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SONA 2013: A guide for kids

July 22, 2013 6:00pm

PNoy: Napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito
PNoy: Napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito. President Benigno Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 22. Joe Galvez
President Benigno Aquino III on Monday delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), where he talked about various national issues ranging from free education for poor Filipino youth to rice self-sufficiency and the Responsible Parenthood law.

Aquino urged Filipinos to keep pursuing the righteous path (Daang Matuwid), saying in any situation in life, people should opt for the fair choice and do things correctly.
He also emphasized how his administration has promoted greater transparency in public service, citing the example of one honest cop.
The key issues tackled by Aquino in his mid-term SONA include the following:

(1) Expansion of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program

"The over 700,000 household beneficiaries we found upon coming into office in 2010 have now grown to almost 4 million households in the three years of our administration.

"There is more: According to research conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, compared with those who only finished the elementary level, the income of high school graduates is 40 percent higher. Is it not right that we maximize the help we give these families, so that our young beneficiaries can finish high school, thereby helping them make the most out of the benefits of this program? That is why next year, families with children up to 18 years old will be included in this program so that their children will be able to finish high school."

(2) Strengthening of the agricultural sector

"According to the NFA, in 2010, the country imported more than 2 million metric tons of rice. In 2011, this fell to 855,000 metric tons. In 2012: 500,000 metric tons. And now in 2013, the maximum we will import, including the private sector, will be the minimum access volume of 350,000 metric tons. This includes the 187,000 metric tons of reserve buffer stock in case typhoons arrive one after the other; in all likelihood, even the private sector will no longer have to import rice because we are still on track to becoming self-sufficient in rice. In addition to that, we have begun exporting premium quality rice. We have truly come so far from those days when it was said that we could not even feed ourselves."

(3) Appeal to fishers

"The DILG, BFAR, and Coast Guard are also tightly monitoring irresponsible and unrestrained forms of fishing; this I ask of our fishermen: allow our fish to repopulate. I ask for your solidarity in caring for your own livelihood. As you no doubt see, the state has already opened up opportunities for you, but the result is in your hands."

(4) Distribution of Hacienda Luisita land

"If there is one topic my name is often associated with, that would have to be Hacienda Luisita. I would like to inform you that back in February, in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court, the Department of Agrarian Reform has completed the list of qualified beneficiaries for the land in Luisita. According to Secretary Gil de los Reyes, the process to determine the beneficiaries’ lots began last week, and the turnover of these lots will begin in September of this year.

(5) Extension of PhilHealth coverage

"Our goal to extend PhilHealth coverage to more of our countrymen has been achieved. When we began, 62 percent of Filipinos were enrolled; now, that number stands at 81 percent. The remaining number still not on our lists are those we are seeking to identify, including those in the informal settlers’ and indigenous people’s sectors. We are counting on the cooperation of our local governments to ensure that all of our countrymen are enrolled in the system."

(6) Protecting Filipinos from natural calamities

"Regarding disaster preparedness: Our goal to develop mechanisms to protect the Filipino people from natural calamities, we have also achieved. Among these are the effective services brought about by the joint forces of the Geohazard Mapping and Assessment Program and Project NOAH of the DOST. This past year, we completed a multihazard mapping of the 28 most vulnerable locations in the country. A similar endeavor for the Greater Metro Manila Area will be completed by 2014. Geohazard maps for 496 cities and municipalities have also been completed. The remaining 1,138 covering every last corner of the country will be finished before the end of 2015. Not only have these maps increased in number, they are also more detailed and refined, which is why we will be able to more accurately identify high-risk areas."

(7) Solving the problem of floods

"We are also remedying the problem of flooding in Metro Manila. Imagine: When Ondoy hit, an estimated 3,600 cubic meters per second of rainfall flowed down from the Sierra Madre. But the capacity of the channels through which these flowed can only support 1,000 cubic meters per second. Where would the difference of 2,600 cubic meters per second go? These are the sudden torrents of water that overflow into low-lying areas and become flash floods.

"The problem is, in addition to the lack of adequate drainage, certain structures are built, obstructing these drainage systems, a situation compounded by the trash of those living around it. To solve this problem, we are coordinating with our LGUs to safely and successfully relocate our informal settlers.

