MANILA -- The minority party in the lower chamber of Congress, as expected, criticized the first State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, saying it was both defective in what it said and deficient in what it failed to say.
House Minority Leader and Representative Edcel Lagman (first district, Albay), in his counter-Sona speech, delivered at the House of Representatives Tuesday answered point-by-point the allegations thrown by Aquino to the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
First, Lagman answered that those Aquino mentioned who committed criminal or administrative infractions during Arroyo's nine-year governance should face the accusations through the filing of cases and a fair trial.
He said enough of the interference in the judicial branch just like when Aquino meddled in the case of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and the defiance of what is said to be a midnight appointment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The Minority Leader also explained that economists have said that the huge deficit of about P196.7 billion from January to June 2010 from the previous administration is manageable so much that the country's credit rating has been maintained.
“The prioritization of public expenditures and pump priming programs should be the economic mantra, instead of aspiring to have no or reduced deficit which results in an anemic or regressive growth,” Lagman added.
Aquino was also misinformed of the remaining amount in the P1.540 trillion 2010 national budget, he said.
In fact, according to the Bureau of the Treasury, P751,767,000 or 48.78 percent of the total budget remains unspent. As of June 30, the inauguration of President Aquino, the national government expenditures only totaled to P788,833,000.
Meanwhile, the controversial release of Calamity Fund to a single district in Pampanga is barely disbursed and is still intact.
President Aquino said the entire province of Pampanga received P108 million, P105 of which went to only one district. Former President Arroyo is now the representative of the second district of Pampanga.
"These misleading statements are aggravated by a lack of understanding of the utilization of the Calamity Fund. The President is of the impression that the fund is limited to current year calamities. It is not," Lagman explained.
Lastly, the salary rate of employees of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), he said, are in compliance with Collective Bargaining Agreements 1950s and all bonuses have legal basis like the Salary Standardization III.
Aquino earlier exposed shocking revelations that MWSS employees receive a lot of financial benefits especially its board of trustees. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)