By Floreño G. Solmirano
LEGAZPI CITY, 3Oct2013 (PNA) – Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda (LP), concurrently Bicol Regional Development Council chairperson, has expressed his full support to President Benigno S. Aquino III, who is drawing criticisms for his release of funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to senators after the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in May last year.
“No way, the DAP does not amount to a willful violation as except for the P50 million for senators and P15 million for congressmen — all the items promote the public welfare,” Salceda said on Thursday, in response to those calling for the impeachment of the President.
He said Mr. Aquino has good faith and at least, with no bad faith.
The Albay governor said “at this particular stage in our national life, impeachment will not prosper because the people will not support and it is not good for the nation.”
Any impeachment, he said, is dead on arrival because it is like asking the inmates to run the correctional facility or the patients, the sanitarium.
“In fact, there remain more reasons to support him in this period of uncertainty,” Salceda said, adding, “But he or his men should not make the situation worse.”
The nation under this regime has made dramatic strides in social services and social policy, he noted.
On quality of expenditures, he cited four achievements that the Aquino administration has made.
For one, he mentioned the universal Philhealth, now at 84 percent achievement, “that will soon result in a demand-side modernization of our private and public health facilities and provide financial protection to the vulnerable.”
The conditional cash transfers of P46 billion (from P10 billion) to 3.4 million individuals (from 800,000) or families, he said, would cut the umbilical cord of intergenerational poverty through better educational and health outcomes.
To reduce poverty, Salceda added, the Aquino administration has adopted the bottom-up budgeting that would almost double the economic development fund of performing local government units (LGUs) initially at P24 billion and commence the road towards that elusive countryside development.
“Lastly, we have the K+12 curriculum, which puts the country’s basic education on international standard and absorbs another two years of family expenditures on education,” he said.
“We also see the incipient progress in the relocation of 40,000 vulnerable riverbank families budgeted at P10 billion, possibly the biggest investment in saving lives by reducing disaster risks and the improvement in early warning communications from new radars and P1.4 billion in NOAH,” Salceda claimed.
On social policy, he said, there are at least two: higher sin taxes that will reduce health risks and costs and sustain funding for public health, and of course, the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill which should enhance the role of women and provide access of the poor to family planning services.
“Based on these eight initiatives, there is more reason to pin our hopes on the incumbent President and no reason at all to seek his removal,” Salceda stressed.
He called on the Filipino public — especially the long-suffering masses, the vocal urban middle class and the intelligentsia – to ask President Aquino and his team to invest their political capital in accelerating infrastructure, especially for tourism connectivity and countryside and rural development.
The Albay governor lamented that it has been three years now and nothing has been done on the Southern Luzon International Airport in Daraga, Albay.
He noted the inaction of the national government on the road connection of Libon-Pantao areas.
While Salceda commended the assistance being made by the Department of Health, he expressed sadness that the construction of the Salalima Hospital in Polangui was moved to 2014, while those in Guinobatan and Bacacay towns were also set in 2014.
He thanked the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the 72,000 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program but reminded the agency about the relocation of 2,400 Juaning victims and the extension of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) program to nine Albay LGUs — Polangui, Oas, Sto. Domingo, Camalig, Guinobatan, Sto. Domingo, Bacacay, Tiwi and Malilipot.
Asked if he agrees with the call on President Aquino to resign, Salceda said, “As a public policy option, resignation is only worse than an impeachment. I may disagree with some of the strategies of the PNoy administration from time to time but he remains to me the best chance our nation has for reforms to take root and bear fruit for this generation, or at least the next. We have hardly exploited his political capital in the clear electoral mandate.”
He stressed that, overall and on balance, a fair assessment of the President’s performance in the past three years and his prospects in the next three years simply cannot provide the fundamental pretext for a withdrawal of support.
He threw a message to the President.
“What does not destroy you will make you stronger. I remain an unrepentant yellow bird but I will continue to resist and make fun of uninspired policies because that is what can destroy you,” Salceda said.
He claimed that he has come to realize that what the nation needs is “an honest and honestly elected leader, and smart is just a bonus since those two elements will attract the smart and keep them honest.(PNA)