Posts Tagged ‘Pres. Benigno Aquino III’

This is good news, Pres. Aquino declaring the holidays for 2013 early.  Now you can plan your trips and vacations for next year.

A. Regular Holidays
New Year’s Day
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Araw ng Kagitingan
January 1 (Tuesday)
March 28
March 29
April 9 (Tuesday)
Labor Day
Independence Day
National Heroes Day
Bonifacio Day
Christmas Day
Rizal Day
May 1 (Wednesday)
June 12 (Wednesday)
August 26 (Last Monday of August)
November 30 (Saturday)
December 25 (Wednesday)
December 30 (Monday)
B. Special (Non-Working) Days
Black Saturday
Ninoy Aquino Day
All Saints Day
Additional special (non-working days)  Last Day of the Year
March 30
August 21 (Wednesday)
November 1 (Friday)
November 2 (Saturday)
December 24 (Tuesday)
December 31 (Tuesday)
C. Special Holiday (for all schools)
EDSA Revolution Anniversary February 25 (Monday)

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I watched this from beginning to end – the requiem mass, the 19 gun salute, Pres. PNoy’s eulogy/tribute  but Leni’s response as recorded in this video is the one I love best. He was an ideal father, an ideal husband, a  man who loved  his family and found time to be with them despite his being busy with his government post as Secretary of DILG. The President conferred  on him a posthumous Philippine Legion of Honor, with the rank of Chief Commander,  and presented it to his wife, Atty. Leni Robredo.

You can never put a good man down. He will always occupy a special place in your heart.

I salute you SEC. ROBREDO for making us so proud that good governance is not lost in our country. May this be a wake-up call to those government officials who only think of their own selfish motives instead of sincerely serving the people. It’s never too late to put into action what they promised to do and serve the Filipino people with sincerity just like you did.

(Thank you ABS CBN for sharing these videos).

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I love to address the first few lines to those Filipinos who have nothing in mind but to badmouth everything that is happening in our present government. It’s as if they are all perfect and they exactly know how to run our country  and offer viable solutions and make the Philippines  a country we could all be proud of. If you are so smart enough, why don’t you  offer solutions to the problems besetting every one of us, why do you just stay in the sidelines and let yourself rant and whine or is that your way of pulling down the rest of us who still feel optimistic that there is a great chance for us to achieve our goals as one collective voice? Such a pathetic attitude. I didn’t vote for PNoy but I believe that he has that sincere desire to make it work. At saan ba nag-uumpisa kundi  dapat sa malinis at hindi corrupt na gobyerno?

It was delivered in Tagalog  which is more easily understood by Juan dela Cruz.  It took all of an hour  and a half, with around 115  applause in between, not that the applause matters much but  there are highlights in his speech that  are really worth-admiring for want of a better word. Walang hindi makakaya ang nagkakaisang Pilipino, he said. Nothing is impossible to a united Filipino nation. How true, we dreamed of a change, we dreamed of a corrupt-free government run by honest people we elected in office. He mentioned about responsible parenthood in relation to the shortages of classrooms, school chairs and books and it was the most applauded highlight of his speech. I wonder though if it equates to the controversial RH Bill which I hope will never be passed into law. There is a continuing opposition on the part of the Catholic Church. But I guess, responsible parenthood does not necessarily mean that you have to use  contraceptives, I take it to mean that you can plan your family the natural way so you can give them a good future in the end. It’s up to individual couple to observe the natural means (without using drastic measures to prevent conception) of family planning – that’s responsible parenthood for me. You can’t measure a progress of one nation by curtailing  a younger  generation which is the hope of a country’s future. And here’s Pres. Aquino’s stand on responsible parenthood.

He touched on economic reforms, agriculture, flood control, health care and the stable rise of the price index in  the stock market, tourism,  rehabilitation of NAIA 3, infrastructures, agrarian reform, criminality and strengthening the Armed Forces.  He has  a good vision for the Philippines which he wants in place before he leaves by 2016. They are doable as long as he stay focused and put it all into action. For now, the challenge remains but I am sure that if he has our support, everything is possible. It would have been more significant if he touched on the plight of our OFWs who for the past several years were  helping the government through their dollar remittances. Rising cost of commodities, fuel and electricity should also be given importance because they are everyday necessities for Juan  dela Cruz to survive.

