Our beloved leader of the church and father of EDSA, his Eminence, Jaime Cardinal Sin; his
Excellency, the Papal Nuncio and the other members of the Diplomatic Corps and the
international community; our heroes of EDSA -- you the people and President Cory Aquino
and President Fidel Ramos; Senate President Nene Pimentel and the other senators; Speaker
Noli Fuentebella and the other congressmen; the Filipino of the year 2001, Chief Justice
Davide; other officials of the Philippine government; mga kapatid ko dito sa EDSA at sa
In all humility, I accept the privilege and responsibility to act as president of the
I do so with both trepidation and a sense of awe.
Trepidation, because it is now, as the good book says, "a time to heal and a time to
build." the task is formidable, and so i pray that we will all be one, one in our
priorities, one in our values and commitments and one because of EDSA 2001.
Sense of awe, because the Filipino has done it again on the hallowed ground of EDSA.
People power and the "oneness" of will and vision have made a new beginning
possible. I cannot, therefore, but at this point, recall Ninoy Aquino's words:
"I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino, and I have come
to the conclusion that the Filipino is worth dying for."
As we break from the past in our quest for a new Philippines, the unity, the Filipino's
sense of history, and his unshakeable faith in the almighty that prevailed in EDSA '86 and
EDSA 2001 will continue to guide and inspire us.
I am certain that Filipinos of unborn generations will look back with pride to EDSA 2001,
just as we look back with pride to Mactan, the Katipunan and other revolts, Bataan and
Corregidor and EDSA '86.
I am certain that pride will reign supreme as Filipinos recall the heroism and sacrifices
and prayers of Jaime Cardinal Sin, Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos, Chief
Justice Davide, the legislators who fought the good fight in congress, the leaders whose
principles were beyond negotiation, the witnesses in the impeachment trial who did not
count the cost of testifying, the youth and students who walked out of their classroom to
be at EDSA, the generals in the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police, and the
Filipino out there who stood up to be counted in these troubled times.
The Filipino, crises and all, is truly worth living and dying for.
Ngunit saan tayo pupunta mula rito?
Jose Rizal, the first to articulate self-determination in a free society, provides the
Rizal counseled the Filipino to lead a life of commitment. He must think national, go
A stone is worthless, Rizal wrote, if it is not part of an edifice.
We are the stones, and the Philippines is our edifice.
On many occasions I have given my views on what our program of government should be. This
is not the time or place to repeat all of them. However, I can tell you that they converge
on four core beliefs.
1. We must be bold in our national ambitions, so that our challenge must be that within
this decade, we will win the fight against poverty.
2. We must improve moral standards in government and society, in order to provide a strong
foundation for good governance.
3. We must change the character of our politics, in order to create fertile ground for
true reforms. Our politics of personality and patronage must give way to a new politics of
party programs and process of dialogue with the people.
4. Finally, I believe in leadership by example. We should promote solid traits such as
work ethic and a dignified lifestyle, matching action to rhetoric performing, rather than
The first of my core beliefs pertains to the elimination of poverty. This is our
unfinished business from the past. It dates back to the creation of our republic, whose
seeds were sown in the revolution launched in 1896 by the plebeian Andres Bonifacio. It
was an unfinished revolution. For to this day, poverty remains our national problem. We
need to complete what Andres Bonifacio began. The ultimate solution to poverty has both a
political and an economic aspect. Let me first talk about the political aspect.
In doing so, I will refer to one of my core beliefs, that of the need for new politics.
Politics and political power as traditionally practiced and used in the Philippines are
among the roots of the social and economic inequities that characterize our national
problems. Thus, to achieve true reforms, we need to outgrow our traditional brand of
politics based on patronage and personality. Traditional politics is the politics of the
status quo. It is a structural part of the problem.
We need to promote a new politics of true party programs and platforms, of an
institutional process of dialogue with our citizenry. This new politics is the politics of
genuine reform. It is a structural part of the solution.
We have long accepted the need to level the playing field in business and economics. Now,
we must accept the need to level the playing field in politics as well. We have long
aspired to be a world class economy. Now, we must also aspire to develop a world class
political system, one in tune with the 21st century.
