Sona to center on anti-corruption agenda

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III's second State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday will focus on his government's anti-corruption measures and where he intends to take the country in one year's time.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino's speech -- which will be delivered in Filipino -- will emphasize what his administration has done to fulfill his "kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap" (if there's no corruption, there is no poverty) promise during his campaign.

"Sasabihin din ng Pangulo kung san niya tayo gusto mapunta in a year's time...where he intends to take the country. At kung san 'yun, hintayin natin sa lunes (The President will tell us where he wants us to go. As to where, he'll tell us on Monday)," Valte said over government-run dzRB radio Saturday.


Valte declined to comment if the Sona will tackle President Aquino's priority legislation that deals with economic development and the accusations of election fraud allegedly committed by his predecessor, current Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"Until the President says it is ready, it is still a work in progress," she said.

In his first Sona delivered last year, Aquino exposed anomalies and scams at the National Food Authority and hefty bonuses received by board members of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). The exposé paved the way for the passage of the Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GOCC) Governance Act of 2011, which cut terms of board members to one year.

Meanwhile, the deputy presidential spokesperson advised Aquino's critics to better wait for Aquino's Sona before they pass any judgment against the President.

Capiz Archbishop Onesimo Gordoncillo on Friday urged Aquino to stop attacking former President Arroyo in his second Sona, and instead file cases in court if it is really committed in resolving alleged anomalies.

"The Sona will still be on Monday, we still don't know what will be in the Sona, so let's hold off any judgment because it is as though the statement have been delivered, as if it's been done," Valte said in response to Gordoncillo.

Arroyo, through her spokesperson Maite Defensor, had confirmed her absence on Monday's event.

The Palace expressed "total indifference" over the former President Arroyo's absence during the Sona. After all, President Aquino is mandated by the Constitution to deliver his Sona whether or not certain personalities will be absent or present.

On Saturday, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also declared that the House of Representatives is ready to receive President Aquino for his second Sona at 4 p.m. Monday.

"I am gratified by the efforts and close coordination among the concerned agencies of both the national and local governments, the military, and police and our own House Secretariat to ensure the success of the Sona," Belmonte said in a press statement.

At the same time, Belmonte stressed that the President's Sona message would be an important guidepost for Congress to consider and work on during the coming second regular session in line with the people's expectations for transparent and good governance, as well as socio-political and economic resurgence in the next five years under the Aquino stewardship.

Besides special guests of the 285 members of the House and the 23 Senators, members of the President's Cabinet and their spouses, the Judiciary, the Diplomatic Corps, and religious groups, among others, are expected to attend.

The Sona is also expected to be a special annual media-event, which could be heard and watched even worldwide as more than 2,000 media representatives from national, provincial and foreign print, television and radio networks, including the web-media, will be covering the event live direct from the Batasan plenary hall.

Preparations have been ongoing for weeks under the guidance of the Task Force Sona, created by the Speaker, composed, among others, by key officials and staff from the House of Representatives, the Senate, Malacañang and the Presidential Security Group, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Metro Manila Development Authority.

Military and police authorities, in coordination with the Task Force Sona, have declared a one-kilometer "No Fly Zone" over the area of the House of Representatives complex from 1 to 6 p.m. on July 25. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

Local news

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