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President to focus on transformation

Senators list ‘urgent’ bills of Malacañang

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RUSH JOB A worker applies the finishing touches on the photo gallery of the House of Representatives where President Aquino will address the nation Monday. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

“The President will talk about transforming society, his vision and aspirations for the country, and what he wants the country to be.”

This is the thrust of President Aquino’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, according to Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, that House and Senate leaders expect would set the legislative agenda for the next five years of his administration.

For the transformation to happen, senators have put together a “wish list,” topped by a call on Mr. Aquino to certify as urgent at the opening of the 15th Congress the passage of the long-pending Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and the proposed Whistle-blowers Act.

Leftist and civil society groups have announced plans to mobilize an 8,000-strong march on Congress to protest what they said were Mr. Aquino’s “unfulfilled promises.” For the first time, the protesters planned to burn an effigy of the President.

Authorities said 7,000 riot police had been assembled to stop the protesters from getting close to the Batasang Pambansa complex on an expected rainy day. School classes have been suspended in Quezon City on Monday.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan on Sunday said the FOI bill, which would allow public access to government documents except those concerning national security, was the key to ensuring transparency and eliminating corruption.

“The essence of transparency is guided by the core value that an informed citizenry is an empowered citizenry,” Honasan said in an interview.

A companion legislation would be a program to protect whistle-blowers, Honasan said. “What protection can we give them? They come out to testify on wrongdoing; some have died and continue to be victimized.”

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano also supported the immediate passage of the FOI bill in the wake of revelations in recent hearings on the alleged misuse of billions of funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

“If the FOI (bill) is passed then the PCSO would have to put all these on their website or release documents upon request, which would be more transparent, making every citizen capable of investigating and fighting for good governance,” Cayetano said.

Encouraging sign

Malacañang’s openness to the measure is an “encouraging sign,” the senators said.

To give more teeth to the justice system to prosecute grafters, among others, Sen. Francis Pangilinan batted for the creation of more courts.

Pangilinan said there should be “additional funds for the justice system, and additional compensation for judges and justices.”

“We need a direction, a vision, and we need to have a clear national order of priorities,” Honasan said.

“After the Sona, I hope that the second Ledac (Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council) will take place as a follow through to whatever will be discussed in the Sona,” he added.

“We await a clear national direction from the President,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said last week.

Carandang brushed aside suggestions that Mr. Aquino’s Sona would center on yet another blast against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “It’s much more than that,” Carandang told the Inquirer on Sunday.

The Palace at the weekend said the “overarching themes” in Mr. Aquino’s Sona would be his administration’s accomplishments in its anticorruption campaign and on what he intended to do in the coming year.

The administration has started to file tax evasion cases against Arroyo’s allies and is now looking into possible evidence on allegations the former President, now a Pampanga representative, manipulated the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections.

In the run-up to Sona, a series of whistle-blowers have emerged offering to testify against Arroyo on corruption and electoral sabotage.

They included accused mass murderer Zaldy Ampatuan, alleged poll manipulator Lintang Bedol and his supposed mentor, former Election Commissioner Virgilio “Hello Garci” Garcillano.

No scoops this time

The content of this year’s Sona has been a well-kept “secret,” the Palace said. ABS-CBN, Carandang’s previous employer, got a scoop on the Sona last year, prompting protests from rival TV networks and Palace reporters.

Carandang said the President’s address was a “work in progress” and that the Palace media office did not want to preempt him. But he let out that it would be a “positive” speech.

He said the President was “hands on” in the conceptualization and in the writing of the Sona with the collaboration of his eight-member team of speech writers. It had undergone eight revisions, he said, and would be longer than his 30-minute address last year.

Failing grade

Presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace was “taking note” of the 4.78 performance rating on a scale of one to 10—10 being highest—that Mr. Aquino got from experts belonging to the Movement for Good Governance, as well as other assessments of the President’s one year in office.

“The President was not elected for one year alone. He has a six-year term and as such, we all know that we still have to do a lot of work because we do have a lot of problems to face,” Valte said.

And in the face of China’s increasing incursions into the Spratly Islands at the West Philippine Sea, senators also placed that among the priority issues that Mr. Aquino should attend to.

