Here is the transcript of P’Noy’s 5th SONA as published from the Government’s Official Gazette (www.gov.ph):
Vice President Jejomar Binay; President Fidel Valdez Ramos; Senate President Franklin M. Drilon and members of the Senate; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and members of the House of Representatives; Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and our Justices of the Supreme Court; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; members of the Cabinet; officials in local government; members of the military, police, and other uniformed services; my fellow public servants; and, to my Bosses, the Filipino people:
This is my fifth SONA; only one remains. We have a saying: Those who do not look back to the past, will never get to where they wish to go. Therefore, today it is only right for us to reflect on what we have gone through.
This was our situation in the past: To dream was an absurdity. We had a senseless bureaucracy; padded contracts had become the norm; and corruption was endemic to the system. We were known as the “Sick Man of Asia.” The economy was weak; industry was sparse. We failed to gain the confidence of investors. The result: very few jobs were created. We found a people deprived of hope. Many of us had already given up, and were forced to take their chances in other countries. With heads bowed, we had come to accept that we would never be able to rely on our government or our society.
The Philippines sank deep into despair because of dirty politics.Our trust in each other disappeared; the confidence of the world in the Philippines ebbed, and worst of all: we lost faith in ourselves.
It was at this juncture that we began our journey on the straight and righteous path.
As the father of our nation, on my shoulders rest not only the problems that we inherited and the problems that arise today—it is also my duty to prepare for the future. At every moment, I must be mindful of the concerns and perspectives of all. Think about it this way: it is as if you are watching two hundred TV channels at the same time. You need to understand not just what is unfolding before you—you also need to know what happened before, and where it could all lead. Confusion is not an option, and you must have a response for every question, suggestion, and criticism—and you must have all the answers even before the questions are asked. This is not an easy job, and I am only human, one who at times is also capable of feeling apprehension.
In spite of this, my resolve is firm because my primary goal is clear: To return government to its rightful mandate—to serve the Filipino people always. [Applause]
Is it not true that we have a saying: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. An example of this is the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). The Disbursement Acceleration Program contributed 1.6 billion pesos to TESDA’s Training for Work Scholarship Program. This amount enabled the graduation of 223,615 beneficiaries. 66 percent of these—or, 146,731 graduates—now have jobs. As for the remaining 34 percent, TESDA is helping them find employment. Just take a look: All of these scholars have their names and other pertinent data listed down, should you wish to confirm them. [Applause]
If we divide the allocated funding by the number of graduates, we will see that government invested around 7,155 pesos in every scholar. In the BPO sector, a monthly salary of 18,000 is already considered at the low end. Every year, he will earn 234,000 pesos. If he is given the maximum tax deduction, his annual income tax will be: 7,900 pesos. This means that in the first year alone the 7,155 pesos that the government invested in him would have been paid back—and there will even be a profit. This and all the taxes he will be paying the government until he retires will, in turn, provide his countrymen with the same opportunities he was given. This is good governance: [Applause]
The right intentions, practices, and results. Everyone wins.
Let us listen to the stories of two TESDA graduates:
Translated transcript of Testimonial of Marc Joseph Escora, TESDA beneficiary
Even when you’ve realized your dreams, you should know that success, it’s still not stable. You still need to work hard for it.
I am Marc Joseph Escora. I am a high school graduate. Through the help of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority [TESDA], I have my career in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry right now.
I was based in the Libertad public market for seven years. I worked as a barker forpublic transportation vehicles. My family couldn’t afford to put all of us through school, so I needed to find a way to support myself, so I could graduate.
The most important thing I’ve learned is to have the confidence to interact with other people. When people see that you have a disability, they usually won’t be able to see past it, to your abilities. So you need to trust yourself.
If TESDA wasn’t there to help me, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. Our way of living now is much better than how we lived back then.
