement and Manage a Housing Program for the Military and Police Personnel” was issued on 11 April 2011, which authorized the NHA to adopt the Community Initiative Approach Program (CIAP) to implement the housing program.

Under the NHA’s Socialized Housing Program, a soldier with a rank of Private, receiving a P400 monthly quarters allowance, will now be able to acquire a housing unit in any of the twelve (12) housing project sites in Brgys. (1) Buena Vista and (2) Biclatan in Gen. Trias, Cavite; (3) Brgy. Conchu, Trece Martires, Cavite; (4) Brgy. Timbao, Biñan City, Laguna; and Brgys. (5) Looc and (6) Kay-Anlog in Calamba City, Laguna; (7) Brgy. Gaya-Gaya, San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan; (8) Brgy. San Mateo, Norzagaray, Bulacan; and Brgys. (9) Batia and (10) Tambubong in Bocaue, Bulacan; and (11) Brgy. Pinugay, Baras, Rizal and (12) Brgy. San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal. A housing beneficiary is required to pay the housing unit for 30 years, with a monthly amortization of at least P200.00 for the first five (5) years. The Aquino Administration will subsidize P35,000.00 for each housing beneficiary.

The ground breaking of the AFP-PNP Housing Project in Barangay Batia, Bocaue, Bulacan was held on 23 May 2011. The first 4,000 Certificates of Land Entitlement and Lot Allotment (CELA) were awarded and 90 housing units were turned over to AFP and PNP personnel in Brgy. Looc, Calamba City, Laguna; Brgy. Batia, Bocaue, Bulacan; Brgy. Gaya-Gaya, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan; and Brgy. Pinugay, Baras, Rizal on 15 July 2011.

3.2. The President signed EO No. 15 on 20 December 2010, which increased the current combat duty pay of soldiers from P240 to P500 effective January 2011.

3.3. To further unify and strengthen the AFP, the President issued Presidential Proclamation No. 75 granting amnesty to individuals who participated in the 25 July 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines Stand Off, and the 29 November 2007 Manila Peninsula Hotel Incident.

4. Revenue Generation Enforcement

In his first SONA, the President pledged that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) would file weekly cases against tax evaders and smugglers. Through the implementation of the Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) of the BIR and the Run After the Smugglers (RATS) of the BOC, the leaks in the government’s coffers continue to be plugged. Moreover, the DOF’s Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) investigated allegations of corruption in the DOF and its attached agencies.

4.1. The current administration intensified the implementation of its RATE program that in just one year, the tax evasion cases filed with the DOJ reached almost half of the 129 cases filed during the previous administration. From July 2010 to 07 July 2011, the BIR was able to file 55 tax evasion cases, involving a total taxable amount of over P22 billion.

4.2. As of 19 July 2011, filed with the DOJ 39 criminal cases involving 179 suspected smugglers with a total dutiable value of P54 billion. Of the 39 cases, one (1) has been filed in court, 21 have been submitted for resolution by the DOJ, seven (7) are under preliminary investigation, while 10 are up for preliminary investigation.

4.3. As of 19 July 2011, the DOF has filed 86 cases against allegedly corrupt government employees before the Office of the Ombudsman since 2003. A total of 53 officials have been suspended since the beginning of the RIPS program in 2003, 17 were suspended under President Aquino’s watch. A total of 19 officials have been dismissed from the service since 2003, three (3) of whom were dismissed under the term of President Aquino.

5. Making the Country an Attractive Investment Location.

5.1. Streamlined business name registration. The DTI successfully implemented measures to reduce the time span of business name registration from an average of 4 to 8 hours to within 15 minutes. The Enhanced Business Name Registration System (EBNRS) simplified the application process by reducing the required information fields from 36 to 18, resulting in the reduction of the application form from nine (9) pages to a single page.

5.2. Streamlined issuance of local government business permits.  The DILG also signed a Joint Memorandum Circular with the DTI to streamline the Business Permits and Licensing System (BPLS) of 480 priority cities, capital towns, and municipalities from 2010 to 2012.  Out of these 480 priority LGUs, 18% or 86 LGUs have already streamlined their BPLS. Meanwhile, for all 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country, at least 21% are ready for the streamlining of their BPLS.

As a result, LGUs utilizing the new and improved BPLS offer better service to applicants for business permits in their respective areas of jurisdiction. LGUs are encouraged to use a single or unified form in every transaction, with a maximum of five (5) steps and five (5) signatories. The outcome is a “Business Friendly LGU” that offers reduced processing time for business permits and licenses, i.e., 10 days or less processing time for new applications and five days for license renewals.

5.3. Developed an electronic payment system. The PEZA has completed the development of an Electronic Payment System for four (4) out of five (5) selected transactions of PEZA enterprises. PEZA’s E-payment System is a cashless payment solution that allows clients to pay for transactions with PEZA online, 24 hours a day, and from anywhere. This system promotes greater transparency and efficiency.

5.4. Promoted competition. The President issued EO 45 on 9 June 2011, designating the DOJ as the Competition Authority. This will encourage competition and open markets. EO 45 mandates the DOJ to conduct investigations, enforce competition laws, and prosecute violators. It also authorizes the DOJ to supervise competition in the markets; monitor and implement measures to promote transparency and accountability in the markets; and to call on government agencies to submit reports and provide assistance to the agency. With this EO, the government will be able to strengthen its enforcement of existing antitrust laws and policies to promote a level playing field, while Congress deliberates on the pending antitrust bills.

B. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1. Sustaining Economic Growth and Employment

In the first quarter of 2011, real GDP grew by 4.9%, slower than the 8.4% growth in the same period in 2010 but very close to the 5.0%-6.0% forecast of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for the year. Furthermore, this growth is within the NEDA’s forecast for the first quarter of 4.8%-5.8% and higher than the growth rate of Malaysia, Korea, and Thailand[10] for the same period. The strong performance of the industry and agriculture sectors, increased investments in capital formation, and increased household final consumption expenditure boosted growth.

In April 2011, the unemployment rate went down to 7.2%, significantly lower than the 8.0% rate in April 2010 due to stronger growth of agricultural employment. The number of unemployed persons decreased by 228,000 from 3.099 million in April 2010 to 2.871 million in April 2011. Employment level grew by 4.0% in April 2011, translating to a net addition of 1.408 million employed persons in the private sector.

1.1. Expanded Trade and Investments. Crucial to the goal of generating jobs is the promotion of key investment areas and expansion of trade and investment activities where the country could be globally competitive (e.g., tourism, business process outsourcing and information technology, among others).

1.1.1. Increase in Philippine Exports. Exports increased by 33.7% from $38.4 billion in 2009 to $51.4 billion in 2010, even surpassing the $50.27 billion record set in 2007. The 2010 export growth is the highest in 11 years since 1999. Exports grew by 7.5% from US$19.2 billion from January to May 2010 to US$20.6 billion in the same period in 2011.

1.1.2. Increase in Investments. For the period July 2010 to May 2011, the BOI and PEZA approved a total of P535.19 billion worth of investments, a 73% increase compared to the P309.87 billion approved investments in the same comparative period in 2009 and 2010. The P535.19 billion investments are expected to generate 137,118 employment opportunities once fully operational.

The larger part or 68% of the total investment approvals during the period July 2010 to May 2011 came from local investors with committed investments worth P366.62 billion, 95% larger than the P187.53 billion in July 2009 to May 2010. Foreign investors contributed a total of P168.57 billion or about 32% of the total.

Just looking at the first five months of 2011, the strong business confidence, particularly from local investors, was evident as overall domestic investments soared by 258% to a total of P224.57 billion from the P62.78 billion level posted during the same period in 2010. The bulk of these domestic investments went into manufacturing (e.g., refined petroleum products, metals, and electronic products), power, and real estate activities, among others.

1.1.3. Investments in Major Sectors. The following major investments in key sectors form part of the approved investments for the period July 2010 to May 2011:

  • Manufacturing. The manufacturing sector tops the list of sectors with the highest committed investments worth P283.07 billion during the period July 2010-May 2011, a 131% increase compared to the P122.30 billion posted in the same period in 2009-2010.
  • Electronics. The Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines (SEIPI) reported that electronics investments in the country broke an all-time record high as fresh capital expanded by 369% from $484 million in 2009 to $2.27 billion in 2010. This is also the 7th year the industry hit over $1 billion in investments. As a result, 24,552 direct jobs will be generated. Of the 100 companies, which registered in 2010, 10 are expansions while the rest are new projects. The industry hopes to double its exports in six (6) years from $22 billion in 2009 to $50 billion in 2016. The industry is bullish for 2011 as its exports are expected to hit over $31 billion noting that the electronics sector will continue to be the driver of growth of Philippine exports.
  • Information Technology – Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO). A total of 30,198 IT-BPO jobs were created for the first quarter of 2011. At least 84,000 more jobs are expected to be generated in the BPO industry within 2011. The BPO industry includes call centers, legal and medical transcription, accounting services, software development and animation, and other services for overseas principals. To help fill up the projected vacancies, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will offer free six-month training courses for prospective BPO workers. Graduates will be absorbed by the BPO companies. TESDA has allotted a total of P20 million for the free training of workers.
  • Shipbuilding. Investments in shipping increased because of foreign investors’ access to 100% ownership of companies engaged in shipbuilding and repair.
  • Mining. The mining and quarrying sectors recorded the highest increase in approved FDI, from P0.6 billion in 2009 to P 6.0 billion in 2010. The 2010 investments in mining are about nine times larger than the 2009 mining investments.
  • Mass Housing. Investments are huge at P59.02 billion. These investments, which represent about 50,000 units, are also expected to generate around P900 billion[11] worth of investments in related industries.
  • Energy. On 30 June 2011, the DOE launched the fourth Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR4), the biggest of all contracting rounds, in which 15 blocks with a total area of more than 10 million hectares were offered. The PECR4 is envisioned to address the country’s energy supply through the exploration of local indigenous resources. This will help the country meet its daily demand and reduce the importation of petroleum and petroleum products.

The PECR4 road shows have attracted at least 140 independent and large-scale international exploration companies expressing their interest to tender bids in the offered blocks. The DOE expects around US$300-500 million for each service contract[12]. Interested investors will have until December 2011 to signify their intent to bid while the contracts are expected to be awarded next year.

1.2. Improved fiscal consolidation

1.2.1. The government deficit in 2010 was at P314.40 billion, 3.23% lower than the P325 billion programmed deficit for the year.[13] The lower deficit was due to the implementation of measures to improve collections and spend wisely.

1.2.2. For the first five months of 2011, the government posted a deficit of P9.54 billion, 94.11% lower than the P162.107 billion deficit in the same period in 2010. However, excluding interest payments on debt, the National Government (NG) incurred a primary surplus[14] of P108.26 billion as of May 2011 due to increased revenues and sound spending, along with the strict observance of the principles of zero-based budgeting.

1.2.3. Revenue collection increased to P1.21 trillion in 2010, 7.5% higher than the P1.12 trillion in 2009. The BIR’s collections increased from P750.30 billion in 2009 to P822.60 billion in 2010. The BOC’s collections increased by 17.7% from P220.30 billion in 2009 to P259.2 billion in 2010.

1.2.4. Revenues grew by 16.30% from P500.01 billion in the first five months of 2010 to P581.50 billion in the same period of 2011.

1.2.5. The government lowered its disbursements by 10.73% from P662.12 billion in the first five months of 2010 to P591.04 billion in the same period of 2011 due to more prudent planning and sound spending of agencies. Government disbursed P1.52 trillion in 2010, or about 94% of the P1.62 trillion programmed for that year.

1.3. Other important initiatives to improve the fiscal position include the following:

1.3.1. Congress’ prompt enactment of the 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA) on 27 December 2010, the first budget passed on time since the 1999 National Budget. The P1.65 trillion 2011 national budget is in favor of the poor and the vulnerable, as social services were allotted the lion’s share (34%). The budget is based on the principle of zero-based budgeting, the objective of which is to cut wastage.

1.3.2. The 2012 Budget preparation is ahead of schedule, again, the first budget prepared ahead of schedule since 1998. As early as 30 December 2010, the DBM had already issued National Budget Memorandum (NBM) No. 107, s. 2010 providing all heads of departments, agencies, bureaus, offices, commissions, state universities and colleges, and other instrumentalities of the national government the overall policy framework and thrusts for the FY 2012 Budget. The NBM also set specific guidelines for the budget preparations.

