Joseph Ejercito Estrada, First State of the Nation Address, July 27, 1998

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State of the Nation Address
of
His Excellency Joseph Ejercito Estrada
President of the Philippines
to the Congress of the Philippines
Session Hall of the House of Representatives

[Delivered at Batasang Pambansa, Quezon City, on July 27, 1998]

Ang Pangalawang Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas. Kagalang-galang na Pangulo ng Senado. Kagalang-galang na Speaker ng Mababang Kapulungan. Kagalang-galang na Punong Hukom ng Korte Suprema. Kagalang-galang na mga miyembro ng Kongreso ng Pilipinas. Kagalang-galang na mga kagawad ng mga Gabinete. Their excellencies of the diplomatic corps. Mga piling panauhin. Mga minamahal kong mga kababayan:

Noong Mayo onse, mahigit na 10 milyong Pilipino ang nagdesisyon na pamunuan natin ang bansa, patungo sa bagong milenyo.

Ngayon, sila ang nagtatanong, ano ba ang gagawin ng bagong pamunuang ito upang ihatid ang ating bansa sa bagong siglo?

Today, I stand before you with an accounting of the present and with a road map for our future.

Paano ba tayo itatawid sa krisis na nakabalot sa ating ekonomiya?

Nasaan na ba tayo ngayon?

Saan ba tayo nanggaling?

At saan ba tayo patutungo?

Hindi na ako magpapaliguy-ligoy. Nasa harap tayo ngayon ng matinding krisis na gumugulo sa buong Asya.

Ayon sa mga eksperto, wala pa tayo sa pinakamalubhang yugto ng krisis.

Kung babalewalain natin ang kinalalagyan natin ngayon, tiyak na lulubog ang ating bansa sa bigat ng ganap ng recession.

Malubha ang lagay ng ating ekonomiya, at namimiligro ang kabang-yaman ng bansa.

Ngunit hindi nangangahulugan na walang magagawa ang pamahalaan. At lalong hindi nangangahulugan na walang magagawa ang sambayanang Pilipino.

Sawa na ang taumbayan sa mga walang-kabuluhang pangako’t palabas. Sa harap ng matinding krisis na ating pinagdaanan nitong nakaraang taon, ang kailangan nati’y mga mabilis at mabisang lunas. Ito ang matinding hamon na dapat nating tugunan—tayong lahat: ang panguluhan, ang Kongreso, ang pribadong sektor, ang mamamayan. Mabigat ang hamon na ito—subali’t buo ang tiwala kong mas matimbang ang pinagsama nating talino, sipag, at kakayahan.

But let us first make an accounting of the present. A true accounting that is perhaps long overdue.

Nitong unang bahagi ng 1998, ang paglago ng gross domestic product [GDP] ay katumbas lamang sa 20 percent ng antas na naitala noong 1997.

Nangalahati ang produksyon ng mga pabrika natin. Pawang pagbabawas ng imbentaryo—at hindi ang paglikha ng mga produkto—ang ginawa ng mga industriya natin. Sa kanilang pangangamba sa recession, lalo lamang pinalala ang problema.

Bumagsak ang ating produksyong pang-agrikultura. Bumaba nang 14 percent ang ani ng palay, at bumaba din nang 24 percent ang ani ng mais.

Malimit nating tukuyin ang phenomenon ng El Niño, subalit ang tunay na ugat ng suliranin ay ang pangkalahatang sektor ng agrikultura.

Halos double-digit na ang ating inflation rate. Napakataas ang interes na sinisingil ng mga bangko kaya naman hindi makautang ang marami nating negosyante. At lalo namang hinigpitan ng mga bangko ang kanilang pagpapautang, kaya’t maraming kalakal ang nagsasara.

Dahil sa debalwasyon at sa El Niño, tuluy-tuloy ang pagbagsak ng ating piso. Ito ay lubhang mabigat para sa ating mga kababayan natin na isang kahig, isang tuka ang kinagisnang pamumuhay.

Unemployment is now 13.3 percent and still growing; underemployment, 20 percent and also growing. 4.3 million Filipinos need a job. Twice that number wish they had a real, full-time job.

