Newly-sworn in President Noynoy Aquino delivered his first State of the Nation Address three days ago. In a speech the entire nation, as well as a number of overseas Filipinos looked forward to, Noynoy revealed anomalies that happened during the reign of his predecessor. A saga of extravagance and funds mismanagement, he explained how our national budget was shrunk ten times the original amount. And most importantly, the real state of the nation.
Barely a month after taking oath as the Philippines’ 15th President, Aquino delivered his first State of the Nation address at the Batasang Pambansa (House of Congress). In his speech, Aquino highlighted the extravagance of the previous administration of Gloria Arroyo. He cited an incident in 2004 when there was a shortage of 117,000 metric tonnes of rice in our country, and the government decided to import 900,000 metric tonnes. Even if the shortage was doubled, or even tripled, the amount of rice bought exceeded the need by far too great. A similar incident occured in 2007, when there was another rice shortage of 589,000 metric tonnes and the government decided to import 1.827 million metric tonnes. Again, even if the supply deficit doubled the quantity brought in was far too excessive. The sad part of this, according to PNoy (as Aquino is popularly called) was that because there was too much rice imported most of the stock rot in warehouses such as the one reported in 2008.
The one issue that PNoy emphasized in his speech was the lavish incentives and lucrative pay the employees of the Metropolitan Water Works and Sewerage System (MWSS) were receiving. Aquino stated that while the annual payroll of the MWSS amounted to Php51.4M, the bonuses they received amounted an additional Php81.1M. In short, the total wage bill was Php211.5M annually. In percentages, 44% of the bill is their proper wage while 66% is the add-on.
Another ‘anomaly’ PNoy underlined was that the Php2B calamity fund allocated for 2010, in the first six months of the year had shrunk to only Php600M. This was surprising as the rainy season has yet set in. What was suspicious in terms of the calamity fund was that the entire province of Pampanga received Php108M of which Php105M went to a single district. On the other hand, the province of Pangasinan which was ravaged by typhoon ‘Pepeng’ received a measely Php5M. The funds they received was not even spent on the damages done by ‘Pepeng’ but instead of a previous typhoon, ‘Cosme’. The logic behind the allocation of these funds is simply unexplainable.
During the entire SONA, crowd applause was a minimum. And it was no surprise as there was nothing to applaud about in what PNoy stated, the state of the nation was nothing to be happy about.
Stated above are just a few of the several ‘wrong decisions’ made by the previous administration. As to whether or not a Truth Commission would be needed is beyond me, but one thing that’s certain is that the situation in our country is far worse than what most had expected. President Aquino has stated that all these would change under his administration, but having been in office for not even a month means it’s too early to tell. But he’s right when he says all these needs to change; spending should be well-planned, go through a process of bidding and audited, funds allocation should we unbiased and salary demands should be reasonable.