Overall, the SONA was  very good, may he continue his unblemished records  for the past two years as far as corruption is concerned. We really need a president who is clean, honest and not corrupt. Ituloy ang matuwid na daan, we are following you.

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It’s been my dream to blog in Tagalog. Although I speak the language fluently, I still find it easier expressing myself in English. I feel though that the title of this post sounds better in Tagalog than in English. It simply means, “What does a billion dollar coffee taste like?”

For those of you who have read PNoy’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) which he delivered last Monday, July 25, 2011, you’ve probably noticed his mentioning what the Commission on Audit found out about the more than a billion worth of coffee spent by PAGCOR in all its 12 branches of operation.  This has a particular impact on a nation whose lower percentage of the population is  barely on a hand-to-mouth existence. Allow me to quote his exact words . I won’t attempt to translate them here because I have previously posted both versions of the SONA earlier.

Ang totoo nga po, marami pang kalokohan ang nahalungkat natin. Halimbawa, sa PAGCOR: kape. Isang bilyong piso po ang ginastos ng dating pamunuan ng ahensya para sa kape; sa isandaang piso na lang po kada tasa, lalabas na nakakonsumo sila ng sampung milyong tasa. Baka po kahit ngayong iba na ang pamunuan ng PAGCOR ay dilat na dilat pa rin ang mata ng mga uminom ng kapeng ito. Hanapin nga po natin sila, at matanong: nakakatulog pa po ba kayo?

My gosh, a billion worth of coffee! I was telling my friends that perhaps, it’s a gold coffee in a gold cup. Later reports say that it was overpriced by 70%. How can a government agency spend that much on coffee alone?  On valued clients, maybe?

As usual, there are more negative remarks about the SONA than positive ones. Doomsayers never believe that the Philippines would be able to lift itself up again. They always think that the success of one nation depends on its government alone, more particularly its president. I ask you, as I have always asked before in my previous blogs about such similar subject, are you doing your share? And is there a perfect SONA that would cover all aspects in one hour delivery? Do you expect the president to be a magician and wave his magic wand and all the problems of the nation will be solved in a year? Aren’t  we asking too much?

Our nation is like a victim of typhoon Ondoy or typhoon Juaning for that matter. There was a devastation, read – corruption in massive amounts that we could not even imagine.  We need a complete clean-up in order to start on a clean slate and do what is necessary. PNoy couldn’t have expressed it better when he said:

Ang mali—gaano katagal man ito nanatili—ay mali pa rin. Hindi puwedeng “Oks lang, wala lang iyan.” Kapag kinalimutan natin ang mga ito, mangyayari lang ulit ang mga kamalian ng nakaraan. Kung hindi magbabayad ang mga nagkasala, parang tayo na rin mismo ang nag-imbita sa mga nagbabalak gumawa ng masama na umulit muli.

Just my thoughts…what’s yours?

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Pardon if the translation on the above quote is not exactly right but that sums up PNoy’s speech in his Unang Taon, Ulat Sa Bayan which he delivered at around 4pm yesterday at the Philippine Sports Arena in Pasig City. Of course he has yet to deliver his second SONA, a more detailed description on what has changed and what he has done during his first year in office.

Ulat sa Bayan was just that, some good news on what happened the past year. Many people think that he hasn’t done anything that they could see clearly. If ever there is, they are not affected by it. I didn’t vote for PNoy although I admire his parents to the hilt. This is not the first time that I blogged about the Aquinos – from Ninoy to PNoy to Cory to Kris, the most visible and popular members of the clan. I felt that he was not yet ripe for the presidency but he got my nod and approval when he made his first SONA promising to curve if not to completely eliminate corruption in the government.  I believe it was not just a lip service on his part because he is honest and trustworthy. Granting he is still learning the ropes and adjusting to the gargantuan problems that he inherited from the past administration, at least let us give him the chance to prove himself.  One year is not enough, right? Laying the ground rules, being after the big fish who are  continuously emptying the coffers of the government is no mean feat.

Ang sinabi ko po noon: Pilipino, kasama mo ako. Itutuwid natin ang baluktot, tatanggalin natin ang tiwali, at itatama natin ang mali.