Maaaring sabihing ito ay maliit pa. Subali’t paano mo sasabihin sa pamilyang gutom na mas masama ang kalagayan ng ibang pamilya sa ibang bansa?

One lost job is one hungry family, and one cold statistic I cannot agree.

Statistics claim that the number of poor people has gone down in the past decade. I wonder if the people believe these statistics.

Wala sa akin ang mga statistics na iyan. Poor is poor—walang pera, walang pagkain, walang bubong, walang dignidad, at lalung-lalo na, walang pag-asa.

Hindi lang iyan. ‘Yung mayaman ay higit pang yumaman, at ang mahihirap lalong humirap.

I wish that I could say that we shall set up a job security fund soon. But I don’t want to add to the inventory of unfunded laws and bills that now amount to P400 billion worth of promises that will never be fulfilled.

According to statistics, in the past six years, as the Philippine economy grew, the richest 10 percent got 40 percent of the national income.

And the poorest 10 percent? Wala pang dalawang porsiyento.

It is worse in the countryside, where 40 percent of Filipinos still work for one-third of wages in the city. That is why they come here. Only to find that there are no jobs, or none for which they qualify.

Noong araw, inakala ko na marami na kusang darating sa ating bansa ang mga banyagang negosyante dahil ang mga manggagawa natin ay mahuhusay at handang tumanggap ng mababang sahod. Hindi na ito totoo.

Napakababa ng productivity ng karaniwang manggagawang Pilipino dahil kalahati na lang sa kanila ang nakapagtapos sa mababang paaralan samantalang tatlumpu’t tatlong porsiyento lang ang nakaabot ng high school.

Ngunit limitado ang pondo na maari nating ilaan para sa edukasyon; may kakulangan tayong 24,000 silid-aralan, at 4,000 guro.

Hindi lamang sa larangan ng edukasyon—hanggang ngayon, mahigit sa tatlumpung porsiyento ng tahanan sa bansa ay wala pa ring kuryente. At sa boung Asya, sunod lamang sa bansang Hapon ang taas ng singil natin sa kuryente.

Sa larangan ng agrarian reform, na ngayon ay nasa ika-26 na taon na.

Only 57 percent of target areas have been distributed, while productivity has become lower.

This does not mean that the land should have been left with the landlords, but that the farmers should not have been left to fend for themselves.

This is where we are now. Add anarchy on the peace and order front, where the only thing organized is crime, and the only thing systematic is kidnapping. The result: capital flight. Yet some officials think they can attract foreign funds with tax incentives for potential kidnap victims.

Ang sinumang bagong Pangulo ay may pangarap at minimithing para sa bansa lalung-lalo na sa akin, na malaki ang inaasahan ng masang Pilipino. Ngunit gustuhin ko man na maibigay ang kanilang inaasahan sa lalong madaling panahon, paano ko ibibigay kung wala tayong sapat na pananalapi na igugugol para maiangat ang kanilang kabuhayan?

We have a P70 billion budget deficit and a consolidated public sector deficit that could go as high as P90 billion. Collection of taxes and duties are down, even as more and more tax exemptions and incentives cut deep into government revenues.

Government could borrow more. But that will only raise interest rates and worsen the economic slowdown. The result: less taxes and fewer jobs.

If high interest rates squeeze GNP by just two percent more, there will be half a million more jobless. But if we pressure the Bangko Sentral to print more money, inflation will shoot up.

Kaliwa’t kanan, may latay, napakahirap tumimbang, at sadyang malala ang problema natin. Gayunpaman, nasa ugat ng problema ang nakikita kong solusyon.

The problems we face are of such magnitude as to require nothing less than heroic and concerted action. We must move upon them as a single community, bound together by common rules that we all agree to respect and obey.

To begin with, we have to reduce the cost of governance, costs that go higher and higher with each corrupt act, with each wasteful project.

Bilyun-bilyong piso ang nawawaldas sa mga proyektong maaksaya at kulang sa silbi, at lalong malaki pa ang nawawalang parang bula dahil sa patuloy na mga kurakot.

