Aquino delivers 5th Sona
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III delivered his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) past 4 p.m. Monday after arriving at the House of Representatives in Quezon City.
Before facing Congress and the Filipino people for his annual report, Aquino was welcomed by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.
The two officials formally opened the joint session , paving the way for Aquino’s speech, which marks his fifth year in office.
In addition to members of the two chambers of Congress, also in attendance were other government officials, foreign delegates, and prominent personalities.
Unlike in previous years, this year’s Sona was marred by Aquino’s falling satisfaction and performance ratings, prompting Belmonte, in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, to agree that the extended honeymoon period was over.
In addition to dropping ratings, the President is also facing three impeachment complaints concerning the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
The petitioners accused Aquino of culpable violation of Constitution and betrayal of public trust for approving and backing the DAP, which was later declared partly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and the Edca. Critics of the Edca said the deal with the United States undermined the country’s sovereignty by instituting a “de facto basing” arrangement.
The Aquino administration has been drawing flak for its implementation of the DAP dubbed as the “presidential pork.”
However, Aquino stood his ground and even rejected the resignation of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who was credited for crafting the DAP.
The President, before filing a motion for reconsideration, assailed the Supreme Court decision, insisted on the legal basis of the program and asserted that the P144 billion DAP had benefited many Filipinos.
As Aquino delivered his speech, thousands of protesters gathered along Commonwealth Avenue, calling for his accountability and impeachment.
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