1.3.3. Liability Management. Various upgrades in the country’s ratings were obtained. Debt watcher Standard & Poor’s revised its long-term foreign currency credit rating for the Philippines upwards to BB stable from BB- last November, reflecting the country’s strong fiscal fundamentals. The Moody’s Investors Service and the Japan Credit Rating Agency, Ltd. also raised their outlooks for the Philippines from “stable” to “positive” in January and April 2011, respectively. The upgraded outlook from Japan “reflects greater possibility that the Philippine economy will resume momentum for the improving trend of its fiscal position after successfully weathering the challenges of the world financial crisis.” For the second time in 2011, Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the Philippines’ Ba3 foreign and local currency long-term bond ratings to Ba2, with a stable outlook, on the back of sustainable fiscal consolidation process of the Aquino administration. On 23 June 2011, Fitch Ratings upgraded the Philippines’ Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘BB+’ from ‘BB,’ with a stable outlook, just one notch below investment grade. This rating was last achieved in 1997 just before the Asian financial crisis. With the upgrade, the country is now one step closer to attaining an investment grade rating, which is crucial in further lowering borrowing costs and attracting more foreign direct investments.

The Aquino administration moved early in executing its first Global Exchange last September 2010 wherein a total of US$2.29 billion worth of short-term, high coupon U.S. dollar bonds were exchanged into less costly but longer dated Republic of the Philippines (ROP) global bonds. This represented one of the largest liability management exercises from an emerging market issuer at the time and was immediately followed by the P199 billion domestic bond swap in December 2010, which offered 10 and 25-year securities to holders of maturing bonds.

Debt exchanges and the issuance of longer-termed securities increased the average maturity of government debt to 8.8 years in December 2010 from 7.9 years in June 2010.

The debt-to-GDP ratio dropped from 57% in 2009 to 55.4% in 2010, well within the 2010 target of 56.5%. This means that the Philippine government is in a better position to settle its liabilities.

The government decreased debt servicing by 2.14% year-on-year from P339.34 billion in the 1st quarter of 2010 to P332.07 billion in the first quarter of 2011 as the Aquino government cut down on interest payments.

1.4. Ensuring Monetary and Banking Stability

The government maintained an effective balance on policies to preserve price stability and support economic growth. As a result, inflation for 2010 averaged at 3.8%, which was within the Government’s 2010 inflation target of 3.5%-5.5%. The inflation rate for the first five months of 2011 averages at 4.2%, which was likewise, within the Government’s target of 3%-5%.

1.4.1. Government also ensured a stable, market-driven peso. The peso appreciated by 6.8%, from P47.46/US$1 average in July-December 2009 to P44.45/US$1 in July-December 2010. The peso appreciated by 4.8%, from P45.66/US$1 average in January to May 2010 to 43.55/US$1 average in January to May 2011. The sustained foreign exchange inflows of portfolio and direct investments, overseas Filipinos (OF) remittances, receipts from exports, BPO, and travel continued to support the peso’s strength.

The country’s international reserves were built up, taking advantage of the strong inflows of foreign exchange to cushion the economy from external shocks. As a result, the country’s gross international reserves (GIR) grew by 44% from US$47.7 billion in end-May 2010 to $68.8 billion as of end-May 2011.[15] The country is expected to achieve the 2011 GIR target level of $70 billion as it anticipates sustained foreign exchange inflows from portfolio and direct investments, OF remittances and receipts from exports, BPO and travel.

1.4.2. The government continued to pursue reforms and implement new regulations to maintain the soundness and stability of the banking system. The total resources of the banking system rose by 9.4% to P7.1 trillion as of end-March 2011, spurred by the robust growth in bank deposits which grew by 9.3% to P5.0 trillion.

Asset quality continued to improve with the non-performing loan ratio[16] of universal and commercial banks falling to 2.95% as of end-April 2011. This is well below the pre-1997 crisis level of 4%. The banking system’s overall capitalization also remained strong, with a 17% capital adequacy ratio (CAR) [17] as of end-September 2010. This is way above the BSP regulatory requirement of 10% and the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) standard of 8%. With stability and ample liquidity in the banking system, banks continued to perform their critical function of channeling credit to the productive sectors of the economy. Bank lending grew at a healthy pace of 14.2% as loans for production activities increased by 15.7% in April.

1.4.3. Stock Market. Since the start of the Aquino Administration, the Philippines Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) hit all-time high levels on seven (7) different occasions: on 20 July 2011 at an all-time high of 4,507.04 points; 19 July 2011 at 4,485.65 points; 18 July 2011 at 4,476.01 points; 15 July 2011 at 4,458.74 points; 5 July 2011 at 4,439.61 points; 4 July 2011 at 4,421.56 points; and 4 November 2010 at 4,397.30 points. Mining and Oil, holding firms, and industrial sectors are among those industries that outperformed their own previous performances in the stock exchange.

2. Ensuring Vital Infrastructure and Energy Sufficiency

2.1 Improved infrastructure support to sustain economic growth. The following are some of the major infrastructure projects completed during the first year of the Aquino Administration:

Name of Project

 

Amount

Completion Date

Valderrama Bridge and Approaches, Antique (UK-ODA)

P53.07 million

28 March 2011

Bugo Bridge and Approaches, Antique (Austria-ODA)

P148.17 million

31 March 2011

Estrella–Pantaleon Bridge and Approaches, Makati and Mandaluyong City (GOP and Austria-ODA)

P189.32 million

15 January 2011

Butuan City Bypass Road (Bonbon-Banacasi Airport Section and Lemon-Antongalon Section), Agusan Del Norte

P177.96 million

30 April 2011

Butuan City-Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Road  (Agusan-Misamis Road), Agusan del Norte

P105.12 million

26 October 2010

Tiniwisan-Maguinda Road (Lemon-Pigdaulan Section), Agusan del Norte

P335.03 million

23 April 2011

Metro Iloilo Radial (R4) Bypass Road and Iloilo City-Sta.Barbara Road

P1.21 billion

23 April 2011

ODA and partnerships with the private sector augment government’s infrastructure spending to ensure the timely and full completion of our infrastructure priorities. The DPWH’s management philosophy of “Doing the right projects at the right cost and right quality” also resulted in increased savings.

The DPWH aims to use these savings for prioritization of other development projects. For 2011, P16.20 billion or 24.3% of the total DPWH Capital Outlay has been allocated for infrastructure development in Mindanao. This will help facilitate economic growth in the region.

2.2 Upgrading the quality and safety of national roads.

2.2.1 Strictly enforced the anti-overloading program pursuant to RA No. 8794 (MVUC Law). The DPWH deployed additional mobile weighing stations to augment the 22 weighbridge stations nationwide. Out of 92,279 weighed trucks in the 22 weighbridge stations nationwide, 37% or 34,026 trucks were overloaded and apprehended from January to May 2011, while 4,188 trucks or 3% of 143,928 weighed trucks in the 13 mobile weighing stations in Metro Manila were apprehended from February to May 2011.

2.2.2 Enhanced road safety and minimized traffic congestion on major roads. A total of 757,809 violators of transport laws and regulations were apprehended for the period July 2010-April 2011. This is 45.79% higher than the DOTC’s target to apprehend 519,780 errant drivers for the same period.

2.3 Working Towards Energy Sufficiency

2.3.1 Energy Efficiency and Conservation. The DOE took the following initiatives to promote the conservation and efficient utilization of energy resources:

2.3.1.1 Established the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in Visayas, which immediately stabilized electricity supply and eliminated the manual load dropping of customers. WESM Visayas has also provided good market signals for investors. Currently, there are already 180 market participants for the integrated Luzon and Visayas market. On the other hand, the Effective Settlement Price (ESP) in the WESM for both Luzon and Visayas from January to April 2011 ranged from a high of P3.33/kWh in February to a low of P2.30/kWh in March 2011. These prices are lower than the NPC regulated price of P4.6727/kWh. This is a big reduction from the 2010 ESPs which ranged from a high of P10.63/kWh in March 2010 to a low of P3.63/kWh in August 2010. This means that the more players in the market translate to a more stable and reliable supply of electricity, as well as better power pricing for the benefit of consumers.

With the commercial operations of the WESM in the region, power outages were eliminated as it allowed even the power plant’s generating capacity not covered by bilateral contracts to be dispatched by trading its capacity in the power spot market. This kind of set-up provides better market condition and structure to entice more investors to address future power needs.

2.3.1.2 Increased the Visayas generation capacity by 610 MW with the commissioning of new power plants in the Visayas region. These power plants are the 246 MW coal-fired power plant of the Cebu Energy Development Corporation (CEDC), the 164 MW clean coal-fired power plant of the Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC), and the 200 MW coal-fired power plant of the KEPCO Salcon Power Corporation. This gave the Visayas surplus power of about 600MW. Increased and constant investor interest, in turn, will provide a long-term solution in terms of power sustainability for the region.

2.3.1.3 A Shareholders’ Agreement was recently signed to develop a 600-MW circulating fluidized bed coal-fired power plant project within Subic Bay Freeport Zone. The project consists of two (2) 300-MW generating units. The total cost of the project is estimated at US$1 billion and its commercial operations is scheduled in October 2014 (for the first 300-MW unit) and April 2015 (for the second unit). Said power plant will use an environment-friendly clean coal technology known worldwide to cut down environmental impacts of operating a coal fired plant. The power facility is expected to augment generation capacity of the Luzon Grid.

2.3.1.4 Promoted the “Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards”[18], whose recipients, including some 61 industrialized, commercial, and transport companies, were able to post total savings of 156 million liters of oil amounting to P5 billion, and reduced carbon emissions equivalent to 269,000 tons.

2.3.1.5 Conducted 12 energy audits[19] for industrial, commercial, academe, and government buildings to ensure the efficient use of energy. Total energy savings reached P24.6 million after the conduct of such audits.

3. Achieving Food Security for More Equitable Economic Growth

The country has been highly dependent on the importation of food staples. To lessen the nation’s dependence on imports, Government has placed top priority on agricultural development.

3.1 The Agriculture sector (Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing) grew by 4.2% in the first quarter of 2011 from a negative growth of 1.08% in the first quarter of 2010. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported a 4.04 million metric ton (MT) palay production in January to March 2011, 15.6% higher than the 3.49 million MT produced in the same period in 2010.

The yield per hectare is estimated to reach 3.8 MT from January to June 2011, a 4.3% improvement from the 3.64 MT per hectare in the same period in 2010. As such, the farmer’s profit per hectare would reach P14,782.00 from January to June 2011, a 4% improvement from the P14,159.00 profit per hectare in the same period last year.

Expansion in palay harvested area, availability of irrigation water and services, and aggressive advocacy of the DA in the implementation of its Rapid Seed Supply Financing Project, which distributes high quality seeds to qualified palay farmers, contributed to the increase in palay output.

3.2 Completed projects to strengthen the agricultural sector

3.2.1. Under the continuing regular fund from the DA, a total of 1,814 kilometers of Farm to Market Roads (FMRs) were completed from July 2010 to May 2011, out of the targeted 2,567 kilometers. In addition, 687 kms more FMRs were completed under the locally-funded and foreign assisted projects. Overall, a total of 2,501 kms of completed FMRs provide better access to markets and social services and boost economic activities by allowing goods and products to flow in and out of the barangays. FMRs also help reduce transport costs, spoilage and deterioration of quality of agricultural products, and facilitate delivery of farm inputs.

3.2.2. From July 2010 to June 2011, a total of 65 tramlines were completed connecting remote areas to FMRs. A total of 67 agricultural tramlines were completed since project start-up in 2009, which is 63% of the targeted 107 units to be completed by December 2011. The use of these tramlines cuts the cost of hauling by half from P2 to P1 per kilogram of produce and reduces hauling time significantly from hours to just a few minutes.

Inaugurated on 13 April 2011 at Twin Peaks, Tuba, Benguet, a 400-meter tramline has reduced hauling time from 2 hours to five minutes.  Farmers pay P1 per kilo of produce to cover the cost of diesel fuel, engine maintenance and other repairs and allowance for the tramline operator.

On 25 February 2011, a tramline built by DA-Philmech at a cost of P1.6 million was inaugurated in La Paz, Zamboanga City, a barangay located 970 meters above sea level.  A 370 meter distance between the barangay and the closest national road used to take 12 hours to traverse.  With the tramline, travel time over this distance has been reduced to three minutes.  A local group, the La Paz Farmers’ Association operates the tramline collecting a fee of one peso for a load of 350 kilos of corn and vegetables.

3.2.3. All in all, in the first 11 months of the Aquino Administration (July 2010 to May 2011), 11,611 hectares of new areas were irrigated, 40,053 hectares were restored, and 171,910 hectares were rehabilitated both for current and carry over projects. Restoration entails repairing the irrigation facility that is currently not functional while rehabilitation means upgrading or improving the facility, which is currently working but has not attained the maximum or designed irrigation efficiency.

