Editorial: The succession SONA

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


THERE was a marked difference in the tone that President Benigno Aquino III used in last Monday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) and the other televised speech he delivered two weeks ago, when he defended the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

This time, he seemed less confrontational, more open to being reasoned with. At times he sounded almost humble, such as when he compared paying attention to every concern and every perspective to watching 200 TV channels at the same time. “This is not an easy job,” he said, “and I am only human, one who at times is also capable of feeling apprehension.”

One source of apprehension that stood out was whether voters would favor a successor who would continue the reforms started in his administration. The President now has less than two years left in his term, and one last SONA to deliver. “What I can tell you is this: if you wish to continue and even accelerate the transformation of society, there can only be one basis for choosing my successor: who will, without a shred of doubt, continue the transformation we are achieving?”

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There were some examples he mentioned to show the gains of the last four years. He recalled that the government was required to recapitalize the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas with P50 billion back in 1993. Then President Fidel V. Ramos (who joined the SONA audience) provided P10 billion during his term. “Nothing was added since then,” Aquino said. The remaining P40 billion “was the obligation left to us, and we have paid this in full.”

President Aquino also reported that 42 percent of investments coursed through the Philippine Economic Zone Authority since 1995 came in during the last four years, on his watch. And that in only four years, by awarding P62.6 billion worth of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) ventures, all the PPP projects of the past three administrations, combined, was surpassed.

Every leader faces the difficulty of relinquishing control, of entrusting one’s life’s work in the hands of a successor. President Aquino and his allies have two years left to try to swing the popular sentiment in their favor. We would be well advised, as voters and citizens, to consider the field this early and learn as much as we can about the contenders.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 30, 2014.

Opinion

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