He reaffirmed his commitment to fight corruption.  Some of his detractors are so outspoken about what they think  and how they assess his one year in office.  Their negativity is rubbing off on other people, all they do is whine and complain. And here’s my question to all of you,  what are you doing to help our country rise  again, a country we can be proud of? Are you doing your share or just contented with finding faults instead of finding ways to help? If you can honestly say that you do, then I salute you.

Let us  all be counted, let us  do our share to make this country a better one. Be proud you are Pinoy!

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Kagalang-galang Benigno S. Aquino III
Pangulo ng Pilipinas

Sa anibersayo ng kanyang panunumpa bilang pangulo

[Inihayag sa PhilSports Arena, Pasig City noong ika-30 ng Hunyo 2011]

Mga minamahal ko pong kababayan,

Isang taon na rin nga po pala ang lumipas. Naaalala pa po kaya ng lahat ang pinagdaananan na po natin? Dati, kapag nakarinig ka ng wangwang sa kalsada, wala ka nang magawa, hindi ho ba, kundi tumabi. Ang pinakamatayog mong pangarap ay makakuha ng VISA para makapagtrabaho sa ibang bansa. Matutulog ka nang mahimbing sana, ngunit gigisingin ka ng bahang halos umabot na sa iyong higaan, dahil wala man lang babalang ipinaabot sa iyo ang PAGASA. Ilan po ba sa atin ang sumuko na at nagsabing wala na sigurong makakamit na hustisya ang limampu’t pitong Pilipinong minasaker sa Maguindanao?

Naalala po ba ninyo ang panahon kung kailan kapag may maririnig kang masamang balita, ‘di mo man lang makuhang umiling dahil alam mong may mas masahol pang parating? Noon, sabay-sabay ang mga Pilipinong nagbuntong-hininga: tiisin na lang natin, tutal patapos na rin naman ito. ‘Di po ba’t nabigla tayong lahat nang umangat ang ekonomiya bago mag-eleksyon noong isang taon—iyon po pala, kaya umangat, nakaantabay na, hindi lang tayo kundi ang buong mundo, sa pagbaba ng administrasyong Arroyo, at sa napipintong pagtatapos ng kalbaryo ng Pilipino. ‘Di po ba’t parang kahapon lang nang iabot ninyo sa akin ang naghihingalong liwanag ng pag-asa, at tinawag ninyo ako upang ipaglaban ang atin pong daang matuwid?

Sa panahon pong tinawag ako ng taumbayan, ni isang karatula o polyeto ay wala pa po akong naiimprenta, dahil alam naman po n’yo, wala po talaga akong kabalak-balak tumakbo. Hindi ko po inambisyon na sagupain ang dambuhalang problema na ipapamana ni Ginang Arroyo—mga problemang pilit kong hinadlangan noong nasa Kamara de Representantes tayo, at sa Senado pa lang ako. At nakita ko na rin naman, sa karanasan ng pumanaw kong ina, kung gaano kabigat ang tungkulin maging isang Pangulo, lalo pa kung mamanahin niya ay sistemang nilapastangan. Tinanong ko ang aking sarili: kakayanin ko kayang kumpunihin ang lahat ng ito?

Malalim ang pagmumuning dinaanan ko bago tumugon sa inyong panawagan. Ngunit nang abutan po ako ng garapong puno ng barya para lamang makatulong sa kampanya; nang salubungin ako ng madlang ‘di man lamang makabili ng payong na panangga sa init ng araw; nang sinabi ninyo sa aking hindi ako nag-iisa—hindi ko po itong masikmurang tanggihan. Hindi ko po kinayang sabihin na, “pasensya na kayo, naduduwag po ako, at gusto ko pa sanang humaba ang buhay ko.” Ang sinabi ko po noon: Pilipino, kasama mo ako. Itutuwid natin ang baluktot, tatanggalin natin ang tiwali, at itatama natin ang mali.

