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Aquino's SONA gets mixed reactions from lawmakers

July 25, 2011 7:42pm

President Benigno Aquino III’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday afternoon drew mixed reactions from lawmakers, with some saying they found it lacking while others lauding it for supposedly sending a clear message to Filipinos.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said he felt Aquino’s speech focused more on reporting and reacting to criticisms that his administration was not able to achieve much during its first year.

“I felt it was more of a report card," Cayetano said. “Personally, I was looking forward that he... defines the problems of the country and the present state of the country, where we are and [the] solutions."

Sen. Bongbong Marcos said although the figures on hunger and poverty that Aquino mentioned were “encouraging," it was “very difficult to get a sense of what the true nature of the improvement."

“We have to look at how the number was arrived at and see what the parts of the economy have been growing, have been shrinking... these are the ways that we will analyze it," he said in a separate interview.

Sen. Pia Cayetano said if she were Aquino’s speech writer, she would have cited more specific programs of the administration that were implemented in the past year.

Wala naman hong nagdududa sa sinseridad ng presidente, ang hinahanap ng mga tao concrete actions," she said. “As a legislator, gusto ko rin malaman sang area kami tutulong."

Senators Edgardo Angara and Loren Legarda, for their part, said they would have specifically wanted to hear more about the Aquino administration’s take on enhancing the country's education level and research and development strategies.

Message sent

At the House of Representatives, which is dominated by Aquino’s allies, his speech got the proverbial thumbs up from many congressmen.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Aquino sent a clear message to Filipinos for them to back his platform, particularly his anti-corruption drive.

Maganda speech ni President. Sinabi niya talaga na nasa kakayahan ng bawat isa ang pagbabago at kaya nating gawin iyon," he told reporters after the President’s speech.

He added that Aquino was able to accomplish this without sounding “revengeful."

Mahinahon na ang pagkakasabi sa mga tinatamaan, naiintindihan nila at nalalaman ng mga tao ang kanyang mensahe," he said.

Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III said Aquino’s SONA clearly conveyed the administration’s seriousness in punishing corrupt officials.

“It is an easily understood SONA. Maliwanag ang mensahe at simple lang: ang pagpapaahon sa bansa ay laban sa korupsyon at dapat ipagpatuloy ang good governance," he said in a separate interview.

World boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, meanwhile, commended the President for focusing on poverty alleviation in the country.

Happy ako, lalo na ‘yung tungkol sa pabahay sa mga mahihirap at pagbibigay ng trabaho sa ating mga kababayan. Nabanggit naman niya lahat. Naintindihan ko pangulo dahil isang taon pa lang naman sya nagseserbisyo. At least, sa isang taon may pagbabago," he said.

The President laid down his legislative agenda for the Congress’ second regular session during the SONA, including the bill seeking compensation for human rights victims during the martial law period, magna carta for household helpers, and improvement of system on the awarding of pensions for retired soldiers.

How about FOI, land reform?

Militant and opposition solons, for their part, said the President missed out on several key points in his SONA, most especially the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

“Napakahaba ng sinabi niya about anti-corruption, pero ni isang salita sa FOI, wala siyang binanggit, which is disappointing. Ito ang key measure in looking forward. Otherwise, ang fight for good governance puro nakaraan lang," Bayan-Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said.

He also noted how Aquino did not mention his plans on land reform and the Hacienda Luisita, a sprawling farmland in Tarlac owned by Aquino’s family that is the center of a legal dispute now between its farmers and owners.

Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, a member of the House minority, for her part said Aquino failed to present clear plans on how to provide Filipinos with livelihood and employment, as well as programs to prevent the continuing rise of prices of basic commodities.

Ang hinahanap namin, solusyon sa problema na kinakaharap ni Juan dela Cruz... Kahit sa tatlong bagay na iyon sana mas naging kongkreto si Pangulong Aquino," she said. — KBK, GMA News
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