The world of the 21st century that our youth will inherit is truly a new economy, where
relentless forces such as capital market flows and advances in information and
communications technology create both peril and opportunity.
To tap the opportunities, we need an economic philosophy of transparency and private
enterprise, for these are the catalysts that nurture the entrepreneurial spirit to be
To extend the opportunities to our rural countryside, we must create a modernized and
socially equitable agricultural sector.
To address the perils, we must give a social bias to balance our economic development, and
these are embodied in safety nets for sectors affected by globalization, and safeguards
for our environment.
To ensure that our gains are not dissipated through corruption, we must improve moral
standards. As we do so, we create fertile ground for good governance based on a sound
moral foundation, a philosophy of transparency, and an ethic of effective implementation.
Considering the divisions of today, our commitment will entail a lot of sacrifices among
us all, as we work to restore the dignity and preeminence of the Filipino.
Join me therefore as we begin to tear down the walls that divide. Let us build an edifice
of peace, progress, and economic stability.
People power has dramatized the Filipino's capacity for greatness.
Great Filipinos, Filipinos of People Power, I ask for your support and prayers. Together,
we will light the healing and cleansing flame.
This we owe to the Philippines. This we owe to every Filipino.
Thank you and may God bless us all.
It was the most applauded State of the Nation
Address. The 23 July 2001 SONA of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was interrupted by
clapping 86 times, more than thrice the previous applause record. How did the President
get so many big hands? By doing something equally unprecedented in political speeches:
making concrete, specific and timebound promises. From half-price medicine and 85%
barangay electrification, to halving signatures and Abu Sayyaf elimination, the
President's SONA Targets gave people something more than just abstract rhetoric to
The speech set out 55 tangible actions and programs,
grouped under the four pillars of the Arroyo Administration's anti-poverty campaign: an
economic philosophy of free enterprise appropriate to the 21st century, a modernized
agricultural sector founded on social equity, a social bias toward the disadvantaged to
balance economic development, and good governance to build confidence in the nation and
channel resources to the poor.
The risk, of course, is that all the clapping at the
opening of the Twelfth Congress would turn into catcalls a year later if the government
failed to deliver on the SONA Targets. To ensure a creditable performance, the President
ordered constant monitoring of all SONA undertaking, with almost weekly reports to the
Cabinet to check on progress and address problems. In addition, the monitoring data was
made available on the government website-- another first in the Philippines, if not in
Asia. All that kept the pressure on agencies implementing the SONA Targets.
And implement them they did. One year after the SONA
of 2001, the government can report full or substantial accomplishment in all but a few of
the 55 objectives set by the President. The targets for agriculture modernization funding,
health insurance, cut-price rolling stores and land tenure for the urban poor were
exceeded by wide margins. Where major efforts are still needed, such as the programs to
address traffic, garbage, corruption and kidnapping, the achievements are still
The positive overall verdict is shared by the House
of Representatives' Committee on Oversight, chaired by Rep. Jose Sarte Salceda. Its
preliminary report in early July counted 22 pledges on track among the 35 it monitored. By
the end of July, only in two targets is the government far behind: the lifting of NFA's
rice import monopoly, which was deferred for a year, and the distribution of 100 ancestral
titles of which about 30 are to be issued this year.
The SONA Targets are grouped into five broad
strategic goals: Poverty Alleviation for the Urban Poor, Poverty Alleviation for the Rural
Poor, Peace and Order and Security, Economy and Infrastructure, and Good Governance. Also
reported are efforts to help the Payatas children, including the three boys mentioned in
the SONA, and the Administration's legislative agenda.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SONA ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Poverty Alleviation for the Urban and Rural Poor
Housing. A total of 183,026 urban poor
households, against the target of 150,000, were provided shelter security in sites
proclaimed by the President for socialized housing.
Another 155,832 families were given houses and slum
upgrading services from the original target of 150,000 families of workers and the very
The number of signatories for housing-related
permits and clearances has been reduced from 188 to 41, to facilitate residential
Jobs and Livelihood. A total of 1,007,933
jobs were generated in the agriculture sector contributing to the increase in net
employment of 852,000 jobs reported by NSO last October.
