MANY Cebuanos welcome the Aquino administration’s projects for Cebu but some said they find efforts to address issues related to education, energy, and peace and order lacking.
Fr. Carmelo Diola of Dilaab Foundation also questioned the claims made by President Benigno Aquino III during his State of the Nation (Sona) in disaster-response and rehabilitation in calamity-stricken areas in the Visayas. He said Aquino’s statements that help for typhoon Yolanda survivors from the National Government had been immediate, did not reflect reality.
Those in the business sector, though, agreed that the country’s economy improved during the Aquino administration.
Lucio Lim Jr., president and general manager of Lite Shipping Corp. and past president of the Visayan Association of Ferryboat and Coastwise Service Operators, said debt servicing dropped to 35 percent from 60 percent, resulting in low interest rates.
“The banks are awash with cash and the country has the lowest budget deficit in the world,” Lim said.
Teresa Chan, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said she agrees that poverty has been reduced. But she also raised the need for more infrastructure projects.
Aquino said poverty incidence dropped three percent to 24.9 percent in 2013 compared to 27.9 percent 2012.
Nino Olayvar of Anakbayan said Aquino discussed the growth in the gross domestic product, jobs created and lower prices.
“But to those who have the data, (the figures he gave) were misleading. The Sona was a cover-up of the real condition,” he said.
The National Statistics Coordination Board reported that poverty incidence of population has been declining since 2009. Poverty incidence rose to 26.6 in 2006 from 24.9 percent in 2003, but the figure slipped to 26.3 percent in 2009 and 25.2 in 2012.
Yet, Diola said, the Aquino administration has still not attained inclusive growth, which shows improvements in all sectors of the economy.
Public relations practitioner Cerwin Eviota said that while the economy has improved, the benefits of growth have not trickled down to the people.
Director Ahmed Cuizon of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Central Visayas said, though, that the Aquino administration has not left Cebu out. He cited important projects, like the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and new terminal project for the Mactan Cebu International Airport, that were approved by Aquino.
Cuizon also said Aquino approved the rehabilitation plan for Cebu and other areas in the Visayas that were hit by super typhoon Yolanda and the October 15, 2013 earthquake.
Former party-list congressman Pastor Alcover Jr. described Aquino’s Sona as “propaganda.”
“Appealing emotion to the people but no serious discussion regarding peace and order, media killings, energy crisis, the present situation of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, corruption and the burning issues of DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and PDAF (Priority Development Assistant Fund),” Alcover said.
Anabelle dela Serna, vice chair for the Visayas of the Teachers Dignity Coaliton (TDC), said in a press statement Tuesday that Aquino also did not give emphasis to education during the Sona.
Dela Serna said the President had not mentioned the plight of teachers and the sorry state of schools, particularly in rural areas.
“We will continue to tell the President that in order to uplift the living condition of the teachers, they should be given P10,000 each across-the-board salary increase,” Dela Serna said.
She said TDC will also ask Aquino to suspend the implementation of the K-12 program due to lack of materials, teachers and equipment.
Olayvar said Aquino mentioned the trainings conducted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), which benefited 223,000 Filipinos in four years, but there was no mention of the many others who remain jobless or underemployed.
Others remarked on Aquino’s display of emotions at the Sona.
“This was the most emotional Sona ever coming at a time when his leadership is being tested by various issues,” said Cuizon. “I believe he can surmount (them).”
Representative Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu, fourth district) said he also observed that the President became emotional near the end of the SONA. “His message came from the heart,” he added. (Sun.Star Cebu)