SONA hopes to stress ' new way of doing things '

July 26, 2015 News

Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma, Jr. made this assertion in an e-mail message after he was asked what the public can expect from the President’s address.

“In his previous addresses, the President has always endeavored to nurture hope and inspire his bosses,” he said in an e-mailed response yesterday.

The Palace official also said those who offer comments on the State of the Nation “may do well to discern that significant change has been brought about by a new way of doing things.”

Under the Aquino administration, substantial progress has been made in terms of reducing poverty, increasing employment, and improving the people’s quality of life.

“What is important is that the vicious cycle of poverty-high rate of school drop outs-unemployment-and ever-widening poverty has been reversed by a new virtuous cycle of reduced poverty-higher school completion rate-enhanced employability and more employment opportunities that has even reduced the number of Filipinos working abroad,” he said.

“We invite the people to listen again to the President’s SONA to understand the important programs and actions of the government towards change, progress, and towards strengthening our democratic country,” Mr. Coloma said in a separate statement.

“In citing what he has done for the people, the President notes how this has lifted the people’s morale and how their aspirations have been lifted,” Mr. Coloma said.

The government has adopted a new paradigm of reaching out and helping poor families “directly through an integrated approach characterized by convergence of education, employment, housing and social development.”

For his part, House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. said he expects Mr. Aquino to discuss “his accomplishments and further expectations.” Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, in a radio interview, said he expects the President to report on the reforms made during the past five years.

Meanwhile, members of business groups hope Mr. Aquino to reveal his plans for the remaining months of his administration.

“Simple: what this administration wants to implement and institutionalize between today and the 30th of June 2016,” Henry J. Schumacher, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines executive vice-president, said via text message.

John D. Forbes, senior adviser of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said their group would like to hear “what this administration will still accomplish as part of the president’s legacy and hear recommendations for some major reforms that can be done by his successor.”

Palace spokespersons have remained tight-lipped on the theme or contents of the President’s last SONA.

Previous addresses of Mr. Aquino were a litany of his accomplishments, a recap of problems his administration has inherited. The President’s speeches have been informal on occasion, taking swipes at critics for their corruption and anomalies. His speeches have also singled out some government agencies and officials, either lavishing them with praise or excoriating them in public.

Meanwhile, both the Senate and the House of Representatives is expected to focus on two key priority bills for the next three months -- the 2016 national budget and the Malacañang-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before any other bill as sessions resume today.

The two proposed laws have been identified as the top priorities by chamber leaders in their joint meeting held June 23, which forms part of their regular agenda-setting caucus prior to the resumption of legislative sessions.

Mr. Drilon announced last week that Congress leaders have also agreed to prioritize the following measures for approval: the bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology, amendments to the built-operate-transfer law to institutionalize the Public-Private Partnership Center, the modernization of the weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration, and the Freedom of Information Act.

Most of these measures are sought by business leaders from the government as priority reforms.

Apart from the BBL and the budget, Mr. Belmonte said separately he can only vouch for the approval of certain bills which have already secured third reading approval from his chamber.

“[The] budget and most of those we passed already on third reading. BBL, we can still do it,” Mr. Belmonte said via text when asked which measures would have good chances of seeing passage.

Also sought for comment, Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi B. Aggabao said that the House will likely prioritize two economic measures as a follow-up to the enactment of the Philippine Competition Law last week, which is touted by government and business leaders as a good signal to attract more investments here.

“The rationalization of incentives bill and the customs modernization bill would be tops. Both are viewed as intrinsically economic measures because they are expected to increase the tax take of the government if passed,” Mr. Aggabao said in a text message. “To be sure, there are many other economic bills pending deliberation at various levels.”

Mr. Aggabao, however, noted the narrowing window to secure such approvals.

“But owing to the tight schedule of Congress -- there is the budget and BBL measures -- we should be happy if the two above-mentioned bills ripen into law before the 16th Congress adjourns,” he said. 

Source: Business World Online