Translated transcript of Testimonial of Jonnalyn Navarossa, TESDA beneficiary
TESDA helped me finish my studies, find a job, and support my family.
I am Jonnalyn Navarossa, Technical Trainer at Toyota Motor Philippines. I graduated top of Batch 1 of automotive servicing training class at TESDA Region 4-A. I chose to study automotive servicing because I’ve always dreamed of being a mechanical engineer. In order for me to both earn a living and save up, I enrolled at TESDA.
We’re used to thinking that being an auto mechanic is a man’s job. But I’ve proven that as long you work hard, as long as you’re determined, we can ensure quality products. TESDA taught me the value of good, clean, and quality work.
Now, I’m more confident in myself. And it’s much easier to dream bigger.
We launched the Expanded Conditional Cash Transfer Program in June of 2014, with a budget of 12.3 billion pesos. Now, the government will also support the beneficiaries until they are 18 years old. Some will ask, “Why?” According to a study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, a high school graduate earns 40 percent more than someone who was only able to finish grade school.
We are investing in our most valuable resource: The Filipino people. Data from the National Economic Development Authority attests to our success. According to them, the 27.9 percent poverty rate during the first semester of 2012 went down to 24.9 percent for the same period in 2013. These three percentage points are equivalent to 2.5 million Filipinos who have crossed the poverty line. [Applause]
Of course, it is only right that we focus on the needs of the poorest in our society. But we will not stop there. Now that we have greater resources, we are striving to ensure that all those who crossed the poverty line will never go back below it. [Applause]
When we came into office, we found a society that was like a derelict house in which we had no choice but to live. What was even worse: we had virtually no tools and materials with which to repair the damage. Over the past few years, with the help of every Filipino who cared for the well-being of his fellowmen, we have been acquiring the tools and materials we need. One of these tools is a budget focused solely on the needs of the citizenry—a budget we have passed on-time four years in a row. These tools include the laws that have accelerated the bringing of benefits to our bosses.
This is where—under a fair system—the resurgence of our economy began. We were able to save because of prudent fiscal management. We were able to expand the coverage of essential services without raising taxes, apart from Sin Tax reform, whose goal is to reduce vice in society. [Applause]
We worked to have the ability to fund the projects that we implemented, are implementing, and will be implementing. We strengthened tax collections: from 1.094 trillion pesos in collections in 2010, we increased this to 1.536 trillion pesos in 2013. [Applause]
We improved the management of our debt. The result: a decrease in our debt to GDP ratio; money that once went to paying interest, we were able to channel into social services. We were even able to fulfill the obligations of government that we inherited from past administrations. For example: In 1993, or during the administration of President Ramos, the government was required to recapitalize the Central Bank of the Philippines with 50 billion pesos, so that it could fulfill its mandate. President Ramos was able to fund 10 billion pesos and nothing was added since then. 40 billion pesos was the obligation left to us, and we have paid this in full. [Applause]
We worked hard to accumulate the funds government has today, which is why we will not tolerate wasting it. If our Bosses choose the right leaders, succeeding administrations will be able to surpass what we have done because our administration has greatly reduced the number of problems remaining, giving them a stronger foundation from which to begin.
Why do we say a stronger foundation? Just this past 2013, for the first time in history, the Philippines was upgraded to investment grade status by Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard and Poor’s—the three major credit ratings agencies in the world. Through their study of our macroeconomic fundamentals and governance, they determined that there was less risk, which led to a vast increase in confidence on the part of investors. Just this May, they upgraded the Philippines yet again. What this means: Because the Philippines is now investment grade, government will be able to borrow funds for programs and projects at lower interest rates, more businesses will be attracted to invest in our country, and Filipinos will be able to feel the benefits of our economic resurgence more quickly. [Applause]
If anyone were to add up all the investmentsthat came in through the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) since its inception in 1995, they would see that 42 percent of total investments in PEZA came in during the four years of our administration. The remaining 58 percent took 15 years for past administrations to accumulate.We are confident that, before we step down from office, we will be able to match or even surpass this amount. To Director General Lilia de Lima: thank you for all you have done and for all that you will do to achieve this success.