3.2.4. Put up the following post-harvest facilities:

  • One hundred eighty seven (187) food terminals from July 2010 to April 2011 benefiting 1,155 small farmers and fishers. These food terminals provide affordable basic food commodities to around 457,859 households who are able to save not only from low-priced commodities but also from cuts in transportation expenses and reduction of middlemen costs. The savings on transportation cost ranges from P8–P200 for every trip to the market.
  • Thirteen (13) or 68% of the targeted 19 Corn Post Harvest Trading Centers (CPHTC) in major corn producing areas nationwide. These centers ensure continuous supply of corn even during the wet season, guarantee premium quality, and open opportunity for other investments in the corn industry.
  • A total of 1,342 small scale composting facilities in the different regions nationwide, reaching 100% of the target, and generating 5,368 jobs. This forms part of the government’s promotion of organic farming through the Organic Fertilizer Production Project, which will enable farmers to produce their own organic fertilizer to reduce dependence on expensive synthetic fertilizers.
  • A total of 56 units of flatbed dryers from July 2010 to April 2011, attaining 100% of the target and generating 402 jobs. These will reduce post-harvest losses during the drying stage of palay and ensure quality drying during the rainy season.
  • Four (4) cold chain facilities[20] from July 2010 to May 2011 would enable farmers of high value crops to store their fruits and vegetables in the appropriate temperature and prolong the quality and shelf life of perishable crops, obtaining for the farmers a better selling price for their produce. These facilities were turned over to three (3) cooperatives in Benguet, Palayan City, and San Jose City, benefiting 139 farmers.
  • Ten (10) units of Village-Type post-harvest facilities as of June 2011, in key corn production areas and strategic demand sites nationwide. Thirty-one (31) more units are expected to be completed and operational by the end of 2011.

3.3. Fostered a culture of self-reliance

3.3.1 Some of the strategies under the Food Staple Self-Sufficiency program include the termination of direct input subsidies to farmers and front-loading of irrigation investments in 2012 and 2013 to increase output as early as possible, thus decreasing the need to import rice. These actions are already bearing fruit as seen in the bumper crop harvest from January to March 2011.

3.3.2 The country’s rice importation dropped significantly by 80% from an import volume of 2.02 million MT from July 2009 to June 2010 to 386,243 MT from July 2010 to June 2011. The decrease in volume of actual rice import arrivals can be attributed to the good harvest and the comfortable stock position of the country. Likewise, rice shipments were scheduled better. From here on, NFA buffer stocks will consist mainly of palay purchased from local farmers—a long standing demand of the rice farmers. From January to June 2011, the government through the NFA has procured some P7.64 billion worth of palay from all over the country. This is 16% of the NFA stock. The NFA targets to increase this volume from the harvest from the main cropping season later this year.

The total rice imported in 2010 was 2.38 million MT. For 2011, the government shall import 64% less or 860,000 MT, with 200,000 MT imported by the government, and 660,000 MT by the private sector. For 2012, rice imports shall further decline to 500,000 MT, with 100,000 MT imported by the government and 400,000 MT imported by the private sector.

3.3.2. The government was able to increase the average farm gate price of palay by 2.89% within a short period, thereby immediately increasing the farmer’s income. Strategic reserves and placements made it possible for the price of rice to remain stable, thereby assuring the affordability and availability of rice to the public.

3.3.3. Production in the crops subsector was also up by 8.19% and the main contributors were palay, corn, sugarcane, and banana. The country has regained its status as net sugar exporter for the current crop year, having recovered from the sugar shortage in 2009-2010 when the country imported raw and refined sugar.

3.3. Other Agribusiness Interventions

Livestock. Today, the Philippines is both avian flu-free and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) free. The OIE[21], or the World Animal Health Organization, last May 2011 certified the Philippines as “FMD-free without vaccination.” This accreditation opens the gates for the country’s hog raisers to export meat products.

4. Improving National Productivity and Competitiveness

4.1. National Competitiveness Council (NCC). NCC was reconstituted through the issuance of EO No. 44, s. 2011. NCC is working on improving the Philippine standing on competitiveness indicators where the Philippines had the lowest rankings including infrastructure, governance, and ease of doing business.

4.2. Tourism Industry. In 2010, visitor arrivals surpassed the 3.3 million target for the year reaching an all-time high of 3.52 million, 16.67% higher than the 2009 visitor arrivals of 3.01 million. In just the first year of the Aquino administration, a 15.60% increase in visitor arrivals was recorded from 3.2 million arrivals in the period July 2009-June 2010 to 3.7 million arrivals in the period July 2010-June 2011.

More particularly, in the first six months of the Aquino Administration, visitor volume grew by 21%, faster than the first semester of 2010’s 12% growth. Total receipts from visitors increased by 11.3% from $2.24 billion in 2009 to $2.49 billion in 2010. This may be attributed to the confidence in the new administration, as well as the improved economic conditions in tourist source markets.

The continued growth in visitor volume is the result of sustained marketing and promotions efforts undertaken jointly by the public and private sectors in key source markets, such as attendance to travel fairs, invitational programs and very selective advertising.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) granted new permits to operate regular air services to the following: Korean Airlines, Gulf Air, Continental Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, which are expected to provide weekly seat capacity of 12,090 from Korea, Bahrain, Guam, and Palau.   The CAB also granted permits to Jin Air, Jetstar Airways, Air Busan, Mandarin Airlines, Air Nippon Airways, and Jeju Air. These airlines are expected to bring in 1,498 and 2,265 tourists weekly from Japan and Korea, respectively.

The DOT further estimates that there will be an additional 37,623 potential Japanese tourists and 56,888 potential Korean tourists in the country with these additional seat capacities.

It may be noted that in 2010, Korean tourists accounted for the biggest chunk of visitor arrivals or 21.04% (740,622) while Japanese visitors accounted for 10.19% (358,744) of total tourist arrivals.

4.3. Pocket Open Skies Policy. EO Nos. 28 and 29 were issued on 14 March 2011, which aims to reorganize the Philippine Air Negotiating Panel and Philippine Air Consultation Panel; and authorize the CAB and the Philippine Air Panels to pursue more aggressively the international civil aviation liberalization policy. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) was approved by the CAB Board and published in Manila Bulletin on 09 May 2011. It is also available in the CAB website.

4.4. Encouraging Local Innovation. The DOST is concentrating its efforts on innovating and promoting technology as economical solutions to exigent socio-economic matters that affect our country. This includes the development of the ovicidal/larvicidal (O/L) trap. This is a simple tool to lessen the incidence of dengue. The O/L trap consists of a tin can containing an organic solution that attracts and terminates the eggs and larvae of mosquitoes. As of May 2011, the DOST distributed four traps per household or a total of 200,000 O/L traps to 50,000 households nationwide.

Another innovation that the DOST is developing is a prototype of the Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) System, a monorail-type rapid mass transit system that employs a rubber tire on concrete form of conveyance. Unlike the common light-rail type train systems available in the country, the AGT System requires less space for its structural support, making it suitable for the narrow spaces that are available in the cities. It is also cost-efficient, Philippine-made, and environmentally-friendly.

Yet another important DOST innovation is the landslide sensor. A landslide sensor is an automated borehole sensor column that is buried in the ground. It gathers data on ground movement and soil moisture content, and sends it automatically to a computer that runs predictive models for landslides called Dynaslope. A landslide sensor is currently deployed in Benguet and there are plans to install more sensors in provinces such as Southern Leyte, Albay, and Bohol within the year.

C. HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY REDUCTION

The anti-corruption call “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap” further serves as a means to achieve a higher end, which is to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of the Filipino people. It increases investments and advances economic development to further free-up resources for much needed social interventions. Towards this end, a convergence approach has been adopted, with opportunities for education, housing, health care, employment, and livelihood made available. With savings arising from eliminating wasteful and corrupt practices, programs and projects for social intervention can be funded. These include the following:

1. Building Capacities of the Poor and Marginalized

1.1 Expanded coverage of the CCT or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (Pantawid Pamilya). The government has reached the targeted 1 million households in 2010, and intends to cover an additional 1.3 million households for a total of 2.3 million households by the end of 2011.

As of 10 July 2011, a total of 2,201,792 household beneficiaries, or 94.12% of the 2,339,241 million households target for 2011, have been registered in the program. The registration for the remaining 137,449 households is on-going.

As of 30 May 2011, the cash grants funded cover 1,619,974 household beneficiaries.

Overall average compliance rate vis-à-vis the program conditionalities in 2010 for household beneficiaries belonging to Set 1[22]and 2[23] is high, as may be observed in the following:

PROGRAM CONDITIONALITY

RATE

Health Visits  (for pregnant women and children 0-5 years old)

96.16%

Education (Day Care)

95.40%

Education (Elementary)

96.86%

Family Development Sessions

95.92%

From January to April 2011, high compliance rate to the program conditionalities was also recorded:

CONDITIONALITY

January

February

March

April

Health Visits (for pregnant women and children 0-5 y.o.)

90.82%

91.94%

92.86%

93.72%

Education (Day Care)

90.20%

90.95%

92.82%

not available

Education (Elementary)

90.27%

90.82%

92.69%

not available

Family Development Sessions

96.34%

96.47%

96.64%

96.45%

The high compliance rates with the program’s conditions indicate that the people are responsive to the importance of investing in health and education in order to improve their quality of life. Currently, the DSWD is converging its core social protection programs (i.e., Pantawid Pamilya, the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, and the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran Program) to ensure that poverty reduction objectives of the Aquino Administration are accomplished.

1.2 Empowered communities through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS).

The KALAHI-CIDSS is a strategy for community empowerment and poverty reduction that employs a community-driven development (CDD) approach. KALAHI-CIDSS allows communities to identify, analyze and prioritize the projects that would best solve their immediate needs (e.g., water systems, school buildings, day care centers, barangay health stations, electrification, housing, access roads/trails/bridges, livelihood assistance, environmental protection/ conservation programs, and skills training, among others). From July 2010 to 30 May 2011, the KALAHI-CIDSS projects have been implemented in 10 regions, 25 provinces, 78 municipalities, and 1,759 barangays. The program’s capacity building initiatives have been completed benefitting the 40,112 targeted community volunteers. These initiatives cover the conduct of project development and management, financial management, procurement, development planning, and infrastructure implementation.

As of 30 June 2011, out of the 570 targeted community projects, 490 community sub-projects costing P507.94 million, have been completed, benefiting 133,439 households. The sub-projects include the construction of health and day care centers, pre- and post-harvest facilities, roads, and bridges, among others.

1.3 Enhancing the capacity of the poor for entrepreneurship through the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) Program. The SEA-K is a capability building and livelihood program that aims to enable poor families to establish and manage sustainable community-based credit organizations for entrepreneurship development.

From July 2010 to June 2011, a total of P120,058,333 was released to 21,296 families as capital seed fund at a maximum of P10,000 per family. Out of which, P40,349,333 has been released to 5,572 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries under the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the DSWD’s Convergence Strategy.

2. Advancing and Protecting Public Health

Universal Health Care or Kalusugang Pangkalahatan is the government’s response to the inequities and lack of access to health care. It envisions providing all Filipinos with quality and appropriate health care whenever and wherever needed.

2.1. Pursued Universal Health Care.  The National Household Targeting System for Poverty-Reduction (NHTS-PR) has identified 5.2 million households[24] for enrolment in the Sponsored Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

As of 19 July, all of the 5.2 million families identified by the NHTS-PR are now enrolled in PhilHealth under the Sponsored Program. This represents 100% of the families classified by NHTS-PR as the poorest Filipino families.

Starting August 2011, PhilHealth will offer the poorest of the poor a no-balance billing package covering 22 medical and surgical cases[25]. This means that for the poor patients who belong in the 5.2 million families identified by the NHTS-PR and enrolled in PhilHealth, no payments shall be required by the public health facility or public hospital for the treatment of illnesses such as dengue, diarrhea, pneumonia, typhoid fever or asthma, or for normal or caesarean deliveries during childbirth, among others.

2.2. Upgrading the rural health units and government hospitals. A total of P7.1 billion has been allocated in 2011 for the Health Facility Enhancement Program (HFEP),[26] P5.70 billion of which shall be used for the improvement of rural health units (RHUs) and barangay health stations, while P1.40 billion shall be used for the enhancement of DOH retained hospitals.

A total of P3.70 billion was also released to various LGUs nationwide for the upgrading of health infrastructure. The amount funded a total of 553 projects for the civil works and upgrading of equipment for Basic and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetrics and Neonatal Care (BEmONC) in new or renovated health centers and government hospitals.

2.3. Provided more health workers to the unserved and underserved communities

2.3.1. Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RNheals) Program. As of 28 June 2011, the DOH has deployed 9,884 out of the targeted 10,000 nurses to 1,331 municipalities. This program aims to help uplift the health conditions of the poor in the rural and underserved municipalities.

2.3.2. Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) Program. As of 28 June 2011, 83 doctors were deployed to 83 5th and 6th class municipalities that had few or no medical practitioners, thereby improving access to quality healthcare.

