State of the Nation Address of His Excellency Benigno S.
Aquino III President of the Philippines To the Congress of the Philippines
English translation of the speech delivered at the Session
Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, on
July 23, 2012
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano
Belmonte; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos
and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; eminent Justices of the Supreme Court;
distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; honorable members of the House
of Representatives and of the Senate; our leaders in local government; members
of our Cabinet; uniformed officers of the military and of the police; my fellow
And to my Bosses, the Filipino people: a pleasant afternoon
This is my third SONA. It wasn’t too long ago when we began
to dream again; when, united, we chose the straight and righteous path; when we
began to cast aside the culture of wang-wang, not only in our streets, but in
every sector of society.
It has been two years since you said: We are tired of
corruption and of poverty; it is time to restore a government that is truly on
the side the people.
Like many of you, I have been a victim of the abuse of
power. I was only 12 years old when Martial Law was declared. For seven years
and seven months, my father was incarcerated; we lived in forced exile for
three years. I saw for myself how many others also suffered.
These experiences forged the principles I now live by: Where
a citizen is oppressed, he will find me as an ally; where there is an oppressor,
I will be there to fight; where I find something wrong in the system, I will
consider it my duty to right it.
Martial Law ended long ago and when it did, we were asked:
“If not us, then who?” and “If not now, then when?” Our united response: let it
be us, and let it be now. The democracy that was taken from us by force was
reclaimed peacefully. And in so doing, we brought light to a dark chapter in
Let it not be forgotten: Martial Law was borne because a
dictator manipulated the Constitution to remain in power. And to this day, the
battle rages: between those who seek a more equitable system, and those who
seek to preserve their privileges at the expense of others.
The specters of a lost decade haunted us from our first day
There was the North Rail contract—an expensive project that
became even more expensive after renegotiation. Ironically, the higher cost
came with fewer public benefits; a fleet of 19 trainsets was reduced to three,
and the number of stations, from five to two. To make matters worse, the debts
incurred from the project are now being called in.
We had GOCCs handing out unwarranted bonuses, despite the
losses already suffered by their agencies. We had the billions wasted by PAGCOR
on—of all things—coffee. We had the suspect management practices of the PNP,
which involved ignoring the need to arm the remaining 45 percent of our police
force, just to collect kickbacks on rundown helicopters purchased at brand-new
We were left with little fiscal space even as debts had
bunched up and were maturing. We were also left a long list of obligations to
fulfill: A backlog of 66,800 classrooms, which would cost us about 53.44
billion pesos; a backlog of 2,573,212 classroom chairs, amounting to 2.31
billion pesos. In 2010, an estimated 36 million Filipinos were still not
members of PhilHealth. Forty-two billion pesos was needed to enroll them. Add
to all this the 103 billion pesos needed for the modernization of our armed
To fulfill all these obligations and address all our needs,
we were bequeathed, at the start of our term, 6.5 percent of the entire budget
for the remaining six months of 2010. We were like boxers, sent into the ring
blindfolded, with our hands and feet bound, and the referee and the judges paid
In our first three months in office, I would look forward to
Sundays when I could ask God for His help. We expected that it would take no
less than two years before our reforms took hold. Would our countrymen be
willing to wait that long?
But what we know about our people, and what we had proven
time and again to the world was this: Nothing is impossible to a united
Filipino nation. It was change we dreamed of, and change we achieved; the
benefits of change are now par for the course.
Roads are straight and level, and properly paved; this is
now par for the course.
Relief goods are ready even before a storm arrives. Rescue
services are always on standby, and the people are no longer left to fend for
themselves. This is now par for the course.
Sirens only blare from the police cars, from ambulances, and
from fire trucks—not from government officials. This is now par for the
read more: Benigno S. Aquino III, Third State of the Nation Address