President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III delivered his first State of the Nation Address in a manner where he spoke in the vernacular which is closer to the understanding of the people he talks to. In this language, he was able to freely express his grievances and was able to deliver with ease the discoveries the past administration has left him behind.
From a student’s point of view, it seemed that majority of the issues discussed in his first SONA are the anomalies involving the Arroyo government and its midnight appointees. It seemed to be a speech where he has an exposé against the past administration’s abuse of power, and he unfolded it in front of millions of Filipinos watching.
He talked about the mishandling of public funds, specifically the 2010 budget which is now only 100 billion pesos from its original worth of 1.54 trillion pesos. This is roughly 6.5% of the total budget amended by the Congress. Our government expenditures also surpassed the target collection and furthermore increased our nation’s deficit to 196.7 billion pesos. Taking into perspective, there have only been three typhoons that have passed the Philippine Area of Responsibility from January to July this year, but the country has already spent 1.4 billion pesos of its calamity fund worth two billion pesos, and the rainy season has yet to take its toll on our land. Allegedly, the Arroyo administration anticipated calamities and gave the lion’s share of 108 million pesos to the province of Pampanga, with 105 million of it going to one district only. It was best underlined by the statement of P-Noy saying, “Pagbabayaran ng kinabukasan ang kasakiman ng nakaraan.”
The President also revealed the irregularities in the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System or MWSS where it’s Board of Trustees are acquiring superfluous amount of salary, amounting to 51.4 million pesos, which excludes their benefits like mid-year bonus, productivity bonus, anniversary bonus, year-end bonus, Financial Assistance, and Christmas bonus, among others. Despite this figure, the MWSS fails to support and give pensions for their retired employees.
The Department of Public Works and Highways also has been plagued by the proposed 246 priority safety projects, which has been allotted 425 million pesos, and only 28 of these has been finished. 70 unplanned projects have replaced the others that have been disregarded, and these projects are proved to have gone to waste and were never made of use.
It was also stated that the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) sell electricity at a losing price from 2001 to 2004 in order to prevent electricity rates from rising. Because of this, NAPOCOR slumped deeply in debt, and the government was forced to shoulder the 200 billion pesos it owed. It also obligated the Landbank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines to purchase the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), which was also on the brink of bankruptcy just to obtain the people’s awe.