2.3.3. Rural Health Midwives Placement Program (RHMPP). As of 28 June 2011, 173 midwives were deployed to 15 regions to provide maternal and child health care services in the CCT areas, BEmONC facilities and in the unserved, underserved, and hard-to-reach 5th and 6th class municipalities.

2.3.4. Rural Health Team Placement Program (RHTPP). As of 28 June 2011, 44 dentists, 43 medical technologists and 40 nutritionist-dieticians were also deployed to 105 municipalities to provide the community with a complete healthcare package.

2.4 Other health-related accomplishments

The Iligtas sa Tigdas ang Pinas Program. For the period 4 April 2011 to 04 June 2011, the DOH allocated P635 million to procure vaccines and other mobilization requirements for the nationwide door-to-door vaccination of an estimated 18 million children aged 9 to 95 months old. Out of the 18 million target, 15,321,749 children or 82% have been vaccinated.

Government effort on Dengue. Due to intensive public information, preventive measures and collaboration among government and the private sector, as of July 2011, the number of dengue cases is lower by 13.8% with 34,090 compared to 39, 556 last year.

3. Providing Access to Quality Education

3.1. Allocated a bigger budget for basic education. The government allocated P207.30 billion for basic education in 2011, which is 18.46% higher than the 2010 budget of P175 billion. The budget includes P2.30 billion[27] for the 1,193,550 kindergarten students for SY 2011-2012, the start of universal kindergarten under the government’s K to 12 program. The budget also includes P5.8 billion for the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program, which shall benefit 757,806 students for school year 2011-2012, a 9.54% increase over the 2010-2011 period. Furthermore, to ensure that more students from marginalized families benefit from the GASTPE Program, the tuition subsidy for students residing outside Metro Manila was increased from P5,000 to P5,500.

3.2. Constructed more classrooms and toilets. From July 2010 to May 2011, 2,493 new classrooms had been constructed out of the remaining 3,962 classrooms to be constructed using funds from fiscal years 2008 to 2010. The remaining classrooms are expected to be completed from August to October of 2011. The construction of new classrooms, this time provided for in DepEd’s 2011 budget, commenced, with 9,104 out of 11,683 classrooms already in the process of bidding and procurement.

For the period July 2010 to May 2011, about 6,691 classrooms, or 75% of the targeted 8,871 classrooms due for repairs, have also been rehabilitated. In addition, 2,493 toilets or 71% of the targeted 3,501 toilets have been newly installed in schools.

LGUs and private sector partners have also actively participated in the provision of new classrooms to schools. LGUs have built a total of 1,662 new classrooms in school year 2010-2011 alone. Several LGUs have also responded positively to the Counter-Parting for Classroom Construction Program, which was established early this year. As of June 2011, LGUs have a running commitment of P760.65 million to build 895 new classrooms this school year on top of the DepEd’s regular school building program through the counter-parting scheme.

Meanwhile, private sector groups committed to build 251 new classrooms. The DepEd continues to cultivate its strong partnership with business and civil society organizations through school-building initiatives such as the Bayanihang Pampaaralan, which aims to significantly address the public schools system’s classroom shortage within the next two years.

4. Providing Decent and Affordable Housing

The Aquino Administration is espousing transparency, decisive action to resolve government inefficiencies, preferential action for the underprivileged, and increased partnership with stakeholders for the purpose of affording decent shelter to those in need.

4.1 Closing the housing gap by providing secure tenure and increasing the socialized housing stock. From July 2010 to June 2011, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and its Key Shelter Agencies[28] (KSAs) focused on the review of housing policies and programs to improve the delivery of housing services. These activities have so far resulted in the provision of decent housing to 104,903 families.

4.2 Pursued a more responsive housing loan policy. From July 2010 to June 2011, amidst the policy reforms being undertaken by the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG) to avoid fraudulent activities and make the lending program more responsive to its members, the agency approved the release of P47 billion worth of loans to a total of 67,660 members for the purchase of new houses.

4.3 Pursued a More Comprehensive Resettlement Policy. The National Housing Authority (NHA) released P3.08 billion for resettlement and other programs from July 2010 to June 2011. This benefitted nearly 25,400 beneficiary-families. The review of the NHA’s resettlement policies is on-going to include the provision of basic social services (e.g., schools, public markets, health care centers) and livelihood opportunities at the resettlement sites.

4.4 Intensified the implementation of the Community Mortgage Program (CMP).  Under the CMP, P692 million was released from July 2010 to June 2011 to organized informal settler communities for land acquisition, benefiting 11,413 beneficiary-families. Of this number, 8,880 families benefited in the first half of 2011, which already surpassed the full-year accomplishment in 2010 of 7,109 beneficiary-families.

4.5 Partnering with LGUs in providing housing to the homeless. The HUDCC conducted Pabahay Caravans in Region VII (Cebu), Cordillera Administrative Region (Baguio), Region III (Pampanga), Region IV-A (Tagaytay), Region VIII (Tacloban City), Region IX (Zamboanga City) and Region XI (Davao City). The caravan brought the various housing programs and services of the shelter agencies, to help the LGUs address their housing needs directly to the LGUs.

HLURB and HUDCC offer assistance in the preparation of the LGUs’ respective comprehensive land use plans and local shelter plans, respectively. The Pag-IBIG Fund has devoted a lending window for LGUs with available land for housing but lack funds to build units. For LGUs without land for housing, the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) may fund 75% of their housing project cost under the Localized Community Mortgage Program. Under its resettlement assistance program, the National Housing Authority (NHA) is open for joint ventures with LGUs that need to relocate informal settlers. The LGU provides the land while NHA funds the site development.

Stronger linkages with the LGUs have started to bear fruit. The Pag-IBIG Fund has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Quezon City LGU for the housing project in Barangay Payatas for low-income personnel and informal settlers occupying danger areas. Manila and San Pedro, Laguna are also set to enter into a partnership with Pag-IBIG Fund for their own housing projects. These projects are in the assessment stage on technical design of units, specifications and income profiling of beneficiaries.

The SHFC adopted the strategy of expanding partnership with LGUs to have a pro-active identification of areas for CMP. More specifically, it has targeted 70% of its portfolio for cities outside the National Capital Region, prioritizing Highly Urbanized Cities, cities with high population growth rates, and the Metro cities.

4.6 Improved coordination among KSAs and other partners. For the first time in several years, the HUDCC was convened and now holds regular quarterly meetings to discuss policies and enhance coordination not only among government agencies but also with Congress and the private sector. Members of Congress, notably the Chairmen of the respective Houses’ Committees on Housing and Urban Development, have participated in the Council meetings, resulting in a unified position on housing policies and directions for the next six (6) years, which were adopted during the first Council meeting held on 13 January 2011.

On the other hand, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), such as the Gawad Kalinga and the Habitat for Humanity (HfH), have proven that affordable housing and better communities can be developed with the help of concerned private citizens and LGUs. As such, HUDCC involved the participation of NGOs in policy making. It is worth noting that HfH was elected as one of the members of the SHFC Board of Directors.

4.7 Addressing the concerns of informal settler families. Despite the passage of Republic Act 7972 (or the “Urban Development and Housing Act [UDHA]) in 1992, the rampant proliferation of informal settler families (ISFs) remains to be a perennial problem. It has become an unsightly manifestation of urban decay and intergenerational neglect. Despite the government’s clear statutory policy of preventing the propagation of ISFs, while protecting and upholding the rights of ISFs, the conduct of illegal, forced, or unilateral demolitions and eviction activities was still witnessed, especially during the previous administration.

Consequently, as of 2010, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported that there were already 556,526 ISFs in Metro Manila, 102,406 of whom live in danger areas.

Aware of the plight of the ISFs, the Aquino Administration sought the full enforcement of the UDHA by requiring all LGUs to conduct adequate consultation and relocation of informal settlers before any demolition or eviction is carried out. The term “adequate” means that the relocation sites should include basic services and facilities and access to employment and livelihood opportunities, as mandated by law. Moreover, LGU officials were directed to adopt measures to effectively curtail the proliferation and further increase in the number of informal settlers and mendicants in their respective localities,[29] and to create their respective Local Housing Board or a Local Inter-Agency Committee that shall be responsible in eviction and demolition-related activities in their areas. About 56 cities and 102 municipalities have fully complied with the directive.

5. Promoting Opportunities for Decent Employment

5.1 Promoting the welfare of Filipino workers abroad

5.1.1 Institutionalized the One-DOLE Overseas Operations System. For the first time, the DOLE institutionalized an integrated One-DOLE Overseas Operations System in deployment, financial systems, monitoring and reporting, and accountability of the Labor Attachés, Welfare Officers, and Administrative Staff to the DOLE Secretary.  Adopted in 2011, this means that support services of DOLE, Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA), and Philippine Overseas Employment Association (POEA) for its operating units onsite now follow uniform selection and pre-deployment procedures, joint work and financial reporting system, and uniform operational guidelines on OFW case management and repatriation. This is expected to eventually redound to better selected, trained and matched officers at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), more reliable performance and statistical data on overseas operations, and maximized allocation and utilization of resources especially in POLOs where it is more needed.

5.1.2 Provided assistance through the Legal Assistance Fund (LAF). The DFA provided assistance amounting to P10.21 million to 146 Filipinos in need of legal aid for the period July 2010 to 28 June 2011. Assistance through the LAF may take the form of fees for competent private counsel, bail bonds, court fees, charges and other reasonable litigation expenses, travelling expenses, and communication expenses in connection with the legal assistance.

5.1.3 Provided assistance to OFWs in crisis areas through the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Fund. From July 2010 to 28 June 2011, assistance amounting to P281,489,716.65 was provided to overseas Filipinos in distress through the ATN Fund. Government repatriated a total of 10,369 overseas Filipinos in four (4) crisis-affected areas (Egypt; Libya; Yemen; and Fukushima, Japan) from 29 January to 28 June 2011.

In response to the Egypt Crisis, 93 Filipinos out of the estimated 6,569 Filipinos in Egypt were repatriated through the timely operations of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) from 29 January to 16 February, 2011. On the Libyan Crisis, a total of 9,951 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were repatriated as of 28 June 2011 out of the estimated 29,823 Filipinos in Libya. The government provided necessary travel documents and immigration assistance, and helped secure temporary visas, food, accommodation, transportation, and connecting flights of Filipinos in transit countries. The government also repatriated a total of 232 OFWs out of 1,422 in Yemen.

In response to the earthquake, tsunami, and reported nuclear leaks in Japan in March 2011, the government initiated mandatory repatriation of Filipinos living within the 50-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Philippine Embassy in Japan, through close coordination with the host government, mobilized response teams within 48 hours after the 11 March 2011 earthquake to the affected regions, and conducted multiple deliveries of basic relief goods (water, canned goods, food items, gasoline, blankets, mattresses, etc.) to the affected cities. Of the 17,600 Filipino nationals living in Fukushima Prefecture, a total of 93 Filipinos were repatriated in April 2011.  Five consular missions relocated 147 Filipinos to Tokyo and housed them in four relocation centers. The consular missions also provided relief goods to those who did not wish to be relocated.

The government also provided assistance to the 2,000-strong Filipino community in Christchurch, New Zealand who were affected by the earthquake in February 2011 and provided assistance to the families of ten (10) Filipinos who died during the earthquake. The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand was able to deliver emergency supplies and relief goods such as water-sterilizing tablets, canned goods, snack bars, biscuits and other foodstuffs. The team was able to coordinate with the families of the Filipino victims who were traveling to New Zealand from the Philippines for their travel documents and arrangements. The team assisted the next-of-kin of missing persons during the identification of the victims and assisted them in the repatriation of the remains.

5.1.4 HDMF assistance to displaced OFWs. To assist the large number of OFWs who have been displaced due to the natural calamities that occurred in Japan, New Zealand and the wave of unrest happening across the Middle East and North Africa, the HDMF allowed them to avail of a six-month moratorium on payment of contributions and loans; and to withdraw their contributions even prior to maturity of their savings.

5.1.5 Launched the P2 Billion Reintegration Fund.  On 06 December 2010, the President directed OWWA to allocate P1 billion to be utilized as a reintegration fund for a loan program with minimal interest. On 7 June 2011, the loan program was launched, with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) contributing P500 million each, thereby increasing the reintegration fund to P2 billion.

Specifically, the OFWs and their families may apply for a loan in any amount from P300,000 to P2 million without collateral, at an interest rate of 7.5% per annum to start and support the development and operation of small enterprises when they return from their overseas jobs.  The loans for working capital or purchase of fixed assets are payable within seven (7) years inclusive of two (2) years grace period.

OWWA Regional Offices and National Regional Center for OFWs (NRCO), in coordination with the DTI and DA, have launched the conduct of entrepreneurial development training for OFWs and their families who signified interest in setting up their own businesses.

