Press Release
July 30, 2006

Sen. Edgardo J. Angara on the SONA

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today mentioned the major infrastructure canvas outlined in the President's recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), and cited at least two major flaws in its assumptions.

"First, the claim that the income of the poorest household increased by more than 30% in the past three years is simply not true. On the contrary, total household income fell by almost 13%, while the income of the bottom twenty percent declined by 4%," he said.

Angara also cited the drop in the number of people living below the poverty line from 28% to 25% over the last three years. "Our poverty incidence has decreased by only 2.6% in the past three years, a dismal record as our ASEAN neighbors are able to register this decrease in a year," he explained.

"This explains why Filipino families today are losing the battle against high prices," Angara added, "The income of our households simply cannot keep up with inflation. And still, there is the possibility of rising inflation due to increasing oil prices and climate change."

Angara identified the second serious flaw as the insufficient strategic thinking put into the infrastructure program.

"The North Luzon super-region was identified to provide the food and fish needs of Luzon. But there is no fish catch in the Cordillera, and very little fishing in the Ilocos. There is however an abundance of fish in the Pacific from Cagayan to Bicol, yet there is no airport or seaport being developed along the western coast except for a RORO port in Dingalan, Aurora, which has been delayed for almost a year," he stressed.

"The construction of two more international airports in Luzon and two in Batanes is incomprehensible. What we need are better roads. Big dams like the proposed massive Agno River project have always proven overly expensive and costly to maintain. San Roque and Casecnan are the most expensive dams ever built. Communal irrigation dams are the better alternative," Angara said.

Angara said that if the infrastructure program President Arroyo outlined in her SONA can be rationalized then it's possible to bring affordable food to the population with improved roads and transport, and link the various islands in a more efficient production and distribution system.

"But the main problem plaguing our infrastructure development is the delay, slowness and indecision on key government infrastructure projects. We must tackle this vigorously. For instance, we would have already decongested Metro Manila if we did not dilly-dally in connecting the North Triangle MRT to the LRT in Monumento," he added.

"These infrastructure programs are necessary and useful for our country, but since we have limited resources, it must all be strategically located," Angara said.

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