By Raïssa Robles
In this post, I would like to do live-blogging of the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino before Congress.
IN the end, I think PNoy’s message is – Ang sarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito.
IN a way, yes. BUt in another way, life is much harder.
ANother thing that PNoy did not at all mention directly – the conflict in the South China Sea. THis was only hinted at in terms of the upgrades for external defense.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said it was “prudent” of the President to keep mum about it because of Manila’s pending case of arbitration on the issue before a United Nations body.
UPDATE: AS OF July 22, 2013, 6:49 PM:
You can read the English version of PNoy’s speech by clicking here.
First thing quite noticeable is the utter disconnect between what lawmakers are wearing and the topic of the SONA. How can they be listening to the gross poverty in our nation while wearing the most expensive designer outfits?
The way the lawmakers, their relatives and firends are dressed to the nines, you’d think this was the Oscar Academy Awards. Not a gathering of the nation’s leaders to tackle the nagging and very serious problem of poverty.
According to Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, the conditional cash transfer covers 4.3 million families. Assuming the traditional assumption that a Filipino family has an average of six members, that’s 24 million individual Filipinos who are very very poor.
And that’s equivalent to around a fifth of the current assumed Philippine population.
That’s a LOT.
An hour has passed since PNoy started his SONA. THere is as yet been no mention of the pork barrel and the FOI bill. HOwever, there has been mention of Philhealth for the poor, of informal settlers, of the peace agreement with Muslim rebels.
PNOy mentions the high 7.8% growth.
BUt why hasn’t this growth trickled down to the poor?
I recall a press briefing with an Asian Development Bank economist which I attended eons ago. I asked him how much the economy has to grow in order to reduce poverty.
He said Philipping GDP has to grow 7% for seven years in order to make a difference in the lives of the poor. RIght now, that kind of growth has been accomplished for three years. Four more years to go.
* * *
NOw he knocks the Bureau of Customs.
WHat is he about to say – interrupted by the clapping.
HE slams the way customs personnel are allowing drugs and arms and other contraband to get through.
HE issues a warning against rogue customs men. BUt he doesn’t say if his criticism includes the Customs Commissioner.
Will he mention the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo? NO mention yet.
HE praises Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario who went to Libya at once after being appointed to his post.He rescued many overseas workers caught in the conflict there.
AH. NOw he praises Jesse Robredo.
PNOy says –
PAano na sa 2016? Paano pag bumaba ka na. Mga Boss,isipin nga po natin:saan ba tayo nagmula?Kung may agam-agam kayo ngayon ano ba naman ito kumpara sa agam-agam natin nung 2010.”
HE suggests reviewing the Civil Service Code that guarantees civil service employees security of tenure.
* * *
Lawmakers are urging the amendment of the present 1987 Constitution in order, they claim, for more foreign investments to come in.
FIrst off, lawmakers should present a study showing FDIs WILL come in once we tinker with our Constitution.
My suspicion is that a lot of FDIs to Asia are coming from China. ANd the only way to attract China to pour in FDI here is to give them Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) and the Kalayaan Island Group. Would Filipinos want to do that?
Jeez. I’ve never heard such a “disintunado” (out of tune) choir on national TV.
Interesting. This is the first time when NO ONE in the presidentil palace leaked the contents of the President’s SONA piecemeal.
So far, the President has not said anything in his SONA that is newsworthy. YOu know, something with an OOMPH.
I mean, it’s true that electrification of more towns are good. BUt what is it that would make a VAST difference in the lives of the poor? IN the life of the nation?
NOw we get to the more substantial portion of his speech.
He just said the land distribution in Hacienda Luisita will soon start.
He said Philhealth will cover the poor.
ONe regional hosptial will be able to do open heart surgery.
NO wonder Congresswoman Imelda Marcos is not in Batasan right now. She has been rushed to the hospital after falling down the stairs at the Batasang Pambansa complex before the SONA.
But I just saw Senator Bongbong Marcos on TV. HE didn’t go the hospital with mum?
Policemen are getting their homes.
Soldiers are going into farming in several camps.
HE’s batting for an increase in soldiers’ pension.
He also wants to raise what we pay for our monthly SSS and GSIS pension.
If Congress does that, it should also raise penalties on SSS and GSIS commissioners as well as other government officials who lean on SSS and GSIS to buy certain stocks in exchange for commissions and payoffs.
And both pension funds should be more transparent with the way the their respective boards use pension money to invest and give loans to themselves. THeir disclosures should be as stringent as those imposed on listed corporations at the stock market.
PNOy airs warning against rogue cops.
He personally praises model policemen who did their duty.
Now he talks about the negotiations between the government and the Muslim rebels. Hr predicts more good news is coming.
He promises that whatever is forged would be implemented by the government
HMmm. Why is the clapping by the lawmakers on this issue so limp?
He wants the “cabotage law” amended.
Cabotage refers to transportation by air, sea and land . Click on this link.
Now he talks about external defense of the country.
And from there he talks about expenses the state shoulders for MRT and LRT passengers in Manila.
He wants to raise MRT and LRT fares equivalent to the aircon bus.
But what about the commercial rights already given to those occupying commercial space within the MRT and LRT system? Do these rights stay with the original MRT concessionaires? Is that fair to the public?
PNOy states why Iloilo is blessed now with government projects.
He notes that the new Senate President is from Iloilo.
And that is what is distinctly wrong with the Senate. Unlike in the US Senate, Philippine senators are not geographically distributed. Most senators are really from Metro Manila. No one is from the Muslim region in the south. Only two claim to be from Mindanao. But really now, do you think Senator TG Guingona grew up there? Along with Sen. Koko Pimentel?
And this is one reason why development in the Philippines is so lopsided – in favor of Metro Manila.
As a journalist, I think the problem with the President’s speech is that it is filled with details but there is no over-arching idea to tie them altogether. I get a sense of a long laundry list being ticked off. Not a whole idea, a vision.
But hey, I’m glad he’s not corrupt.
NO MENTION OF PORK BARREL YET.
Or at all.