Narito po tayo ngayon, isang taon matapos markahan ang wakas ng pamahalaang bulag at bingi sa hinaing ng kanyang mamamayan. Ipinasa po sa atin ang isang tahanang lumulundo ang kisame at bitak-bitak ang mga pader. Kinahoy na nga po ang mga muwebles, ipinangutang pa ang pamalit. Ang masaklap niyan, alam kong mamanahin natin ang mga utang na iyon, sampu ng lahat ng dumi na ikinalat nila.

Ang pinangangambahan nating pangit na daratnan, mas sukdulan at kasuklam-suklam pa pala ang tunay na kalagayan. Halimbawa: mula taong 1972 hanggang taong 2000, umabot sa 12.9 billion pesos ang utang ng NFA. Nang dumating si Ginang Arroyo, sa loob lamang po ng isang taon, o 2001, naiangat niya ang utang na iyan sa 18 bilyong piso. Ulitin ko lang po: Mula 12, isang taon na lumipas, naging 18 bilyong piso ang pagkakautang ng NFA. Hindi pa po siya nakuntento; pagbaba niya sa puwesto, ‘yung dating 12 billion na minana niya, nasa 177 billion pesos na po ang utang na ipinamana sa ating lahat. Isanlibong porsyento at mahigit pa ang itinaas ng utang ng NFA: record-breaking po talaga ang ginawa nilang pagbabaon sa atin sa utang, hindi ho ba?

Ganitong uri ng administrasyon ang humihikayat sa ating kilalanin ang kanilang mga nagawa, at tumuntong sa kanilang mga balikat. Ganitong uri ng administrasyon ang nagsasabing wala daw pagbabago, at sa malalim na bangin lamang tayo dadalhin ng tuwid na daan. Magpapaloko po pa ba tayo sa pagpupumilit nilang padudahin tayo, para sa pagkalito natin, magkaroon ng puwang na bumalik ang lumang sistema?

Hindi na po ako magsasayang ng panahon para makipagbangayan sa kanila. Nagpapasalamat na lamang po ako sa pag-amin ni Ginang Arroyo na ‘di umano’y kabaliktaran raw niya ako. Sa wakas, magkasundo rin po kami. Talagang magkabaliktad po kami.

Dahil hindi na nga po ako sasagot, hahayaan ko na lamang tumugon ang 21,800 pamilya ng sundalo at kapulisan na maaari na ngayong magkaroon ng disenteng tahanan bago matapos ang taong ito.

Dalawang linggo po, o halos dalawang linggo, inaasahan ko na tutuparin ng NHA na 4,000 doon sa unang 21,000 iyan ang ipagkakaloob na natin sa mga nararapat na kawani po ng gobyerno na bibilang sa hanay ng kapulisan at kasundaluhan—at umpisa pa lang ho iyan.

Hahayaan ko na lang tumugon ang mga maralitang kababayan nating nakarehistro na sa Conditional Cash Transfer program. Apat na araw mula ngayon, sasaksihan ko po mismo ang paglagda ng ika-dalawang milyong benepisyaryo ng CCT. Uulitin ko lang po, two million na po ang na-i-enroll natin sa CCT pagdating ng July 4.

Hahayaan ko na lang din pong tumugon ang halos 240,000 magsasaka na nakikinabang na ngayon sa mahigit 2,000 kilometrong farm-to-market roads na nailatag natin sa loob lamang ng isang taon.

Sila nga po ang tanungin natin? ‘Di ba’t malinaw ang pagbabago? Noon pong isang taon, barko-barkong toneladang bigas ang inaangkat, at katakut-takot din ang gastusin sa mga bodegang pinagtatambakan nito. 1.3 million metric tons lang po ang kailangan natin pampuno sa kakulangan ng ating ani, pero umangkat sila ng dalawang milyong metriko tonelada. Ngayon po, halos kalahati na lang ang inaangkat nating 660,000 metriko tonelada.

Hindi po tayo nag-magic para dumami ang bigas na inaani natin dito: itinutok lang po natin ang pondo ng irigasyon sa kung saan ito pinakamura at mabisa; pinalawak ang paggamit ng maiging klase ng binhi; at pinalawig din ang upland rice farming. Lahat po ito, nagdulot ng dagdag na labinlimang porsyento sa ating inani noong huling taon, at ng pinakamataas na ani sa kasaysayan ng dry season cropping. Pasensya na po kayo, bihira lang ako magtayo ng sariling bangko: 1.3 million tons kulang natin taon-taon. Itong unang taon natin, ang aangkatin 800,000—para may konting reserve—perso 600,000 tons na lang ang kakailanganin natin. (Kailangan pong i-irrigate ang atin pong lalamunan.) Palagay ko po, sa 2013, talagang pupurihin ko kaliwa’t kanan si Secretary Alcala ‘pag totoo nga po na self-sufficient sa rice na tayo sa 2013.

