Binay derides Philippine President's State of Nation Address

Binay derides Philippine President's State of Nation Address
Vice President Jejomar Binay.
PHOTO: Facebook

INDANG, Cavite-Vice President Jejomar Binay on Monday derided President Aquino's claims in his sixth State of Nation Address (Sona) a week ago, saying that under the administration's daang matuwid, or straight path, more Filipinos had become poor and corruption remained entrenched.

For about an hour, Binay outlined what he said was the "true" State of the Nation Address (Tsona) brought about by an administration that was manhid at palpak (insensitive and bungling).

He jeered at Aquino's 2010 campaign slogan "Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap"-if there is no corruption, there will be no poor Filipinos.

"After five years, many are still poor and many are still corrupt," said Binay, who resigned from the Cabinet in June in the face of allegations in the Senate against him of corruption and ill-gotten wealth.

He said he was through being the "punching bag" of administration allies in the Senate and was taking his role as leader of the opposition in his run for the presidency in elections next year.

Binay spoke at the Cavite State University gym, on a stage with a mural of soldiers in full combat gear in the background that was unveiled for his true Sona.

He railed that Aquino, in closing his two-hour Sona, thanked everyone, including his hair dresser and fashion designer, but made no mention at all of the heroism of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were massacred on Jan.

25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, by Moro rebels while on a mission to take out international terrorists.

Binay ended his speech by paying tribute to the heroism of the SAF 44, mentioning the names of each one of them to applause from the crowd mostly of students and political supporters.

MRT breakdown

The Vice President spoke at length of the breakdowns of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system commuters have to endure each day, the rosy economic figures that he said benefited those who were already rich but not those wallowing in poverty, the high unemployment figures and the absence of health services particularly in the rural areas.

He sought to debunk Aquino's claims that fewer Filipinos were going overseas to work and said overseas Filipino workers were returning home because of economic problems in Europe and unrest in the Middle East.

"There will be no progress if we give six more years to an administration that has no sympathy for the poor," Binay said in an apparent dig at Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who was endorsed on Friday by the President as the administration's standard-bearer in the 2016 elections.

In a speech that lasted almost an hour, Binay said he listened to Aquino's two-hour-long speech with the hope that since this would be his final address, the President would give an honest report on the true state of the nation.

But Binay said what the nation heard was a report "filled with storytelling, tooting of one's horn-and like the first Sona-accusatory."

Five years after the Aquino administration came into power, he said "the truth could not be covered up and denied that many are still poor, hungry and have no jobs."

"After five years, what the Filipino people reaped was an insensitive and bungling government," he said.

Lives lost

Binay pointed out four places-Luneta, Tacloban, Zamboanga and Mamasapano- where he said many lives there could have been saved had the government been caring.

He was referring to the Luneta hostage incident in August 2010 where he said eight Chinese tourists became "collateral damage." Binay criticised Roxas' handling of the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon "Yolanda" (international name: Haiyan) in 2013, as he pointed to the incident where Roxas had asked Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez to write a letter seeking help from the national government.

Binay then criticised the way the government handled the ongoing rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda-devastated communities, saying 20 months after the calamity, there were 100,000 people still living in tent cities and bunkhouses.

The Vice President asked where the P167-billion rehabilitation budget went as he pointed out the recent statement of the United Nations special rapporteur that the government had not done enough for the Yolanda victims.

Referring to the 2013 siege in Zamboanga City that led to massive displacement of people there, he chided the government for the tragedy of women and children in evacuation centres who ended up being raped or prostituted.

Salute to SAF 44

In Mamasapano, he said 44 policemen gave their lives and many were wounded. He said that in Aquino's Sona, there was no thank you for the SAF heroism. "His hair stylist and fashion designer were lucky, they were included in the long list of people the President thanked," he said.

In paying homage to the SAF 44 members, Binay called out their names and the audience applauded and cheered each time he did so.

Binay said that these were the men who "fulfilled their promise to their sworn duties, people who gave their lives and people who are true and honest."

"The nation is thanking and saluting you," he said.

It helped that the names of the men had a face considering that a mural of them was an imposing presence at the stage.

The mural, "Tagaligtas 44," is a 7 feet x 26 feet work of passion produced by Erehwon Art Collective, according to a statement prepared by the Office of the Vice President.

"It depicts each of the fallen heroes, in full combat gear, in various unit configurations. The painting was executed within three incredibly short weeks by a team of artists composed of professor Grandier Gil Bella (head artist); Jerico De Leon; professor and former UP Fine Arts dean Leonilo "Neil" Doloricon; Camille dela Rosa; Lourdes Inosanto, Jonathan Joven; Othoniel Neri (assistant head artist); Emmanuel Nim; Dario Noche (head researcher and photo documentor); and Eghai Roxas.

Binay's spokesman Joey Salgado said that the mural was under the temporary care of the Office of the Vice President.

It was installed initially at the Philippine National Academy in Silang, Cavite, but was taken down because officials did not like that people were taking selfies with the mural, he said.

Mass transport woes

Reading from his 12-page speech in Filipino, the Vice President said there were three acronyms that symbolized the inept administration and these were the MRT (Metro Rail Transit); the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) and the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program).

On the MRT, he said that from 20 trains and 60 coaches in 2010, only seven trains and 21 coaches were now running.

"Long lines, nonfunctioning escalators and stinky toilets, and few and congested coaches. Whenever passengers take a ride, their fervent prayers: That there won't be a problem and we come home alive," he said.

The government allotted P4.5 billion (S$135 million) to buy new trains but he said four years after the funds' release, there were no new trains.

He also said the Department of Transportation and Communications set aside over P5 billion to overhaul the MRT last year but this had not yet been done.

And for all these, Binay said the MRT even raised its fares.

"My countrymen, the government has control over the MRT for the past five years and still they blame some people for this ineptness," he said.

Ineptitude, thievery

Binay said the MRT service became inept because the government changed its maintenance provider Sumitomo to the newbie and inexperienced PH Trams Co.

He said the allies and party mates of Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya were behind PH Trams.

Binay derided the MRT for saying employees who were late for work because of the trains' breakdown should file excuse letters. He lamented the Palace reply for angry passengers just to take the bus.

He also referred to corruption allegations against former MRT general manager Al Vitangcol and asked why he was the only one charged in the Office of the Ombudsman.

He said the MRT service was already inept and still people made money out of it.

"It's true that in the daang matuwid, ineptitude and thievery are siblings to party mates and allies," he said.

Respect for Congress

On the proposed BBL, he slammed the government for considering those opposed to the measure to be its enemies.

He said the BBL would succeed if this did not violate the Constitution, involved all sectors and if the Palace won't force Congress to pass it.

"Congress should be respected as a coequal branch of government and not threatened or bribed to do what the Palace wants," he said.

On the DAP, Binay said the facility was supposed to pump-prime the economy but he noted that experts said only one centavo goes to the poor for every P1 spent for DAP.

He said it was very clear that DAP was the "glaring example" of wasteful spending of the people's money. It also violated the Constitution.

GMA part

Binay also said while he recognised that the country's economy improved in the last five years, the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also had a part in it.

He also blasted the government for not amending the economic provisions in the Constitution and said this was why foreign investments are low.

Binay also decried that even under daang matuwid, corruption remained rampant, citing the MRT case involving Vitangcol and the pork barrel fund scam.

But he said the "true state of the nation" was that "the number of the poor increased, there are no jobs and many are hungry." "The plea of the people: Work, work work, service, service, service."

Binay said it was not the daang matuwid slogan but leaders and the masses that would bring the country to progress. He urged people to join him on the right path to progress.


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