“If we are serious about sustainable development, we need a land use policy. That should be No. 1 because that will allow a serious inventory of what we have in our land and water resources,” Honasan said.

“Look at Spratlys. Do we just sit on it and get the title on it? Or use it?” he said of the potentially mineral-rich islands also claimed by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

Population control

Sen. Pia Cayetano said she hoped that the administration would support the controversial reproductive health bill—a measure that had put the Palace at loggerheads with Catholic bishops—and a bill seeking universal coverage for PhilHealth members “with more conviction and more funds.”

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he hoped the President would give priority to economic measures that would attract investments. “Investments are the key to creating jobs,” he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said labor should not be overlooked, particularly household employees who are among the most prone to abuse.

Estrada noted that the Kasambahay bill that was meant to provide higher wages and more benefits to maids, nannies, drivers and the like was “ignored in the 13th and 14th Congresses.”

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the President should spell out specific changes in government protocol on the war against drugs.

“Amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act are in order. So is the increase in the salaries of those involved in drug operations of the (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency),” Sotto said.

Environment

Sen. Loren Legarda said Malacañang should “present to us a comprehensive program that will address the ill effects of climate change on health, hunger and malnutrition, agriculture and fisheries, natural resources and energy.”

Sen. Edgardo Angara said the Sona should include “an organized national medical plan that would provide good opportunities for medical professionals,” pointing out a “gross maldistribution of medical personnel in the country.”

Sen. Francis Escudero said he hoped that Mr. Aquino would support his plan to create a fact-finding committee to investigate poll fraud in the 2004 presidential elections.

“I hope he mentions it,” said Escudero, spokesperson for the late Fernando Poe Jr., who lost the 2004 presidential election to Arroyo.


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Tags: alleged poll manipulator Lintang Bedol , former Election Commissioner Virgilio “Hello Garci” Garcillano , Freedom of Information Act (FOI) , Kasambahay Bill , Ledac (Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council) , mass murderer Zaldy Ampatuan , PhilHealth cards , President Benigno Aquino III , Reproductive Health Bill , Sen. Francis Escudero , Sen. Francis Pangilinan , Sen. Gregorio Honasan , Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III , SONA 2011 , Spratly Islands , West Philippine Sea , Whistle-blowers Act


  • Anonymous

    THE BILLS FOI AND WHISTLEBLOWER ACTS ARE LONG PAST DUE. THE PEOPLE WHO VOTE AGAINST IT ARE THE ONES’ WITH THE MOST TO HIDE. JUST LOOK AT THE PREVIOUS VOTES AND CRITICS AND IT WILL BEAR THIS.
    THE MOST CRITICAL PART OF THE ACT, IS THE PROTECTION OF THE WHISTLEBLOWER, WHICH IN THE PHILIPPINES IS HARD TO DO SINCE MONEY CAN BUY INFORMATION EVEN IN CASES LIKE THIS.
    THE INTELLIGENT ANSWER IS THIS: IF LIFE THREATENING, A DEAL WITH ANOTHER COUNTRY SUCH AS THE U.S. FOR TRANSFERRING A PERSON AND HIS FAMILY (IMMEDIATE) ALONG WITH A REWARD OR SUBSIDY, BASED ON THE AMOUNT RECOVERED OR SAVED. IF IT IS FOR A HEINOUS CRIME LIKE MURDER OR MASSACRE, A PENSION OF REASONABLE AMOUNT SAY IF IN THE U.S. $30,000 A YEAR AND IF THE PERSON WANTS TO WORK, AND CAN ALLOW IT.

    MOST IMPORTANTLY !!! ALL FOUND GUILTY MUST GIVE UP PERSONAL ASSETS AND ILLEGALLY GOTTEN ASSETS AND ACCOUNTS TO THE GOVERNMENT TO OFFSET THE EXPENSES OCCURRED.

  • Anonymous

    Got it! Now it’s not GMA that is the main problem after all. It’s the Filipino society that is the main problem which has to be transformed. Transformed to what. Rickytick? Very good noynoy, fantastic SONA!

  • Anonymous

    anu daw? transformer?

  • Anonymous

    dead_pixel.

