Asia-Pacific

New Philippine leader Aquino sets out agenda

President Benigno Aquino in parliament on 26 July 2010
Image caption President Benigno Aquino said he wanted to tackle corruption and extra-judicial killings

New Philippine President Benigno Aquino has made his first State of the Nation address, giving a withering critique of his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo.

But he also put forward ambitious plans for the future.

He is aware that his success in the presidential election owes much to his famous parents, and he now needs to show he can live up to the family name.

Mr Aquino told a packed Congress Hall that Gloria Arroyo's rule had left the country in dire financial straits.

Of the total budget for 2010, he said, only 6.5% remained.

He warned that the fund for emergencies such as typhoons and floods was practically empty.

But looking to the future and the key policies he wants to implement in his six-year term, he highlighted:

  • A truth commission to investigate claims of corruption
  • A campaign to stop extra-judicial killings
  • Affordable healthcare and education

It is an ambitious agenda - especially given that he has also said he will not raise taxes to pay for it.

But Mr Aquino knows the Filipino people expect nothing less. His mother, former president Cory Aquino, and his father, democracy hero Ninoy, were two of the most revered people in the country.

The president himself enjoys the same sort of adulation - a recent survey gave him an 88% approval rating, the highest ever for a Philippine leader.

But he knows that his famous pedigree cannot sustain him for ever, and that failure will mean a long fall.

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