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Sona 2013

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* The joint session of the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives has been called to order at exactly 4pm. * President Aquino started to deliver this 4th SONA at 4:03 pm. * Aquino said it’s his fourth SONA, 2 more remaining. He said he is aware of the challenges facing his leadership. * The President hailed domination of Team PNoy senatorial bets in the 2013 elections. * He cited the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and increase in number of TESDA graduates. * He said the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program will cover families with high school students, not just elementary pupils, starting next year. * Aquino mentioned DepEd secretary Armin Luistro, adding that classroom shortage will be addressed by the education department within the year. * The President said rice self-sufficiency and coconut intercropping, which will boost agricultural growth, are among the administration’s targets. There will be 434 sites for coconut intercropping. * Aquino mentioned Hacienda Luisita, saying determination of lots for beneficiaries started last week. * PhilHealth enrolees, he said, increased from 62% to 81%; benefits were also enhanced. * This year, multi-hazard zone mapping was finished while geohazard mapping of Metro Manila to be completed by next year. * The perennial problem of Metro Manila flooding has been addressed. P6.2 Billion has been allocated for flood control in Metro Manila. * 9,377 housing units have been completed for victims of Typhoon Sendong while 26,050 houses were built for policemen and soldiers in the second phase of the housing project. * Pension for AFP and PNP personnel is at P61 Billion for 2013. * Aquino calls for review and amendment of SSS pension fund scheme. He urged a slight increase in SSS contributions. * The president noted that the government is aiming for a 1:1 police to pistol ratio. * He cited a 63% reduction in number of private armed groups and said only 77 incidents of election-related violence were recorded this year. ARMM polls, he said, were clean and orderly. * Aquino also cited the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement with MILF and the annex on wealth sharing. He said peace is already within reach. “The national government will uphold its agreement with MILF.” * He asked Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law in 2014 which will pave way for a Bangsamoro Government by 2016. * He tasked the DOST to study government purchase of big ticket items. * Aquino cited the approval of the Sin Tax Reform Law and “Responsible Parenthood Law” (RH Law). * Aquino called on the amendment of the Cabotage Law and the passage of the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill. * He said the proposed P2.268 Trillion national budget for 2014 will be forwarded to / filed in Congress on Tuesday, July 23. * The president believes fares for MRT and LRT should be similar to aircon bus fares. * An irrigation project in Iloilo will benefit 24,000 farmers. * Aquino cited Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects. * He said government continues to take steps to address the power crisis in Mindanao. He wants that more power plants be built. * PNoy noted that repairs and completion at NAIA terminal 3 were delayed by arbitration reversal and issue on warranty. He also said that an Integrated Transport System will help ease traffic. * The DPWH, he said, has saved more than P18 Billion which can be used for other projects. * Aquino reports a 21.4 increase in foreign tourist arrivals in 2012. He said foreign media praised the country as best tourist destination. Government is targetting 56.1 million domestic travelers by 2016. * The president hailed the European Union’s decision to lift the ban against Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights to Europe. * Aquino reported a 7.8% GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth during the first quarter of 2013. He said it was the “highest recorded growth” in Southeast Asia. * Former TESDA head Boboy Syjuco is being made to answer for alleged anomalies. The president also criticized the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for letting former governor Joel Reyes and Mario Reyes, suspects in the Gerry Ortega slay, leave the country. He had also hit the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) as well as the Bureau of Customs. * Aquino said P200 Billion were lost from government coffers due to corruption, based on figures released by the Department of Finance (DOF). * The President paid DFA secretary Albert del Rosario a salute. He said cabinet members are “sacrificing to help transform our nation.” Del Rosario, he said, flew to Libya and spearheaded the repatriation of more than 20,000 Filipinos. * He also paid tribute to the late DILG secretary Jesse Robredo, citing his sacrifices and public service. * President Aquino ended his fourth SONA at 5:46 pm. * The joint session was adjourned at 5:48 pm. * DZMM reports that Aquino got applaused (pinalakpakan) 90 times, coughed (umubo) 8 times, and stammered/stuttered (nabulol) 35 times during his speech.
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