President Benigno Aquino III mirrored his desire to uplift the lives of impoverished Filipinos as he underscored tangible accomplishments on social services and highlighted the gains on good governance and transparency campaign in his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday.
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Regional Director Alfonso Bedonia Jr. said that majority of what was mentioned by President Aquino was along good governance, poverty reduction, protection of the vulnerable and climate change adaptation, all embodied in his “Social Contract” with the Filipino people.
He added that the goal is to have a sustained economic development and poverty reduction which can be realized not only in terms of high gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national product (GNP).
President Aquino, he said, is looking at reducing poverty down to the level of local government units (LGUs). He added that a menu has been prepared by the DBM for LGUs to have access to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of legislators.
This menu which is unique under President Aquino’s term, allows the bulk of the PDAF to go to poverty reduction such as state health insurance, scholarship and other programs for indigents.
Bedonia added that the President understood very well that by helping the poor to become productive, they would be assured of income, thus boosting their purchasing power and in the end benefiting the economy.
On the other hand, Engr. Rowen Gelonga, regional director of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), was very happy because the Chief Executive, in his SONA made science and technology relevant in the daily lives of Filipinos. He said that the people could now feel the impact of their programs unlike before when it was difficult for them to relate to the people.
“I am very happy that at least they have realized that science and technology is really something that can address national concern,” he said as he expressed hope that in the near future, it will be given emphasis as to its role in economic development and nation building.
He looked forward to the role of science and technology in other areas such as livelihood, business industry and human resource development being mentioned in future SONAs of the President.
Meanwhile, PhilHealth Regional Vice President Dennis S. Mas, said that PhilHealth now has wider coverage in Western Visayas. Already, he said, they were able to get the commitment of all LGUs to enroll additional 534,000 indigents to the sponsored program of the state health insurance.
Dr. Luis Sorolla, president of Western Visayas College of Science and Technology and of the 11-member Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) Western Visayas, said the Aquino administration is really aiming towards development.
“I really admire P-Noy for his vision, he is very honest,” he said.
Sorolla said that there are some who undermine his intentions yet there is optimism as they look forward to someday being able to contribute to development not just on the economic side but also on the socio-cultural aspect.
He added that the PASUC will meet at the national level next week to review their individual road map and align it with the Philippine Higher Education Reform Road Map of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as well as the development plan of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
On the other hand, Lea Lara, executive director of the Iloilo Business Club (IBC), said that President Aquino really prioritized the poor and has reached out to this sector.
“It’s a good SONA. It is really for the people. It’s the first time I feel that the government is really there for you,” she said as she gave him a score of six, adding that there is still room for improvement.
Lara also underscored that public-private partnership (PPP) is very much alive under the current administration.