Last vestiges of corruption will end soon – Aquino

MANILA —In what he described as the “last two minutes” of his term, President Aquino urged Filipinos on Monday to remain on the path of righteousness and reason, claiming that his policy of good governance was now “eradicating the last vestiges of corruption.”

“It’s clear that because of good governance, the last vestiges of corruption are now getting eradicated, and we are able to provide more opportunities for our people,” he said in Filipino in his New Year’s message.

Mr. Aquino claimed that “we are close to achieving justice in the prosecution of those who committed wrong and abused” the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

He said that justice is at arm’s length as the government has set up improved mechanisms to assure that people will benefit from taxpayers’ money.

The President also stressed that it is important that the Filipinos’ decision to stay on the straight path will be the legacy to be left to the next generation.

“You our Bosses determine the direction our country will take. Let us stay along the straight path so we may leave a good legacy to the next generation,” Aquino said.

The Office of the Ombudsman is still evaluating the plunder cases filed three months ago by the Department of Justice against Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam, and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

Included in the first batch of cases were 34 respondents, while at least 10 more legislators were charged, this time with malversation, early last month.

“We continue to lay down mechanisms to ensure that the people’s money will go to them only,” said Mr. Aquino, who interrupted his holiday break to lead the commemoration in Tarlac City of the 117th anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal’s death.

The President’s message for the coming year, and for the rest of his term, offered hope and resilience, recalling the conflicts and calamities that rocked the country in the year that is coming to an end.

He paid tribute to Filipinos for showing “extraordinary resilience this year despite all the challenges that we went through.”

“We really triumphed over many things in 2013,” he said, but acknowledged that “there would be more calamities that would test our strength as a nation” in the new year.

“But let us always be ready to prove that the strength of our community [‘bayanihan’] will shine in the face of scoundrels who might sow conflict or earthquakes or typhoons that might hit our land.”

The President cited what he described as “dregs of the old system,” who, he said, would become “desperate and will try to derail our agenda.”

“We are entering another year in our ‘righteous path’ and, as in basketball, we are going into the last two minutes,” he said. “In the final stretch of my term, we shall waste no time; every meaningful contribution of each Filipino will lead us to progress.”

Mr. Aquino said the public would “determine the direction that we would take” in his final two years in office.

“The contributions of each one of us will be the key for us to achieve our goals,” said the President, who also outlined his administration’s accomplishments since he came to power in 2010.

He noted that “because of good governance, we now have the highest recorded GDP [gross domestic product] growth in Southeast Asia and one of the highest in Asia.”

“Let us always side with the truth and with our fellow men. Let us remain on the side of reason and accountability and take advantage of every opportunity that will lead to the greater good of the greater number,” he said.