Business pays taxes, but mostly into the pockets of BIR agents or customs examiners instead of the national treasury.

In 1998 alone, we can save as much as P34 billion from pork barrel.

P4.6 billion went to the centennial celebration, but the Department of Social Welfare had to beg for P100 million in emergency food aid to drought victims in Mindanao, and did not get it.

The 1997 World Development Report ranks the Philippine Civil Service as among the most politicized in the world, with politics deciding appointments down to janitor. The 1992 Corruption Index ranked the Philippines as the second most corrupt country in the region.

Debt service took 27 percent of the national budget last year; P26.4 billion in the first semester of 1998 alone. The total external debt, including the private sector, is $45.4 billion or P1.9 trillion pesos.

Nang ako’y maupo bilang Pangulo, nagulat ako nang ipaalam sa akin na umabot na pala sa P2.3 trillion ang kabuuang utang ng pampublikong sektor.

Hindi na bilyun-bilyon ang usapan ngayon, kundi trilyun-trilyon na.

We know where we are: in an economic slowdown, deep in the Asian crisis.

We know that we don’t have much to work with.

Previous leaders have laid down both political and economic reforms that make up an enduring framework from which we can further build.

But we race against time, as an impatient public ask us: When will those reforms pay dividends for the common man?

Well, we just have to begin now. With honesty, with thrift, with efficiency.

Tama na ang pagpapasasa.

Tama na ang nakawan.

Tama na ang aksaya.

Tama na ang mga palabas.

Kailangan magbanat tayo ng mgabuto, at tunay na serbisyo ang siyang dapat na maging balangkas para sa ating mga solusyon. [Applause]

Ngayon taon, mula sa inaasahang P93 bilyon, pababa sa P60 bilyon lamang, kailangang magsagawa ng mga kaukulang pagbabago at pagtitipid ang pamahalaan upang lalo pang paliitin ang inaasahang kakulangan nito sa P40 bilyon lamang.

In order to achieve these targets, we will resolutely pursue several major cutbacks in expenditure programs.

First, I have instructed the secretary of the budget to continue to withhold 25 percent of budget allocations, excluding salaries and wages, from the various national agencies, including the Office of the President.

Second, we will continue to withhold 10 percent from the internal revenue allotment of the local government units [LGUs].

Third, I believe that congress shares my conviction that we have to abolish the pork barrel in the face of our fiscal position. [Applause] Kakaunti ang mga congressman na pumapalakpak. [Laughter] Our people ask no less.

Lastly, I will postpone the implementation this year of various programs earmarked for funding from the military camp sale proceeds, including the AFP modernization program. [Applause]

We will also move quickly to dispose of the burden of government-owned corporations. I urge Congress to prioritize the bill privatizing the NAPOCOR within the first three months of the 11th session. Privatization of government shares in Pasar, Philphos, Petron, FTI, PNB, PNOC-EDC, PNCC, Meralco, and the two government-owned television stations will commence this year. The Department of Finance will put in place, within 100 days, a program to spin off or restructure the rest of the government corporations. Ngunit ang mga ospital ng pamahalaan ay kailanman ay hindi natin ibebenta. [Applause] At mananatiling susuportahan ng ating pamahalaan.

All dealings, contracts, and negotiations will be done with complete transparency and integrity, every step of the way. [Applause]

Any indication of anomaly, I will immediately cancel the sale.

Uulitin ko, isang balita lang tungkol sa katiwalian, ipatitigil ko ang anumang klase ng subasta. Kahit sino pa sila. [Applause]

I have ordered an inventory of all government lands titled to departments and bureaus and their transfer to the national government. I want my officials to keep out of the real estate business and stick to public service. [Applause]

But let us not forget that privatization is mainly an emergency response to an emergency situation.

It is therefore my intention to initiate institutional reform of the entire budget process. My administration has just completed its first three-year budget framework, which the national government will soon propose to Congress as our budget accord. In contrast to the current practice where only the executive decides on the initial list of programs and projects, the budget accord will involve both Congress and the executive in the selection of projects to be approved by the President. And the total of these expenditures cannot exceed predetermined, irrevocable ceilings over the three-year period. [Applause]

Sa panig po naman ng pananalapi, umaasa akong magtatagumpay ang action plan ng Department of Finance upang maging epektibo ang pangongolekta ng buwis.

