On the eve of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA), The LaSallian presents a compilation of the highlights of Aquino’s last five SONAs.
After the first six months of his presidency, Aquino used his first SONA to detail the problems the administration most needed to address. He hoped to fulfill the goals and objectives of his administration, which centered mostly on his concept of “Tuwid na Daan.”
In 2010, the national government had a deficit of over P196.7 billion, an amount carried over from previous administrations. This deficit was caused by various malpractices by government units, including the National Food Authority’s overbuying of rice from the years 2004 to 2009. For instance, in 2007, 1,827,000 metric tons of rice was bought instead of buying the targeted 589,000 metric tons of rice. Most of the excess rice was reportedly spoiled in the process.
For more on what became of President Aquino’s promises on rice self-sufficiency, zero classroom shortage, and the fight against corruption, among others, see our analysis.
Another example would be the P425 million budget allocated for 246 priority safety projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Unbeknown to the administration, the budget ballooned to P480 million and only 28 projects were funded.
For the year 2010 alone, the national budget was P1.54 trillion. Throughout the first six months of 2010, a huge portion of the budget was already spent for breaking down the deficit and funding government projects and initiatives. For the remaining six months, Aquino mentioned that only P100 billion or 6.5 percent of the national budget can be freely used.
This, however, did not stop the Aquino administration. Aquino promised other government initiatives in 2010, such as strengthening public-private partnerships, which aimed to establish economic ties and additional income for the government. In agriculture, Aquino promised the building of grain terminals, refrigeration facilities, road networks, and postharvest facilities, among others.
Aquino also aimed to fast track the processing of documents among local government units (LGU) and the Department of Trade and Industry. Lastly, he ordered the re-codification of various Philippine laws to ensure that they are up to date and would cater to the current needs of Filipinos.
During his second SONA, Aquino gave importance to the current anomalies in the government and how his administration has solved them. In his 2011 SONA, he was most notably remembered for mentioning “wangwang” multiple times—a vernacular term in the country that refers to individuals who carry a mindset of privilege and prestige. This refers to any government official or individual who takes advantage of his or her power.
Among some of these “wangwang” issues include the Philippine National Construction Corporation, which incurred billions of pesos’ worth of debt since the early 2000s. In the Bureau of Internal Revenue, approximately 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers were charged with tax evasion and paid only P9.8 billion in 2010. In line with these various issues, Aquino promised to remove the “wangwang” culture by stripping off budgets from “pointless” projects.
Apart from these, the Aquino administration also had several notable accomplishments and planned initiatives, which included the following:
- 20.5 percent self-rated hunger in March 2011 dropped to 15.1 percent in June of the same year.
- The Philippine economy surpassed the all-time high of the stock market seven times, receiving a 4,000 index.
- 11,611 hectares of rice farms were provided irrigation.
- Capability upgrade and modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including a new Hamilton Class Cutter, helicopters, patrol craft and weapons
- Passing of laws about Government-owned and controlled corporation Governance, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’ Mandatory Immunization and Women Night Workers
- Compensation for Martial Law victims
For his third SONA, Aquino began by looking back at his administration’s achievements for the past two years. He also thanked the people for “making the once impossible now possible.” He highlighted the 6.4 percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, which was noted as the highest GDP growth in the Southeast Asian Region. The unemployment rate also dropped to 6.9 percent, compared to the rate in 2010, which was at 8 percent. The decreasing unemployment rate was traced back to the generation of over three million jobs over the past two years.
Aquino also mentioned the proposed increased budget for the education sector amounting to P292.7 billion. The budget for state universities and colleges would be increased by 43.61 percent. He also said that before the end of the year, more than 66,000 classrooms would have been built. Moreover, the backlog of 61.7 million textbooks would be eradicated, thus achieving the one book to one student ratio.
Aquino also emphasized and took pride in 85 percent or 23.31 million more Filipinos being enrolled in PhilHealth and enjoy the program’s benefits and services. In addition, Aquino noted that cancer and leukemia patients would also be covered. Consequently, 5.2 million of the poorest households in the country would fully benefit from PhilHealth for free. Still focusing on health matters, Aquino revealed a decrease in the number of dengue cases in the country due to the anti-dengue traps set in the places where dengue is most prevalent.
Aquino also acknowledged the thriving tourism of the country, which was heavily influenced by the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign. Aquino set out a target of having 4.6 million tourists come to the country by the end of that year.
Aquino vowed that there would be no cash advances given in government agencies to avoid abuse. The voters lists had also been cleaned up to ensure that there would be no more ghost voters in preparation for the 2013 midterm elections. Aquino also mentioned the filing of plunder charges against his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as well as the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Aquino stated that before his term ends, three new airports will be built, three existing airports will be upgraded, and seven would be remodeled. The Cavite extension for LRT Line 1 also started.
