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Lawmakers give P-Noy 'excellent' mark in his 1st year as president


Amid criticisms and dipping survey ratings, majority of lawmakers gave President Benigno S. Aquino III an "excellent" mark in his first year into the presidency due to his focused commitment of getting rid of graft and corruption in the government.

The lawmakers pointed out that while public relations may not be the President's strongest suit, "his honesty and dedication to serve public good is really beyond question."

"The President might need some adjustments with respect to his public relations skills and his communications people might need to work harder to bring across the message of reform which is the core foundation of the Aquino administration, but, overall, the President has done excellently well in achieving much of his campaign commitments," said Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas, chair of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability of the House of Representatives.

Trenas noted, in particular, the positive reforms that is now taking place in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which now ensures the judicious use of funds in various public works projects nationwide.

He said that the Aquino government's policy on the judicious use of public funds without compromising his (President Aquino) commitment to uplift the lives of the country's poorest of the poor through the expansion of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program "is the best proof of the government's improving fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability."

House Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III said the President should be rated first on how he has delivered based on his 2010 State-of-the-Nation-Address (SoNA) and not on the fulfillment of the promises he made during the campaign in last year’s election.

"Let us be fair. P-Noy (President Aquino) should be measured based on what he set out in his first SoNA," said Tanada, spokesman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).

He said people rating President Aquino also ought to place themselves in his shoes.

"P-Noy inherited the biggest budget deficit, the 'land mines' in the different departments and line agencies, the corruption that was embedded," he noted.

"We can check what (Aquino) promised to do in the 2010 SoNA, and what we accomplished together, and look forward at what he plans in the 2011 SoNA," he added.

Tanada said the first SoNA of the President is basically a "where we are, what do we have, how can we address the land mines."

He said President Aquino should be bolder now in his second SoNA in laying down the road map.

"P-Noy can start making the bold moves on his second year. He can spell out the road maps showing what kind of economic paradigm does he believe in. He should come out with his economic beliefs or visions," he said.

The Quezon solon said one cannot use as basis the promises made during the campaign in only one year.

"The promise during the campaign is for his whole administration from 2010 to 2016... whether his administration succeeded or not, is for history to judge," he said.

Tanada also lauded the President's "Ulat sa Bayan" as it shows the difference on how he views governance and accountability as compared to former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the fight against corruption.

He said President Aquino "laid out what he has accomplished despite the difficulties he had to encounter when he assumed office."

"Ito ay nagpapatunay na kayang makuha ang tiwala ng sambayanan at abutin ang ating mga pangarap basta malinis ang pamahalaan. Nakikiisa ako kay P-Noy sa mga sinabi niya, marami pa rin ang dapat gawin at malayo pa ang tatahakin nating tuwid na daan pero kung tayo ay magtutulungan, mabilis nating magagawa ito," he said.

For his part, Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento believes that the President has done extremely well in his first year into the presidency and has remained true to his commitment of his administration's pursuit for a "tuwid na daan" (righteous path) in running the government.

"The President has done extremely both as President and as an icon of good governance. I think that, despite all the criticisms thrown at his administration, nobody, not even the opposition, can dispute the fact that things are getting better for our country and for our people," he said.

Sarmiento noted that the President's success in eliminating leakages in the use of government funds "has won the country a series of credit ratings upgrade and has helped a lot in improving the level of investment confidence in the country."

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), The Forum for Family Planning and the Philippine NGO Council for Population, Health and Welfare also thanked President Aquino "for his unflinching support to defend maternal and child health and build strong future for Filipino families."

"By consistently and persistently supporting Responsible Parenthood and the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, the country has seen in the last 12 months how a determined and courageous leadership shapes and hastens the policy debate on this important measure. By lending support to the efforts of civil society advocates and legislators championing the RH Bill inside and outside of Congress, President Aquino has shown his commitment to promote human development," the group said in a statement.

The Associated Labor Unions (ALU), for its part, said they would like to see the President succeed in all his policies and priorities which will enhance the Filipino workers' rights and their capability to cope with the ever rising costs of basic commodities and services.

"Despite of the distractions and adjustments that highlighted his first year in office, the ALU desires for President Aquino to be now more vigorous in pursuing his labor and employment policy agenda in creating the full, productive, and decent employment that the entire Filipinos are expecting from his leadership," said ALU national vice president Gerard Seno.

Meanwhile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. reported that four of the identified 10 priority measures by Malacanang were signed into law by the President.

This include the Government owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) bill which limits the salaries and benefits of its officials; Postponement of Elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); amendments in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA); and one which relaxes the ban on night shift work for women.

"We are a working Congress. Naging productive ang first regular session ng 15th Congress (The first regular session of the 15th Congress was productive). We were able to pass important laws. More (bills) are already approved at the committee level," he said.

Aside from their legislative duties, the 285 members of the House of Representatives also managed to vote on the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who was accused of betrayal of public trust, among others.

Belmonte said he was proud the House "did not avoid its constitutional duty no matter how difficult, controversial, contentious" the impeachment process was.

However, Gutierrez resigned before she could be brought to trial at the Senate.

The Speaker also lauded the attendance rate of congressmen, which, he said, averaged 94.2 percent for every session day and was the "most robust" and "unparalleled in the history of the Chamber." (PNA)

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