5.2 The government’s 22-Point Labor and Employment Agenda aims to promote opportunities to obtain decent and productive work while promoting industrial peace.  In the same vein, the Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016 promotes putting the human resource base at the core of all policy reform initiatives to achieve inclusive growth that massively creates jobs and continuously reduces poverty.

5.2.1 Designed the mechanics of the Community-Based Employment Program (CBEP).  The CBEP is a system that monitors temporary or immediate employment in government programs and projects of skilled, semi-skilled and low skilled workers. A total of 1,122,852 jobs are projected to be generated from projects enrolled under CBEP for 2011 from 19 Government agencies, of which 706,231 (62.9%) are from the infrastructure and the rest from non-infrastructure components of the CBEP. As of May 2011, a total of 168,083 or 15% of the projected jobs for the year have been generated.[30]  This figure is expected to increase significantly in the second half of 2011 because of the implementation of more CBEP-enrolled projects.

5.2.2 Implemented the Special Program for Employment of Students.  From July 2010 to May 2011, some 97,619 poor but deserving students had the opportunity to earn under the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES).[31] The law provides that DOLE pay 40% of the prevailing minimum wage in the form of educational vouchers (checks) while the employers pay 60% of the minimum wage.

On 1 May 2011, the President approved the increase of the SPES budget. From P172.5 million under the 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA), DOLE will get an additional P168.10 million that will benefit 52,000 more students or a total of 132,000 student beneficiaries for 2011.

5.2.3 Enhanced Phil-JobNet with its integration with the Skills Registry System (SRS).  The Phil-JobNet, the on-line government portal for jobs and skills matching used by employers and jobseekers nationwide, was enhanced to assist jobseekers in advertising their skills and qualifications via the SRS, which can be accessed by the employers anytime. A monthly average of 50,000 to 60,000 job vacancies is posted in the PhilJobNet. The Phil-JobNet is used as a system or tool to address labor to market mismatch brought about by the asymmetry of information in both the demand and supply sides of the labor market.

From July 2010 to May 2011, the Phil-JobNet registered a total of 2,392 employers that posted 758,714 job vacancies while 213,782 jobseekers registered covering 1,417 skills available for the employers’ manpower requirements. The continuous accreditation and registration of employers and jobseekers ensure adequate and available supply of labor when needed.

5.2.4 Launched DOLE Online Career Guide. On 18 April 2011, the DOLE launched the Online Career Guide, its newest online labor market information service for high school students and jobseekers, to enable them to make informed decisions about their chosen careers. It features the in-demand jobs/careers viable in the next five to ten years and describes the basic education requirements of a job, skills and competencies, attributes and characteristics, salary/compensation, prospect for career advancement, employment opportunities and cost of education or training.  A trainer’s manual, Career Guide for High School Students, is already available in CD-ROM and printed copies.

The online career guide is DOLE’s initiative through its Bureau of Local Employment. It was developed as one of the interventions to respond to the issue on lack of career advocacy.

The DOLE has likewise endorsed to the Department of Education (DepEd) the draft career guidance advocacy course, together with the corresponding draft issuances/guidelines, which proposes the inclusion of mandatory career guidance and counseling to high school students as part of the K to 12 curriculum improvement.

Meanwhile, 1,175 seminar-orientations were conducted for parents and students under the DOLE’s Career Guidance and Employment Coaching program. This is in partnership with the 1,739-strong Career Guidance Counsellors Network. A total of 220,895 students in the tertiary level, tech-voc schools, and secondary institutions, along with parents, attended the DOLE’s career guidance and employment counseling sessions for the period July 2010 to May 2011.

5.2.5 Granted cost of living allowance (COLA) in four regions. The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) in the following regions have issued Wage Orders:

  • NCR – Wage Order No. 16, which granted a P22.00 COLA, effective 26 May 2011, bringing the daily compensation of non-agricultural workers in Metro Manila to P426.00 per day.
  • Region VIII – Wage Order No. 16, which integrated the P8.00 COLA under Wage Order No. 14 into the basic pay, effective 01 June 2011, and raising the minimum wage to P228.  It also provided for an additional P15.00 COLA to be given in two tranches: P10 upon effectivity and P5 effective 01 September 2011.
  • Region VI – Wage Order No. 19 on 25 May 2011, which granted a P12.00 emergency COLA (ECOLA) for a period of three months.
  • Region III – Wage Order No. 16, which granted a P14.00 COLA effective 24 June 2011.  It also provided for the integration of the P4.00 COLA (under WO-15) by 1 January 2012.

5.2.6 Accelerated the resolution of labor cases with Project Speedy and Efficient Disposition (SpeED) of Labor Justice.  Item No. 6 of the President’s 22-Point Platform and Policy Pronouncements on Labor and Employment directs reform in the labor arbitration and adjudication systems by streamlining procedures, removing red tape, and at the same time, restoring integrity and fairness in the system, and ensuring that 98% of all pending labor cases are disposed of with quality decisions by April of 2011.

As of 10 May 2011, the DOLE disposed of 72,221 of 75,407 or 96% of cases pending as of September 2010.

5.2.7       Institutionalized the 30-Day Mandatory Conciliation-Mediation of all labor cases.  The DOLE institutionalized the 30-day Mandatory Conciliation-Mediation of all labor cases at the regional and provincial offices effective October 2010.  As of 30 May 2011, the DOLE settled 4,504 cases or 29.25% of 15,397 cases.

5.3 Pursuing Agrarian Reform and Rural Development

5.3.1. Out of the 10 million hectares of the country’s arable lands, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) covers 9.21 million hectares or 92%.  DAR is responsible for the distribution of about 5.37 million hectares, while the balance of 3.84 million hectares is under the DENR.  The two agencies have distributed around 7.7 million hectares as of December 2010, for a combined accomplishment rate of 83.8%.

From January to June 2010, only 18,635 hectares were distributed.  In the first 10 months of the current Administration, 108,989 hectares of agricultural lands were distributed.

5.3.2. The DA, DAR and the DENR, through their joint National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development, are currently implementing the establishment of the Local Agro-Enterprise Cluster in 10 provinces, namely: Antique, Iloilo, Isabela, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Leyte, Quezon, Northern Samar, Misamis Oriental, and Lanao del Norte, by adopting the “ridge-to-reef” approach – a sustainable ecosystem-based enterprise planning and management.

The Local Agro-Enterprise Cluster is targeting the development of 253,084 hectares of land involving agricultural productivity zones and environmental protection from 2011 to 2016. Among the crops to be developed are food staples (i.e., rice, corn banana, cassava, livestock) and industrial crops with market demand (i.e., sugarcane, abaca, coconut, forest tress and non-timber species), to be supported with production inputs, appropriate infrastructure, capability building and credit foundation, post-harvest processing and marketing and distribution facilities, and rehabilitation of forest lands through the National Greening Program.

D. SECURITY, JUSTICE, AND PEACE

The government is committed to the pursuit of an honest dialogue to achieve a broadly supported just peace that is guided by the vision “Tuwid na Daan”. This is a turnaround from the disjointed, short-sighted policy of merely reacting to events and incidents. Thus, from merely defeating the enemy, government has shifted its focus to actually winning the peace in the whole archipelago. Government efforts have been focused on ensuring the attainment of a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace – one that brings conflict resolution back to the negotiating table and invests in responsive social programs that will address the root causes of conflict.

The government recognizes the necessity of a whole nation approach, where security and peace and order shall be preserved through the efforts of all government agencies, civil society, and the public. National sovereignty and the general public safety shall be preserved and the rule of law consciously upheld.

1. Protecting our National Territory and Boundaries

1.1. Pursued AFP reforms and modernization. The government continues to pursue reforms and modernization in the AFP, as well as promote the morale and welfare of the Armed Forces.

1.1.1. Since the assumption to office of President Aquino, nine (9) projects under the AFP Modernization Program (AFPMP) have been delivered and completed. These include five (5) requisition projects for the Philippine Army, namely: two (2) Night Fighting System (NFS) projects, Watercraft (Light Support), 1¼ ton Troop Carrier/Cargo Trucks and 2½ ton Troop Carrier/Cargo Trucks. On the other hand, Philippine Navy has four (4) projects, namely: 76mm Ammunition, Completion of Coast Watch Stations, NFS and Hydrographic Equipment.

1.1.2. A Joint Maritime Force (Sea-Air) is being restructured to carry out missions in the West Philippines Sea to protect vital resources and sea exploration activities. At the same time, initiatives are being made to revive the Air Defense Organization focused on the airspace of priority areas in western Philippines.

1.1.3. On 05 April 2011, the Government acquired the US Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Hamilton. The acquisition is part of the efforts of the DND and AFP to develop the Philippines’ naval, air, and ground interdiction assets in order to assure the territorial integrity and protection of Philippine waters and resources, particularly in light of energy exploration efforts in Sulu and Palawan. Also, the Philippine Navy has completed Coast Watch Stations in Taganak and Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

1.2. Pursued counter-insurgency efforts. Through the Internal Peace and Security Plan or Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP has been able to achieve milestones in reducing the strength of insurgency groups, bringing down the number of communist-affected barangays, decreasing violent activities initiated by threat groups, and promoting human rights.

There was a significant decrease in the number of NPA-initiated incidents in view of the on-going peace process with the CPP/NPA/NDF. For the first semester of 2011, 182 incidents were recorded, a decrease of 17% from last year’s first semester record of 218 CPP/NPA/NDF incidents.

The number of MILF-initiated incidents also decreased from 97 attacks in the first semester last year to 42 in the first semester of 2011.

On the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), while there was a sharp increase in the number of ASG-initiated violent attacks from 17 atrocities in the first semester of 2010 to 43 in the first semester of 2011, the number of ASG elements neutralized increased from 32 in the first semester of 2010 to 58 in the same period in 2011.[32]

2. Attaining a Just and Lasting Peace

2.1. Initiated peace negotiations and completion of peace talks with rebel groups. The Aquino Administration recognizes that a purely military solution will not adequately address the issues on insurgency; thus, the government is pursuing lasting peace by bringing the resolution of conflict back to the negotiating table.

2.1.1. The Peace Negotiating Panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF formally resumed peace talks in 2011. During the 21st round of Exploratory Talks held on 27 to 28 April 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the GPH Panel affirmed its commitment to the agreement on security and immunity guarantees, which covers the members of the MILF Central Committee.

2.1.2. Formal negotiations between the GPH and the CPP/NPA/NDF have also resumed in a round of talks in Oslo from 15 to 21 February 2011 after an impasse of seven (7) years. The Panels agreed to an accelerated timeframe to complete the remaining substantive agenda on socio-economic reforms (SER); political and constitutional reforms (PCR); and end of hostilities and disposition of forces (EOH/DOF), in the next 18 months or a maximum of three (3) years.

2.1.3. The GPH, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) conducted the 4th Session of their Tripartite Meeting on 22 to 23 February 2011 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The GPH and the MNLF jointly expressed that they look forward to the early adoption of the drafted Amendatory Bill for RA 9054 (the law which created the ARMM), within the context of reviewing the progress and continuing the discussion towards the full implementation of the GPH-MNLF 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA).

2.1.4. On 04 July 2011, the President witnessed the signing of a MOA between the Philippine Government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA), which signals the beginning of a closure process to the 25-year Mt. Data Peace Agreement, signed in 1986. The MOA embodies and builds upon the ideals and aspirations of the Cordillera people for peace and development in the spirit of the Peace Agreement. It also lays down the components that will lead to the final disposition of arms and forces of the CBA-CPLA and their transformation from an armed group into an unarmed potent socio-economic force in the region.

2.2. Initiated efforts to address the root causes of conflict. The government is implementing the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program as the peace and development framework to respond to the root causes of conflict. It aims to reduce poverty in conflict affected areas through community infrastructure and focused delivery of social services, improved governance through transparency and accountability, and building the capacities of communities.

PAMANA will cover closure agreement areas, CPP/NPA/NDF areas, and Muslim insurgency fronts, and it will be implemented along the five (5) conflict lines (i.e., CBA/CPLA, Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade or RPMP/RPA/ABB, CPP/NPA/NDF, MNLF, and MILF).

2.3. Ensuring Peaceful and Safe Communities

2.3.1 For 2010, the PNP was allocated with 10,000 new/additional vacancies for Police Officers 1 (PO1), wherein a total of 9,503 police recruits were appointed and sworn into office. Also, 2,983 out of the 3,000 vacant positions due to attrition were filled in. These increased the personnel strength of the PNP from 132,393 in 2009 to 141,547 in June 2011. The PNP is allocated another 3,000 new positions under the GAA for 2011.

