Aquino to start with problems’ inventory

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Thursday, June 10, 2010


MANILA -- President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will start doing inventory problems in the country following his proclamation as the new Chief Executive of the Philippines.

"(We'll do an) inventory of problems we are in the midst of. After all, wrong identification of problems leads to wrong solution," Aquino said.

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A joint session by the Senate and House of Representatives voted to formalize the landslide victory of the son of the country's revered democracy icons - Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino - after the Philippines' first national automated elections last month.

The official congressional count, which ended Tuesday, showed Aquino defeating his eight rivals with more than 15 million votes - about 5.7 million ahead of his closest opponent, ousted leader Joseph Estrada.

Aquino, a quiet legislator who served nine years as a congressman and three years as senator, will inherit a nation grappling with poverty and debilitated by decades-long Marxist and Muslim insurgencies, military unrest, corruption, violent crime and political strife.

"As President, we will be in a position to effect the necessary changes," Aquino said, adding that with the backing of the people, "I don't think anything is impossible."

Aquino said he felt "a little anxious, a little eager to start solving the problems that are still besetting our countrymen."

First 100 days

In a press briefing after the proclamation, Aquino enumerated his priorities for his first 100 days as President.

Top of his list is determining the specific problems in the country so that they could come up with specific solutions.

Aquino promised justice and "closure on so many issues."

He said he would also focus in strengthening agencies, which have significantly benefited the public, such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), citing that it should be placed under Department of Education so that it gets more budget for its projects.

Aquino, meantime, vowed to continue conditional cash transfer, a program aims to alleviate poverty by providing assistance to poor families for schooling, health assistance, receiving vaccinations, and the likes.

The 50-year-old Aquino said he will try to push for 100 percent health benefits for PhilHealth members.

Aquino also assured of pursuing those who have fault the people by committing corruption and graft, saying he will strive hard to let corrupt people pay for their greedy acts, including outgoing President Gloria Macalapagal-Arroyo, whose nine-year reign was marred with anomalies and graft.

"I have had a lot of promises in the campaign especially the idea of change. It cannot be business as usual," Aquino said.

"We will really strive for it like we have been striving even before we decided to run," he added.

Aquino also promised to follow the legacy of his parents, who are regarded as heroes in the country's struggle against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

He refused to give time table on how long he will be able to address pressing issues in the country, stressing that he should first review the data of the outgoing administration to determine the current status of the economy.

Dismiss Bangit

Aquino also said he will dismiss Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Delfin Bangit.

Bangit replaced General Victor Ibrado, who reached the military mandatory age of 56 last March 10, the same date that bans outgoing President Arroyo from doing appointments two months before the Election Day.

Bangit had announced that he would not step down when the new President takes office.

But military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Arnulfo Burgos said Bangit would obey orders "as a professional soldier."

Meanwhile, Aquino said he would likely retain the national police chief, Jesus Verzosa, who had offered his courtesy resignation.

Verzosa was also promoted by Arroyo from police chief deputy director general to police director general, the highest rank in the Philippine National Police.

Roxas in Cabinet

Meanwhile, Aquino said his running mate, Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas, who lost in the vice presidential elections, will have a sure seat in his Cabinet after the one-year ban for government post for defeated candidates.

"Malaking kawalan kung hindi ko siya kukunin. Sayang ang kanyang talino, sipag at galing. After the one year ban, meron siyang pwesto. Bibigay po natin sa kanya ang kursunada niya na pwesto, (It's a big loss if I will not appoint him. He has the brains and hardwork. After the one-year ban, he has the seat. We will give him the post according to his expertise)," he noted.

Aquino also is bombarded by issues of appointing several of his powerful relatives in his administration.

He said the so-called Kamaganak Inc. is a non-issue as the Constitution does not allow nepotism.

He also declined to disclose the names of his incoming Cabinet members, as he said his team is still sifting through these candidates' qualifications. He said he will announce the names of his team as soon as the list is completed.