Our economy and our country are indeed taking off, and we are already realizing even greater aspirations. For instance, we inherited a seemingly grounded aviation industry: significant safety concerns had been issued on the Philippines by the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO; we were downgraded by the United States Federal Aviation Administration; and the European Union implemented restrictions against our local carriers.
In 2013, ICAO lifted the significant safety concerns it had previously issued for the Philippines. This was followed, in the same year, by the European Union lifting the ban on Philippine Airlines, allowing it to fly once again to Europe—which means that Filipinos will be able to fly directly from Manila to London.
Naturally, Cebu Pacific will soon follow suit, since they have also received the go signal from the EU in 2014. In this year, as well, the United States Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the Philippines back to Category 1. Because of this upgrade, it is likely that there will also be an increase in routes going to the United States. The increase in flights of our local airlines to the United States and participating countries in the EU is a big help to both tourism and business.
Today, we continue to receive news that, because of all the tourists and businessmen who wish to visit the Philippines, there is actually a shortage of flights to our country. So, all of the upgrades we have received in aviation are indeed good news: The number of flights will rise, thus providing a solution to the problem. And, through the continued cooperation of the CAAP and our local carriers, we will certainly be able to attract more businessmen and tourists in the coming years. This is a win for all those in the tourism sector; this is a win for the Filipino people. Good governance is the source of these upgrades, and we thank Director General William Hotchkiss, the CAAP, and our local carriers for their hard work. [Applause]
Indeed, the Philippines is in the limelight on the global stage. Just this May, when we successfully hosted the World Economic Forum on East Asia, we showed the world just what we were capable of. And with the APEC Summit the Philippines will be hosting next year, we will be able to inform even more people of our progress, and the opportunities that this has opened up for all. There is no doubt: the Philippines is indeed more open for business. [Applause]
Apart from fostering an improved busines climate, we are also pursuing better relations between labor and managment.
Consider this: According to the National Concilation and Mediation Board, since 2010, the number of strikes per year has been limited to less than ten. This is the positive result of the Department of Labor and Employment’s Single entry Approach, or SEnA, through which filed labor cases go through a 30-day conciliation-mediation period. The good news: out of 115 notices of strike and lockout in 2013, only one pushed through. This is the lowest number of strikes in the history of DOLE.
For these achievements, I extend my gratitude to Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, the DOLE family, and the labor and management sectors.
Secretary Baldoz and I were joking in around 2012 that there were two strikes, and in 2013 there was just one. I said, “Linda, in 2014, a half-strike won’t do. Maybe we can strive for no strikes?” [Laughter and applause]
We are well aware that we need infrastructure in order to sustain the momentum of our economy and to continue creating opportunities in the country. Infrastructure will entice businessmen—it will speed up the transport of goods and services, and will help us ensure that we can go head to head with overseas markets.
This sector has seen massive changes: Our budget for infrastructure has more than doubled from the 200.3 billion pesos of 2011 to 404.3 billion pesos this 2014. [Applause]
I remind everyone: we did this without adding any new taxes, apart from the Sin Tax Reform, which is focused on health, while we maintained our allowable deficit, and with our debt-to-GDP ratio continually declining. This has had a profound effect, because we have not only increased the infrastructure budget, we have also plugged leaks in the system, which has ensured that the citizenry is getting more value for its money.
