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COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/31 July) — I was at the Batasan last Monday to listen to P-Noy’s SONA and I could not help but have mixed feelings about what I was hearing.

As predicted, P-Noy spoke in Filipino, his language of choice.  This has positive advantages since the great majority of his ‘BOSSes” speaks and understands Filipino.  The spoken Filipino has a natural flare that the masa loves, including inflection and the one word remark like ‘naman’.  P-Noy has the mastery of the language and he brings his listeners to linguistic ‘ecstasy’!

He spoke with ‘boldness’ giving the impression that he was not afraid to call spade a spade with no mincing of words.

He further developed his wang-wang symbolism of arrogance and entitlement in public service to launch a platform of good governance.  The sophisticated would NOT enthuse on the idea of wang-wang, but no one should begrudge him for originality, ingenuity and a language and symbolism easily understood by the masa.

I thought P-Noy’s wang wang is a veritable lesson on Good Manners and Right Conduct or GMRC in governance.

We, who are older listeners, continue to moan the big CHANGE in citizens’ behavior in the last 50 years.  Often, we call the ‘errancy’ in behavior as lack of GMRC, especially when this was taken off the curriculum.

We always hold the lack of GMRC as the primary source why ‘modern’ and younger citizens no longer know how to cross streets. They dispose their thrash with no care for the environment and neighbors.  Public servants have become public masters. Vehicles meant for official use only become for OFFICIALS’ use only.

I, myself, was looking forward to a SONA beyond wang wang since I was getting bored of slogan that seem to be short in deeds, especially with the rumored triple Ks (Ka-klase, Kaibigan at Ka-barilan).

P-Noy’s new twist in his wang wang symbolism to hammer on good governance as pubic service is innovative and ingenuous!

P-Noy gave us new by words – coffee and ghost!

PAGCOR’s more than a billion worth coffee elicited shock as well as derisive humor about graft cover-up under the name of the innocuous brew.  It is mind boggling and it tickles one’s imagination on how many cups of coffee would a billion pesos buy! No doubt, a billion-worth coffee can flood more than football stadium!

The other new byword is GHOST referring to ghost bridges, ghost schools and ghost teachers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM.  P-Noy devoted four long paragraphs on the ARMM albeit all on the negatives.  He took the bull by the horn without mincing words.  He cited the COA reports that speak of 80% of the disbursement of the ARMM budget in the Office of the Regional Governor from 2008 to 2009 with NO proper clearances and explanations.

With this fund, how many pupils could have completed their basic education crossing ghost bridges, going to ghost schools and being taught by ghost teachers! The constituents of ARMM are so helpless that they continue to suffer and there seems to be no chance of any progress whatsoever. In fact, P-Noy could have easily added to his enumeration, ghost voters, ghost employees and above all ghost public officials!

There is no doubt, the economic view spelled out in the SONA remains micro with no big plan that would carry the country into the next five years.  Economists used to PGMA’s macro economic plan remain very unsatisfied and knowing full well that P-Noy’s macro plan is not forthcoming.

Then, there is a deafening silence on the issue of the peace process.  I could only surmise that P-Noy would NOT raise expectations on a process that remains intractable.  He seems to have aversion on making promises that he cannot deliver.  The silence, in fact, spells the big difference with his predecessors.  P-Noy is NOT easy to make promises and he is NO conjuror of scenarios that would not happen but only increase people’s frustration.

As a Mindanao strong lobbyist and advocate, I am NOT happy that Mindanao appeared simply as a blip on P-Noy’s radar screen. Sadly, it was a negative blip!

It is good to remind the President, that ARMM is NOT the whole Mindanao!  In a similar vein, while I admire P-Noy’s boldness, I believe that tact is the better counsel in dealing with the sensitive issues that involve the ARMM.

Definitely, there is much more good news in Mindanao! We have charted our macro peace and security plan for the next twenty years dubbed as Mindanao 2020. We have re-activated and pursue with greater zeal the continuing collapse of our quadri-lateral borders in trade and security involving all the nation-members of the BIMP-EAGA Zone (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines).  And we have started a security sector reforms on the ground involving the two AFP Commands in Mindanao (Western Mindanao Command and Eastern Mindanao Command).

Though we were but a blip on P-Noy’s radar screen, we are NOT daunted! Our hope springs eternal… and we believe that in time P-Noy would have a real serious Mindanao 2nd look! By then, we shall not be a simple blip but the ‘center fold’ in his forthcoming 3rd SONA! (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Balintataw is Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado’s column for the weekly Mindanao Cross in Cotabato City)



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