Philippine president praises economic gains

Manila – Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Monday detailed his government’s achievements in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) following the filing of three impeachment complaints against him.

In his fifth SONA, Aquino said his government has laid down the groundwork to ensure that his successor will be able to sustain the growth momentum that the country is now enjoying.

“The problems we inherited, we have solved. The ones that are here, we are solving. The ones that are to come, we are preparing for,” he said in the vernacular.

Aquino said his government was able to create more jobs, build more roads and public infrastructure, and provide more social services to Filipinos.

He also said lasting peace in southern Philippines is well underway with the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Citing a survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, Aquino said an additional 1.65 million Filipinos were able to gain employment as of April 2014.

He also said the government doubled its spending for infrastructure to 404.3 billion pesos (9.32 billion U.S. dollars) this year, from 200.3 billion pesos (4.62 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011 and increased funding for a social program dubbed as the conditional cash transfer.

These, he said, allowed the Philippines to obtain investment grade rating from major credit rating agencies and to reduce poverty incidence by 3 percentage points.

Aquino said his government will ask Congress to approve a budget of 2.6 trillion pesos (59.99 billion U.S. dollars) to continue implementing infrastructure projects and reforms in 2015.

As in previous years, thousands of protesters stormed the area near the House of Representatives in Quezon City, in the Philippine capital region of Metro Manila.

Students, workers, and members of militant groups carrying banners and streamers denounced the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) , a new military agreement forged by the Philippines with the United States. Protesters also demanded for more reforms to increase wages and jobs in the country.

Aquino, who made the eradication of graft and corruption in government as the centerpiece of his political platform, is facing three impeachment complaints over the implementation of DAP and for forging the EDCA with the U.S.

Meanwhile, a local radio station reported that four protesters were injured when policemen held back those who tried to go through the barricades set up near the House of Representatives. Source: Xinhua