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Aquino holed up in Palace to prepare for his 3rd Sona

He’s now on his seventh draft.

But President Benigno Aquino III still devoted the last workday of the week to putting the finishing touches to his third State of the Nation Address (Sona).

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Malacañang said the address would be a narration of what happened in the past year with respect to his key programs—poverty alleviation and the anticorruption campaign.

According to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, the President spent much of Friday meeting with his speech writers to finalize the speech, which is said to have already gone through a seventh draft.

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Mr. Aquino has no scheduled public engagement or meeting going into the weekend other than those pertaining to the preparation of the Sona, which he will deliver by tradition at the reopening of Congress on Monday.

“There will be one more run-through of his Sona and then [by Monday] I’m sure he’s already prepared,” Lacierda told a Palace news briefing on Friday.

According to Lacierda, there will be “a slew of topics” in Mr. Aquino’s Sona.

“We had much more time to prepare for the State of the Nation Address this year. And the drafts this year have been a lot fewer than last year. I am sorry I cannot release the details, but basically it’s going to be a statement,” Lacierda said.

“The President is going to roll out what happened during the past year and from there you can already see our programs of government, our two pillars: The anticorruption program and our [poverty] alleviation program,” he said.

Delivering the big fish

Asked if the President may be said to have delivered the so-called big fish with the charges filed this week against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chair Ephraim Genuino, Lacierda said Arroyo was “certainly a big fish.”

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“But corruption does not end there. The President said much more would have to be done to combat corruption and corruption exists in all levels of the bureaucracy,” he said.

The Ombudsman earlier this week filed the first of what is expected to be a series of plunder cases against Arroyo, who is now a Pampanga congresswoman. The case stemmed from her alleged misuse of millions of pesos of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

The Ombudsman also filed charges against Genuino in connection with Pagcor’s purchase of allegedly overpriced coffee on his watch.

Asked if deposed Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached by Mr. Aquino’s congressional allies reportedly at his bidding, would figure in the Sona as Corona himself said he expected, Lacierda said: “Let’s see. Let him watch if he wants to hear whether his name would indeed be mentioned. Let him listen.”

The economic road map

Told of House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales’ suggestion that Mr. Aquino focus on the economic road map of his administration since the anticorruption campaign had already yielded results, Lacierda said good governance was an integral part of the economic plan.

“[The] road map of the President will necessarily involve the anticorruption program because that’s part of our advocacy. Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap, that’s also our economic road map,” he said.

As to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s suggestion that the President not mention anything about the country’s territorial dispute with China, Lacierda said: “I think Senator Enrile said it should not be mentioned primarily because of national security [concerns] as it would be telegraphing our message.”

He urged everyone to “just wait for the President’s delivery of the state of the nation.”

As in previous years, the speech will be translated into English “to aid our diplomats” who will be “provided with translation aids,” Lacierda said.

He said Communications Undersecretary Manuel Luis “Manolo” Quezon III was the “designated translator.”

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TAGS: Aquino Administration, Aquino SONA, Corona Impeachment, Edwin Lacierda, Ephraim Genuino, Pagcor, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., President Aquino, President Benigno Aquino III, Renato Corona, SONA 2012, State of the Nation Address
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