Amid glittering lights and gowns that filled Rizal Hall in Malacañang on Friday, President Benigno Aquino III admitted that his administration will have a difficult time matching its performance in 2012. “[The year] 2012 will be a difficult year to match, that alone exceed,” Aquino said during his toast at the annual New Year’s Vin D’ Honneur even as he remained optimistic that the Philippines will continue to soar this year. “Given all that we have achieved in the previous year, I believe we have plenty of reason to greet 2013 with optimism—that the path we have chosen to tread in the last two and a half years will continue to yield positive results for our nation and our region,” he said. The Vin D’ Honneur, which translates to “wine of honor,” is traditionally a diplomatic event, which features a toast exchanged between the President of the Philippines and the Papal Nuncio, the representative of the Holy See to the country. The toast is also attended by members of the diplomatic corps as well as ranking government officials. In his toast, Aquino mentioned some of his administration's landmark achievements in the past year, among them the signing of a framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, and the impeachment of Renato Corona as chief justice. “[In 2012] we witnessed the signing of a peace deal and the restoration of public confidence in our judiciary,” he said. Aquino, however, did not mention the landmark signing of the Reproductive Health bill into law, in keeping with his desire to end the divisiveness caused by the issue, particularly with the Catholic Church, who was not in favor of such legislation. Instead, Aquino turned to the international community to enlist their help in the continuing progress of the Philippines. “Though many challenges confront us, we know that, with the Filipino people on our side and with the support of partners overseas, we can make greater strides,” he said. Finally, Aquino toasted to the benefit of the Filipino people and the improvement of the nation. “To dignity, justice, and understanding as the foundations of lasting stability and peace among all peoples, to the Republic of the Philippines, a democratic nation committed to upholding dialogue and cooperation in Southeast Asia, and to being a reliable partner of all nations of good will,” he said. For his part, Papal Nuncio and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Guiseppe Pinto answered Aquino’s toast with wishes of good health and continued success. “To you Mr. President, to the Honorable Secretary of the Foreign Affairs, and its collaborators, the Diplomatic Corps expresses its best wishes of good health and success,” Pinto said. “Let us now raise our glasses for a toast to a New Year of hope and peace; of greater progress and prosperity for the Filipino people,” he added.
— KBK, GMA News