Aquino determined, unfazed on eve of penultimate Sona
MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III is set to deliver Monday afternoon (July 28) his penultimate State of the Nation Address (Sona) amid a backdrop of growing discontent over his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and impatience over his promised inclusive growth.
But the President, who has two years left before he steps down from office, is unfazed by the mammoth rally being readied by militant organizations against him, on top of efforts to impeach him over the DAP, which the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional.
“The President is determined to implement his program of governance and serve in the best manner the Filipino people,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in Filipino over Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.
“His determination is undeterred regarding this.”
Coloma said the President was just as determined despite criticism over his DAP.
“His intense commitment to deliver to his ‘bosses’ his promised reforms, to implement the priority initiatives under our Philippine Development Plan, they have not changed,” he said.
“He vigorously reminds the members of Cabinet on their assignments.”
Coloma said the Sona would be accompanied by a technical report detailing accomplishments of different national government agencies, including those by government corporations. He said the report, along with a copy of the Sona, would be uploaded to the official government website.
On the eve of his fifth Sona, the President remained in “high spirits” while preparing for another opportunity to communicate with the public, Coloma said.
This time, though, Mr. Aquino will be facing his so-called “bosses” with both his approval and trust ratings at an all-time low.
Based on the latest Pulse Asia survey, his approval rating went down from 70 percent in March to 56 percent in June. His trust rating also plunged from 69 percent to 53 percent during the same period.
Ana Maria Tabunda, Pulse Asia research director, earlier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that latest survey had not “caught the full extent of the DAP [controversy] on the popularity of the President.”
Militant groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and youth activists used the same issue as basis in filing separate impeachment complaints against Aquino before the House of Representatives. The President is facing a third impeachment case, this time, in connection with the new defense agreement he had entered into with the United States.
These same groups will lead a big rally against the President on Monday (July 28) in what Bayan calls “judgment day for P-Noy” for “his various betrayals of the Filipino people.”
“Foremost is his failure to abolish the pork barrel system,” Bayan said in a statement.
“Aquino’s stubborn defense of the unconstitutional and illegal presidential pork barrel (a.k.a. Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP), and his connivance with Congress in coming up with discreet mechanisms for the congressional pork barrel (erstwhile known as the Priority Development Assistance Program or PDAF) are clear proof that he refuses to dismantle the corrupt pork barrel system.”
“He has cynically used the people’s indignation against the pork barrel plunder to selectively investigate and prosecute members of the political opposition while allowing his allies to remain scot-free,” the group added.
Expected to be a major theme of the President’s Sona is inclusive growth amid rising prices of commodities.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan earlier explained that “economic growth is necessary but not sufficient for poverty reduction.”
The government earlier “updated” its strategies toward inclusive growth under the Philippine Development Plan. To “really see a major reduction in poverty,” Balisacan cited the need to sustain the country’s gross domestic product growth targets within the next five to 20 years.
The government is eyeing a GDP growth of between 7.5 and 8.5 percent when Mr. Aquino steps down in 2016.
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