AS the country gets ready for President Benigno Aquino III’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA), opposition lawmakers, labor and activists lashed out at the administration’s failure to unite the country and to address some basic issues.
Lawmakers critical of the administration’s policies said they also expect Aquino to once again blame the past administration for the country’s woes which they said should have been addressed by his administration during his six-year presidency.
House deputy minority leader and 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said that apart from boasting his supposed accomplishments under his watch, President Aquino III is also expected to blame his predecessor for the “failures” of his government.
Bello also said he anticipates the President to make new sets of empty promises for the Filipino people.
“I expected President Aquino III to talk about his accomplishments, [while at the same time], blame his predecessor for his failures and make promises he cannot accomplish,” Bello said.
Bello also lamented that the Aquino government has failed to serve justice for the “Fallen 44” and their families and loved ones.
Bello was referring to the bloody encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force troops and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mamasapano, Maguindanao which claimed the lives of 44 SAF troops. He added the Mamasapano debacle rocked the Aquino presidency.
But Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, also a member of the House Minority Bloc, said the much awaited sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27 might also highlight the major accomplishments of the Aquino government, including its efforts to facilitate “rapid, inclusive, and sustainable growth in the country.”
“We expect to hear promises that were not broken” Albano said.
Since the President’s SONA next week will be his last as his term ends on June 30, 2016, Albano said it is also expected of the President to mention to the Filipino people “what to expect” towards the remaining 11 months of his presidency.
“It is his last SONA so he should tell us what happened during the five years of Aquino presidency and to expect the best that is yet to come,” Albano said.
Reps. Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada party-list, Bolet Banal of Quezon City, and Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City said they are also looking forward to what the President would say in his last SONA.
De la Cruz said it is expected of the President to highlight the so-called “accomplishments” of his administration.
“This being his last SONA, I am sure [President Aquino III] will highlight the reforms and strides under Daang Matuwid and the need to continue with these initiatives. But the question is: Are the reforms and achievements for real and whether our people are truly benefitting from these strides?” de la Cruz, member of the House Independent Bloc of Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.
Tambunting said he anticipates that President Aquino III would stress the need for his “anointed one” in 2016 to continue what the chief executive claimed to have been initiated under his watch.
“I think the President will tell us the situation of the when he took over, what he did to correct it and the accomplishments during his terms; and he will give us the criteria in choosing his successor,” Tambunting said.
Banal said he expects the President to call for unity to be able to continue the gains of his presidency.
“I hope that as he highlights the achievements of his administration, he would likewise emphasize the need for all of us to unite, to continue the reforms and programs of Daang Matuwid,” Banal, a House deputy majority leader, said. “Unless we protect the gains of Daang Matuwid, there is a real danger that our country will return to the old, corrupt practices of the past,” Banal added.
As this developed, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines criticized the Aquino administration for ignoring the 24 million poor Filipino workers’ appeal to raise the wages whose income still cannot cope even with the barest cost of basic food and non-food needs set by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).