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P-Noy Renews Vow to Filipinos on Independence Day

Twin scourge of corruption and poverty to be eradicated
The Philippine flag is raised during the 113th Independence Day celebrations in Rizal Park yesterday. Inset shows President Aquino with Cavite Historical Society head Cesar Virata and AFP chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. at the balcony of the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. (From
The Philippine flag is raised during the 113th Independence Day celebrations in Rizal Park yesterday. Inset shows President Aquino with Cavite Historical Society head Cesar Virata and AFP chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. at the balcony of the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. (From

MANILA, Philippines (June 13 2011) -- Filipinos across the country celebrated the 113th Philippine Independence Day yesterday amid colorful celebration marked by renewed vow by President Benigno C. Aquino III to eradicate the twin scourge of corruption and poverty.

The president spoke at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite province after he led the wreath-laying and flag-raising ceremonies at the historic site where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on the same day in 1898.

The Philippines was a Spanish colony for three centuries and a United States colony for nearly four decades.

Even even without uttering it, the President stayed the course following the campaign mantra that won him the presidency, "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap."

He said his administration will not tolerate officials who extort money from private entities transacting with the government.

Eradication of corruption shall eventually lead to ending poverty, the president stressed. He also said that the country cannot be truly independent if it remained mired in corruption and poverty and he promised to eradicate corruption in government even if he hurts his friends.

“How many decades have we been battling to be free from the shackles of poverty? Why is it taking so long to achieve victory? Until we get rid of the corrupt, there will always be poor people. If we want to free our nation, we have to free our government and ourselves from corruption,” the president said in Filipino.

“I will do this even though I might collide with some powerful blocs and even if some friends might be implicated in the interest of the public good,” added Aquino, who was recently criticized by opposition lawmakers for being too soft on his friends alleged to be involved in government irregularities.

The President declared a new chapter in Philippine history and said that his administration "has planted the seeds of reform.".

"In the name of the Philippines, I declare the opening of a new chapter in our history, where each Filipino can reap the fruits of his labor, where laws are imposed on rich and poor alike, where everyone can chart his own destiny, where one can have freedom with honor. This is the free Philippines. We are the free Filipinos," said Aquino.

He also aims to reduce by 4 million the number of families that experience hunger every day.

In what appeared to be a preview of his State- of- the-Nation Address(SONA) on July 25, the President said his government has started to implement reforms to address poverty, corruption, tourism growth, electoral reforms in Mindanao, and self-sufficiency in rice.

To reduce the four million hungry Filipinos every day, Aquino said his government has eliminated controversial contracts in Laguna Lake Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, and other agencies that are deemed wasteful so that public funds could be allocated properly for public service.

On job generation, he said his government also promoted a business-friendly environment, including upholding legitimate contracts. A “partial open skies policy” was also implemented to attract foreign airlines and boost tourist arrivals.

The passage of the law rationalizing the operations and compensation at government-owned and -controlled corporations was also another “victory” to prevent the abuse of public funds, according to the President.

Another “victory” of his administration was congressional mandate that he successfully got recently to postpone the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections from August to 2013 to institute vital reforms in governance.

As local rice production improves, the government has also reduced rice importation to 500,000 metric tons next year, from the 860,000 metric tons this year.

Aquino also said his government shall provide decent housing for soldiers and policemen. At least 21,800 houses will be built this year in some provinces.

“All of these are meant to give you a taste of true freedom. True freedom is freedom from hunger, ignorance, poverty, and joblessness. True freedom is freedom with dignity and honor,” the President said.

Aquino, who has also been criticized for alleged slow pace of reforms, also defended that he is focused on delivering results, not grabbing brownie points or media headlines.

“If they think my dating even if I am a bachelor, the purchase of a second-hand car using my own money or even my poor singing are huge sins, I don’t have any problem with them. What is important to me, what is important to the nation is results; not brownie points, headlines, and especially clinging on to power,” he said.

During the traditional vin d’ honneur with the diplomatic corps, which was attended by former presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada, Aquino also painted a rosy picture of a future Philippines as he offered a toast for more good things to come in his administration.

“One hundred thirteen (113) years ago, we declared our independence on this day; and between then and today, we have lost our freedom and have won it back many times. So you can imagine how much it means to our people to be free - for our country to be a beacon of democracy on this side of the world. And it comes as no surprise that, moving forward, this freedom is what we have chosen to define ourselves by,” he said.

“So I would also like for all of us to look toward the future. The best way to pay our respects to the heroes who sacrificed for us is to put in the same amount of effort they did to making our country a better place - to building a nation truly free and committed to inclusive and equitable progress, borne of compassion and integrity,” Aquino added.

As part of the celebration, 2,000 marathoners ran up to 10 kilometers in Caloocan City while 1,500cyclists biked the trail in Marikina City.

The Department of Labor and Employment held a whole-day job fair at the Fountain Area of the Rizal Park. About 113 local, overseas, and government employers participated in the job fair, offering thousands of job opportunities, said Labor department Undersecretary Danilo Cruz.

In the afternoon program at the Quirino Grandstand in central Manila, President Aquino arrived amid cloudy skies, and received full honors. It was followed by performance and an E-trikes fleet parade, a symbol of the public-private-partnership scheme proposed by Mr. Aquino. The celebration came to the climax with a display of fireworks.

Since Friday, Police had been on heightened alert to secure the Independence Day celebrations. At least 1,000 policemen were assigned to various sites and efforts paid off as almost all activities proceeded smoothly. (From