Noon pong isang taon, ilan po ba sa atin ang nangahas mangarap na ang bigas na ating isasaing, dito rin sa Pilipinas itatanim, aanihin, at bibilhin. Mukhang pong matutupad nga: nasabi ko nang ipinangako ni Secretary Proceso Alcala (dinidiin ko po para maalala natin lahat kung sino nangako) na bago matapos ang 2013, hindi na natin kailangan pang mag-angkat ng bigas mula sa ibang bansa.

Mantakin po ninyo: dahil sa tamang paggugol at pagtapal sa mga sugat sa sistema na tinatagasan ng pera ng bayan, nakalikom tayo ng dagdag na pondo upang magpatupad ng mga programang higit pa sa napaglaanang pondo sa ating General Approprations Act. Nagawa natin itong walang itinataas na buwis. Labindalawang bilyong piso na po ang tumutustos sa ating mga pangangailangan: mula sa Pantawid Pasada sa mga pampublikong sasakyan na tinamaan ng pagtaas ng presyo ng langis; hanggang sa pampasahod ng 10,000 nurse na nakadestino sa mga maralitang lalawigan; mula sa pambili ng mga modernong barko na magtatanod sa ating mga baybayin; hanggang sa marami pang ibang mga programa at proyektong totoong napapakinabangan ng kabuoan ng atin pong bansa.

Isipin na lang po ninyo kung hinayaan lang natin ang walang-saysay na paglustay sa kaban ng bayan. Baka po naglalakad na lang ang mga tsuper natin. Baka po ang mga nakaratay sa mga lalawigan ay nananatili pang ngumunguya ng dahon para lunasan ang kanilang mga karamdaman. At baka po patuloy na ngang miski mga isda ay hindi man lang masindak sa ating Hukbong Pandagat.

Pabahay, bigas, seguridad, pasahod, kalsada, pantawid pasada, at salbabida para sa mga kababayan nating nilulunod ng kahirapan: iyan po ang pagbabagong inaani natin ngayon. Alam naman po ninyo, hindi naman po natin nahukay ang kayamanan ni Yamashita para maipatupad ang mga ito. Hinabol lang po natin ang mga tiwali sa gobyerno, itinama natin ang pag-gugol ng pera, at itinuwid natin ang mga baluktot sa sistema.

Tingnan nga po lang natin ang ginawa nila sa Philippine National Construction Corporation: ni hindi nga po nila magawang mag-remit ng disenteng kita sa taumbayan, may kapal ng mukha pa silang umentuhan ang kanilang mga sarili. Limang pahina po ang memo na ipinasa sa akin ng bagong mga opisyal ng PNCC, na nagdedetalye ng mga katiwaliang kanilang naungkat at isinasaayos: mula sa mga walang-katuturang posisyon na pinasasahuran ng kalahating milyon kada buwan, hanggang sa mga cellphone plan na wala namang silbi sa kanilang katungkulan; mula sa mga kagamitang ibinebenta ng palugi para lamang di umanong kumapal ang kanilang bulsa, hanggang sa mga inimbento nilang fixed allowance na hindi bababa sa siyento mil kada buwan; lahat po iyan ay itinigil natin. Kaya naman ang dating monthly expense na 22 million pesos, naibaba na natin sa 11 million pesos.

Isa pa pong halimbawa itong kalokohang natuklasan natin sa PCSO. May pera sila para mag-over-budget sa patalastas na nagbabalandra ng mukha ng kung sino-sinong politiko sa telebisyon, pero wala silang pera para magbayad ng tatlong bilyong pisong utang sa mga ospital ng gobyerno. Dahil sa utang na di mabayaran—dahil sa katiwalian—ang mismong ospital na pinopondohan ng gobyerno, ayaw nang tanggapin ang garantiya ng kapwa nila sangay ng gobyerno. Isipin po n’yo iyon, itinayo, ‘di ba, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office—iba ho ang ginugulan ng charity.

