June 12, 2010 marks another celebration of the Philippines celebration of Independence Day.
Compared with the previous celebrations, this Independence Day celebration was not as colorful or lively as it was the previous years. One of the places where the Independence Day celebration was made was in Quirino Grandstand which was led by exiting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In the said celebration, Mrs. Arroyo has summed up all the accomplishments during her 9-year term as President of the country (coming from decendancy when former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada stepped down due to the Jose Pidal Scam, til the next 6 year term as President elect).
“It is a huge honor and privilege to serve the country as President. We are now entrusting our nine years of growth and development. To all of you who were with me in this hard but historic journey, thank you very much,” the President said in her address at the Quirino Grandstand.
In the first few years of her presidency, Mrs. Arroyo outlined her 10-point agenda for governance using the acronym BEAT THE ODDS.
This stands for: Balance the budget; Education for all; Automated elections; Transportation and digital infrastructure; Terminate hostilities with the New People’s Army and Moro Islamic Liberation Front; Heal the wounds of EDSA; Electricity and water for all; Opportunities for livelihood and 10 million jobs; Decongestion of Metro Manila; and Develop Subic and Clark.
“Poverty reduction is at the center of BEAT THE ODDS,” Mrs. Arroyo said.
The highlight of yesterday’s Independence Day celebration was a civic-military parade that included 10 floats representing each of Mrs. Arroyo’s 10-point agenda.
The government spent P10 million for the daylong event.
Militant groups have criticized the holiday for being “extravagant.”
During her address, Mrs. Arroyo also presented five beneficiaries of her BEAT THE ODDS program.
The first was a grade five student named Joan, whom she had cited in her speeches several times.
The President had built a school near Joan’s home so she would not walk two hours to school everyday. The school is also meant to stand for her commitment to provide education to all children.
She recalled that when she returned to the town where Joan lives a couple of years later, the child approached her and gifted her with a bunch of the best bananas planted near her home.
Housewife Julia Baco of Zamboanga del Norte, who came with her three children, was presented as a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.
The President has taken pride in the program, which provides incentives to families for keeping their children in school and for getting them vaccinated.
Malacañang said the Philippine government’s use of conditional cash transfer certificates for the program has become a model for several countries because it has been proven to work.
Matson Pasquial, a vegetable trader from Nueva Vizcaya, was presented as a beneficiary of the infrastructure projects of the administration, particularly the construction of roads, bridges and farm-to-market roads.
Mrs. Arroyo said Pasquial’s business thrived because of the construction of the Bintong-Belanse Road that provided easier access from his province to other parts of Luzon including Metro Manila.
The President said her administration has produced a million new jobs per year and provided a favorable environment for the development of the business process outsourcing industry (BPO), now one of the fastest growing businesses in the country.
Call center employee Russell Brian Dizon and resort operator Allan Amanse were presented as the beneficiaries of Mrs. Arroyo’s jobs generation program.
Dizon completed a course in nursing but had difficulty getting a job because of the huge number of graduates seeking nursing jobs.
He managed to get a scholarship from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, which provided him with the skills he needed to get a job in one of the biggest BPO firms in the country.
Amanse, on the other hand, was a fisherman in Donsol, Sorsogon who was given training to operate a resort. He now provides diving tours and is active in protecting marine life in Donsol, particularly whale sharks.
“This is what we offer for the 112th anniversary of our independence,” Mrs. Arroyo said. “These five friends of ours, Joan, Julia, Marson, Brian, and Allan are just some of the millions who benefitted from BEAT THE ODDS,” the President said.
On the resolution of conflict in Mindanao, Mrs. Arroyo said the ceasefire has been holding for the past few years and the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is moving forward.
The President also noted that the wounds of EDSA, are healing, albeit slow.
“At least now, instead of another EDSA, the resolution of conflicts is in the elections and the other institutions under our Constitution,” she said.
The President is expected to continue traveling around the country to inaugurate the remaining projects that she has committed to in her previous state of the nation addresses.