(This is the last of three parts of Sun.Star Report on the first 100 days of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III).

“ONE month is not enough for the President to implement all his promises, it will take time and will need the help of everyone,” said 29-year-old Rommel Santiago, a software engineer from Mandaluyong City.

Santiago is just one of the millions of Filipinos, especially those avid supporters of the Aquinos, who extended their tolerance to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as his three-week-old administration achieve notable feat that, if continued, would put a hem on the change this country needs.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

As he delivers his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, July 26, Sun.Star outlined some of the promises he made during the campaign and even those he disclosed in his inaugural speech and what he has done in his first 100 days in Malacanang.

On education

The President has vowed not to disregard the needs of Filipino students.

“We will begin by addressing the glaring shortage in classrooms and educational facilities,” he said. “Quality education, including vocational education, so that those who choose not to attend college or those who cannot afford it can find dignified livelihood.”

One of the unpopular but distinguished moves the President wanted is the additional two years in the basic education curriculum.

While his proposal solicited oppositions from various sectors, he was apparently doing his assignment on addressing the gap of the Philippine education and among the leading countries in the world.

According to Unesco Institute of Statistics, countries with excellent education system sets three or four-year-old entry to pre-primary education with a duration of at least three years.

The Philippines, on the other hand, sets an entry age to pre-primary education to five with only one year duration of training. While leading countries have 12 to 13 years in basic education, we only have 10.

Even if we enhance the curriculum, Aquino somehow understand the dilemma that how can we, having 10-year basic education program, could possibly compete to leading nations with more years in learning and having superior curriculums.

But he already took the first step of overhauling our education system.

Few days after, he ordered the review of the school textbooks. The move aims to prevent erroneous books that the education department had been feeding to schoolchildren in the preceding school years.

Antonio Calipjo Go, academic supervisor of Marian School of Quezon City, has been asked by Education Undersecretary Vilma Labrador to speak on a seminar to avoid errors in public school textbooks.

The Department of Education is also set to receive P10 million worth of confiscated woods from the Department of Environment and Natural resources for the construction of school furniture.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro, during the turnover ceremonies, promised that his department will address and finish all issues in education in two years.

On infrastructure

“We will lessen the lack of infrastructures for transportation, tourism, and trade,” said Aquino on infrastructure.

“From now on, mediocre work will not be good enough when it comes to roads, bridges, and buildings because we will hold contractors responsible for maintaining their projects in good condition,” the President further said.

With it, he has given a clear-cut directive to the Department of Public Works and Highways to utilize the P5-billion Motor Vehicle Users Charge (MVUC), or the Road Users Tax.

This is to improve the safety standards of national roads, said Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson.

On labor

The goal of the Aquino government is to create jobs at home “so there will be no need to look for employment abroad”.

“We will revive the emergency employment program established by former President Corazon Aquino. This will provide jobs for local communities and will help in the development of their and our economy,” said Aquino.

He then ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and other relevant agencies to be even more responsive to the needs and welfare of our overseas Filipino workers.

He also assigned Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to prepare new measures to boost the protection of household service workers (HWS) abroad while reviving the emergency employment program established by her mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

“Sana pagtuunan nya ng pansin yung kakulangan ng trabaho ngayon. Yun lang talaga ang gusto namin na magkaroon ng mas maraming trabaho para sa mahihirap,” said Marieta Paredes, a 39-year-old factory worker from Cavite.

The Aquino administration launched the "Strengthening National Capacities to Support the Philippine Program Against Child Labor’s Vision of a Child Labor-Free Philippines" program to reduce the incidence of the worst forms of child labor (WFCL) in the country by 75 percent.

On tax collection

The President aims to strengthen collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), thus fight corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

With this, the augmentation and strict implementation of the country’s slumbering tax measures was his lucid order to the BIR while the hunting of smugglers was his clear directive to the BOC.

