State of the Nation Address 2013
The 2013 State of the Nation Address is President Benigno Simeon Aquino III's fourth report on the current situation of the Philippines and the achievements of the government since 2010. Aquino delivered his speech as the 16th Congress opened its first regular session on 22 July 2013. The president discussed his administration's goals and plans for more reforms across all sectors until the end of his term in 2016.
Security measures for the 2013 SONA were set in place on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City. Security forces and media representatives made arrangements necessary to ensure the event will go smoothly the following day. The Quezon City police's bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled the area.
Metro Manila police head Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo Jr. appealed to militants to keep their protests peaceful; he added that the security measures being imposed are for their own good. Garbo said that the police would maintain maximum tolerance as protesters rally near the Batasan Complex.
A “no-fly zone”—a one-kilometer radius from the Batasan Complex in QC—would be in effect from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday.
Security access stickers and cards were issued for a “complete lock out” policy that would ensure security inside the complex. No persons would be allowed to carry firearms except for the Presidential Security Group and congressional security personnel.
Resposible for tracking the promises made by President Aquino in his last SONA, the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), together with the Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, gathered the achievements of each government agency. Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III revealed that the outline of the speech has been revised twice.
Business transactions in congressional offices and the secretariat would be suspended on the day of the SONA.
For the transcript of the 2013 SONA, visit The Philippine Online Chronicles.
PNoy began his SONA by recalling how he came to be chief executive of the land. He thanked the Filipino people—whom he regularly calls his “bosses”—for affirming his so-called “Tuwid na Daan” in the May 2013 elections: Nine of his party-mates were elected to the Senate, signaling Filipinos' approval of his leadership.
Aquino emphasized that to spear inclusive growth, the government needs to maximize opportunities for all, especially the needy. He cited that the percentage rate of employment for TESDA-DOLE scholars is now as high as 70.9 percent in IT-related jobs and 85 percent in electronics and semiconductors.
Aquino urged Filipinos to continue pursuing the righteous path (Daang Matuwid). In any situation in life, people should opt for the fair choice and do things correctly, he said.
Aquino tackled in his speech the following key issues and aims to be pursued in the next half of his term:
- Passage of the following bills: Sin Tax Bill and Responsible Parenthood Law
- Public-private partnership projects: utilization of Laguindingan Airport; modernization of Tacloban Airport, Bicol International Airport, the new Bohol Airport, Mactan Airport, Puerto Princesa Airport; and the Daang Hari-NLEX link road
- “Best Tourism Destination of 2012”: The Philippines was declared the “Best Tourism Destination of 2012” by the Oriental Morning Post, “Most Romantic Destination of 2012” by the Shanghai Morning Post, “Best Diving Destination” by the Scuba Diving Magazine, and Palawan as the “Best Island” by the Travel+Leisure Magazine.
- Dividends from Government-Owned Corporations (GOCs): examples are the Philippine Reclamation Authority's (PRA) dividends, which amounted to a sum total of P676.82 million from 1996 to 2009 and P1 billion in 2012, and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) gain of P2 billion profit
- Resurgence of Philippine economy: two consecutive ten-place jumps in the global competitiveness index of the World Economic Forum, investment-grade status from two of the three most respected credit rating agencies in the world, 6.8 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2012, and 7.8 percent GDP growth in the first quarter of 2013
- Clean, safe, and fair elections in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
- Expansion of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps): To include families with children up to 18 years old and to encourage them to keep their children in school up to high school levels
- Strengthening of the agricultural sector: self-sufficiency in rice, massive intercropping program for the coconut farming sector launch, improved irrigation system
- Provision of more infrastructure (modern ports, roads, and cold storage facilities) to the fisheries sector
- Distribution of the Hacienda Luisita land
- Extension of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) coverage: to include those in the informal settlers' and indigenous people's sectors
- Protection from natural calamities: finish hazard mapping of perilous sites under the Geohazard Mapping and Assessment Program; deployment of more tools (automated water measuring stations and rain gauges, Doppler radars, tsunami detectors and alerting sirens); better assessment of risks and training of people to handle them under Project NOAH
- Completion of the P6.2 billion flood prevention program for Metro Manila, as well as the completion of the Blumentritt interceptor catchment area
- Expansion of the number of housing beneficiaries especially for cops and soldiers
- Amendment of the Social Security System (SSS): addition of 0.6 percent to the contribution rate to deduct P141 billion from the unfunded liability of the SSS
- Strengthening the police force: Civilian personnel will be hired to do administrative work so that policemen will be able to do police work. A total of 74,879 firearms will be distributed among the police force to keep the goal of having a one-is-to-one police-to-pistol ratio.