"Our action: an allocation of 6.2 billion pesos to prevent flooding throughout Metro Manila. This includes the construction of the Blumentritt Interceptor Catchment area. The entire project is 3.3 kilometers in length; and once it is completed, it will be able to catch the equivalent of 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water. When the rains hit, the rainwater now has somewhere to go, and will no longer accumulate on our streets. This project was started in March, and we aim to complete it by next year.

(8) Housing for cops and soldiers

"More than a year ago, we had already built 21,800 housing units for our police force and soldiers. For Phase II of this project, we have already built an additional 26,050 homes out of our target of 31,200, and the rest will be completed by next month."

(9) Amendment of SSS Pension Scheme

"We must establish measures that remedy the outflow of funds. If we add 0.6 percent to the contribution rate, it will immediately deduct 141 billion pesos from the unfunded liability of the SSS. If we begin to invest in our future today, no further problems will be handed down to the next generation of Filipinos."

(10) Strengthening the police force

"Beginning this 2013, 30,000 policemen will finally be able go back to doing police work because we will be hiring civilian personnel who will focus on administrative work. After all, the skills and abilities of our police would be put to waste if we keep them imprisoned in the four corners of an office.

"At the start of July 2013, we began distributing new units of 9mm Glock 17 pistols to our police. This is just the beginning: We are slated to distribute a total of 74,879 firearms among our police force, in keeping with our goal of a one-is-to-one police-to-pistol ratio."

(11) Probe into Ozamiz Gang killing

"There are still incidents that sully our police force’s honor. We know of what happened to the members of the Ozamiz Gang—Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga—who were caught, only to be killed. As with our investigation of the Atimonan incident, we will ensure that those at fault will be held accountable—regardless of their rank. Whoever masterminded all of this: prepare yourselves. I am close to learning who you are."

(12) Mindanao peace process

"Peace is also within reach in a region that has long been torn apart by conflict. In October of the previous year, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed. In truth, just nine days have passed since the signing of the second annex of the agreement. We are confident that we will not have to wait long before hearing more good news on the development of the peace process.

"I am hopeful that every Filipino will contribute towards our goals for the Bangsamoro. We will prove that they did not make a mistake in choosing the path of peace; we are ready to lend the strength of the entire nation to lift up the provinces of Muslim Mindanao, who are among our poorest. What we aim for is the triumph of all; we will not allow any of our countrymen to be left behind, while others surpass them.

"Once again, I call on Congress: The Transition Commission that will craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law has already been created. Once their task is completed in keeping with the principles of the peace process, I ask you to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the end of 2014. This way, we will have ample time to prepare for the election of a new Bangsamoro government come 2016."

(13) More caution in government contracts

"We have to be more discriminating buyers. We cannot rely on the sales talk of suppliers alone. We have tasked the DOST to assemble a body of experts who can critically assess suppliers’ pitches, especially on big-ticket items. Our operating principles: the right identification of the root of the problem; the careful study and deliberation, grounded on correct methodology, to arrive at the best solution."

(14) Removal of informal settlers from high-risk areas

"We are already fulfilling our goal to remove from harm’s way those who crammed themselves into high-risk areas of the city. After all, I do not think anyone will disagree with us when we say the current situation cannot be allowed to persist. In the general welfare clause of our Constitution—Article 2, Section 5—it says, 'The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.'"

(15) Sin Tax Reform and Responsible Parenthood laws

"Another example of transformation in government: haven’t vital bills languished in Congress? In the previous year, the Sin Tax Reform Law and the Responsible Parenthood Law were finally signed into law. We thank our partners in Congress and in the Senate who helped us push for the passage of these laws. We persevered through the long process of debate and consultation; we were not cowed by those who tried to sow doubt in the attempt to obstruct our meaningful agenda. We have fought for what benefits the people, and we are advancing true public service for the Filipino."

(16) Proposed 2014 National Budget

"Tomorrow, we are submitting to Congress our proposed 2.268 trillion-peso National Budget for 2014. I am confident of your support and advocacy for the allocation of funds which was arrived at after careful consideration. This budget is not only a continuation of our reforms, but it will also accelerate our momentum towards long-lasting inclusive progress."