Under the leadership of Secretary Babes Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH): Neither kickbacks nor overpricing is condoned. The loopholes in the old system were plugged, the agency’s processes were streamlined. A simple example would be the removal of Letters of Intent from the bidding process. In the past, these bred a culture of collusion—knowing who was bidding on the same project only created a space for collusion. Another example: The requisite documents from bidders were trimmed to five, from 20. Processes are faster, and there are now fewer opportunities for the unscrupulous to ask for bribes. This allowed the Department to save 28 billion pesos and allowed them to accelerate the implementation of the next projects. [Applause]
To Secretary Babes and the DPWH: Again, thank you very much. [Applause]
It is truly awe-inspiring: In addition to what the DPWH has saved, the roads that they have laid out, fixed, widened, or constructed have amounted to a total of 12,184 kilometers. [Applause]
When I saw these figures, I thought: How can I visualize 12,000 kilometers?
Think of it this way: This is equivalent to four roads that connect Laoag to Zamboanga City. And this just only accounts for the national roads; that number doesn’t include local farm-to-market roads or tourism roads. [Applause]
Now, regarding the Public-Private Partnership program: From December 2011 to just this June, your government has awarded and signed off on seven PPP projects, with a total value of 62.6 billion pesos. In just our four years on the straight path, we have surpassed the combined six approved solicited PPP projects of the past three administrations. [Applause]
The difference between then and now is massive. As Secretary Cesar Purisima said: In the past, the Philippines could not entice investors; then, the government had to roll out incentives like commercial development rights, subsidies, and other guarantees for profit just to attract bidders. Now, the situation has reversed. Companies are now in close competition, trying to outdo each other; they are ready and willing to pay for the privilege to build the infrastructure we need. For example, with the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building, the government has a premium that amounts to more than 14 billion pesos; with the NAIA Expressway Project Phase 2, the government received a premium of 11 billion pesos. Again: Good economics is borne of good governance. [Applause]
Let us take a look at the TPLEX. Because of this road, the journey from Tarlac to Rosales in Pangasinan has become easier. According to the proponents of the project, the segment of the road that reaches Urdaneta will be completed before the year ends. And by next year, the TPLEX will have extended to the end of Rosario, La Union. [Applause]
Infrastructure projects that long ago had been promised by other administrations, we have been able to turn into concrete reality. The Aluling Bridge, which was conceived in 1978, is finally open to the public. Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, part of the Metro Manila Expressway project from the 1970s, was launched this January. Those who traverse Osmeña Highway can attest to how speedily its columns are being constructed. The Ternate-Nasugbu Road, the plans for which started to be laid out in 1994, is now 100% complete. [Applause]
The Basilan Circumferential Road, which has been under construction since 2000, will soon be completed. These are but a few of the infrastructure projects that we do not intend to pass on as problems to succeeding administrations; instead, our Bosses have already begun to make use of them.
Again, because of good governance, we now have a greater capacity to find solutions to problems that are on the horizon. For example: water. We all know that as our population grows and as our economy continues on its upward trajectory, the country will need a greater water supply in the coming years. According to some studies, there may be a shortage of water in Metro Manila by 2021. We will not wait for a drought: The solutions that experts have studied assiduously, we have already approved—the Kaliwa Dam Project in Quezon, and the repair of the lines of Angat Dam. These solutions are significantly better than sourcing water from underground aquifers, which are more easily penetrated by saltwater. On top of this, if we were to rely solely on aquifers, then we would only hasten the sinking of land—which would contribute to flooding.
Together with the dams for Metro Manila and its outlying cities, we are providing support to those in the provinces. We have also approved the Water District Development Sector Project, under the Local Water Utilities Administration. [Applause]
You may have already heard of our largest PPP project—the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike. [Applause]
—for which bidding will open before the end of 2014. This is a project that will yield numerous benefits. First: flooding in nearby areas will lessen. Today, when water levels of the Laguna Lake reach 12.5 meters, surrounding communities will be flooded. The solution: a dike with a height of more than 15 meters. Second: the water of Laguna Lake will be cleaner. Third: Less traffic. An expressway will be built on top of the dike, which will extend from Los Baños to Taguig. When the C-6 road that will connect to San Jose Del Monte is completed, we will have another route that will allow us to travel through Metro Manila without passing through EDSA. [Applause]
With the cooperation of the private sector, the only obligations we have in this project are for the right-of-way; and a portion of the reclaimed land will serve as payment for the highest bidder. Because of this,we will get what we need, while spending less in the process.