Some 10,000 out-of-school/out-of-work youths have
been provided emergency employment from July 2001 to February 2002, and another 10,000
OSYs/OWYs starting July 2002.
Some 312,472 new women borrowers, against the target
of 300,000 women, were provided microcredit amounting to P692.75 M.
Food and Agriculture. The Agricultural and
Fisheries Modernization was implemented with an allocation of P29.75 B last year, of which
some P24.21 billion was utilized, and an allocation of P37.2 B for this year.
The mammoth Mal-Mar dam, completed on schedule last
September, is irrigating 5,622 hectares and benefiting 3,281 farmers.
DAR distributed 104,261 hectares of land last year,
complying with its target. DENR issued Certificates of Allocation (CA) covering 160,567
hectares of land from July 2001-July 2002, for which patents for about 135,000 hectares
have been or are to be distributed.
The NFA has deployed a total of 1,510 rolling stores
nationwide selling rice at P14 per kilo and other basic commodities.
Social Services and Education. Six (6)
children from Payatas-- including Jason, Jomar and Erwin-- have been given a scholarship
each and their families provided livelihood projects.
Some 2.35 million urban poor beneficiaries were
enrolled under the National Health Insurance Program in the past 12 months, over four
times the target. Some 1.86 million rural poor were also insured in the period.
Eight (8) types of commonly used medicines are sold
at lower prices in 74 participating DOH and provincial hospitals than in private drug
A total of 1,513 barangays have been provided with
electricity, attaining the target of 85% electrification.
The first-year target of a three-year program to
construct 1,612 school building in barangays unserved by nearby classrooms was met: 555
school buildings were completed or are due to be completed within weeks.
The DepEd procured 54.3 M textbooks for all grade
and year levels in 5 core subjects for 16.8 M public school students for the current
Peace and Order and Security
All hostages of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
have been rescued or recovered, and its numbers and leadership neutralized or on the run.
Continuous efforts were undertaken to
professionalize the Philippine National Police as well as to intensify the campaign to
eliminate kidnap-for-ransom syndicates.
Backchanneling efforts are advancing peace
negotiations with rebel groups, even as formal talks are suspended over insurgent
A total of 18,445 families in 110 evacuation centers
in Mindanao have returned to their homes or relocated, with basic services being provided.
The government has earmarked P533 M funding from the
OPEC Fund for community projects in former Mindanao conflict areas.
More than P10 billion has been allocated for AFP
modernization, for which two contracts have been awarded and more are in the pipeline.
Economy and Infrastructure
Public Services. The Electric Industry Reform
Act (Power Sector Reform Law) is being implemented, including a 10-point program to lower
the cost of electricity.
Having a competitive edge in tourism, Laoag/Vigan,
Baguio/Banaue, and Bohol are being developed as premiere tourist destinations through
infrastructure development projects enhancing access and facilities there.
Five mass transit projects are being pursued with
private sector participation for completion between 2004 and 2007.
The Manila-Clark Railway System Project (Southrail)
and Sta. Mesa/Espana-Alabang-Calamba-Carmona Rail Project (Northrail) are also being
pursued through the BOT scheme to decongest Metro Manila.
There has been no bus, jeepney or LRT fare increase
since July 2001.
Economy. At P147 billion, the 2001 budget
deficit complied with the target ceiling of 3.8% of GNP.
Government guarantees for SME loans were restored,
and some P271 million in loans have been guaranteed.
To develop the country's capital market, measures
were adopted to improve implementation of the Securities Regulation Code.
The government provided a competitive environment to
allow IT companies, training and research and development institutions and IT-enabled
industries access to quality high-speed networks at reasonable costs comparable to Asian
The Provident Fund for Filipino Overseas Workers
(OFW) was launched on 2 May 2002, benefiting 200,000 OFWs registered with the SSS.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of
Customs filed dozens of cases against alleged irregularities by their staff. More than 50
other agencies are implementing anti-graft and anti-red tape programs.
To cut red tape and for faster civil documents
processing, one-stop shop centers and/or complaint desks have been set up in more than 30
cities, a dozen capital towns and some 20 municipalities.
The E-Procurement System (EPS), a website to
purchase common goods and services, was established.