(17) Possible MRT/LRT fare hike

"We are well aware that, in the past, decisions were made based on politics. Leaders did everything they could just to keep a firm hold on their power—at the expense of the suffering of present and future generations of Filipinos. Let us look, for example, at the consequences of refusing to raise passenger fares for the LRT and MRT.

"Each trip that one passenger makes on the LRT is estimated to cost 40 pesos. What does each passenger pay? 15 pesos. This means that the government subsidizes the remaining 25 pesos. As for the MRT, the true cost of one trip is 60 pesos: 15 pesos paid by passengers, 45 pesos by the government—in the end, each and every Filipino pays a share of the subsidy. Whether you live in Mindanao or Visayas, and not once have you ever stepped onto the LRT or MRT, you help to fund this."

(18) Improved irrigation system for farmers

"First, an estimated 24,000 farmers across Iloilo will benefit from year-round irrigation. As a result, the harvests of rice farmers may double. Let me make it clear: The 31,840 hectares of land that will be irrigated will yield an additional 146,013 metric tons of rice. This amount is equal to almost 80 percent of the buffer stock of rice that we will import for 2013."

(19) Public-Private Partnership projects

"We are aware that many of our countrymen are excited to see the fruits of our Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects. We likewise know that there are those who have grown impatient waiting for them.

"Let us put things into context. Back in 2010, when our administration came into office, we were left with only 6.5 percent of the programmable budget for the year, or just around 100 billion pesos; 93.5 percent of the budget had already been allotted by my predecessor. This is precisely why we approached the private sector. We told them: 'We do not have the funds, let us partner with one another to build the necessary infrastructure.'

"As early as now, we are seeing the effects of the honest, transparent, and clear way we have been going about our PPP projects. Previously, even just the construction of a single airport already made headlines. Let us compare this to what we are seeing today: Apart from the Laguindingan Airport, which is already being utilized, we are upgrading and modernizing the Tacloban Airport, the Bicol International Airport, the New Bohol Airport, the Mactan Airport, and the Puerto Princesa Airport all at the same time. The Daang Hari-SLEX link road is the fastest PPP project that has been awarded in any administration, with no shortcuts in the processes. All these, and all the other infrastructure projects that are being and will be constructed, will give rise to a society teeming with opportunity."

(20) Brownouts in Mindanao

"The problems that we have inherited—and are currently solving—make up a long list; for example, the recurring, rotating blackouts in Mindanao. From the very beginning, we have been working on a solution for this—but we are also aware that a problem that has been ignored for an entire decade cannot be solved overnight. Right now, we continue to take steps to address the shortages as well as provide for immediate needs. We have helped electric cooperatives bring in generator sets that will reduce brownouts; and this will continue until the plants that will supply the region with more electricity are completed."

(21) Renovation of NAIA 3

"Since we are being frank with each other, let us talk about the renovation of NAIA 3. This is a complex issue, which has already undergone two arbitrations. We would have won both of them, but one of the decisions was reversed due to a technicality. This is why we are now preparing for our case to be heard once more. And there are added complications because of the issue of warranties for the completion of NAIA 3—it is not acceptable for us to find defects after renovations, and then have to spend even more money to fix them."

(22) Solving Metro Manila's traffic

"Let us talk about traffic: Isn’t it estimated that our economy loses an estimated 2.4 billion pesos every day because of Metro Manila traffic? Among the projects targeted to decongest Manila is the Integrated Transport System. For the buses that force themselves onto already-crowded roads, we will construct terminals in areas with less traffic. Our countrymen can already make use of the terminal in Parañaque, and the ones in Quezon City and Muntinlupa are already lined up. Provincial buses will be permitted only up to these terminals, so they do not add to the congestion."

(23) 'Best Tourism Destination of 2012'

"Let us move on to tourism. According to the Oriental Morning Post, we are the 'Best Tourism Destination of 2012.' And it seems the Shanghai Morning Post fell in love with our country when they named us the “Most Romantic Destination of 2012.” Scuba Diving Magazine says that the Philippines is the “Best Diving Destination.” And Palawan is the 'Best Island' if you ask Travel + Leisure Magazine. It seems they just stopped short of calling us paradise."