‘Di po ba’t sasakit din ang batok ninyo sa kalakarang ito? Pagsisiwalat sa kalokohan, sa halip na pakikisawsaw sa katiwalian: ito po ang pagbabagong sinasabi natin.

Alam ko rin pong marami sa atin ang nag-aapurang anihin na ang mga bunga ng naipunla nating reporma. ‘Di ko naman po masisi ang taumbayang, dumaan sa isang dekada ng katiwalian, at ayaw nang maniwalang posibleng magkaroon ng gobyernong handang tumahak sa tuwid na daan. May ilan pong nahihirapang mapagtanto na kailangan nating magtulungan, magsaluhan, at mag-ambagan para maabot ang ating mga mithiin. Alam ko po ang pinanggagalingan ninyo: Ako man po ay nangangarap na bukas makalawa ay magising tayong may solusyon na sa bawat problemang minana natin. Ngunit alam ko pong mulat din kayo na wala ring maitutulong ang mabilisan, ngunit walang bisang solusyon. Kailangan ang maingat na paglalatag ng reporma, ang pagsigurong epektibo ang ating mga programa, at ang pangmatagalang mga tugon na hindi na magpapamana ng problema sa susunod na salinlahi.

Simple lang naman po, hindi ba? Nakita naman natin kung paano tayo nagdusa noong nakaraan, at nakita rin natin ang situwasyong gusto nating makamit sa kinabukasan. ‘Di po ba’t ngayon, buong-loob na nating pinupunan ang puwang sa pagitan ng mga tagang “sana” at ng “kaya,” at nakikilahok na rin ang bayan upang ang ating mga mithiin ay maabot na nating lahat sa wakas? ‘Di po ba’t ngayon, nasaang panig man tayo ng usapan, ang nagbubuklod pa rin sa atin ay malasakit para sa bayan? Ngayon po, bawat kibot natin, nasusundan na. Nagtataka ako: kung may isyu at magtikom ka ng labi, di maubos ang batikos sa akin. Kapag naman naghahayag ka ng kuro-kuro, pakialamero ang bansag sa akin. Kulang na lang po, kung minsan iniisip ko, hatiin ko ang aking katawan at maging manananggal na lang po ako para mapagbiyan ang lahat ng bumabatikos sa akin. Pero iyon po kasi, tanda lamang talaga na mayroong mga tao, ayaw nilang gumanda ang atin pong inang bansa.

Sinabi ko po sa inyo noong araw: kung walang corrupt walang mahirap. Katumbas ng tamang pamamahala ang direktang benepisyo sa taumbayan, lalo na sa mga kapos po sa buhay: bawat tableta ng gamot na pinopondohan ng gobyerno para sa ating maralitang kababayan, bawat pulgada ng kalsada, bawat pagkakataong makahanap ng disenteng pagkakakitaan—lahat po iyan ay bunga ng integridad at malasakit ng inyo pong pamahalaan na nakikipagtulungan sa sambayanan. Maliwanag po ang patutunguhan natin, at diretso tayong tutungo po doon. Ang serbisyong nakalaan para sa inyo ay dumarating sa inyo: hindi napupunta sa bulsa ng mga naghahari-hariang kung tinignan ampaw naman pala.

Malayo na po ang narating natin sa loob lamang ng isang taon. Isipin na lang po ninyo kung gaano pa katayog ang mga maaabot natin sa susunod na limang taon. Saksi ang Pilipino at ang buong mundo: Nagbubunga na ang pagbagtas natin sa tuwid na landas. Ngayon pa ba tayo aatras?

Sinisikap pa rin pong buwagin ng mga tiwali ang pananalig na nagtulak sa aking tumugon sa inyong panawagan, at nagbunsod sa ating tagumpay noong nakaraang halalan. Inaasahan po natin ito, at alam kong nasa likod ko po rin kayo sa pakikipagsagupa natin sa mga mapang-api. Sinabi ko po dati: kayo ang aking lakas, ang lakas na bukal ng mga tagumpay na inaani na natin ngayon, at ng tuluyan at napipinto nating pagpitas sa katuparan ng atin pong mga pinapangarap.

