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NEWS UPDATES 26 July 2010

Philippines’ Aquino to outline program

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Philippine President Benigno Aquino is set to outline a broad blueprint for solving his nation's economic and graft problems on Monday when he delivers his first State of the Nation address, the AFP reports.

Mr. Aquino, who took over from the highly unpopular Gloria Arroyo last month, was also expected to launch a withering critique of his predecessor's near decade-long rule. In the days leading up to his speech to both houses of parliament, Aquino said he would reveal a wide array of alleged misdeeds by Arroyo and her aides that he insisted bled the national coffers dry.

'We will all be shocked with what I will reveal at the SONA (state of the nation address),' the 50-year-old bachelor said. Aquino said there were at least five major anomalies by Mrs. Arroyo's government that his administration had uncovered since assuming office on June 30, and that he would disclose them to parliament.

'The problems left a lot of us gasping for breath at what has been done,' he said. Aquino alleged massive corruption by Arroyo's government had left his administration severely hamstrung in how it could go about improving the lives of the nation's 92 million people, a third of whom live in dire poverty.

“The work ahead will not be easy over the next few years. Nearly all the funds intended for use over the next few months have been stolen,” Aquino said. Nevertheless, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Sunday that Aquino would also set a direction for the country, and not just talk about Mrs Arroyo and her government.

'It will be a realistic speech. It will spell out his programmes, solutions,' Mr. Lacierda said on state radio. He said Aquino would call on members of parliament to rally behind his fledgling government. 'We are asking the Senate and the House of Representatives to help the president in pushing the country forward,' Mr. Lacierda said.

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