Aquino’s SONA in 2013 focused on the achievements of the government because of the approval of the Sin Tax Law, Reproductive Health Law, the reforms in the education system with the implementation of K-12, the 7.8 percent GDP growth in the first quarter of the year, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and the increase in the number of graduates from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, among others.
Additionally, Aquino hailed the senatorial candidates of Team PNoy who won during the elections held earlier that year. He also noted that only 77 incidents of election-related violence were reported.
He also shed light on the changes for the Social Security System (SSS) Pension Scheme, which is necessary to prevent the exhaustion of the SSS funds in the next 28 years. He mentioned that increasing the contribution rate by 0.6 percent will deduct P141 billion from the unfunded liability. He also explained the need for the implementation of fare hikes for the LRT and MRT, which was felt by commuters early this 2015.
Aquino also mentioned the allocation of P6.2 billion for flood control in Metro Manila. Housing units have been constructed for typhoon victims—over 9,000 for the victims of Typhoon Sendong, and more than 53,000 for those plagued by Typhoon Pablo. He also stated that additional houses were still undergoing construction.
He commended the DPWH for saving more than P18 billion, which he explained could be allocated for other projects. He also lauded the European Union’s decision to lift the ban on Philippine Airlines flights to Europe.
Aquino paid tribute to the late Department of Interior and Local Government secretary Jesse Robredo for his unwavering public service. Robredo died in a plane crash in August of the previous year.
Aquino reiterated his aim to improve rice self-sufficiency and coconut intercropping to aid in agricultural growth. He also mentioned that the completion of the geohazard mapping of Metro Manila would be finished by the following year. Aquino also asked the Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law by 2014, which would pave the way for a Bangsamoro government by 2016.
See our full SONA 2013 review.
Aquino’s second to the last SONA highlighted the government’s efforts in three main events that occurred during the latter months of 2013.
Aquino mentioned that in the aftermath of the Zamboanga siege that occurred in September 2013, the country’s troops were able to save 195 out of the 197 involved in the conflict. Aquino also noted that P3.5 billion was allocated for rehabilitation and assistance to families caught in the conflict, most of whom were relocated to permanent housing units.
In October 2013, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol. Aquino lauded the efforts of government units for their mobility, stating that only a week after the earthquake, electricity was restored in all the municipalities of Bohol. Critical roads and bridges destroyed by the earthquake were also made passable. A total of P3.583 billion was released for the rehabilitation of Bohol and Cebu.
Before 2013 ended, super typhoon Yolanda made landfall in the country and affected 1.47 million families and 44 provinces. Aquino commended LGUs for actively and immediately responding to bring in aid and lead relief operations in the areas heavily affected by the typhoon, particularly in the Visayas region. Aquino also mentioned that livelihood and rehabilitation programs were offered to those who survived the typhoon.
Moreover, Aquino also boasted of the growth of the country’s economy. He stated that 1.65 million jobs were generated from April 2013 to April 2014. He also commented that the country has received improved credit ratings and emphasized the improved state of the country in terms enticing investors. He mentioned that between December 2011 and June 2014, a total of seven Public-Private Partnerships were awarded and signed off by the government, amounting to a total value of P62.6 billion.
Aquino vowed to make the Bureau of Customs more efficient. He stated that the Customs’ cash collected increased by 22 percent from January to April 2014. Further, he posed a warning to those conspiring to smuggle illegal drugs into the country by declaring, “After we have gathered enough evidence against you, the Bilibid Prison is your next destination.”
See our full SONA 2014 review.
Aquino also commended the government’s progress in terms of the Bangsamoro peace process. In March 2014, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed. Aquino also stated that the executive branch was already currently forging the proposal for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
On rice hoarding, Aquino vowed to put a stop to rice hoarders by importing more rice to supply to the markets in order to bring the prices down to reasonable levels. He also pledged to investigate concerned agencies involved in hoarding rice. On the other hand, Aquino guaranteed to ensure that rice farming remains an attractive livelihood. He stated that for farmers to maximize profits, the government is providing them with modern equipment, enhancing irrigation systems, building farm-to-market roads, among others.
What now? Read more on issues not addressed in Aquino’s second to the last SONA.
Aquino will deliver his final SONA tomorrow, July 27. There remain several issues unresolved since he assumed presidency in 2010, which he has failed to address in his SONAs thus far, most prominently the Freedom of Information Bill, the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration, the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, among others. Aquino is also anticipated to discuss during his final SONA the plans of the government in response to the looming power crisis in the country as well as territorial disputes between China and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front also remains hopeful that Aquino will call for the passage of the BBL in his final SONA.
- SONA 2013 Full Review — SONA 2013 in perspective
- SONA 2014 Full Review — Aquino delivers second to the last SONA, DAP only discussed in passing
- Analysis — What now? Issues not addressed in PNoy’s 5th SONA
- Analysis — Promises in progress: The Aquino platforms