State of the Nation Address 2014

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President Benigno Simeon Aquino III delivered his 5th State of the Nation Address on 28 July 2014 at Batasang Pambansa Complex. The 2014 SONA started at 4:00 in the afternoon and concluded after one hour and 30 minutes.

Highlights/achievements:

  • The Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) has contributed Php 1.6 billion to the Training for Work Scholarship Program of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which enabled the graduation of 223,615 beneficiaries. 66 percent of them now have jobs.
  • According to the data from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the 27.9 percent poverty rate during the first semester of 2012 went down to 24.9 percent for the same period in 2013. 2.5 million Filipinos have crossed the poverty line.
  • Strengthened tax collections: From Php 1.094 trillion in collections in 2010 to Php 1.536 trillion in 2013
  • Stronger foundation: In 2013, the Philippines was upgraded to investment grade status by Moody's, Fitch, and Standard and Poor's – the three major credit ratings agency in the world. In May 2014, they upgraded the Philippines again which will enable the government to borrow funds for programs and projects at lower interest rates, thus more businesses will be attracted to invest in our country.
  • The United States Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the Philippines back to Category 1 thus there will be an increase in routes going to the United States. Also in 2013, the European Union lifted the ban on Philippine Airlines, allowing it to fly once again to Europe. The increase in flights of the local airlines to the United States and participating countries in the EU will be of great help to both tourism and business.
  • Successful hosting of the World Economic Forum on East Asia in May 2014
  • Better relations between labor and management: According to the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, since 2010, the number of strikes per year has been limited to less than ten. Through Department of Labor and Employment's (DOLE) Single entry Approach or SenA, labor cases go through a 30-day conciliation-mediation period. Out of 115 notices of strike in 2013, only one pushed through.
  • Infrastructure: To sustain the momentum of the economy and to continue creating opportunities in the country, the budget for infrastructure has more than doubled from the Php 200.3 billion of 2011 to Php 404.3 billion in 2014. Loopholes in the old system of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) were plugged to streamline the processes of the agency. An example is the removal of the Letters of Intent from the bidding process. Also, the requisite documents from bidders were trimmed to 5 from 20. Processes were faster and there are fewer opportunities to ask for bribes. Thus, the DPWH has saved Php 28 billion which allowed them to accelerate the implementation of the next projects. The DPWH has also laid out, fixed, widened, or constructed a total of 12,184 kilometers.

    Completed projects:
    • The Aluling Bridge, which was conceived in 1978, is finally open to the public
    • Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, which was part of the Metro Manila Expressway project from the 1970s, was launched in January 2014
    • Ternate-Nasugbu Road, the plans for which started to be laid out in 1994, is now complete

