Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Inaugural Speech
as the 14th President of the Republic of the Philippines

Saturday, January 20, 2001
EDSA Shrine, Ortigas Avenue

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 buong Pilipinas:

In all humility, I accept the privilege and responsibility to act as president of the republic.

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 answer.

Rizal counseled the Filipino to lead a life of commitment. He must think national, go beyond self.

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 grandstanding.

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 globally competitive.

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.


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SONA Updates

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 applaud.

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 creditable.

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.


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 poor.

The number of signatories for housing-related permits and clearances has been reduced from 188 to 41, to facilitate residential developments.

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 stores.

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 school year.

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 violations.

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 neighbors.

The Provident Fund for Filipino Overseas Workers (OFW) was launched on 2 May 2002, benefiting 200,000 OFWs registered with the SSS.

Good Governance

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.


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