    Filipino society has to be transformed daw, from multi-colored to yellows. Therefore insofar as the Philippines is concerned the other colors are dead pixels.

  • Anonymous

    A more definite and detailed portrayal of the brand of change the president means is what almost everybody has wanted to hear. Nothing else could be more right to focus on in Pinoy’s second SONA. It not only tells that his straight path is the right path, but that his ears are on the ground. I am no good judge to pretend to grade how he fared in the first year of his watch, but I must commend Mr. Aquino for listening to his boss including the silent voices.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Leodegardo-Pruna/100000668583781 Leodegardo Pruna

    Transformation should start with P-Noy. He, as leader of the Filipino people, should be the first to set the example. And, he should exercise his leadership by asserting his position on the people around him (alter egos) to transform. While P-Noy declared in his inaugural speech that the people is his bosses, he simply meant that he will still lead but listen to them. God bless the Philippines.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_H27QVUBMP6KCZOXQW33RP2KOGU Plazans

    PNoy has two goals to accomplish during his presidency. To stop graft and corruption and uplift the lives of filipinos. Nothing could be more virtuous than that. His second, and more of a personal pursuit, is finding his soulmate before he leaves office. PNoy is now learning first hand governing is just as perplexing as dating. Without his Porsche, though, hooking up with women has never been tougher. You see, younger babes love fast cars. Of course, he has 5 more years to work on his mission. He needs all the luck in the world. More power to you, PNoy.

  • Anonymous

    Actually tama ang sinabi ng isang ekonomista na napanood ko sa tv. Ang pag unlad ng isang bansa ay hindi lang nakasalalay sa leader ng bansa kundi sa pagtutulungan ng mga mamamayan ng bansa… dapat ang mga mamamayan marunong din sumunod sa mga batas napinaiiral sa isang bansa… dapat disiplinado  at matutong maging responsableng mamamayan… gaya na lamang ng patatapon ng basura sa tamang lugar at hindi paninigarilyo sa matataong lugar… Kung alam mong mahirap ka dapat hindi kana mag anak ng marami pa dahil nakakadagdag ka lang sa mga lalo pang dumaraming naghihirap… Wag nyong sisihin ang gobyerno kung hindi umuunlad ang buhay nyo dahil kayo mismo di nyo alam kung paano pamunuan ang mga sarili nyo… KUHA NYO?

  • Anonymous

    The PNoy administration is still busy cleaning the dirt left by the
    Arroyo administration. Hindi kayang linisin yan for one year only considering
    na napakaraming duming iniwan si Gloria.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IMP53NGOUAROYSVNIHUSNWDEYY Jhie Reyes

      dapat linisin din nya ang dumi niya bago kumalat lalo..yak!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LILBHPK4SWJ55TRDT466HIT7BM guardian

        Jhie dapat may makulong na…………….. !

  • Anonymous

    GMA will snub PNoy’s second SONA this afternoon.
    Iwas pusoy si Gloria kasi she knows she is the target of PNoy’s speech. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LILBHPK4SWJ55TRDT466HIT7BM guardian

      Tama ka Bagwis… eh sa tingin mo tatablan pa si PGMA yan? tigas na ng mukha non no!

  • Anonymous

    Ano magka-counter SONA ang GMA allies? They’re crazy! Hindi nilang
    pwedeng bolahin ang tao dahil nananatili pa ring bangungot sa kanila ang
    ginawang kagaguhan ni Gloria sa bansa for nine years.

  • Anonymous

    GMA’s camp expects na maging punching bag lang si Gloria ng SONA ni
    PNoy. Hindi naman siguro, konti lang… mga 90% lang siguro ng speech ni PNoy ang
    patama kay Gloria.

  • Anonymous

    GMA’s camp belittled the possible filing of “election sabotage” charges
    against Gloria for her alleged role in 2004 and 2007 election fraud. Ganoon ha.
    Hindi kaya naman nangangatog ang tuhod ni Gloria.

  • andy santos

    There is nothing wrong in going after GMA’s past misdeeds, however, by using government resources to pin down a past president is indeed disheartening.  Government logistics should be use in doing what is best for Juan de la Cruz and nothing more. 

