MANILA -- Former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Fidel Ramos expressed satisfaction on the nearly 30-minute State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno Aquino III Monday.

Courtesy of Sun.Star Cebu

Estrada, who always carried the slogan "Erap para sa mahirap", lauded Aquino for tackling poverty alleviation but chided the appointment of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. to the Truth Commission.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

"The fund will be allocated into something good, and the poor can benefit through different projects like water system. All are okay except one -- the appointment of Truth Commission. You must appoint there a person without questionable integrity," Estrada added.

Ramos, on the other hand, said that the country has yet to await the short-term and long-term effects of Aquino's governance.

"After six years, ano maasahan natin (what do we expect) especially for ordinary Filipinos? This is just the State of the Nation Address, it's only good for 40 minutes, we will see the short-term, medium-term, and long-term promises coming up of the government," said Ramos.

Vice President Jejomar Binay also praised the first Sona of Aquino, saying the President gave the true state of the nation.

"Our President gave the true state of the nation in a manner that is simple, direct and truthful," Binay said.

The Vice President also noted that Aquino needs the support of everyone in his campaign to reform the country and get rid of corruption, adding that the road ahead is fraught with difficulties.

"There are difficulties and challenges ahead. President Aquino needs our wholehearted support for him to succeed in facing these difficulties and challenges," he added.

Legislators' reaction

Senator Jinggoy Estrada said that those who did the country wrong and stole from the people should indeed be prosecuted.

The speech of President Aquino "sparked a ray of hope" for the country as he outlined a broad map of what to expect from his administration, Former House Speaker Prospero Nograles said.

Representative Benhur Salimbangon (fourth district, Cebu) appreciated that the speech was straight forward. He said he is ready to rally behind the administration and support it in achieving its goals.

"He has given his concerns and I think, we, in Congress should respond to the call of cooperation," Salimbangon told Sun.Star.

Liberal Party spokesperson and Representative Lorenzo Tanada III (fourth district, Quezon) was also satisfied with the Sona and expressed optimism that the bills Aquino wanted to be enacted into a law will be doable in the 15th Congress.

Representative Rachel Del Mar (north district, Cebu City) told Sun.Star that she is very hopeful after hearing the speech of the President.

"I am very hopeful. It sets a new moral tone in our nation's governance," Del Mar said.

Representative Giorgidi Aggabao (fourth district, Isabela) said Aquino seemed to be in a hurry while delivering his speech, but rated the substance as "excellent."

Representative Rufus Rodriguez (second district, Cagayan de Oro) said the speech was directly pointed on the problems.

Representative Miro Quimbo (second district, Marikina) meanwhile appreciated the fact that Aquino delivered his speech in Tagalog, which allowed more Filipinos to appreciate the Sona speech.

"Ito ay pagkilala ni P.Noy na ang masa talaga ang boss niya. I would have wanted him to cover other matters though, like housing," Quimbo added.

But Representative Diosdado Ignacio M. Arroyo (second district, Camarines Sur) defended his mother, former President and Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (second district, Pampanga), as Aquino lambasted the wastage of the preceding administration.

He said the figures enumerated by Aquino were not true.

Leftists: Sona lacking

Meanwhile, former Gabriela representatives Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan said Aquino's speech lacked discussion on policies about raising wages of the poor, providing low-cost health services, education, and housing for the poor.

They added that the President failed to take a stand on the Reproductive Health bill and the Right of Reply bill that were controversial in the past Congresses.

"Parang tinimbang ka ngunit kulang. From the perspective of the majority who are poor, there was no direct policy statement on how he can turn the economy around that will directly benefit the workers, farmers and urban poor," Maza said.

Akbayan Representative Walden Bello said the Sona has strongly condemned corruption and revealed shocking cases of graft in the previous administration but it lacked solutions.

"Well intentioned but we need teeth, and teeth were missing, hopefully, tougher policies will emerge in next few weeks," he said.

On the other hand, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said Aquino's presidency would pave way for more difficulties and poverty, citing his pro-business agenda that include privatization.

"Dadalhin tayo ni Noynoy sa landas ng lalong pahirap (Aquino will bring us into a more difficult situation). More privatization is not the cure. Noy's cure-all for the country's problems is privatization," said ACT national chairperson Antonio Tinio.

"Our experience with the privatization of the energy and water has proven that this path mainly benefits the big foreign and local corporations at the expense of the people," Tinio added.

He also called on Aquino to transform his promises and statements into concrete actions.

For its part, the Kabataan Party-list urged Aquino to stop the killings of members of militant groups and instead re-channel counter-insurgency funds to education.

"Aquino can hit two birds with one stone by allotting funds for the intensification of the government's counter-insurgency campaign to the education sector instead," said Kabataan Representative Raymond Palatino.

Kabataan also said that the funds for counter-insurgency could be used to build additional classrooms and chairs, textbooks, and laboratory facilities, among others.

The Labor groups Federation of Free Workers (FFW), meanwhile, expressed disappointment on President Aquino's lack of definite programs for the labor sector.

According to the FFW, Aquino's address centers on corruption and neglected the workers sector.

"He practically announced no program for employment promotion. It would be a pity if job creation were dependent on public-private partnership alone," Julius Cainglet of FFW said.

Cainglet added that the labor sector is waiting for the concrete programs for the more than 34 million workers in the country; for the jobless Filipinos as well as those underemployed.

"(What) he gave are clearer picture of how corruption is integrated in the institutions that guard our basic needs such as water, power, food and transportation," the labor leader said. (Kathrina Alvarez/JMR/AH/Sunnex)