By: Jessamine Sagcal
PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III greeted protesters, supporters, criticisms and praises as he delivered his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives on July 28, 2014.
The President, joined by his sisters, was overcome by emotion during the last few statements of his speech, recalling the lessons he had learned from his late parents, President Corazon Aquino and, opposition leader during the Marcos era, Benigno S. Aquino Jr.
“To my Bosses: You gave me an opportunity to lead our efforts to transform society. If I had said ‘no’ when you asked me to take on this challenge, then I could just as well have said that I would help prolong your suffering. I cannot do that in good conscience. If I had turned my back on the opportunity, then I might as well have turned my back on my father and mother, and all the sacrifices they made for all of us; that will not happen. On our journey along the straight path, you have always chosen what is right and just; you have been true to your promise, and I have been true to all of you. “
The President continued, “As long as your faith remains strong, as long as we continue serving as each other’s strength, we will continue proving that ‘the Filipino is worth dying for,’ ‘the Filipino is worth living for,’ and if I might add: ‘The Filipino is worth fighting for.’”
This year’s SONA also gathered the attention of at least 18,000 protesters across the country, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, following numerous issues, one of which is the unresolved Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Disbursement Acceleration Program
Amidst controversies surrounding the DAP, President Aquino was early to defend his stance, as he spoke of the improvements and achievements of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) scholars.
DAP allotted 1.6 billion pesos to the program, enabling 223,615 students to graduate; 146,731 of the group have already found jobs, according to the data presented by the President.
The program was unanimously declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court due to a number of its acts, mainly the “withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act.”
Among the group of protesters were ones who lied inside the House of Representatives’ Plenary Hall. Lawmakers wearing peach-colored barongs and gowns, the same group that led the complaints for the ousting of the President, walked out of the building just before the SONA had begun.
They joined other groups of protesters outside who burned pictures, posters, effigies of the President, and shouted for an impeachment following, again, the issues of the DAP.
President Aquino also addressed his critics during his almost two-hour speech, saying “for those who have no other goal than to overthrow government, they can only recruit members when a great number of people are suffering and losing faith in the system.”
“This is why, with a reformed system that has ended the people’s suffering, the number of potential recruits has dwindled, which explains why their group is getting smaller and smaller. It is only natural that they oppose us. The noisiest and loudest of those who oppose us are not in favor of the transformation of our country, precisely because they manipulated and benefited from the old and broken systems.”
The speech also included many accomplishments of the government regarding the business and economic growth and the completion of many infrastructures.
- FOI, a no-show in SONA 2014 by Danielle Gabriel
This article was also published in UST’s online student publication, TomasinoWeb, by the same writer. http://tomasinoweb.org/2014/news/emotional-sona-2014-draws-mixed-reviews.tw
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