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Aquino to unveil blueprint for Philippines

International Desk |
Update: 2010-07-26 00:46:31

MANILA: 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.

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 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 Arroyo and her government.

"It will be a realistic speech. It will spell out his programmes, solutions," 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," Lacierda said.

Aquino won national elections in May by a landslide after campaigning on a promise to fight corruption that has long afflicted the Philippines, but which he alleged worsened during Arroyo`s time in power.

He has repeatedly said that only by ending corruption, which pervades all sectors of society, can the nation win its battle against poverty.

Aquino has in recent weeks vowed to have Arroyo, who was required by constitutional term limits to step down, investigated and possibly prosecuted for her alleged corrupt activities.

Arroyo took the unprecedented step for a sitting president of running for a seat in the House of Representatives in the elections, a move widely seen as part of a strategy to shield herself from prosecution.

She easily won the seat representing her home province and was meant to sit in parliament to hear the State of the Nation address.

However, Arroyo`s allies said she would skip town on Monday to join her husband in Hong Kong for a medical appointment.


BDST: 0924 HRS, July 26, 2010

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