- Mindanao peace process: reiteration of the government's commitment to uphold the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro
- Probe into the Ozamiz Gang killing, pork barrel issue, and Metro Rail Transit scams
- Possible MRT/LRT fare hike: It was said that the government subsidizes P25 pesos for every LRT ride as the passenger only pays P15 for the true cost of P40. As for every MRT ride, P15 is paid by the passenger while P45 is paid by the government as the true cost is P60.
- Solution for power shortage / rotating brownouts in Mindanao
- Renovation of the NAIA 3
- Decongestion of Metro Manila's traffic: creation/implementation of the Integrated Transport System; bus terminals now open in Parañaque City and soon in Quezon City and Muntinlupa City
- More caution in government contracts: the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is tasked to assemble a body of experts to critically assess suppliers' pitches, especially on big-ticket items
- Disaster prevention and mitigation: complete transfer of informal settlers from high-risk areas; charging of building owners who built structures on waterways
- Proposed 2014 National Budget of P2.268 trillion
- All notices of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) coverage to be served by next year
- Materials testing lab for the semiconductor industry
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, who is also the presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) concerns, said that he was satisfied with the president's speech but noted the lack of recognition of the OFWs.
Lawmakers and advocates expressed dismay over the president's failure to mention the FOI bill, which he promised to push when he campaigned for the presidency. Representative Ibarra Gutierrez of the Akbayan party-list said that when PNoy talked about accountability and transparency in government service, it was the perfect opportunity to discuss FOI. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said that the FOI is needed to truly arm and empower the people to join the battle for a genuinely good governance.
The NUJP also noted that the president made no mention of impunity and human rights, which continue to be violated under his watch. The list of deaths of journalists, activists, environmentalists, religious persons, lawyers, indigenous people, and many others continues to grow.
Forty one activists and 21 policemen were injured after the clash between both parties. Ten protesters were arrested and charged hours before PNoy's speech for violating Batasang Pambansa 880 which governs peaceful assemblies in public places, malicious mischief, and direct assault. The Philippine National Police (PNP), however, described PNoy's fourth SONA as generally peaceful.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Students of the Philippines demanded for the immediate release of arrested protesters who include students from the University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD) and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). Some 300 of their members who went to Camp Karingal to demand the release of their companions accused the police of assaulting them.
About 20,000 protesters were estimated to have attended the event. Pockets of mass actions were also held in some key cities in Visayas.
Showbiz personalities who watched PNoy's speech expressed their thoughts and reactions through social networking sites.
Vice Ganda said through his Facebook account that as men, we are never content and will never be satisfied with the president's performance. He added that although PNoy is not a perfect president, he is a good one. For the country to move forward, everyone must help one another and work hand in hand, he said.
TV host Bianca Gonzalez said that the speech was long but that the president covered a lot of ground especially as he touched upon education, agriculture, tourism, and even called out on corrupt agencies. She hoped that there would be more about transportation, OFWs, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). She wished that before 2016, there would be a major board wage increase to answer inflation.
In a short tweet, The Voice of the Philippines co-host Robi Domingo said that it feels good to be a Filipino the moment President Aquino delivered his speech. Enchong Dee also tweeted that if he would have another future leader as competent and true as PNoy, he wouldn't mind serving the country.
Actress Assunta De Rossi, who attended the SONA to support her husband Congressman Jules Ledesma, said that it was nice to know that the government has accomplished a lot. She added that she is hoping that the Hacienda Luisita land will finally be completely turned over and given to farmers.
Actress and councilor Charee Pineda, who attended the SONA for the first time, lauded PNoy's projects and accomplishments. She also agreed with PNoy's call to government officials to resign from their posts if they cannot follow rules to give way to those who can serve the people better.
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- Pulumbarit, Veronica.“SONA 2013: A guide for kids”.GMA News Online.(Accessed on 24 July 2013).
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- Sinapit, Jaime.“Despite QC clash, PNP says SONA 'generally peaceful' as 10 protesters charged”.InterAksyon.(Accessed on 24 July 2013).
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- Dalangin-Fernandez, Lira.“OFW, FOI, EJK | What the SONA left out”.InterAksyon.(Accessed on 24 July 2013).
- “The 2013 SONA Technical Report”.Official Gazette.(Accessed on 24 July 2013).