Senator Loren Legarda commended the various accomplishments and concrete targets presented by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“The SONA was a comprehensive, clear, targeted, and detailed outline of what has been accomplished due to policy reforms and priority projects of the administration. I am glad that measurable goals for the coming years were also mentioned, because now we will have a way to gauge how efficiently and effectively the administration has performed, and how gains can be sustained and how the targets can be achieved,” she said during an ambush interview.
“I am glad that PhilHealth enrolment now stands at 85%, and that 5.2 million of the poorest households enjoy the benefits of PhilHealth without having to pay for it from their own pockets. This is consistent with the Universal Healthcare Coverage bill I have been pushing for since 2007,” she added.
Legarda also expressed support for the highly motivated attitude with which the administration is addressing the backlog of classrooms in the country, and the ambitious goals for the tourism and agricultural industries.
“I am especially pleased that there is a target to build 66, 800 classrooms by the end of 2013. Placing high priority on education will be one of the best investments we can make,” she said.
She also remarked that “The government is targeting 10 million tourist arrivals for every year by 2016, and, given our rich heritage, unparalleled biodiversity, and breathtaking landscapes, I believe that this is achievable.”
“I am pleased with the news that this year, we only have a rice shortage of 500,000 metric tons. This is a stunning improvement from the 1.3 million metric ton rice shortage before the current administration took over, and the Philippines may be exporting rice instead of importing it next year. To achieve this goal, our country’s agricultural climate change adaptation program must ensure more investments in agricultural research and infrastructure, as well as improved water governance and land use policies,” she said.
Legarda also lauded Project NOAH, or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, a map which can be accessed through a real-time information website. It shows information coming from 86 automated rain gauges and 28 water level monitoring sensors in various regions.
“I am fully supportive of expanding this project through the installation of 600 automated rain gauges and 422 water level monitoring sensors, because this will be an effective tool for disaster risk information and early warning dissemination,” she remarked.
On the issue of the West Philippine Sea, she said that, “The mention of Bajo de Masinloc underscores the importance placed by this administration on the issue. It is important that the matter was addressed in the SONA with a clear call to peaceful action.”
“For so long we were divided. Now that the government has clear and achievable plans for the future of our nation, it is time for us to unite. I will support President Aquino for the sake of our country and the generations to come. The Congress has an equally important role in ensuring that our country stays on its path to sustainability and security. It is important that policies and the budget are in place to provide the framework and the wherewithal to carry out the programs and services for the people,” she explained.
On a final note, Legarda appealed to the Aquino administration to look at indicators beyond the usual statistics.
“We need to look at the quality of life that progress provides to the Filipino people. Thus we need to develop a ‘happiness index’ which will seriously entrench the idea of environmental sustainability, conservation of our biodiversity, and people’s well-being in the country’s development goals,” she concluded.***