MANILA, Philippines – A party-list representative and a political analyst on Saturday weighed in on President Benigno Aquino III’s achievements days before his third State Of the Nation Address (SONA).
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said although he expects Aquino to boast about the country’s strong first quarter growth in his SONA, he believes its effects have yet to trickle down on most Filipinos.
“Ang karaniwang Pilipino, hindi pa nararamdaman ‘yung sinasabing inclusive growth, ‘yung sinasabing lumago ang ekonomiya ng 6 na porsiyento,” he told dzMM.
Casiño said although the country saw its first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) climb 6.4% from a year earlier, it seems it has not made life easier for most Filipinos, citing looming price hikes in electricity, oil and even healthcare.
“Usapin nalang ng presyo, ‘yan ang laging daing ng ating mamamayan. Ngayon nagba-badya na naman ang bagong round ng pagtaas ng presyo ng kuryente at oil prices. At isang malaking concern ngayon ay ‘yung cost of health care,” he said.
The lawmaker also raised doubts about the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program, saying the administration should focus on creating jobs rather than providing cash grants.
“Ang hinihingi naman ng tao sa gobyerno ay hindi pera, kung hindi trabaho at kabuhayan,” Casiño said.
“Madaling mamigay ng pera eh. Pero saan nila dadalhin ang pera? Hindi natin alam,” he added.
Casiño believes that the billions of funds used for the CCT program should instead be used to create jobs and improve health and education facilities.
Political analyst Prof. Mon Casiple likewise said the government should focus on improving the day-to-day lives of the poor by creating domestic-based and sustainable livelihood.
Casiple also acknowledged the country’s economic growth but noted that it is not felt by most Filipinos.
“May nakikita ngang pag-unlad, pero definitely hindi tumatama on the ground. Ang importante ay paano mo matitiyak ‘yung kabuhayan nila?” he told dzMM.
Both Casiple and Casiño also agreed that the government should focus on the agricultural sector, wherein most poor families get their income from.
Casiño noted that there has been “decline” in agriculture and the industry has been “shrinking.”
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, however, said there had been a significant improvement in the country’s agricultural output in the second quarter of this year.
Lacierda also said the Department of Agriculture has set its sights on rice self-sufficiency by 2013.
“Nagtaas ang agricultural output natin, at diyan directly makikinabang ang mga magsasaka,” he told dzMM.
'Tuwid na daan'
Aquino’s “tuwid na daan” or the fight against corruption was also questioned by Casiple, who said that the impeachment moves against Merceditas Gutierrez and Renato Corona have not yet led to major reforms.
“Hindi naman pwede magkaroon ng matuwid na daan, sa totoo lang. In practice, paliko-liko iyan. Sa tingin ko, ‘so far, so good’ in terms of mayroong actual na nagagawa. Pero kung sasabihin mong nagkaroon na ng decisive at na-turn back mo na ang usapin ng korupsyon, malayo pa,” he said.
Casiple said he believes that “key personnel” involved in corrupt practices in government are still in office.
However, he lauded the steps taken by the administration in cleaning house with regards to national agencies.
“May mga institutional na pagbabago, sa iba’t ibang ahensya, sa koleksyon ng BIR, sa koleksyon ng Customs,” he said.
Casiño also said the impeachment of the former chief justice has yet to yield changes in the fight against corruption.
“It still remains to be seen kung hanggang saan talaga ang magiging impact niyan. Inaabangan pa din ng mamamayan ang magiging resulta ng bagong search para sa chief justice,” he said.
“Especially after ng impeachment, inaasahan natin maglalabas ng mga SALN at waivers ang ating mga officials ay hindi din nangyari. So parang ‘yung standards na sinet natin kay Chief Justice Corona, mukhang sa kanya lang natin na-apply,” he added.
Casiño said he expects Aquino to talk about Corona’s impeachment, the plunder case filed against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the CCT in his SONA on Monday.