President Aquino leads Vin D’ Honneur rites in Malacanang

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President Benigno S. Aquino III led government officials, religious leaders, local and foreign business and economic leaders, as well as members of the Diplomatic Corps in a first toast welcoming the New Year as he expressed commitment to continue working hard to uplift the lives of the people through fair and honest practices in governance.

In his Vin D’ Honneur message before the New Year’s toast at the Rizal Hall of the Malacanang Palace on Friday, President Aquino cited the significant confidence of the people, especially the business sector, on his style of governance that is anchored on righteousness and accountability as exemplified by the influx of investments by both local and foreign investors.

“We have already made great strides in our fight against corruption and poverty, as well as in our thrust to create a progressive economic climate guided by fair and honest practices. Local and foreign groups have acknowledged our triumphs by investing in our country, by lauding our efforts in open governance, and by supporting our programs,” the President said.

He said that the government will continue exerting unyielding efforts not only to strengthen the economy but also to ensure the safety of the people.

The Chief Executive also stressed the importance of unity among the various sectors of society in achieving all of these goals.

“At the heart of our work for the next year lies a desire to secure for our people a better standard of life, and a brighter future. And all of you present here today are crucial to achieving that goal… I am confident that so long as we stand together and remain consistent in our service to the public, our countrymen will be behind us every step of the way, as we work toward success,” the President said.

“This year, we will strengthen the programs that work for our countrymen, such as those in education, health, housing, and others like our Conditional Cash Transfer Program,” he added.

Apart from these developmental initiatives, the President said, the government will also run after those unscrupulous individuals or groups that seek to perpetuate the culture of impunity in the country.

“We will not relent in our quest to hold accountable those who seek to perpetuate the culture of impunity in our country… we will continue to ensure the safety of our nation: by upgrading our defense capabilities, and by working to achieve peace, while pursuing lawless and criminal elements,” the President said.

Present during the event were other government officials led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa and Philippine National Police Chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome, among others.

Also in attendance were members of the cabinet that include Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr., among others.

Vin d’honneur is a traditional reception hosted by the President and held at the Palace to mark the New Year which dates back to the colonial period. This year’s Vin d’Honneur marks the 25th since the Edsa Revolution (the first one took place in 1987). Like last year, the event was held in the morning, in contrast to the afternoon or early evening practice in the past. (jcl/1:25 p.m.)