LOS ANGELES, June 8 â€“ A rousing welcome greeted President Benigno Aquino III in Los Angeles on Friday when about a thousand Filipino-Americans came to see a glimpse of who could be the best president to lead the country out of poverty by just doing the right thing: minimized corruption in the government, while collecting the right amount of taxes from the rich.
Aquino, who entered the LAX Hilton Hotel ballroom at 8:04 p.m., spoke in Pilipino for more than half an hour and reported to the audience the latest events that are taking place in the Philippines â€“ some with a tinge of sarcasm â€“ including the recent removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona fromÂ his post.
Fresh from his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House early in the same day, where he Â â€œimpressedâ€ Obama with economic news that is tops in Asia after China, Aquinotold the Fil-Ams that the Philippines had a 6.4 percent growth in the gross domestic product in the first quarter of this year, which earned the respect of many international credit agencies which have raised the positive economic outlook of the country.
Among the most applauded parts of Aquinoâ€™s speech touched on the housingprogram that was launched by his
administration for the police and military personnel.
Aquino said that police officers, who normally pay at least P3,000 in rent, now has to pay only P200 each month to amortize their new home. Aquino said such programs will help eliminate graft in the police agency.
The President also Â lamented the fact that while the Philippines is classified as an agricultural country with rice granaries in many parts of the country and with the International Rice Research Institute located in Metro Manila, it has been importing rice from its Asian neighbors, which he said,was due to corruption in the harvest and warehousing of rice stock. He said that his administration plans to end rice importation and be self-sufficient by 2013.
Aquino also revealed that during the past administration, pre-fabricated bridges were constructed to â€œconnect the whole country,â€ and that concrete slabs were made at taxpayerâ€™s expense even without specific projects identified to install the spans making him to comment: â€œMinsan talaga may makakapal ang mukha.â€
But while these â€œbridges to nowhereâ€ were just a few examples of graft in the Philippine government, Aquino said efforts are being made to improve EDSA, which is probably the most congested road in Metro Manila.
Part of the welcoming group were the members of the Fil-Am media who had to secure clearances from the Secret Service assigned to provide security for the visiting President.
President Aquino met with the Filipino community at the Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California as part of his itinerary during his working visit to the United States on his way back to Manila on Friday.
The President met with the Filipino community here in Los Angeles in a reception prepared by the Philippine Consulate and later departed on their way back to the Philippines.
Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cuisia Jr. said after the President met with the Filipino community last year in New York, the President made sure to provide for a stop in Los Angeles to meet with the Filipino community here.
Cuisia has said that the Filipino community has been very optimistic that the President will bring in greater benefits to the Philippines because of the fact that he was invited by U.S. President Barack Obama to visit the United States even â€œat a time when President Obama is very busy campaigning for the presidency.â€
â€œI think this is a very significant message that is being conveyed by the U.S. that they value our friendship, that they
also value our partnership. And I have seen during my time here, it was about a year, almost a year and one month, that our relationship with the U.S. is much more improved,â€ Cuisia stressed.(With reports from Mabuhay News)