  • http://twitter.com/ahmalemar ahmal emar

    “THE SOLE PURPOSE OF LEGISLATION IS TO SERVE THE PEOPLE”

    But the main occupation of congressmen is PORK BARREL.

    • denniscglorioso

      Alisin na dapat ang pork barrel na yan.   Hindi trabaho ng mga senador at congressman na magpatayo ng mga basketball court at poso ng tubig.   Nandyan sila para gumawa ng batas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anne.torre Anne Torre

    I am confused of these Communications Secretaries that the administration is having. There is a Lacierda, Coloma and Carandang, the last turned one time as “spokesman of China” in the territorial dispute.  Noynoy, has three secretaries to handle communications and that’s amazing.

    Noynoy’s communications group is bigger than that of the White House! Political accommodations must go to start the transformation he will be flaunting. It costs the taxpayers lots of money.

    The government must start trimming its fats and overstaffing. Many jobs can be handled by few employees especially now that computers are multitasking and speedy. Programming is all you need or systems in doing tasks.

    Of course we have to eliminate this crazy and anomalous agreement with internet providers where the programs are not owned or just rented by the government that after the agreement or contract expires, the public office and service became wretched due to these unscrupulous systems business companies like what happened to NBI and LTO.

    This kind of arrangement, like in the NBI and LTO are just simply preposterous and contrary to common sense. Only one thing could turn people to be nuts and that’s lucre.

    • Anonymous

      Bat kaba nangingialam… Binabadtrip mo cya eh… =) KUHA MO?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VY25ZOHU3FJFFX6CYSH5W4AX3I sugbu

    The notion of transforming PH society can be a very complex one,..infinitive and near impossible.Wishful thinking must be always confines to one’s cerebral rather than be outspoken about it,of course, it can be a stated objectives but should be well define and not dictated.Cooperation cannot be easily obtainable without that unquestion credibilty…. without that sincerest motivations to lead and without projecting  an unblemish image of leadership.Expectations must not be the perfection of the total schemes, but at least,will set a new ideals or norms.Complex as it is that great labor is needed to arrived on the threshold where common satisfaction can be partially attained….To all of us..goodluck and peace.

  • Anonymous

    Transformer Revenge of the Fallen….Good title of Pnoy. At least he is on the revenge.

  • Anonymous

    .. transformation is not achieved overnight. in fact, during the past months, there is a great change of attitude of people (whether they are conscious or unconscious about it) which i believe, having a positive attitude towards development (in our country) is the best stepping stone in moving forward..
    I hope militant groups and the like will also realize this

  • Anonymous

    Decent urban jobs and viable rural farms shall kick off transformation…the rest shall follow.

    • http://www.facebook.com/anne.torre Anne Torre

      decent urban and rural jobs… places where raw materials are sourced are ideal industrial sites but this is possible only if the government can maintain and guarantee peace and security. Presently, this seems to be distant as rebels raided and kidnapped targets in rural places undisturbed… sad.

      • Anonymous

        peace and order…primary job of government. Really sad if govt is remiss on this role. Mindanao’s potential on agriculture and tourism is still untapped because of peace and order situation. Every administration has a different approach. Cory and Ramos initiated peace initiatives, Erap and Marcos waged war, Gloria and Noynoy back to peace initiatives but peace seems still far distant.

      • andy santos

        I agree that peace and order is the environment  needed for investment to come in.  De-clogging the urban city should be made and industrialize other regions.  Mindanao should should get the bulk of gov’t. funding to initiate economic activities in the region, but first of all get rid of those abu sayaff bandits.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LILBHPK4SWJ55TRDT466HIT7BM guardian

    Senators are hoping a lot – which is good BTW….
    BUT But,
    People of the Philippines Hopes that:
    * After the SONA somebody must be wearing orange shirt behind bars! w/out VIP treatment.
    * and More Jobs Jobs Jobs.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DINXWLHSYWVNFUVMZBKB4SSE3Q Joey

     seems no OFW’s concern highlighted in SONA, once again, we OFW’s are just mere push -over.

  • Cernan Pangga

    1 lang indicator ko para malaman na succesful siya. Maghimas ng rehas si Gloria for life. Sa dami ng kasalanan at ninakaw ni Gloria kulang pa kulungan na parusa sa kanya.



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