The action plan of the Department of Finance will start with an asset census, intended to establish an up-to-date and reliable database on the net worth of all tax-paying Filipinos.

We will push for a tax amnesty that will give peace of mind to delinquent taxpayers and tax credits to honest ones. Pagkatapos ng tax amnesty, I will assure you that we will apply the full force of the law against tax evaders. [Applause]

Tinitiyak ko sa inyo na hindi lamang natin hahabulin ang mga tax evaders na ito kundi siguradong mapaparusahan, sino man sila. [Applause]

We will establish a large taxpayers unit at the BIR. We will suspend the implementation of certain BOI exemptions granted to companies under laws and executive orders that expired in 1997. [Applause]

The fiscal reforms forced upon us by the economic crisis will continue to serve us well even after the crisis is over. I will take this opportunity to establish fiscal discipline in the spending habits of government. Although we have to tolerate a certain amount of deficit this year, we will try as best as possible to pursue a balanced budget for the national government in the coming years. The consolidated deficit for the entire public sector will be limited to no more than 1 percent of the country’s GNP.

Makikinabang ang lahat sa mga gagawin nating ito: Hindi lamang ang pamahalaan, kundi ang karaniwang mamamayan na rin.

Sa larangan ng ating financial system, patuloy na igagalang ng aking administrasyon ang kalayaan ng ating Monetary Board at ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Subali’t hindi kailangang magdusa ng lubos ang kalakalan sa patuloy na pagtaas ng interest rates.

Kakatigan ko ang pagbaba ng interest at ang pagpapabilis sa daloy ng pananalapi, lalo na sa mga maliliit na negosyo. Gayunpaman, titiyakin kong ang salapi ng mga government financial institution [GFI] ay hindi sosolohin ng mga iilang korporasyon.

Giant corporations and powerful groups have cornered a huge chunk of the resources of government banks, whose mandate is principally to help agriculture and small and medium enterprises.

This practice will be reversed. Sobra na ang kanilang pagsasamantala. These billionaires have pushed small borrowers to lending windows that charge much higher interest rates. From this time on, GFIs will truly, sincerely, service the common people’s needs. [Applause]

Ipinamalas din ng kasalukuyang krisis ang peligro ng labis na pag-asa sa mga pondong nagmumula sa labas, kaya’t kailangan nating pag-ibayuhin ang sarili nating pag-iipon, nang may sarili tayong pampuhunan sa ating mga proyekto.

Sa dako naman tayo ng agrikultura, na lubhang napabayaan, kaya’t ang food security ng 70 milyong Pilipino ay nasa bingit ng alanganin.

The monopoly of rice importation by the National Food Authority has not stabilized prices, nor has it broken the cartels. Two administrations have declared sugar a sunset industry, doomed to die. Maybe. All I know is that, sunset industry or not, I cannot leave three million families who depend on sugar in the dark, with nothing to eat after the sun goes down.

Marahil ang paglubog ng ating agrikultura ay dulot ng kulang na imprastruktura. Hindi sapat ang bilang ng mga daanan na nag-uugnay sa mga bukid at mga pamilihan.

Bakit nga ba magtatanim kung hindi mo naman maibebenta ang iyong inani?

We are condoning irrigation fees. Ibibigay natin ng libre ang patubig sa ating magsasaka. [Applause] At the same time, we will launch a full-scale program based on cost-effective irrigation technologies.

Kailangan nating gumawa ng 140,000 kilometro ng mga bagong daan. Magkakahalaga ito ng P484 billion.

Without graft and corruption, this will be money well spent. It could also jumpstart the economy.

Tungkol naman sa ating kapaligiran, ipapairal natin ang ganap na pagbabawal sa pagtotroso o total log ban. [Applause] Maglulunsad tayo ng bagong programa sa muling pagtatanim ng mga puno. But not like in the past when massive reforestation was another excuse for massive corruption.

