SONA: A Dream or a Reality
A Reaction Paper
The twenty-seventh day of July of the present year is the most awaited day of our President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to face the Senate, House of Representatives and especially the Filipino people to deliver her 9th State of the Nation Address (SONA), which serves as her last annual report on her accomplishments and as well as to her soon to be projects in her term of administration.
The State of the Nation Address of PGMA this year was the longest SONA so far on her term which lasted 57 minutes and 33 Seconds, based on the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was interrupted by 126 applauses made by supporters of President Arroyo; applauses were almost every glance she made after every sentence she states. While the president receives applauses made inside the Batasang Pambansa by her allies, angry protesters are on the gathered on the roads and outside the Batasang Pambansa doing rallies against the administration of President Arroyo.
Beginning the SONA the president started it by requesting the people to join her in a movement of prayer for the fast healing of former President Corazon Aquino. Then she stated that the nation’s economy was strong, even though people know that the economy is somewhat weak. In her speech our president shows optimism to our country’s state, stating “I want our Republic to be ready for the first world in 20 years.” In attaining that vision she made key reforms like placing the new tax revenues to help pay for better healthcare, more roads, lifting the poor citizens to live and raise a family with dignity, give the farmers a capital to establish a modern equipments in farming to feed the entire nation and to feed also their families and a strong education system.
Also she boastfully stated her accomplishments like the building of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, building airports of international standards, upgrading domestic airports, building seaports and the roll on-roll off transport system, increasing the revenue on BPO industry, $5 billion tourism industry, raise government salaries through Joint Resolution 4, benefited 1,000 people on the emergency employment of the economic resiliency plan, 700,000 poor families benefit from the Pantawid Pamilya program, 700,000 indigenous people and farmers benefited on the CARP, 7 million entrepreneurs benefited by the ?165 billion microfinance loans, selling of NFA rice to ?18.25 per kilo, selling half the price of medicines in the Botika ng Bayan and Barangays, electricity to almost all barangays, building 95,000 classrooms, additional 60,00 teachers and allocate ?1.5 billion for trainings of English teachers, provided college and post-graduate education for over 600,000 scholars, end sentences of 700 OFW who is in jail through her State Visits, net foreign direct investments 15 times multiplied, the GDP growth more than doubled from $76 billion to $186 billion, continuous investment on the 3 E’s, economy, environment and education, and many more. The president obviously boasted that during her administration the lowest inflation rate recorded since 1996, dropped to 1.5%. And for the next nine months of her term she will add another cabinet of the government due to high revenue and productivity on the BPO, which will she call Department of Information Communication Technology.
In her speech she gives thanks to the people behind the success of each of her projects, the Congress, for passing the Cheaper Medicine Law, Rent Control Law and for the automation of election. Also she ask the Congress to passed some laws like the Philippine Transport Security Authority Law, to amend the Commonwealth-era Public Service Law, which will do a great help in the implementation of her projects.
Also the president deal with the things that must be given taxes. She states that books should not be given taxes instead the tobaccos and alcoholic liquors. “Tax hazards to lungs and livers and do not tax minds…,” said by the president. She greatly shows concern on education and the teaching profession stating that “Pardon my partiality on the teaching profession, I was a teacher….” I observe that the president is very concerned in education so she must focus on education this last nine months of her term for her not to gain boos again from students and in education sectors.
To make her administration praised by the public she commenced some ordinary people who benefited on some of her projects like Gigi Gabiola, a former household service worker in Dubai which is now an employee of DOLE, Tarnati Dannawi, a Badjao who was taught of modern mariculture who raise ?180,000 last year, Mylene Amerol-Macubal, a scholar of the government who finished accounting at MSU-IIT and went to law school and placed second on the last bar exam, the first ever Muslim woman bar topnotcher, and lastly Leah de la Cruz, a former NPA who was caught last 2006 and who is now involved in LGU-supported handicraft livelihood training of former rebels. And she also acknowledged some public figures like Congressmen Chua, Alvarez, Biron and Locsin, also to Governor Amadeo Tetangco of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and to the Manny Pacquiao.
To summarize her accomplishments in the past year of her administration she point-out five:
1. We have a strong economy and a strong fiscal position to withstand global shocks.
2. We built new modern infrastructure and completed unfinished ones.
3. The economy is fairer to the poor than ever before.
4. We are building a sound base for the next generation.
5. International authorities have taken notice that we are safer from environmental degradation and man-made disasters.
She also blows her own trumpet by stating publicly that the US President Barack Obama invited her to be the first Southeast Asian leader to meet him in White House, where their agenda will be peace and security issues. Also she claims that during her administration, it was recorded the highest average rate of growth, recording multiple increases in investments, the largest job creation in history, and which gets a credit upgrade at the height of a world recession. Also by saying that she didn’t declare martial law even the country faced attempted coups, rather she only proclaimed state emergency.
In fairness to the president even during her SONA she allotted lines to make tirades on her critics like Sen. Mar Roxas saying “To those who want to be President, this advice: If you really want something done, just do it, do it hard, do it well. Don’t pussyfoot. Don’t pander. And don’t say bad words in public….” To the former House Speaker Jose De Venecia saying, “The noisiest critics of constitutional reform tirelessly and shamelessly attempted Cha-Cha when they thought they could take advantage of a shift in the form of government. Now that they feel they cannot benefit from it, they oppose it….” And up to the last minute of her speech she shamelessly makes tirades on the former president Joseph Estrada stating, “I am accused of misgovernance…. I am falsely accused, without proof…. Many who accuse me have lifestyles and spending habits that make them walking proofs of that crime. We can read their frustrations. They had the chance to serve this good country and they blew it by serving themselves. Those who live in glass houses should cast no stones. Those who should be in jail should not threaten it, especially if they have been there….” During those tirades made by the president, her allies in the administration who are present in the venue make a great round of applauses and yells that leads to negative feedback to the president after her SONA.
But despite the negative weather and rallies opposing the administration for the president to vacate her position or she should not run for another term of presidency in May 2010 election, the president still holds her dignity being the president of our Republic. Even without answering the big question whether she will run or not, she just stated “At the end of this speech I shall step down from this stage, but not from the Presidency. My term does not end until next year. Until then, I will fight for the ordinary Filipino. The nation comes first. There is much to do as head of state—to the very last day.” Even there are many reactions on the statement she made, she still hold calmness and shows the professionalism being the country’s president by saying “And to the people of our good country, for allowing me to serve as your President, maraming salamat. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas….” Even if it is seems to me that it is an open-ended speech I still hope that the promises that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made would then be a realistic one.
The next SONA will be delivered by the president to be, either a new one or still President Arroyo. I wish whoever will be the next president of our country he or she must focus on education and county’s sake and not to be corrupt president but instead serve as a determined president bearing in mind that the Filipino people put their trust on him/her to serve this nation. It is a great dare to the want-to-be presidents to make this country a nice place to live, to be a competitive country not only in Asia but internationally and an efficient country that will make every Filipino people proud of. Maybe this wish is possible, but perhaps this wish will come to reality. Soon we will know.