In what he described as the “last two minutes” of his term, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III urged Filipinos on December 30 to remain on the path of righteousness and reason, claiming that his policy of good governance was now “eradicating the last vestiges of corruption”.
President Aquino on Monday urged Filipinos to remain on the path of “righteousness” and “reason” during what he described as the “last two minutes” of his term, saying his good government policy was now “eradicating the last vestiges of corruption”.
That is “clear” and because of good government, “we are able to provide more opportunities for our people,” Aquino said in Filipino in his New Year message to the nation.
Aquino, who, running on an anticorruption platform, was elected in a landslide in 2010, said his administration was “close to achieving justice in the prosecution of those who committed wrong and abuses” in the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The PDAF was a pork barrel that channeled funds to congressional districts. The Supreme Court struck it down recently as unconstitutional amid a scandal involving the theft of 10 billion pesos (US$225 million) from the fund allegedly through connivance between a businesswoman, Janet Lim-Napoles, lawmakers and government officials over the last 10 years.
The Office of the Ombudsman is still evaluating the plunder charges brought three months ago by the Department of Justice against Napoles, the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon 'Bong' Revilla Jr.
Also charged in the first batch of cases were 34 people, including former members of the House of Representatives.
In the second batch of cases, at least 10 more former legislators and government officials, including President Aquino’s ally, former Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, were charged with malversation early last month.
“We continue to lay down mechanisms to ensure that the people’s money will go to them only,” said Aquino, who interrupted his holiday break to lead the commemoration of the 117th anniversary of national hero Jose Rizal’s death in Tarlac City.
Hope for recovery
The president’s message for the coming year, and for the rest of his term, offered hope for recovery, recalling the conflicts and calamities that disrupted life in the country this year.
He paid tribute to Filipinos for showing “extraordinary resilience” after all the difficulties they went through in 2013.
“We really triumphed over many things in 2013,” he said, but acknowledged that “there would be more calamities that would test our strength as a nation” in the coming year.
“But let us always be ready to prove that the strength of our civic spirit will shine in the face of scoundrels who might sow conflict or earthquakes or typhoons that might hit our land,” Aquino said.
‘Last two minutes’
The president cited what he described as “dregs of the old dispensation”, who, he said, would become “desperate and would try to derail” his administration’s political, social and economic reforms.
“We are entering another year on the right path and, as in basketball, we are going into the last two minutes,” Aquino said.
“In the final stretch of my term, we will waste no time. Every meaningful contribution of each Filipino will lead us to progress,” he said.
Aquino outlined the achievements of his administration since he took office three years ago, and said the people—whom he calls his “bosses”—would “determine the direction” that he would take in his last two years in Malacanang.
“The contributions of each one of us will be the key for us to achieve our goals,” he said.
The president attributed the Philippines’ achieving the “highest recorded GDP [gross domestic product] growth in Southeast Asia and one of the highest in Asia” to good government under his administration.
“Let us always side with the truth and with our fellowmen. Let us remain on the side of reason and accountability and take advantage of every opportunity that will lead to the greater good of the greater number,” he said.
Christian V. Esguerra
With report by Bong Lozada, INQUIRER.net
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