Binay airs support for President
MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino spoke from the heart and touched the souls of Vice President Jejomar Binay and other politicians.
After hearing the President’s emotional State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, Binay announced Tuesday he was supporting Aquino’s reform program beyond the expiration of his term in 2016.
Fighting back tears, Aquino said he had a mandate to continue the legacy of his assassinated father, Benigno Aquino Jr., and mother, democracy icon Corazon Aquino, and was soldiering on in spite of the simmering controversy over his economic stimulus program that had been shot down by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional.
“President Aquino spoke from the heart and I commend him for his candidness and sincerity,” Binay said.
Binay said he had been supportive of Aquino’s social agenda, including providing decent housing to families in danger zones and victims of calamities.
The Vice President, who is also chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said key programs and reforms pushed by Aquino “should be continued beyond his term.”
Binay, who has announced his bid to run for President in 2016, said he supported the approval of a freedom of information (FOI) bill, of which the President was silent in his Sona.
“Congressional approval of the FOI bill advances the reform agenda, as it further institutionalizes the principles of accountability and transparency in government. These are core reform principles that I fully support,” he said.
“At the end of the day, our people would ask no less than a government that is transparent and responsive to their needs and leaders who advance the people’s interests, place the nation above self, ready for the job, and ensure that economic growth benefits all Filipinos,” he added.
Short on specifics
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, member of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives, said the Sona was “heartwarming” but was “short on specific strategies, programs and solutions to pressing problems.”
In a statement, Albano said the President made the right decision to avoid any reference to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) issue.
“It is commendable that the President did not spew fire and refrained from attacking the Supreme Court over the DAP issue contrary to expectations,” he said.
But the Sona “lacked clarity of purpose and the essential road map of where the Aquino government’s daang matuwid (straight path) of governance is headed” in the last two years of the President’s term, Albano said.
He said the President failed to provide the Filipino people specific programs to address such problems as the looming power crisis, rice shortage, food security and chronic unemployment.
‘State of Aquino Address’
Another minority lawmaker, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, said Aquino turned the Sona into a “State of Aquino Address.”
“He somehow managed to make it about himself,” Tinio said.
He said Aquino, by invoking the memory of his parents Ninoy and Cory Aquino, sought to “place himself on the same pedestal as his parents.”
“Comparing himself to Ninoy and Cory only serves to highlight the stark contrast between their antidictatorship legacy and his own, which will forever be blemished by the Supreme Court ruling that found him to have usurped congressional power in taking shortcuts with the budget,” Tinio said.
He said any discussion of Aquino’s legacy was “too presumptuous and premature, to say the least.”
“Passing judgment on any President’s legacy is best left to others, especially the millions of poor and oppressed Filipinos who have the biggest stake in the matter,” Tinio said.
Even so, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez of Negros Occidental province’s 3rd district said the President “showed sincerity and trustworthiness.”
“It came straight from the heart and that is fundamental and essential, that matters very much,” said Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia. “We should all learn that pure motives cannot guarantee cooperation or even appreciation. I hope that this Sona will touch hearts and rally people to help the President in his ‘last two minutes.’”
Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer (Negros Occidental, 4th District), said: “The Sona of the President dealt with several issues. First, the true economic situation of our country. Second, his plans and programs for the good of our country and people. And third, his emotional feeling, which shows his sincerity to elevate the life of the poor and to serve the people with honesty.”
Rep. Rafael Leo Cueva (Negros Occidental, 2nd District) said the speech of the President came from the heart, while Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Paduano said that while the speech fell short in some matters, what was important was the President’s sincerity.
But a militant farmers’ group was unimpressed, saying the Sona sounded fake and evoked a “farewell tone.”
“Aquino’s so-called emotions, teary-eyed and shaky voice, including the melodramatic and synchronized shedding of tears at the VIP gallery are all fake, a farce,” said Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chair Rafael Mariano.
“We, the Filipino farmers, especially Hacienda Luisita farmers know Aquino very well. Aquino is a cold-blooded and hard-hearted landlord who comes from a family guilty of massacre against poor peasants who are asserting their rights to the lands,” Mariano said. “Sorry, we’re not impressed.”–With a report from Carla Gomez, Inquirer Visayas
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