2.3.2 From July to December 2010, there was a reduction in the total crime incidents by 64.86% or 99,676 crime incidents, from 253,333 in the 2nd semester of 2009 to 153,657 in the same period of 2010. Also, crime incidents decreased by 22.68%, from 141,063 incidents in the period 1 January to 31 May 2010 to 109,065 incidents in the same period of 2011.

2.3.3 Crime solution efficiency (CSE) rate[33] has increased by 8.56 percentage points, from 13.01% in the 2nd semester of 2009 to 21.57% in the same period of 2010. Likewise, crime clearance efficiency (CCE) rate[34] increased by 7.02 percentage points, from 25.33% in the 2nd semester of 2009 to 32.35% in the same period of 2010. There was also a 10.15 percentage point increase in the CSE rate from 16.43% in 1 January to 31 May 2010 to 26.58% in the same period of 2011. Similarly, the CCE rate increased by 10.29 percentage points from 27.97% in 1 January to 31 May 2010 to 38.26% in the same period of 2011.

2.3.4 The PNP has heightened its anti-carnapping campaign with the neutralization and arrest of carnapping groups. Carnapping incidents decreased by 54.46%, from 1,010 incidents in the period 1 January to 30 June 2010 to 460 incidents in the same period of 2011. There was also an improvement in the recovery rate, from 17.62% in the period 1 January to 30 June 2010 (178 recovered of the 1,010 incidents) to 75.43% in the same period of 2011 (347 recovered vehicles of the 460 incidents). Under the current administration, the PNP was able to neutralize the Dominguez Carnapping Group, arrest the leaders of the Madrigal Carnapping Group, Bonifacio Carnapping Group, Herrera Carjacking Group, and the Bundol Robbery Gang.

2.3.5 Intensified efforts against illegal recruitment and trafficking-in-persons. The PNP has heightened its monitoring and build-up of cases of reported illegal recruitment and trafficking-in-persons activities perpetrated by organized syndicates to ensure the latter’s conviction.

2.3.5.1 The PNP, together with the NBI and the DSWD, rescued 268 women, including 20 minors who were victims of trafficking-in-persons, in simultaneous raids conducted in Angeles City on 17 September 2010. The drive also resulted in the arrest and filing of charges against 39 persons for violation of RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

2.3.5.2 Per the DOJ, from the enactment of RA 9208 on 26 May 2003 to the first semester of 2010, or a period of seven (7) years, there have only been 26 convictions involving 29 persons in cases related to trafficking-in-persons. On the other hand, the Aquino Administration achieved a total of 26 convictions, with 31 persons convicted in just 12 months or as of 19 July 2011.

2.3.5.3 On 13 May 2011, the DOJ found 20 employees of the Bureau of Immigration assigned at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport guilty of Grave Misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, Dishonesty and Gross Neglect of Duty, and dismissed them from service.

2.3.5.4 In the United States Department of State’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the Philippines has been upgraded to Tier 2 from Tier 2 Watch List in 2010.

Among ASEAN countries, the Philippines shares the Tier 2 ranking with Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, and Singapore. On the Tier 2 Watch List are Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam; while Myanmar is in Tier 3.

The U.S. Department of State classifies each country in the TIP Report into one of the three (3) tiers as mandated by the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 and based on the extent of government action to combat trafficking.

Tier 1 includes countries meeting the minimum standards for the elimination of severe forms of trafficking; Tier 2 include countries not fully complying with the minimum standards but making significant efforts to meet said standards; Tier 2 Watch List is same as Tier 2 with the following qualifiers: the absolute number of victims of trafficking is significant or is significantly increasing; there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing anti-trafficking efforts; or the determination that a country is making efforts to comply with the minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional steps in the next year; and Tier 3 indicates countries assessed as neither complying with the minimum standards nor making significant efforts to do so.

Under the TVPA, any country ranked under Tier 2 Watch List for two (2) consecutive years shall be downgraded to Tier 3 on the third year, unless their ranking improves or the US President waives application of this provision.

Classification as a Tier 3 country will have a negative impact on the Philippines as it has been agreed with the Millennium Challenge Corporation that they may terminate their U.S.$434 million Compact with the country if it is downgraded to Tier 3.[35] Moreover, the US has committed that they will not provide Foreign Military Assistance, non-humanitarian, and non-trade-related foreign assistance to Tier 3 countries until the latter complies with minimum standards or make significant efforts to do so.

Since 2001, the Philippines has been categorized as a Tier 2 country in the annual TIP Report. The country was ranked under Tier 2 Watch List for two (2) consecutive years in 2004 and 2005, and again in 2009 and 2010.

2.3.5.5 In addition, the US Department of State also cited Assistant City Prosecutor in Zamboanga City, Ms. Darlene Pajarito, as one of the State Department’s Ten (10) Trafficking in Persons Heroes for handling the biggest number of successful prosecutions of TIP cases in the country. After joining the DOJ in 2004, Ms. Pajarito secured the Philippines’ first sex trafficking conviction in 2005 and the first labor trafficking conviction in 2011.

2.3.6 Intensified the campaign against illegal drugs. There was an increase of 43.29% in the illegal drug-related cases filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), from 3,391 in the second semester of 2009 to 4,859 in the same period in 2010. Also, the number of personalities arrested due to drug-related cases increased by 21.33% from 4,125 in the second semester of 2009 to 5,005 in the same period in 2010. Other major accomplishments of the PDEA from 01 July 2010 to 31 May 2011 are the following:

2.3.6.1 Dismantled six (6) clandestine laboratories (clan lab), which led to the disruption of the local manufacture of shabu and operations of drug syndicates, as well as three (3) shabu tiangges composed of 10 clustered drug dens and 19 independent drug dens;

2.3.6.2 Cleared a total of 130 marijuana plantation sites resulting in the destruction of fully-grown marijuana plants, seedlings and seeds;

2.3.6.3 Neutralized a total of 155 drug groups and personalities while 9,522 persons were arrested, 795 of whom are drug personalities in the watch list and target list;

2.3.6.4 Arrested a total of 21 members of the African Drug Syndicate, rescuing three (3) Filipino drug couriers.

2.3.7 Reduced loose firearms

The PNP is implementing Letter of Instructions 64/2010 “Kontra Boga-Bravo,” the PNP’s intensified campaign to reduce loose firearms especially those in the hands of Private Armed Groups (PAGs). From 1 January to 15 June 2011, 1,108 firearms were confiscated.

2.3.8 Provided humanitarian assistance to internally-displaced persons. The DSWD is providing humanitarian assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) through the implementation of the following programs and services: Relief “Pabaon” Package, Cash-for-Work (CFW), Emergency Shelter Assistance, Modified Shelter Assistance, Livelihood Assistance, construction of water projects and/or wells, construction of Day Care Centers (DCCs), construction of temporary shelters, and construction of communal toilets, among others. The DSWD has provided P427 million worth of assistance to the IDPs in Mindanao from August 2008 to December 2010.

The 2011 DSWD budget provided P881 million for the Food for Work Program for IDPs.

3. Strengthening the Rule of Law

Strengthened the Witness Protection Program (WPP). To break the culture of fear and silence, which affects the immediate delivery of justice in our society, the budget of the Witness Protection Program was increased to P151 million (8.6% increase from the 2010 level of P139 million) in the 2011 budget. This budget is projected to protect a total of 640 witnesses and whistle-blowers.

Since the institution of the WPP in 1991 up to 30 June 2010, the program has covered 447 witnesses. An additional 155 new witnesses were admitted to the program from 01 July 2010 to 15 June 2011. This brings the total to 602, reflecting the people’s trust and confidence in the primary witness protection unit of the country. Notably, 25.75% of the total number of covered witnesses was admitted in the last 11 months.

The conviction rate for cases with covered witnesses is presently at the near-perfect level of 92.85%. This rate was sustained since it was first reported during the President’s first SONA. The rate is 3.7 times higher than the national conviction rate, which has been maintained at 25% since 2009. This shows the significant contribution of the program to the successful prosecution of offenders.

4. Advancing and Protecting Human Rights

4.1. Addressed Extrajudicial Killings

4.1.1. On 10 December 2010, the DOJ created a Special Task Force on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances. The Special Task Force is mandated to review all reported and unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings (EJKs)[36] and enforced disappearances (EDs) and recommend measures for and cause the effective and expeditious investigation and prosecution of the said cases. It is also mandated to speed up the prosecution and resolution of cases with sufficient evidence and cause the re-opening of investigations of “cold file” cases.

Since its creation, the DOJ Special Task Force on EJKs and EDs has reviewed 187 cases of alleged EJKs. It currently supervises the handling of 69 cases of extrajudicial killings, 63 of which have already been filed or are currently pending in court. Six (6) are undergoing preliminary investigation.

A total of 27 incidents of possible political killings were reported in the last 12 months, though only ten (10) are confirmed political or media killings. Of these ten (10), five (5) are already undergoing trial.

4.1.2. The PNP’s Task Force Usig (TFU), which is tasked to handle and review cases of alleged EJKs perpetrated since 2001 currently handles 162 extrajudicial cases, 102 of which had already been filed in court, 59 others are undergoing investigation and one (1) case already considered closed.

4.1.3. From 01 July 2010 to 31 May 2011, there were a total of 15 cases of EJKs. Of this number, cases have been filed against the perpetrators of eight (8) incidents of EJKs while seven (7) EJK incidents are still under investigation by the Task Force. Also, the PNP distributed a Handbook on Personal Security Measures for media practitioners to help guide them in protecting themselves against personal threats and danger.

4.1.4. Among the PNP’s significant accomplishments involve the filing of cases in court for the murder of the following: Fernando Baldomero (a coordinator for Bayan Muna); Mark Francisco (a teacher at San Isidro Elementary School in Palanas, Masbate and member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers [ACT]); Jose Daguio (a radio commentator for Radyo Natin-Tabuk); Edilberto Cruz (the publisher-editor of Salida, a Nueva Ecija community paper); Josephine Estacio (a teacher at Tenejero Elementary School in Balangan, Bataan and member of ACT); Miguel Belen (a radio commentator for dwEB-FM) and Pascual Guevarra (head of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association and the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa or Almana 3100). The TFU has solved 85% of all work-related cases involving media practitioners and continues to undertake greater efforts to resolve the remaining cases.

4.2. Prosecuted the Perpetrators of the Maguindanao Massacre

4.2.1 The Government is pursuing the delivery of justice for the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. The PNP created and institutionalized the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG)-Maguindanao, which is tasked to handle and review cases on the incident; however, its investigation is being handled by the NBI. As of 10 June 2011, out of the total 196[37] accused in the Maguindanao Multiple Murder Case, 91 or 46.67% have been arrested, of which 59 have been arraigned. The Prosecution has already presented 31 witnesses.

4.2.2 The Prosecution has already moved for the arraignment of all other detained accused who have yet to be arraigned. On 4 November 2010, the prosecution filed the Motion to Arraign all accused. On 1 June 2011, accused Andal Ampatuan, Sr. was arraigned.

4.3. Decongesting the New Bilibid Prison

The inmates of the NBP, particularly those in the Maximum and Minimum Security Compounds are suffering from a very depressing situation, as each of them has only 24 square feet to live in.[38] To address this problem, the DOJ pursued the immediate re-distribution of the NBP inmates to existing facilities in the other penal farms. Thus, the Secretary of Justice ordered the transfer of 650 male inmates from the NBP and 50 female inmates from the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) to four (4) penal farms in Mindanao and the Visayas.

4.4. Promoted a Code of Conduct in Security Operations

As part of the Government’s effort to institutionalize Human Rights Concepts in its over-all security operations, the AFP launched its Human Rights/International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Handbook early this year. The Handbook serves as the soldiers’ bible in the conduct of operations. This contributed to the decrease in the number of AFP HR violations, from 21 cases reported in 2010 to only one (1) allegation reported this year. The said HR violation is now being investigated at the provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Bicol and at the Provost Marshall Office while on-going investigations are also being conducted in light of the previous HR violations.

5. Harnessing International Goodwill Through Diplomacy and Promoting Philippine Interests Abroad

5.1 Since July 2010, the President participated in four major meetings of world leaders, the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 17th and 18th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits, and the 18th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting to reaffirm the Philippines’ commitment to global efforts towards economic growth, peace and security and development. The APEC is currently working on realizing its New Growth Strategy, which is in line with the President’s inclusive growth approach to governance. The World Bank has commended the President’s commitment to improve the investment climate through the rationalization of the Philippines’ regulatory system and mobilization of the private sector for infrastructure development.

The President also met with the Heads of State and Government of ASEAN neighbours Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, and partners in the Asia-Pacific such as the United States, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to further strengthen bilateral relations. The President also went on State Visits to Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Brunei.

5.2 The Philippines’ re-election for a second three-year term to the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2011 is a clear indication of the international community’s recognition of the country’s strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. The Philippines continues its strong advocacy on human rights in various international and regional fora.