Traffic tells us that we need more roads and we need to finish them faster. One reason for delay of roads and other projects is the issuance of temporary restraining orders or TROs. I will not interfere with the judiciary, but I urge the Supreme Court to remind judges of the lawyer’s oath to delay no man for money.

Masyado ng garapal ang bentahan ng temporary restraining order. [Applause]

Walang lakas ang mahihirap upang tulungan ang kanilang sarili, ngunit ngayon, kahit ang gobyerno ay kapos sa pondo. So we must strategize to maximize.

Dole-outs are out, but basic social services are only just and right. That means basic health care, basic nutrition, and useful education for those who want it but cannot afford it.

We will speed up the program to establish one science high school in every province. [Applause] We will give education subsidies straight to deserving students and teachers without passing through the schools. That way they can choose where to study and where to teach.

Ang lahat ng mga ito ay nangangailangan ng salapi. Sa mga susunod na hakbangin, kailangan lamang natin ang tapang at political will. Nilagdaan ko na ang executive order na lumilikha sa tinaguriang Presidential Task Force against Organized Crime. Bunga nito, katakut-takot na batikos ang ipinukol sa akin.

Isang tanong, isang sagot: Kontra ba tayo sa krimen, o sa mga lulmalaban sa krimen? The task force is what I think is needed to hit crime, and hit it hard so as to put it out—decisively. [Applause] Maybe there is a better way, but no one has shown me this. They only say that I am wrong but not how I can do it right and effectively.

Sawa na ako sa kanila. Pati na ang mamamayan, sawa na rin. Sawa na sa puro pamumulitika. Sawa na sa puro salita, ngunit wala namang nagagawa kundi laitin ang mga lumalaban sa krimen. Buo na ang aking pasiya. Tuloy ang presidential task force against the criminals.

I propose that Congress amends the Dangerous Drug Act to eliminate the possibility of probation for all offenders. Even if they say they are sorry. The only place for a drug dealer and the addict is together in jail.

I shall propose another controversial measure. I want to devolve greater administrative control over the Philippine National Police to the local government units. [Applause] I am sure I will get hit for this also. Perhaps there is a constitutional question here. But one thing is sure, I am not abusing power. What I am doing is sharing some of my power with the local executives over the national police.

Ang pulis na baon sa hirap ay hindi nalalayo sa tukso na mang-abuso. Pero hindi ako nagdududa na gagampanan nang tapat ng mga alagad ng batas ang kanilang tungkulin kahit na gaano pa silang kahirap.

Ngunit bakit pa natin pabibigatin ang kanilang kalagayan? Naniniwala ako na kapag sapat ang sahod ng ating mga alagad ng batas, higit na magiging propesyonal ang ating mga pulisya.

Sa krimen, ang sagot natin ay kaparusahan. Sa rebelyon, ang tugon natin ay negosasyon.

Sa mga nagsisialsa, ay tapat lamang ang pagnanasa na makamit ang pagbabago sa lipunan, tayo ay handang makipag-negosasyon.

Subali’t sa mga terorista, wala tayong panahon.

Sa mga kapatid nating Muslim, hinihiling ko ang pagkakataon na mabigyan ng katarungan ang napakaraming taon ng kapabayaan. Tigilan natin ang dahas, at pag-ibayuhin ang sandugong kapatiran. Samantalang ang karapatan ng ating mga kababaihan ay patuloy nating itataguyod.

As President, I inherit not only the problems but the responsibility to finish what my predecessors have started. That includes the resolution of ill-gotten wealth cases from the Marcos era. [Applause] I will do so. We have talked of settlements but we have not precluded continuing prosecution.

Yet these cases have gone on long enough. Therefore, I order the Presidential Commission on Good Government to go forward on all ill-gotten wealth cases with all the evidence it has taken 12 long years to collect.

No more delays.

One way or another, I want these cases to end in one year, in final judgments or acceptable settlements.

Pagkatapos ng 12 taon, siguro naman may katibayan na upang mabigyan ng katarungan ang sambayanang Pilipino. Ito ang maliwanag na halimbawa ng justice delayed, justice denied.