In three weeks, the government has filed tax evasion case against William Villarica, proprietor of W Villarica Pawnshop, who is faking his tax remittances, paying only P25,607.25 from 1998 to 2009 while owning multi-million real estate properties and expensive cars, among others.

The BOC also collared two companies that are using decoys in their operation in the Philippines. It charged Eduardo Saguid of Gold Mind Trading and Nestor Ignacio of Quick Flo Trading for multiple counts of smuggling.

Likewise, BIR is set to impose a 12 percent value added tax (VAT) on toll fees in all tollways across the country starting August 16.

On health

“Improved public health services such as PhilHealth for all within three years” was the President’s target on health.

The Department of Health, in response, set a goal to increase to 70 percent the current PhilHealth coverage from 30 to 40 percent of a member’s health care expenses.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona also proposed a P9-billion allocation so the poor will be ensured of PhilHealth enrollment this year.

On security

“We will strengthen the Armed Forces and the police, not to serve the interests of those who want to wield power with impunity, but to give added protection for ordinary folk,” said President Aquino.

In line with this, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces Philippines (AFP) have been ordered by the President to look into the recent extrajudicial killings including five activists and a journalist.

Aquino has retained Director General Jesus Verzosa as PNP chief. In the AFP, there was controversy on who will be AFP chief after the President refused to acknowledge Delfin Bangit as military head.

Bangit, who was appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, later decided to quit from his post. Aquino then named Lieutenant General Ricardo David as his AFP chief.

On Friday, Aquino said that politics has ceased to exist in the ranks of the military, following his assumption to the presidency.

On agriculture

To prevent the cycle of the fertilizer fund scam, which hounded the Arroyo administration, Aquino directed the Department of Agriculture to set up trading centers that will directly link farmers and consumers thereby eliminating middlemen and opportunities for corruption.

“We will help them (farmers) with irrigation, extension services, and marketing their products at the best possible prices,” said Aquino.

Last July 1 in a press conference, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala disclosed that they are reviewing possible commodities, which could be traded in each region, promising to boost the sugar productions within five years.

“In this way, funds can be shared by farmers and consumers," he pointed out.

But Yoyong Merida, chairman of the Panaw Sumilao in Bukidnon, said: "Ang pinaka gusto naming marinig sa kanya ay yung pagbabahagi ng lupa para sa mga magsasaka. Sana wag nyang kalimutan yung mga magsasaka."

“Sana marinig din namin kung gaano sya kaseryoso sa land reform na ang tagal na naming hinahanap at gustong makita,” Merida noted.

On peace in Mindanao

In the pursuit of peace, the Aquino government is on the final stage in the composition of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) panels commissioned at making peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the New People's Army.

“My government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflict, inclusive of the interests of all — may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian,” the President earlier said.

On corruption

And who would forget his campaign slogan “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”.

During his historic inauguration at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila last June 30, Aquino bared his Truth Commission, adding that this is what he promised the Filipino people.

“This is the body that I promised that will close so many issues. They will collate data and evidence and, in turn, with assistance of Department of Justice, they will prepare and prosecute the cases to make sure that those who committed the crimes will pay,” Aquino said.

He appointed former Chief Justice Hilario Davide to head the Truth Commission.

But the structure of this body has yet to be finalized.

The Truth Commission is tasked at investigating cases against the Arroyo government including the ZTE-NBN deal, "Hello Garci" scandal, and fertilizer scam.

While all that have been mentioned are the few but notable accomplishments of Aquino in his early days in Malacanang, the truth remains that a lot has to be done.

And that the Filipino people will continue to assess the governance of the man, whose legislative accomplishments were subjected to scrutiny during the campaign period, but who he is now apparently initiating the genuine transformation this country needs.

In the words of Abdul Hamil Ulanen, a 23-year-old security guard in Maharlika Village in Paranaque City, "Dahil bago pa lang naman sya sa pwesto, hindi pa natin nakikita lahat ng ipinangako nya nung eleksyon. Pero umaasa kami na hindi na naman yun mga pangakong mapapako." (Sun.Star Manila)