He said he will set a meeting with Vice President-elect Binay, who earlier offered his expertise to lead the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

"I have several candidates for DILG. I will talk to the vice president-elect and we will come up with something mutually agreeable," he said.

Palace greetings

Aquino has yet to set schedule on when he will be meeting the outgoing administration, while Malacanang has already sent its congratulations to Aquino and Binay for winning the presidential and vice presidential race, respectively.

"We wish the new government all the best, as we leave in their hands an economy in better shape than when we found it nine years ago," Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said in his opening statement in his weekly briefing at the Palace.

"At the same time, we congratulate all the institutions responsible for the success of our first automated election," he added.

On the issue of where he will be staying when he starts his reign on June 30, Aquino said he is considering all suggestions but definitely he "is not living in Malacañang."

Aquino-Binay tandem

The unexpected tandem of Aquino and Binay emerged as winners in the historical automated elections held last May 10 following eight days of canvassing in Congress.

Aquino marked more than five million lead against nearest contender Estrada. Aquino got 15,208,678 votes, while Estrada netted 9,487,837 votes. The rest of presidential candidates shared the remaining 12 million votes.

Aquino will replace Arroyo who will be joining the 15th Congress as she steps down on June 30 after winning the congressional race in Pampanga.

Binay, on the other hand, will replace Vice President Noli de Castro.

The former mayor of Makati stood his ground until the end, finishing his very close fight with Senator Roxas with slim yet sufficient 700,000 lead.

Binay garnered 14,645,574 votes, while Roxas obtained 13,918,490 votes.

The camp of Roxas, however, planned to file electoral protest questioning the 2.6 million null votes that could have a significant effect on election result.

Estrada concedes

When the session resumed around 2:30 p.m., the floor was first given to Jinggoy Estrada, son of former President Estrada.

The younger Estrada delivered a statement from his father regarding the elections results.

The former President, in a statement, said he accepted his defeat and recognized Aquino as "duly elected President of the country," and congratulated his running mate for winning in the vice presidential race.

Estrada congratulated his "good friend and worthy opponent" and said he joins Filipinos in extending "wholehearted support to the 15th president of the republic under whose leadership the country now looks to the future."

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri was next to deliver his sponsorship speech, which revolved on everything that had happened in the joint canvassing session and his endorsement of the winners in the 2010 polls.

Zubiri was followed by House Majority Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. who delivered his own sponsorship speech underscoring the need for a better conduct of elections in 2013.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel and his counterpart Congressman Neptali Gonzales had also given their respective sponsorship speeches.

Binay first ascend in the rostrum with his family led by wife Elenita Sombillo Binay. He was then followed by Aquino accompanied by his four sisters.

Supporters

During the ceremony, supporters of Aquino and Binay had been cheering for their respective candidates.

The camp of Aquino, wearing yellow and black, was seated at the right side and center gallery of the session hall, while Binay's supporters occupied the left side.

Aquino's sisters Maria Elena (Ballsy), Aurora Corazon (Pinky), and Victoria Eliza (Viel) arrived at the session hall wearing black dresses with small yellow ribbon at the left side of their chests.

Actress Kris Aquino was the last one to arrive among the Aquino siblings. Her husband James Yap was also present.

Aquino's girlfriend Shalani Soledad arrived alone and sat beside singer-composer Ogie Alcasid on the fourth level of the center gallery. She did not greet the Aquino sisters who were sitting on the front row.

Among the celebrities who witnessed the proclamation were television host Boy Abunda, actor Dingdong Dantes, and singer-composer Ogie Alcasid. All three were reportedly considered by Aquino for a government position.

Several executives of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Company, namely: Charo Santos Concio, Cory Vidanes, and Deo Endrinal, were present to show support for Aquino.

Clad in white "barong" made by designer JC Buendia, Aquino announced he will take his oath somewhere in Quezon City, before Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Aquino will take his oath as the country's 15th president on June 30. (Jill Beltran/AP/Sunnex)

Aquino start problems inventory

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