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President Aquino's First SONA, Much More Substance...Much Less Flash

his is the kind of president the Philippines has  long waiting been for. In his first State of the Nation address (SONA) President Benigno Aquino III came out President Aquino takes on the Arroyo administration in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA)swinging against the waste and corruption that seemed to highlight the government of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

To Filipinos throughout the country and around the world, President Aquino's words brought great comfort and hope. Finally, they have a president who is willing to be upfront and honest with them. Aquino told the nation that the country's condition was much worse than he had thought, and that the Arroyo administration through fiscal irresponsibility or corruption was primarily to blame.

President Aquino then proceeded to identify the various anomalies: from the 2010 national budget that is already almost completely expended with only 6.5 percent left to last for the next six months; to the excesses of the MWSS Board of Trustees who on average rake in 2.5 million pesos in bonuses each year despite their department's inability to properly fund the pensions of their employees; to public works projects of the DPWH that were created to benefit certain individuals; to anomalies in NAPOCOR, MRT and the NFA. The President making the case that billions upon billions have been lost or squandered in a country where many are unable to eat three meals a day.

But the president's speech was not all negative, Mr. Aquino noted the numerous foreign businesses who are now eager to invest in the country and partner with either the public or private sectors.Part of the gallery at the Batasan where all seats were filled He acknowledged the need to streamline government processes to make the Philippines "business friendly" and pledged to begin cutting all that red tape that has kept investors away.

In the end, this was a SONA of substance and not "flash." The event wasn't cheapened by media hype about what some couturier had designed for the president to wear—as in previous SONAs. The "gala night, fashion show" atmosphere so prevalent in the past was thankfully absent this time. But the substance was there and so long as this president stays the course the country should slowly start moving ahead—finally!

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