      Approved project proposals by the NEDA Board:
  • Public-Private Partnership Program: From December 2011 to June 2014, the government has awarded and signed off on seven PPP projects, with a total value of Php 62.6 billion.
    • With the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building, the government has a premium that amounts to more than Php 14 billion.
    • NAIA Expressway Project Phase 2: Premium of Php 11 billion
    • Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway (TPLEx): Through this, the journey from Tarlac to Rosales, Pangasinan has become easier. The segment of the road that reaches Urdaneta, Pangasinan will be completed before the end of 2014. By 2015, the TPLEx will have extended to the end of Rosario, La Union.
    • Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike. Its benefits include: flooding in nearby areas will lessen, water from Lakuna Lage will be cleaner, less traffic as an expressway will be built on top of the dike which will extend from Los Baños to Taguig. After the completion of the C-6 road that will connect to San Jose Del Monte, another route will allow people to travel through Metro Manila without passing through EDSA.
  • Solution to a possible water shortage of water in Metro Manila by 2021: Approval of the Kaliwa Dam Project in Quezon and the repair of the lines of Angat Dam. The government has also approved the Water District Development Sector Project under the Local Water Utilities Administration.
  • Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery and Reconstruction: By August 2014, the affected families of the Zamboanga Crisis in September 2013, can begin to move into permanent housing units in Martha Drive Subdivision. The government aims to complete the construction of 7,176 housing units in other areas by June 2015. 1,661 families that wish to build back or repair their own homes were given Php 30,000 worth of Home Materials Assistance. Php 3.5 billion for the rehabilitation of infrastructure, purchasing of lots, construction of permanent houses, and other types of assistance, has been set aside.
  • Recovery and Reconstruction after the Bohol/Cebu Quake: 25 critical roads and bridges destroyed by the earthquake are passable. Php 3.583 billion has been released for the rehabilitation of Bohol and Cebu.
  • Recovery and Reconstruction after Yolanda: Two weeks after the storm, on 22 November 2013, one million food packs had already been distributed to the victims; 35,162 cubic meters of debris from roads through which relief will be transported had been cleared; and 3,426 kilometers of National Roads had already been cleared and were passable. By Christmas Day of 2013, all municipalities affected had been electrified. Currently, 108.8 kilometers of destroyed roads, bridges, approaches, and landslide prone areas are being repaired. Livelihood interventions have been implemented to ensure that those who survived the typhoon could recover at the soonest possible time. In July 2014, 221,897 jobs were created. It was also the time when President Aquino signed the LGU Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan for Cebu, Iloilo, Eastern Samar, Leyte, and Tacloban City.
  • Increased efforts for disaster preparedness: Through the DREAM-LiDAR project of Project NOAH, areas that are prone to flooding are efficiently pinpointed. 19 of the targeted 20 river systems have already been mapped, to determine which areas immediately suffer from the effects of torrential rain.
  • Security
    • On-going modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
    • Acquisition of new assets including the 8 Sokol Combat Utility Helicopters; 3 AgustaWestland-109 helicopters; first landing craft utility ship: the BRP Tagbanua; 4 refurbished UH-1 helicopters and 2 navy cutters
    • Inauguration of the Naval Forces West's state-of-the-art Command Center in Palawan in May 2014
    • Targeting the acquisition of an additional brand new 8 Bell combat utility helicopters, 2 anti-submarine helicopters, 10 more AgustaWestland-109 helicopters, 2 light-lift aircraft, 3 medium-lift aircraft, radar systems. The government is also expecting the delivery of 17 additional refurbished UH-1 helicopters by September 2014
    • The purchased M4 assault rifles have arrived. In the next few months, the total number of rifles that will be in the hands of the soldiers will be 50,629 units. Because of the correct and transparent procurement process and the honest management of funds, the government was able to save more than Php 1.2 billion pesos.
  • Pursuit of the enemies of the state and lawless elements: The government has apprehended the Chairman and Secretary General of the New People's Army (NPA) in March 2014. Normality and order are now returning to the 31 provinces previously troubled by the NPA.
  • The image of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has changed.
    • 30 policemen, led by Inspector Charity Galvez, repelled an estimated 250 New People's Army (NPA) members who stormed their precint in 2011.
    • In March 2014, four rookie policewomen exchanged fire with the Martilyo Gang in the SM Mall of Asia.
    • 1:1 police-to-pistol ratio
    • Those who were involved in the murders of Mayor Ernesto Balolong and businessman Richard King were arrested. A strong lead in the murder case of race car driver Ferdinand Pastor is currently being followed.
    • To further strengthen ways to ensure the security of Filipinos, starting 16 June 2014, Operation Lambat in the National Capital Region (NCR) has been implemented. Through checkpoints and various operations, 862 vehicles and 29 firearms have been confiscated. 587 warrants of arrest have been served, which have resulted in the arrest of 410 suspects. During the five weeks of Operation Lambat, murder and homicide cases decreased to only 22 cases per week. Oplan Katok has also been reinstated to ensure that the licensing of guns is limited to responsible owners.
  • Reform to restore trust in the government
    • The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has been assigned a new commissioner, five new deputy commissioners, and 40 individuals to implement reforms. From January to April 2014, BOC's cash collections increased by 22 percent, compared to the same period last year. Their collections total in the first four months of 2014 is Php 117 billion.
  • Agrarian reform: The Cadastral Survey which was supposed to accurately delineate the territory and the land holdings of every town, city, and province of the Philippines, will finally be completed in 2015.
  • After a lengthy period of conflict and derailed negotiations, trust was able to be put back to the table. In March 2014, the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed.
  • From April 2013 to April 2014, around 1.65 million jobs were created.
  • The government's immediate solution to the staggering increase in rice prices was to import more rice, supply it to the markets, reduce the prices and keep them at a reasonable level to drive those who took advantage of the Filipinos into financial ruin. In February 2014, the National Food Authority (NFA) Council approved the importation of an additional 800,000 metric tons to fulfill the buffer stocking requirement. As of July 2014, 360,750 of this had arrived. At the same month, the government approved the immediate importation of 500,000 metric tons of rice through open bidding. The NFA also has standby authority to import an additional 500,000 metric tons to prepare for the effects of calamities on harvests and rice prices.
  • Farmers were provided with modern equipment to ensure the efficiency of planting and harvest. From 2011 to May 2014, the government has turned over 4,628 units of production machinery, 11,362 units of post-production machinery, and 105 rice mills to a number of farmers' associations. The government is also enhancing the irrigation systems, constructing farm-to-market roads, and implementing training programs to ensure that farmers make the maximum profit.
  • On the first working day after the SONA, the Aquino administration will submit to Congress the proposed Php 2.606 trillion National Budget of 2015.


However, despite the said achievements and plans of the government, protesters marched along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City toward Batasan Pambansa and named President Aquino the pork barrel king.

During his speech, President Aquino did not mention the issue on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). He also failed to include the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI).


References




Citation

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