Palace justifies inclusion in SONA of alleged anomalies

July 26, 2010 8:47 pm 

MANILA, July 26 – Malacanang denied Monday that President Benigno Aquino III's maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) is a tirade against his predecessor former head of State Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Mr. Aquino included in his SONA the anomalies which he attributed to the Arroyo administration so the people can understand the basis for action that the government will undertake in the next six years to move the country forward.

"Only one-third of this SONA is on anomalies during the previous administration," he said.

Lacierda noted the President's governance and legislative agenda account for about two-thirds of this SONA.

Mr. Aquino cited in his SONA some agencies like the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as being tainted with anomalies.

The MWSS paid each of its board members some PhP2.5 million in annual bonuses, incentives and other benefits while the agency is remiss in compensating its personnel, he reported.

"I hope officials concerned can have the decency to resign," the President said in his SONA at the Batasang Pambansa.

He also reported that the DPWH undertook projects worth millions of pesos but which were unnecessary.

President Aquino likewise cited the questionable fund releases for one district in Pampanga province during the 2010 election period.

Pampanga is the home province of Mrs. Arroyo who ran and won in the congressional race. She now sits as representatives of the 2nd district.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the new House minority bloc and Mrs. Arroyo's political party Lakas-Kampi coalition has reservations about the decision of President Aquino to report in his first SONA alleged anomalies during the previous administration.

"It doesn't look good," Lakas-Kampi spokesperson Raul Lambino said.

He recalled former presidents Cory Aquino and Joseph Estrada did the same in their respective predecessors Ferdinand Marcos and Fidel Ramos, but such only sowed political intrigue that hampered development nationwide.

Malacanang justified the alleged anomalies' inclusion in the SONA, however, saying people are entitled to know about these wrongdoings.

"People must know the truth," said communications group official Herminio 'Sonny' Coloma.

He believes such knowledge can help move people into increasingly monitor government affairs so occurrence of future anomalies can be lessened.

Malacanang considers President Aquino's maiden SONA a signal for people to avoid engaging in corrupt practices.

"This should be a lesson for us," Coloma said.

He stressed that anomalies must be exposed so these can be addressed as soon as possible.

"People must help expose anomalies," he said.

A colleague of Mrs. Arroyo in Lakas-Kampi is unfazed about the anomalies President Aquino bared in his SONA.

Pangasinan province Representative Leopoldo Bataoil believes authorities can determine in due time the truth behind such alleged anomalies, noting a justice system is operating in the country.

"We have due process so let justice take its course," he said on the SONA's side.

Bataoil is optimistic Arroyo administration officials implicated in the alleged anomalies are prepared to dispute allegations against them. (PNA)

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