Time to move on, senators urge Aquino

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Monday, July 28, 2014

MAJORITY of the senator said Monday that it is time for President Benigno Aquino III to move on as they urged him to skip the current debate on the constitutionality of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Administration Senator Francis Escudero said the President, who was expected to deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) Monday afternoon, should focus on more important matters in the remaining years of his term.

"Dalawang bagay palagi ang inaasahan ko sa sinumang pangulong magbibigay ng Sona. Una ano ba ang tunay na kalagayan ng bansa at mas importante roon, moving on at moving forward, ano ba ang balak ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Aquino para matugunan ang mga problemang kinakaharap ng ating bansa sa ngayon," Escudero said.

Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. echoed Escudero, hoping that the President will provide direction for the future.

"It is time to look forward and to path away forward -- para naman mas gumanda ang kalagayan ng ating mga kababayan," said Marcos.

Marcos added that Aquino must learn from the past and consider what needs to be changed now, "so that we can look forward to the future."

"Unity has always been the primary fundamental concern of all the leadership and should be the concern of all the political leadership," he said.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said he is not keen on hearing about Aquino's continuing defense on the legality issue of the DAP as well as the plunder charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. in the Sona since all of these are now under the courts' jurisdiction.

But Pimentel said the President can cite some of the achievements in DAP and projects that has been financed by DAP that really helped the public.

Malacanang, Pimentel said, should focus on pressing matters such as power supply, inflation rates, taxation system, "and those things that people need to hear."

"Our taxation system is proving to be unfair in implementation," Pimentel said.

Pimentel as well as Senator Sergio Osmena III were one in saying that a full disclosure of coverage of the emergency powers to be given the President to address the power supply problem must also be considered.

Pimentel expressed belief that President Aquino may not have a hard time in asking Congress to grant him an emergency power unless he himself will fully disclose to them the actual state of the country's energy sector.

Osmena, for his part, said it is important to address this issue immediately insisting that the continuing power supply deficiency brought about by the recent typhoon Glenda has wreaked havoc on power and transmission lines in most part of Luzon.

Earlier, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla in anticipation of what he claimed as an imminent shortage of electricity supply next year urged President Aquino to declare a state of emergency in the power sector.

Senator Grace Poe said she is expecting that the President will now consider the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill in order to appease the Filipino people who really want to have transparency and reform.

Opposition Senators JV Ejercito and Nancy Binay said the present government should address issues hounding the politically motivated projects under the DAP.

Ejercito also rued the absence of Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who is currently detained with fellow opposition member Senator Estrada due to their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Enrile's "brilliance" will be sorely missed, Ejercito said, as he recalled the veteran lawmaker's excellent debate skills.

"Dati kahit mag-isa lang si Senator Enrile, one-man army yun, kaya niya lahat sila," he said, referring to the majority bloc composed of Aquino allies.

But things took a different turn in last week's hearing on DAP.

"Bagama't nakapagsalita kami kaya lang sa bawat isang minority na magsalita, lima yung susunod na majority na magsasalita so minsan nararamdaman mo na lunod ka, parang yun yung pakiramdam," said Ejercito.

The minority will likely hold a counter-Sona in the coming days to remind Aquino on his areas of improvement.

Ejercito said they will also consult Enrile on the matter.

The other members of the minority are Senators Vicente Sotto III and Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan II. (Camille P. Balagtas/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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