(24) Dividends from GOCCs

"Let us just look at the depth of transformation taking place in our GOCCs. Government-owned corporations whose losses were previously subsidized by the national government are now turning over dividends. Let us take the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) as an example. In the thirteen years prior to our term, from 1996 to 2009, the dividends of the PRA amounted to a sum total of 676.82 million pesos. Along the straight path: in 2012 alone, their dividends—1 billion pesos. Is this not a complete transformation?"

(25) Resurgence of PHL economy

"In tandem with the increased confidence in our good governance is the continued resurgence of our economy. The results: two consecutive ten-place jumps in the global competitiveness index of the World Economic Forum. For the first time in history, we attained investment-grade status from two of the three most respected credit ratings agencies in the world, and it is quite possible that the third will soon follow suit.

"We have maintained the stability of our consumer goods prices, and we continue to reduce the portion of our budget allotted to paying our debts, while increasing the funds allotted to social services. In a period of lethargic global economic activity, we registered an astounding 6.8 percent GDP growth in 2012. We surpassed this in the first quarter of 2013, when we reported growth of 7.8 percent—the highest recorded GDP in East and Southeast Asia."

History of the SONA
 
According to the Official Gazette, the main publication of the Philippine government,  the SONA is an annual practice that began during the Commonwealth of the Philippines in the 1930s.

President Manuel L. Quezon delivered the first Philippine SONA on June 16, 1936.

However, the tradition of delivering an annual report on the Philippine situation actually began two decades earlier, with the implementation of the Jones Law of 1916 when the country was still a United States colony.

The Jones Law mandated the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands to submit to an executive office a report that would then be relayed to the President of the United States.
 
Aquino's SONA on Monday (July 23, 2012) was the 75th in Philippine history, and the 28th since 1987.

Interesting SONA trivia

The "Traditions and History" section of the SONA microsite on the Official Gazette lists some trivia about the SONA:

The SONA is delivered every fourth Monday of July.

President Benigno Aquino III delivered his SONAs on the following dates:
  • July 26, 2010;
  • July 25, 2011;
  • July 23, 2012,
  • July 22, 2013.

Four presidents delivered their SONAs on July 22: the late President Ferdinand Marcos, late President Corazon Aquino (mother of the incumbent President), former President Fidel Ramos, and former President and incumbent Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

President Corazon Aquino, who was in office from 1986 to 1992, did not deliver a SONA  when she assumed power in 1986. That became the only year since 1945 that a SONA was not delivered.

From 1942 to 1944, during World War II, there were no SONAs delivered.

When President Manuel L. Quezon delivered the country's first ever SONA in 1936, he proposed the creation of a national language: Filipino.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who was in power from December 30, 1965 to February 26, 1986, delivered the most number of SONAs: 20.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was in power from 2001 to 2010, delivered the next highest number of SONAs next to Marcos: 9.

President Sergio Osmeña delivered the least number of SONAs — only one — upon the restoration of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1945.

Two presidents — Emilio Aguinaldo (in office from 1899 to 1901) and Jose Laurel (in office from 1943 to 1945) — did not deliver SONAs as the constitutions during their time did not require a report to Congress.

On four occasions, Marcos did not deliver SONAs in front of Congress: 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1977.

President Elpidio Quirino, in office from 1948 to 1953, delivered a SONA via radio broadcast when he was confined at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States. The broadcast was aired live in Congress while it was in session. - YA, GMA News

USEFUL RESOURCES

Aquino's State of the Nation Address in 2013

Aquino's State of the Nation Address in 2012

Aquino's State of the Nation Address in 2011

Aquino's State of the Nation Address in 2010


List of all SONAs delivered by Philippine Presidents

SONA 2012: A guide for kids

SONA 2011: A guide for kids


On the Official Gazette: The State of the Nation Address Traditions and History

The Official Gazette on Twitter


'Aquino's scorecard' based on his past promises: Improving but still behind schedule
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