5.3 The election of the Philippine COA as External Auditor of the World Health Organization in May 2011 is also a manifestation of the international community’s acknowledgement that the Philippines is a staunch champion of good governance. The Philippines is likewise the External Auditor of the Food and Agriculture Organization. The Philippines, as country coordinator for ASEAN-US relations, led the successful negotiations on the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders Meeting Joint Statement that brings the ASEAN and the US to a new era of revitalized relations and welcomes the establishment of the ASEAN-US Eminent Persons Group (EPG).

5.4 The Philippines engaged the ASEAN Member States, China and other relevant parties in the West Philippine Sea issue. In this connection, the government underscored that the maintenance of peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea is of paramount concern to the Philippines and that the full implementation of the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the West Philippine Sea is imperative.

The Philippines is committed to the peaceful, multilateral, and rules-based resolution of dispute in the West Philippine Sea in accordance with international law, specifically the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). In this context, the Philippines offered a specific framework to effectively carry out cooperation and, in the process, effectively implement the Declaration on the Code of Conduct. This framework is called ZoPFF/C or the Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation, which seeks to achieve its vision by segregating first the disputed relevant features of the Spratlys from the undisputed waters of the West Philippine Sea in accordance with the UNCLOS. After which, claimant countries would then be enabled to engage in joint cooperation including joint development or establishment of a Marine Peace Park in the disputed relevant features of the Spratlys.

However, if other claimant states are unable to accept this win-win approach, the DFA is also exploring the possibility of bringing the matter of the West Philippine Sea within the dispute settlement mechanisms of the UNCLOS.

These actions are being undertaken to protect the Philippines’ strategic economic and political interests in the area and demonstrate adherence to international law.

E. CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION AND MITIGATION

Environmental protection is a key plank in our nation’s development. Being a minor emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, the Philippines’ main concern is adapting to climate change by identifying risk areas; practicing responsive disaster risk management planning; improving weather forecasting and information relay; creating awareness on fire prevention; and rehabilitating flood control facilities.

1. Ensuring the Utilization of Natural Resources for the Equal Benefit of Present and Future Generations

1.1. Promoting the National Greening Program. EO 26, s. 2011 was issued, establishing the National Greening Program (NGP) as a national priority program.  On 13 May 2011, the DENR launched the program considered to be the biggest reforestation program in the history of the Philippines.

1.1.1. Under the program, 1.5 billion trees will be planted in 1.5 million hectares nationwide from 2011 to 2016 for environmental protection and agro-forestry purposes. Secondary and collegiate students will plant at least 10 seedlings each annually.

1.1.2. For 2011, the target is to produce 50 million seedlings of premium, indigenous, fast-growing, and other forest species and fruit trees, including bamboo in 100,000 hectares.

The DBM has already released to the DENR a budget of P1.3 billion to fund the implementation of the NGP for 2011.

1.2. Protecting and Conserving the Forest through a Total Log Ban. EO No. 23, s. 2011 was issued to impose a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests. It suspended the operations of existing logging operators and the acceptance and processing of new and renewal applications on logging operations and wood processing. This translates to the protection of the remaining forest cover and allows the natural regeneration of residual forests and development of plantation forests.

1.2.1. A National Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (NAILTF) composed of the DENR as Chair, the DILG, DND, PNP, and AFP as members, was created to lead the anti-illegal logging campaign pursuant to EO 23. The NAILTF conducted intensive Anti-Illegal Logging Campaign in identified illegal logging hotspot areas, e.g., Apayao, Isabela, Aurora, Quezon, Surigao Del Sur, and Compostela Valley. Among the results of the anti-illegal logging campaign are the closure of 215 wood processing plants/sash factories in Regions 4-A, 10, 11 and CARAGA and suspension of operations of 14 others in CARAGA.

1.2.2. The government confiscated 7.6 million board feet (bd. ft.) of logs and lumber (equivalent to 1,194 ten-wheeler truckloads) valued at P227.9 million. Upon completion of the adjudication proceedings, the confiscated logs were donated to DepEd for chairs and other school requirements. Initially, about 1.28 million bd. ft. of wood products were donated to the DepEd, which were used in the production/construction of 5,265 armchairs, 124 school desks, 37 tables, and 46 cabinets and repair/renovation of 89 school buildings.

1.3. Ensuring Safe and Sustainable Mining. The government has started cleansing the pending and inactive mining applications under the “use it or lose it” policy. To date, a total of 1,463 mining applications (67% of the total target of 2,180 applications for final action nationwide) have been acted upon.  Of these, 1,149 mining applications have been denied and only 314 were endorsed for approval. Because of the 1,149 mining applications denied, which cover 3.1 million hectares, additional mining areas were opened for new and serious investors. The acceptance and processing of new mining applications were suspended through DENR Memorandum Order 2011-01 to rationalize mining development only for serious and responsible investors.

1.4. Promoting Renewable Energy. To intensify the use of renewable energy resources, the DOE initiated the following:

1.4.1 Launched the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) on 14 June 2011. The NREP is a 20-year roadmap to fully develop the country’s indigenous renewable sources and further reduce dependence on imported fuels. The NREP is expected to spur investments from the private sector.

1.4.2 Awarded eight (8) Biomass Renewable Energy Operating Contracts, which will provide an additional 75.85 MW of power plant capacity from biomass resources.

1.4.3 Awarded four (4) Certificates of Registration for Own-Use, which will install an additional 24.2 MW of power plant capacity for own-use from biomass resources.

1.4.4 Issued provisional Permit to Energy World Corporation Limited to put up a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) hub, which will increase the country’s natural gas supply by 260,000 cubic meters.

1.4.5 Intensified the campaign for the use of clean, alternative energy fuels. With the implementation of the Biofuels Act of 2006, the government has converted 18,731 taxis to auto-LPG and has put 217 auto-LPG refuelling stations and 31 auto-LPG conversion shops.

1.4.6 Teamed up with the ADB to establish the National Electric Vehicle Strategy (NEVS) to promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles. Recently, Mandaluyong received 20 electric tricycles (e-tricycles) for testing and demonstration. The ADB has committed $500 million to support the DOE’s e-tricycle project.

1.5. Improving Air Quality

1.5.1. Implemented higher standards for vehicle emissions. The DENR issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2010-23, entitled “Revised Emission Standards for Motor Vehicles Equipped with Compression-Ignition and Spark-Ignition Engines” and DAO 2010-24 or the “Revised Emission Limits/Standards for Motorcycles/Tricycles and Mopeds.” With these two administrative orders, a total of 5,198 vehicles were apprehended from July 2010 to March 2011 in NCR alone.

1.5.2. Strengthened enforcement of air quality standards. In partnership with the Earth Day Network Philippines, the Aquino administration implemented a campaign to make EDSA a “Linis Hangin” zone. This is done through a coordinated enforcement effort to remove smoke belchers and provide compliance assistance for vehicle owners and drivers. Also included in the program is a pollution reporting system or the “Text Usok Program” in which pictures can be taken of a smoke belcher and sent to the DENR and LTO as evidence. The vehicle can then be traced for testing and apprehension. The DENR, LTO, MMDA and other agencies worked together to formulate measures to reduce traffic and ensure compliance with emission testing to reduce vehicular emissions.

1.5.3. All the above efforts contributed to the reduction of the Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) or the amount of dust particles in the air. Particularly in Metro Manila, the TSP was reduced by 20% in the first six months of the Aquino Administration, from 166 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) in the 1st semester of 2010 to 133 ug/Ncm in the 2nd semester of 2010. It was further reduced by 9% to 121 ug/Ncm as of April 2011.  The country is working to achieve the global standard TSP level of 90 micrograms per ug/Ncm.

1.6. Safeguarding Water Resources to provide Clean Water

1.6.1. Initiated the cleaning up of the esteros through the “Adopt-An-Estero Program,” a public-private partnership on the clean-up of esteros and polluted rivers nationwide. The government has forged MOAs with 182 companies and other stakeholders nationwide to clean esteros. The government targets to clean ten (10) esteros per region within the year.

1.6.2. Rehabilitated major priority rivers commencing with the cleaning up of the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando (MMO) River System, considered one of the dirtiest in the world.

1.6.3. Water quality improvements were seen in eight (8) out of 19 major rivers in the country by 30.8% from 25.7 milligrams/liter in the 1st half of 2010 to 18 milligrams/liter in the 2nd half of 2010.  These rivers are the Meycauayan River, Marilao River, Bocaue River, Calapan River, Anayan River, Iloilo River, Balilili River, and Luyang River. The amount of 18 mg/l is the average reduction of Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) level of the priority rivers from 2009 to 2010.[39]

1.7. Reducing Solid Waste through sound Solid Waste Management

1.7.1. The government diverted 33.94% of the 8,841,478.80 cubic meters of solid waste from waste disposal facilities in Metro Manila through re-use, recycling and composting activities and other resource recovery activities. This surpasses the target diversion rate of 25% mandated by RA 9003 or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.”

1.7.2. The government signed MOAs with eleven (11) Metro Manila LGUs for the establishment of appropriate ecological solid waste management systems for homeowners associations of subdivisions and condominiums. Initially, a total of 4,717 Homeowners Associations (HOAs) in Metro Manila have been identified for assistance.

1.7.3. In Metro Manila, two (2) sanitary landfills and 935 Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) were utilized. To date, only 7,680 out of 42,000 barangays nationwide have MRFs or a compliance rate of 18.28%. In Metro Manila, 685 out of 897 barangays are covered by MRFs or 76% compliance.

1.7.4. Required the Philippine Plastic Industry Association, which is composed of 176 manufacturers and 36 suppliers, to develop a program for the retrieval, collection and recycling of plastics, to save resources and avoid harming the environment.

2. Undertaking all other Measures Necessary to Prepare For and Manage Risk

2.1 Pursued geohazard assessment and mapping. The Hazard Mapping and Assessment for Effective Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (READY) Project addresses the concerns on disaster risk management (DRM) at the local level. It empowers the most vulnerable provinces and communities in the country by enabling them to prepare disaster risk management plans. Under the project, the following were accomplished:

2.1.1. The government has completed the geohazard assessment and mapping of the entire country with a scale of 1:50,000[40]. It covers 1,643 cities and municipalities.

2.1.2. Geohazard maps[41] were posted in the website of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to make geohazard information more accessible to public users. A total of 65,000 geohazard maps were provided to LGUs, national and local disaster management agencies, and other stakeholders. Advisories to barangays in areas that are likely to be seriously affected by landslides and flooding were re-issued.

2.1.3. Multi-hazard maps[42] of 18 out of the 66 hazard-prone provinces in the country were also produced. As of April 2011, a total of 102 multi-hazard maps in a 1:50,000 scale and 17 in a 1:10,000 scale have been completed. Six (6) of these were completed in July 2010. Through these maps, areas prone to floods, landslides, and other geo-hazards have been identified, enabling local government units to better prepare themselves in responding to and mitigating the effects of national calamities and other hazards.

2.1.4. The government also initiated the detailed mapping of 30 cities and municipalities in areas critical to landslides and flooding at a scale of 1:10,000.

2.2 Improved weather forecasting. The President mandated the DOST and PAGASA to improve its typhoon tracking and weather forecasting systems. The following were accomplished:

2.2.1 Implemented hourly weather forecasts and timely reports on significant weather activities through locally-developed and upgraded forecasting tools: Automated Weather Stations (AWS)[43], rain gauges, flood monitoring and warning systems, Doppler radars, and weather buoys for maritime lanes.

2.2.2 In July 2010, Metro Manila was hit by Typhoon Basyang, without any warning from PAGASA. During that time, the country would get weather updates every 6 hours. Thereafter, the government instituted the provision of hourly updates on the latitude and longitude positions of Tropical Cyclones and distance to the nearest community during severe weather conditions, on top of the usual regular reports issued every 6 hours during normal weather situations. The hourly reports enhanced public preparedness and provided the citizens with timely and accurate weather forecasts during times of extreme weather conditions, thereby increasing protection of life, property and livelihood.

2.2.3 Acquired Forecasters’ Workstations to help forecasters and users display, screen, combine multiple windows, animate, overlay, and manipulate available weather data for better weather tracking.

2.2.4 In light of the recent earthquake that triggered the nuclear mishap in Japan, the DOST-Philippines Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) was also able to provide correct information and awareness about the implications of the nuclear leak to the Philippines.

2.2.5 The DOST plans to locally-develop more forecasting tools such as the meteorological buoy, shaker table, landslide sensors, and 3D mapping device as well as enhance the technical capability of the forecasters.

2.3       Provided Assistance to Disaster Victims. The government, through the combined efforts and resources of the DSWD, DOH, LGUs, other government agencies and international NGOs, provided assistance amounting to P178.93 million to disaster victims from July 2010 to April 2011. Also, a total of 60,449 families or 272,158 individuals were evacuated to 1,097 evacuation centers all over the country.

