Aquino seeks end to political dynasties


PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino on Monday sought the passage of the Anti-Dynasty Law, saying it was wrong to let corrupt individuals or families remain in public office.

In his sixth and final State of the Nation as the country’s 15th president, Aquino, 55, who himself hails from a family long steeped in politics, said he has changed his previous position opposing “depriving a person the right to run for office, just because he had a famous family name.”

He said he used to think: “Why would we pass legislation to stop a person who really wants to be a public servant?”

In including the passage of an Anti-Dynasty Law among his list of priority legislation, Aquino said:

[quote]But I have realized: There is something inherently wrong in giving a corrupt family or individual the chance at an indefinite monopoly of public office. It is exactly for that reason that, when someone suggested that I stay on as President, even just for three more years, I myself argued against it. If I agreed to this suggestion, I would open the door for such a practice to be repeated in the future. And we cannot be certain if the person who will succeed me will possess sincere intentions—he may instead choose to lord it over our people to pursue his personal interest.[/quote]

The Aquino government has filed graft and other criminal cases against members of political families, including Vice President Jejomar Binay’s wife and son, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines bans political dynasties. Article II Section 26 states, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

Congress, long dominated by members of political clans, has never passed the enabling legislation.

In the speech, the President also asked Congress to pass the following urgent measures:

  • Bangsamoro Basic Law
  • Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives
  • Unified Uniformed Personnel Pension Reform Bill
  • 2016 National Budget

He devoted a large chunk of his speech to listing his accomplishments:

FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION: Culture of “wang-wang” in society stopped; men and women with integrity and independent minds appointed, including Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, COA Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima

GOVERNMENT OWNED AND CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS: Dividends collected in five years reached P131.86 billion, compared to P84.18 billion collected by the nine-year Arroyo presidency

TAX COLLECTION: P1.3 trillion collected in 2014, surpassing far more the highest collection on record of P778.6 billion in 2008

NATIONAL BUDGET: No reenacted General Appropriations Act

ECONOMY: Philippines now called “Asia’s Rising Tiger,” “Asia’s Rising Star,” and “Asia’s Bright Spot”’; GDP grew at an average 6.2 percent

INVESTMENTS: Net foreign direct investment up from $1.07 billion in 2010 to $6.2 billion in 2014; domestic investments up from P1.24 trillion from 2003 to 2010 to P2.09 trillion from the third quarter of 2010 to 2014

MANUFACTURING: Growth of 3 percent annually between 2001 and 2009, to 8 percent from 2010 to 2014

EMPLOYMENT: Unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent in 2014, the lowest in a decade. Number of overseas Filipinos declined from 9.51 million in 2011 to 9.07 million in 2014 because they’re returning home and finding work

LABOR RELATIONS: Number of strikes dropped from 199 during the Arroyo administration to 15

PANTAWID PAMILYANG PILIPINO PROGRAM: More than 4.4 million households covered in the program compared to 786,523 households in 2010; 333,673 graduated from high school, from the first batch of beneficiaries

BASIC EDUCATION: Backlog 66,800 classrooms and 145,827 teachers eliminated; 73.9 million textbooks delivered with additional 88.7 million this year, and 1.6 million school seats with additional 1.6 million before the end of 2015

TECHNICAL-VOCATIONAL TRAINING: 7.8 million graduated from courses overseen by TESDA, including 821,962 from the Training for Work Scholarship Program

HEALTH: PhilHealth beneficiaries almost doubled since 2010, from 47 million to 89.4 million; program exempting family from the poorest 40 percent of the population from paying for treatment in public hospitals expanded

CADASTRAL SURVEY: Completed, after almost a century

ELECTRIFICATION: 25,257 communities provided power through the Sitio Electrification Program identified through this inventory; 93 percent of sitios energized

AVIATION: Safety concerns imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization lifted; flights to Europe resumed; Philippines upgraded to Category 1 by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

SEAFARING: EU continues to recognize Philippine maritime education certificates

MRT: Upgrading scheduled to be completed during his presidency

ARMED FORCES: 56 projects for modernization completed, compared to Arroyo’s 45; three functional C-130 from just one in 2010 with two more to be procured; arrival of first of three C-295 medium lift transports, with two more arriving; expected delivery of two light lift transports this year; increase in the number of landing craft utilities from four to 10; acquisition of 12 FA-50 fighters to replace F5 fighter jets retired in 2005, and war ships (BRP Gregorio del Pilar and the Ramon Alcaraz), seven of 13 AW-109 helicopters, six of eight Bell-412 helicopters, 617 troop carrier trucks, and 50,629 assault rifles

POLICE: Oplan Lambat-Sibat implemented in Metro Manila; 163,000 people on wanted list apprehended, more than 1,000 gangs neutralized, and 29,294 unlicensed guns confiscated; murder and homicide cases in Metro Manila down from 37 cases a week to 23 cases, and robberies, thefts, and carnapping incidents from 919 to 444

INFRASTRUCTURE: Construction of long-awaited infrastructure projects such as the Lullutan Bridge in Isabela, Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project in Iloilo, Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project Phase 2 in Tarlac, Basilan Circumferential Road, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway or TPLEX, Phase 2 of the STAR Toll; repair and maintenance of flood control projects, including the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project Phase 2

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS: 50 projects from six of the past three administrations

FISHERIES: Yellow card warning imposed by the European Union on the Philippines lifted and ban on fish exports prevented

The President acknowledged his shortcomings:

[quote]My bosses, I will admit: I am not perfect. There were times when I was let down by people whom I believed knew how to do their jobs. During moments when those sowing doubt seemed to succeed, perhaps we were unable to share the needed information in a timely and appropriate manner. In these matters, I ask for your understanding[/quote].

But he said he did his best:

[quote]Nevertheless, I can look anyone in the eye and say: I made the best decisions based on the information and the capacities we possessed at the time. My one and only interest is the well-being of my Bosses. I did all I could to forge a nation that is more just and more progressive—one that enjoys the fruits of meaningful change. I will let history decide. As I did during my mother’s wake, I will once again speak the words from 2 Timothy, Chapter 4, Verse 7. And I quote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” [/quote]

Read the transcript of SONA 2015 in Filipino and in English. — Yvonne T. Chua