Sa dakong external security naman. Effective national defense requires not just modern weaponry but better fighting men. Before we spend on expensive hardware, let us have the right kind of soldiers. It is not weapons that win wars but the men who fight them.

Until we develop a credible military deterrent, we must depend on the goodwill of our neighbors, on our treaty commitments with the United States, and on the skills of our diplomats in conveying to everyone that we want only peace, stability, and a shared prosperity.

It is said that my stand as a senator against the U.S. Bases Treaty disqualifies me as President from endorsing the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States.

On the contrary, because I stood up for the Philippine sovereignty in 1991, now as your President, I have the moral right to stand up for Philippine security today. [Applause]

Sa bahagi naman ng pamamahala, itinatag ang pamahalaan upang paglingkuran ang mga mamamayan—at hindi ang kanyang sarili. Kung tutuusin kailangan natin ng higit pang pamamahala—lalo na upang itaguyod ang kapakanan ng mga maralita.

Sa ngayon, labis-labis ang ating pamamahala, subalit kulang na kulang naman ang mga serbisyong pampubliko.

Pakikiusapan ko ang Kongreso na bigyan ako ng kapangyarihan para reorganisahin ang gobyerno upang ito ay maging matipid at masinop. The aim is not to change officials but to rationalize government operations. We are a small country, we should only have a small government. Not only on the national but also on the local level.

Tungkol naman sa ating electoral reforms, hindi lamang halalang mapayapa ang ating kailangan, kundi kampanyang hindi lubhang magastos. Hindi lamang karapatan ng mga mamamayang bumoto ang dapat natin tiyakin; dapat siguruhin natin na ang mga boto nila ay mabibilang.

Upang makamit ito, kailangan bigyan ang Komisyon sa Halalan ng higit pang kapangyarihan upang harangin at parusahan ang lahat ng uri ng pandaraya. Hinihiling ko sa Kongreso na magpatibay ng batas upang gawing heinous crime ang anumang electoral fraud. [Applause] Kailangan matapos ang computerization program bago sumapit ang susunod na eleksiyon. Natitiyak kong marami pa tayong magagawa sa ikabubuti ng pangangasiwa ng pamahalaan—ngunit maaring kailangan pang baguhin ang ilang mga alituntunin ng saligang batas. Darating ang panahon ng pagbabago sa ating Saligang Batas.

Mga kagalang-galang ng kinatawan ng sambayanang Pilipino: Hayaan ninyong wakasan ko ang mensaheng ito sa pagsambit ng isang taimtim na pag-asa.

Ngayong taon—sa kabila ng mga mabibigat na suliranin—sumusulong pa rin ang ating ekonomiya.

This year, despite formidable odds, we still expect some economic growth. Our gross national product is targeted to expand this year by 2 to 3 percent. While other countries in the region have registered negative GNP, we continue to have positive growth—this, I would say, is a credit to my predecessor, Former President Ramos. [Applause] We believe we can keep inflation based on 1998 prices in the single digits, at around 9.5 percent.

To conclude, my aim is to help our country escape the recession. My solutions are obvious, my proposals may be commonplace, but they were never adapted before.

In sum, they are to spend wisely and less. And by austerity and hard work generate the means to cover the shortfalls of the past, so we can have a smooth runway for a final takeoff.

Perhaps by then, six years will have passed, and someone else will take over as pilot. I am honored enough to be elected to the position of the highest responsibility, power, and trust in the land.

I have neither pretensions nor further ambition, only the sincere desire to serve, to help the least of our people. [Applause] Kaya po ako’y humihingi sa inyo ng kaunting pag-unawa, kaunting panahon, kaunting pagtitiis alang-alang sa ating bayan, at higit sa lahat para sa ating nakakaraming mahihirap na mamamayan.

Naniniwala ako na kapag nagawa natin na tayo’y nagkaisa, tayo’y nagkasama-sama, lahat ng klaseng pagsubok ay malalampasan natin. Nandiyan din ang ating hamon; nandiyan din ang ating tagumpay.

Maraming, maraming salamat po. [Applause] [Standing ovation]

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