F. LEGISLATIVE-EXECUTIVE PARTNERSHIP

The Executive Branch has forged a close partnership with Congress in working on the passage of legislative measures that are crucial to the realization of the President’s national development goals.

1. Making GOCCs more accountable. On 6 June 2011, President Aquino signed the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, which aims to promote financial viability and fiscal discipline in the GOCCs. The Act also establishes the Government Commission for GOCCs, an agency that will ensure the efficient use of GOCC assets for the full benefit of the national government and the Filipino people. The GOCC law also empowers the executive to reorganize the state corporate sector towards a system that would maximize the potential of all assets. Prior to this, the President issued EO No. 7, series of 2010 and EO 24, series of 2011 to rationalize the classification and position system of GOCCs.

2. Strengthening democratic institutions in the ARMM. On 30 June 2011, the President signed RA 10153 synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections in 2013. The synchronization of elections is expected to result in a clearer mandate and help do away with command votes that do not reflect the true will of the electorate. It will also provide an opportunity to enhance and strengthen the capacities of interim officials to carry out reforms in the ARMM bureaucracy.

3. Extending lifeline electricity rates for poor consumers. Congress and the Executive Branch worked together to ensure that low-income and marginalized electricity consumers would continue to enjoy subsidized electricity rates for the next 10 years. On 07 June 2011, the Senate and the House of Representatives (HOR) approved the extension of the lifeline rate subsidy by an additional 10 years through Senate Bill (SB) No. 2846, or “An Act Extending the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate, Amending for the Purpose Section 73 of RA No. 9136, Otherwise Known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.”[44] The President signed RA No. 10150 on 21 June 2011. The amended law benefits an estimated 4.53 million lifeline customers.

4. Extending the Joint Congressional Power Commission. Together with the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2011 (EPIRA), Congress created the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) to set the overall framework to monitor and ensure the proper implementation of the EPlRA. The JCPC is also tasked to determine inherent weaknesses in the EPlRA and recommend the necessary remedial legislation or executive measures. The President has given his concurrence to Congress to extend the life of the JCPC, which was set to expire on 26 June 2011, by another 10 years. The JCPC’s continued existence is necessary as key structural changes introduced in the EPIRA have yet to be implemented. The JCPC serves as a catalyst in helping push, sustain and bring into fruition the necessary reforms to be instituted in the power sector.

5. Passage of the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011. Thousands of infants will no longer be at risk of contracting preventable diseases as a result of the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011, which was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on 08 June 2011 and signed into law (RA No. 10152) by the President on 21 June 2011. The Act, a consolidation of HB No. 4393 (Mandatory Infant-Health Immunization Act of 2011) and SB No. 138 (An Act Requiring Mandatory Basic Immunization Services Against Hepatitis-B for Infants), provides for a comprehensive mandatory and sustainable immunization program for vaccine preventable diseases for all infants and children. The government is thus obliged to conduct free mandatory basic immunization for infants and children up to five (5) years of age against vaccine-preventable diseases, such as Hepatitis-B, at any government hospital or health center.

The Act highlights the Philippines’ commitment to the United Nations 2015 Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality. It is a manifestation of the Philippines’ institutionalization of mandatory basic immunization services in accordance with international guidelines set by the World Health Organization Expanded Programme on Immunization.

6 Increasing gender equality in the workforce. Women are allowed to work at night thanks to Senate Bill No. 2701 or “An Act Allowing the Employment of Night Workers, thereby Repealing Articles 130 and 131 of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines.” This measure ensures adequate protection for women workers without diminution in pay and benefits for night workers under existing laws. The bill aims to eliminate gender bias and give equal access to employment opportunities for both men and women. The bill further expands health, maternity and wellness provisions for workers. RA No. 10151 was signed by the President on 21 June 2011.

Prepared by the Presidential Management Staff. Uploaded on July 25, 2011.

Read President Aquino’s Second State of the Nation Address

[1] Sec. 6. Citizen’s Charter. – All government agencies including departments, bureaus, offices, instrumentalities, or government-owned and/or controlled corporations, or local government or district units shall set up their respective service standards to be known as the Citizen’s Charter in the form of information billboards, which should be posted at the main entrance of offices or at the most conspicuous place

[2]       Majority of the complaints were on consumer products and service warranties, liability for product and services, and product quality and safety. Resolved means the DTI Consumer Welfare Desks have taken appropriate actions such as settling the complaint or referred/endorsed the concern to the proper agency.

[3]       The AFP-OESPA is tasked to strictly monitor and oversee the compliance of AFP personnel with accountability measures

[4]       Cleansing of the Pension List is a Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) major thrust aimed at ensuring that pensions, benefits, and other privileges are received only by eligible veterans and beneficiaries. It has three (3) major components, namely: (1) Revalidation Program, a continuing activity to monitor the status and whereabouts of pensioners through a Pensioner’s Update Form (PUF); (2) Direct Remittance Pension Servicing System (DRPSS), which eliminates the mailing of pension checks, instead, all pensions are directly remitted through PVAO servicing banks or financial institutions;  and   (3) Issuance of PVAO Pensioners’ ID, which is  another  mode of determining and confirming the identity of pensioners

[5]       EXSBI is a Laguna-based thrift bank with an authorized capital stock of P100-million.

[6]       From 2004 to 2010, budgeted advertising expenses totalled P4.48 billion while actual expenses amounted to P6.63 billion.

[7]       10-20 hours flight testing is the acceptable range of flying hours for the aircraft to be considered brand new.

[8]       Sec. 23.5.1.3, Rule VIII (Receipt and Opening Bids) of RA 9184 provides that the prospective bidder must have completed, within the period specified in the Invitation To Bid, a single contract that is similar to the contract to bid, and whose, value, adjusted to current prices using the NSO consumer price indices, must at least be 50% of the ABC.

[9]       Sec. 13 of RA 9184 states that the BAC shall, in all stages of the procurement process, invite at least two (2) observers, one (1) from a duly recognized private group in a sector or discipline relevant to the procurement at hand and one (1) from a non-government organization.

[10]     GDP Growth of the following countries: (1) Malaysia: 4.6%; (2) Korea: 4.2%; and Thailand: 3.0%.

[11]     According to the study prepared by the Center for Research and Communication, the multiplier effect of mass housing project is 16.6, which simply means that every peso invested in a housing project generates P16.60 of investments in related industries/sectors.

[12]     A normal service contract has 3 to 5 well drillings.

[13]     The 2010 deficit grew by 5.3% from P298.5 billion in 2009.

[14]     Primary surplus is budget surplus without net interest payments from government debt.

[15]     This is also equivalent to 10.9 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 6.0 times based on residual maturity.

[16]     Non-performing loan (NPL) ratio is the ratio of NPLs to total loans. NPLs are past due loan accounts whose principal and/or interest is unpaid for thirty (30) days or more after due date.

[17]     Capital adequacy ratio refers to the ratio of capital to risk weighted assets computed in accordance with the risk-based capital adequacy framework (patterned after the 1988 Basel Capital Accord) that took into account credit risks.

[18]     The awards are given to outstanding companies and energy managers who have undertaken or are responsible for implementing energy efficiency and conservation programs to achieve substantial savings in their energy consumption.

[19]     Energy Audit Service is an analysis of the patterns of energy consumption that is employed in buildings offices and establishments. It aims to absorb and measure patterns of energy used in business; to analyse the results to collect energy efficiency data; and identify major cost-savings and corrective measures in lighting, cooling, and other areas of electricity consumption.

[20]     Consisting of 2 units of refrigerated trucks and 2 units of cold storage

[21]     OIE – Office International de Epizooties with headquarters in Paris, France.

[22]     Set 1- Started in 2008

[23]     Set 2- Started in 2009

[24]     Household refers to an aggregate of persons, generally but not necessarily bound by ties of kinship, who live together under the same roof and eat together or share in common the household food. A person who lives alone is also considered a separate household.

[25]     These constitute 11 medical conditions (dengue I and II, moderate risk and high risk pneumonias, hypertension, cerebrovascular accident I and II, diarrhea, typhoid fever and asthma, asthma and neonatal care package) and 11 surgical procedures (caesarean section, dilation and curettage, hysterectomy, mastectomy, appendectomy, cholecystectomy, herniorrhaphy, thyroidectomy, radiotherapy, hemodialysis, and maternal care package [normal spontaneous delivery]).

[26]     To date, all 2011 HFEP projects are in the preparatory phase (pre-bidding, preparation of detailed architectural and engineering designs, etc.), which shall be completed by 30 September 2011. Catch-up strategies are being formulated for immediate implementation.

[27]     The P2.3 billion budget for the start of universal kindergarten includes the following: P1,732,237,000 for the expansion of kindergarten coverage through different delivery modes (e.g. kindergarten regular programs, and programs for the gifted and CWDs), P500 million for the provision of classrooms with fixtures, among others; P97,500,000 for the support to various kindergarten delivery modes (e.g. conduct of regular monitoring and evaluation; downloading of support funds to regions; institution based training for kindergarten teachers); P9,514,500 for the curriculum model building; and P1,931,550 for kindergarten students for SY 2011-2012, which includes 500,00 kindergarten students who participated in the summer program.

[28]     These include the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG Fund), National Housing Authority (NHA), National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC), and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

[29]     Section 30 of the UDHA Law provides that the head of any local government units (LGUs) who allows or tolerates the construction of any illegal structure shall be subject to criminal and administrative sanctions provided by law.

[30]     Preliminary figures.

[31]     SPES is a regular program of the DOLE by virtue of RA No. 7323, or the “Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES)”, as amended by R.A. 9547.

[32]     Moreover, per AFP assessment, the increase in the number of ASG attacks is due to the increase in the number of its members being neutralized.

[33]     CSE rate is the percentage of solved cases out of the total number of crime incidents handled by law enforcement agencies for a given period of time.

[34]     CCE rate is the percentage of cleared cases out of the total number of crime incidents handled by law enforcement agencies for a given period of time.

[35]     Article 5. Section 5.1(b) states that the “MCC may, immediately, upon written notice to the Government, suspend this Compact or MCC Funding… if MCC determines that any circumstance identified by MCC… as a basis for suspension or termination has occurred, which circumstances include… (vi) the Philippines is classified as a Tier 3 country in the United States Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report;”

[36]     Also known as “political killings” i.e., killings due to political affiliation of the victims; the method of attack; and involvement or acquiescence of state agents in the commission of the killing. The DOJ uses the term “extralegal killings” since we do not have judicial killings.

[37]     The 196 is based on Court Records. However, the CIDG and DOJ shall file a motion before the Court to correct this information as suspect Cader Datunot and Datu Nor Kadir are one and the same person. The Court Records will have to be amended first before this can be changed.

[38]     It is already considered overcrowded when an inmate has less than 60 square feet of floor space

[39]     The standard Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) level depends on the classification of the waterbody. Most of the 19 priority rivers are classified as Class C (w/ a BOD std. of <7mg/l), except for Anayan River which is Class D (w/ a BOD std. of 10 mg/l) and Cagayan de Oro River which is Class A (w/ a BOD std. of <5 mg/l).

[40]     If the map is on a scale of 1:50,000, then all the woods, lakes, towns and other entities will be one fifty thousandth of their sizes in the real world or 50,000 times bigger than the map.

[41]     Geohazard maps are used to assess the areas for risks of geophysical processes of extreme dimensions (e.g. earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and climate change)

[42]     Multi-hazard maps are used to analyse the vulnerability and risks of areas exposed to more than one hazard.

[43]     Automated weather stations are stand-alone devices that measure weather-related factors and transmit data remotely on real-time basis. These modern weather tracking devices are outputs of the Development of Hybrid Weather Monitoring System and Production of Weather and Rain Automated Stations Project, which is jointly managed by the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) and  the DOST- PAGASA. Other forecasting tools such as meteorological buoys, shaker table, landslide sensors, and 3D mapping device are also being locally-developed by the DOST.

[44]    Authored by Senators Sergio R. Osmeña III, Francis Escudero, and Juan Ponce Enrile. SB 2846 was adopted by the HOR as an amendment by substitution to HOR-approved House Bill 4169, as authored by Reps. Henedina Abad, Rufus Rodriguez, and Ben Evardone.

What is your comment on President Aquino’s SONA?

The second SONA of President Aquino reached out the mass with his usage of Filipino as medium of communication. The form and style was excellently scribbled. I felt the power of every word in his speech. I believe that PNoy’s SONA brought renewed hope and inspiration to the people. However, the substance of his accomplishment report still lacks. I understand that the President has still five more years in office, I fervently expect that he will realize the promises he has avowed and accomplish more in the succeeding years.