These are only a few examples of the projects that are in the pipeline, and that will soon bring benefits to our Bosses. Might I add—there are many more: the NEDA Board has likewise approved the Laoag City Bypass Link Road Project; the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit Project; and the LRT Line 1 South Extension and Line 2 East Extension. For those of our countrymen from Palawan: Apart from the projects for the Puerto Princesa Airport, there is also the Busuanga Airport to look forward to. We have likewise given the go signal for the construction of phase one of the modern Clark Green City in Capas, Tarlac, that will certainly serve as a center for commerce and industry, not only of Central Luzon, but also of the entire country. At the end of the day, our vision for Clark Green City is that it becomes even bigger than the Bonifacio Global City. Formerly isolated places will now become areas teeming with opportunity.
Through good governance, we have been regaining the trust of the market, of the world, and of our own people, in government. This is creating a virtuous cycle: Seeing the results of our reform agenda has spurred the active participation of each and every one of our Bosses. Indeed: today the government is not alone in pushing for widespread and meaningful reform. It is true that you are our strength. [Applause]
This is why, Boss: We thank you for your trust and your solidarity, both of which have become even more significant in the times when we were faced with tragedies that came to us, one after the other.
In September of 2013, lawless elements attacked Zamboanga; our countrymen who had been living peaceful lives there were used as human shields, their homes were burned down. This crisis tested the caliber of our uniformed services. Urban combat is considered the most complex kind of combat; in spite of this, our troops were able to save 195 of the 197 Filipinos caught in the conflict. We salute our countrymen in the uniformed services: Your sacrifice paved way for the victory of the Filipino people. [Applause]
Following the incident, we gave Secretary Singson the responsibility of overseeing the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure in Zamboanga. The first priority: to provide shelter to our countrymen who lost their homes to fire. This is exactly what we are doing under the Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery and Reconstruction. By this coming August, affected families can begin to move into permanent housing units in Martha Drive Subdivision. We also aim to complete the construction of 7,176 housing units in other areas by June of next year. I must ask for your understanding. There were many problems surrounding the land for resettlement—problems we had to address. On top of this: We also had to make sure that the houses that would be built would be in accordance to the beliefs and culture of the beneficiaries; these will not be ordinary houses. On the other hand, to the 1,661 families that wish to build back or repair their own homes, 30,000 pesos worth of Home Materials Assistance is now being distributed.
We have set aside 3.5 billion pesos for the rehabilitation of infrastructure, the purchasing of lots, the construction of permanent houses, and other types of assistance for Zamboanga. 2.57 billion pesos from this fund has already been released to the NHA and DPWH.
A few weeks after the crisis in Zamboanga, Central Visayas was rocked by an earthquake, which left Bohol the most devastated. In the midst of a calamity, we witnessed just what could be achieved when our people come together to respond to the challenges brought by a disaster. For instance, just one week after the earthquake, electricity was restored in Tagbilaran and in all the municipalities of Bohol. [Applause]
Now, each of the 25 critical roads and bridges destroyed by the earthquake are passable. 3.583 billion pesos has already been released for the rehabilitation of Bohol and Cebu. [Applause]
Part of this is the 2.49 billion pesos that the DILG provided to the local government for the reconstruction of markets, civic centers, bridges, water systems, municipal halls, and other government facilities.
Before the end of 2013, Yolanda made landfall. It was the strongest typhoon in history, affecting 1.47million families and 44 out of our 81 provinces. In Eastern Visayas, where the damage was most severe, so many issues required immediate attention.