Hindi kailanman magbabago po ito. Kayo pa rin ang boss ko.

Iyong unang taon po ay puwede na rin ‘yung nagawa natin. Pero ‘yung susunod na taon, inaasahan kong lahat ng kawani ng gobyerno, sampu na ng sambayanan, ay lalong magtutulungan—dahil gusto ko pong tumulin nang tumulin, ang pagbabago nating ninanasa na marating ay lalong maging katuparan na.

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat. Maraming salamat po.

(Source:  Official Gazette of the Rep. of the Phils.)

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His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III

At the 25th Anniversary of EDSA Eucharistic Celebration

[Delivered at the EDSA Shrine, February 24, 2011]

It has been twenty-five years since EDSA, twenty-five years since our people poured out into the streets to achieve the unthinkable: the end of a violent regime through nonviolent means.

It is only appropriate that this milestone is commemorated here in this shrine. The images of EDSA, after all, cannot be divorced from the images of the church. Look at the pictures of EDSA—they show nuns, priests, rosaries, and people carrying statues of the Virgin Mary on their shoulders. This is because EDSA was not merely a political act; it was also an act of faith. And it was this faith that somehow helped keep EDSA from turning violent.

It is interesting to note that our celebration of 25 years of EDSA today coincides with the wave of democracy now sweeping parts of the Arab world. Even by just watching on TV, the emotion in Egypt and Tunisia was so palpable that it brought back memories of our own experience in 1986. While ours was less violent, the similarities between EDSA and Tahrir Square are uncanny. This shows that the human passion and thirst for freedom is so universal that no autocratic regime anywhere in the world could succeed in its attempt to stay in power forever.

It would seem that 25 years after the restoration of democracy through EDSA, this country should be well on its way toward making democracy truly felt by the people—through a better economy that produces quality jobs and services.

We, unfortunately, are not quite there yet. The past 25 years have been marked with significant gains, followed sadly by backsliding. We would sometimes take two steps forward, then one step backward.

This is what our government today is confronting: the challenge of making progress irreversible and growth equitable and felt by every Filipino. Only then can we say that the democracy we fought so hard for really works.

The good news is we are getting there. We passed a national budget on time for the first time in 11 years. We have put an end to excessive bonuses at government-owned and controlled corporations, to remind them that they are there to serve the people and not themselves. We have ordered some of the most comprehensive restrictions on commercial logging, not to hurt the industry, but to protect our environment for the sake of future generations. This year alone, we are building new irrigation and rehabilitating silted irrigation systems for our farms, so we can produce an additional 1.56 million metric tons of palay per year.

Moreover, we are fighting corruption—not only in the Armed Forces—by seeking to stop an unjust plea bargain between the Ombudsman and General Carlos Garcia. But beyond that, we are allocating to the AFP resources to benefit ordinary soldiers, as well as the PNP. This year, we will build 20,000 housing units for our soldiers and policemen, and providing it to them at very low prices—very much lower than what they are currently paying to rent dwellings that they do not own.

This good news does not always make it to the headlines, but it is happening, and we are committed to achieving more in the coming years.

If there is one key lesson from EDSA that I would like to impart to all of you, it is that the democratic struggle should go beyond a single event. People power did not end at EDSA. The work goes on toward building a more fair and equitable society

To fulfill the promise of EDSA, we have programs to ensure that the most needy among us are not left behind.

Conditional Cash Transfers will keep poor children in school, so that they can have a better future. More schools and public health centers will help keep them healthy as they acquire the skills to earn a decent living.

All of this and more are being done not so much for ourselves but for our children and our grandchildren.

Those who were spared the misfortune that was martial law must now be the beneficiaries of our hard-fought democracy. I would like to think that this celebration is for them, the young people. After all, this is what EDSA was really for.

Remember, our faith teaches us, we will be asked, “What did you do to the least of our brethren?” At EDSA, we stood side by side with complete strangers, with full confidence in them that they were with us in trying to transform our society. That is the key. That is what we have to do to get our country truly transformed.

Thank you. Good evening.

(Source:  Official Gazette)

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