PILAR, Bataan — President Aquino bid farewell to the veterans on Saturday thanking the Filipino people for giving him the opportunity to serve them in six years.
“Bago po ako magtapos, sa pagpasok ko po rito, may isang aleng bumati sa akin, ang sabi, ‘Salamat sa anim na taon,'” the President said in a speech during the 74th commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan here.
“Ang dapat po sanang tugon ko dito, ‘Salamat sa inyo sa ipinagkaloob ninyong mandato para makagawa ng pagbabago. Talaga naman pong hindi mapapantayan ang pagkakataong ito.’ Ito na nga po ang huli, ako po’y magpapaalam na sa inyo sa Bataan.”
As he said goodbye to the nation, the President once again reminded Filipinos that they will be once again facing a crossroad.
In the coming election this May, he said he hopes Filipinos would choose leaders who put public service before self interest.
“Ang tanong ko sa inyo: Pipiliin ba natin ang lideratong inuuna ang sariling interes, habang ginagarantiya ang pagdurusa ng mga nasa ibaba? Pipiliin po ba natin ang lideratong gustong daanin ang lahat sa shortcut, nang walang pagsasaalang-alang sa mga nasasagasaan?” he asked.
“Pipiliin po ba natin ang mga napakatatamis na pangako, pero tila ba walang sapat na pag-unawa sa mga prosesong kailangang daanan para makamtan ito?”
He told the people that he continues to adhere to the Daang Matuwid agenda that he has initiated, hoping Filipinos will support new leaders who also believe in his reform agenda.
As to the programs carried out by his administration for the World War II veterans, he said one of the reform measures include the Pensioner’s Validation Program that intends to clean up the list of veterans so that legitimate recipients get the benefits they deserve.
The government also extended free healthcare services to the veterans and their dependents through the Veterans Hospitalization Program.
In less than six years, he said 10,600 veterans and their dependents got free medical assistance not only at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, but also from 183 accredited public and private hospitals across the country.
“Nasa halagang Php 91 million na nga po ang halagang naisukli ng taumbayan sa inyong sakripisyo sa ilalim ng programang ito,” he said.
The veterans’ daily hospitalization subsidy was also increased to Php 1,500 from Php 1,200, he said.
The government has also modernized the VMMC, put up an eye center, renovated the Operating Room Complex, Medical Intensive Care Unit, and the Outpatient Department Complex.
The hospital’s Renal Dialysis Unit, Medical Intensive Therapy Unit, and Post-Anesthesia Care unit were also expanded, the President said.
Aside from providing healthcare, veterans’ direct descendants can now receive up to Php 36,000 each year as financial support for their college education. He reported that his government has so far spent P370 million for the program within his term.
This year’s commemoration of the Araw Ng Kagitingan carries the theme “Isabuhay and Kagitingan, Kapayapaan ay Pagkaisahan, Kamtin ang Mithing Kaunlaran.” PNA/northboundasia.com