GenSan, ARMM biz leaders hail Aquino’s SONA

KORONADAL CITY(MindaNews/23 July)—Leaders of at least two business groups in Mindanao expressed satisfaction Tuesday about the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III.

The President, midway into his term, delivered his fourth SONA Monday, highlighting the gains achieved and the initiatives needed to sustain the growth of the country.

Bench Tacumba, executive director of the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc. commended Aquino for doing a “good job.”

“His pursuit for integrity in government service demonstrated positive results. It attracts more foreign direct investments because confidence on doing business is high,” she said.

The gross domestic product growth of 7.8 percent for the first quarter of 2013 cited by the President, which is recorded as the highest in Southeast Asia, signals that our economy is robust and our competitiveness’ indicators are in good showing, Tacumba added.

But on the Mindanao power problem, Tacumba noted the President’s statement “sounds too careful though he directly revealed that steps will continue to address the decade-long crisis.”

“With a huge problem such as this, I expect a more thorough and concrete remark on the matter,” she said.

The President said in his SONA that the recurring blackouts in Mindanao made up the long list of problems he inherited from the past administration.

“From the very beginning, we have been working on a solution for this—but we are also aware that a problem that has been ignored for an entire decade cannot be solved overnight,” Aquino said in the English translation of his SONA released by Malacanang.

“Right now, we continue to take steps to address the shortages as well as provide for immediate needs. We have helped electric cooperatives bring in generator sets (gensets) that will reduce brownouts; and this will continue until the plants that will supply the region with more electricity are completed,” he added.

Aquino, however, admitted that the plan of the government to introduce gensets is facing resistance.

“But the critics will never fully disappear. Some are complaining that the price of electricity will increase with the usage of diesel-fueled generator sets. Hydropower is abundant now because of the rainy season, so we hear objections to the generator sets. But come summer, many will once again complain about eight-hour brownouts,” he said.

Aquino said the government wants more power plants built not just in Mindanao but also in other parts of the country.

Datu Haron Bandila, chair of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Business Chamber, said that Aquino is “doing everything well” in terms of addressing the electricity problem in Mindanao.

“I rate the President’s SONA very satisfactory,” he said.

Bandila also pointed out that he was impressed by what Aquino had done for the Mindanao peace process.

But he must still address the rising cost of fuel and unemployment in the country, he said. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)