The immense strength of the storm paralyzed many LGUs that were hit directly. The relief goods we prepositioned were swept away, which is why relief had to come from areas farther away. The delivery of aid was made all the more difficult by the destruction of infrastructure. There was no electricity, roads were impassable, and almost all of the trucks and heavy equipment that our first responders needed had been destroyed in the areas most affected by Yolanda.There was no gasoline, and there was no communication.
It required an enormous amount of solidarity to assist affected families, take care of the wounded and of those who lost loved ones, and make certain that there would be no outbreak of disease, among many other responsibilities. Let us look at the delivery of food as an example: It was not just a matter of buying rice and canned goods. We needed repacking centers, several trucks, and boats that would bring aid to affected provinces. When the relief goods arrived, we had to be sure that the roads to the affected areas were cleared, and that the trucks had enough gas to return home, and load even more of our food packs.
Your government wasted no time in responding. We immediately cleared the airport, which is why, within 24 hours after the storm, three C130s were able to bring in aid. On that same day, we were also able to set up a communications hub to hasten the flow of information. On the second day, the Department of Health’s Rapid Health Assessment teams arrived, as well as additional soldiers, policemen, and BFP personnel from other provinces. Likewise, workers from DSWD lead relief operations—in the distribution centers in Eastern Visayas or in repacking centers all around the country.
In a span of two days, the Leyte water district resumed operations; on the third day, the first gas station opened. The main roads were immediately cleared. By the 22nd of November, which was two weeks after the storm, the one millionth food pack was distributed to the victims; we had cleared 35,162 cubic meters of debris from these roads through which the relief will be transported; and 3,426 kilometers of National Roads had already been cleared and were passable. At present, we are repairing the 108.8 kilometers of destroyed roads, bridges, approaches, and landslide prone areas. By Christmas Day of 2013, all municipalities affected by the calamity had been electrified. [Applause]
We took an emergency room mindset; the state utilized its full strength to stabilize the patient in the soonest possible time. I extend my gratitude to the members of the Cabinet, who led the government response in the affected communities. Secretary Cesar Purisima, along with Secretary Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, organized the logistics in the repacking center, taking on the role of warehouse operator. [Applause]
Secretary Greg Domingo of the Department of Trade and Industry became the country’s head purchasing agent, while Secretary Linda Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment served as a call center operator for all those who wished to help. [Applause]
I also thank Secretary Jun Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications, who dispatched our transportation; Secretary Dinky Soliman, who proved that she was worthy of being the country’s chief relief worker; and Secretaries Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government and Secretary Volts Gazmin of the Department of National Defense, who were on the disaster frontline, giving marching orders to our uniformed services. [Applause]
To the members of our Cabinet, thank you.
To our friends and neighbors around the world: Your outpouring of solidarity will never be forgotten by a grateful Filipino people. Again, on their behalf, we thank you. [Applause]
Perhaps, given the Filipino people’s readiness to render assistance to the best of our abilities—a characteristic embodied by our OFWs, peacekeepers, and all our other countrymen abroad—when the world saw that we were in need, they saw fit to come to our aid. Today, we express once more our gratitude to all of you, and to all the Filipinos who have offered their prayers and their support, whether here, or in other parts of the world. [Applause]
Our work did not end there. We implemented livelihood interventions, to ensure that those of our countrymen who survived the typhoon could recover at the soonest possible time. This July, 221,897 jobs were created after we turned over boats, fishing and farming equipment, seeds, and livestock to our countrymen. This includes those Filipinos to whom we paid salaries for participating in the cash for work program.
Perhaps everyone can agree that Yolanda left in its wake a massive problem. According to international standards, whenever a calamity of this scale takes place, it normally takes a country one year before it transitions from relief to rehabilitation. However, in just a span of eight months, the United Nations declared the Philippines to be in the rehabilitation state. In fact, Mr. Yuri Afanasiev of the United Nations Development Program said, “We have never seen a recovery happen so quickly. And many of us have been in many different disasters.” [Applause]
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