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MIND DA SONA: To Be Honest

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6:30 pm, 27 July 2015) – President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III stepped down the podium about fifteen minutes ago, somber-faced. He did not shake hands with members of the Congress and of the audience but went straight ahead with his aide and security. That was a last farewell State of the Nation Address – two hours and fifteen minutes, thereabout, including farewell amenities and parting words.

It was as if the “PNoy”, the President, would speak on until June 30, 2016. Our mind flashed back to 1985 when his mother, Cory, stormed the country during the snap election campaigning against the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos rousing and rallying the people with her immortal “Tama na! Sobra na!” (Enough! More than enough!) That could have been said of her son’s “last farewell” one year before leaving.

From the text, we will know whether the last 20 minutes of “Thank You’s”, et cetera, were part of the prepared SONA or just the ad lib or extemporaneous. From the news report tomorrow, we want to know about those streamers unfurled in the back of the audience rebutting what the President had said – one reading, “Palpak ang Serbisyo”.

The SONA summarized what the Aquino III administration has accomplished in five years under the auspices of his “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path or Road) policy. His parting word was “Ang susunod na election ay referendum ng Daang Matuwid” (The next election is a referendum of the “Daang Matuwid”).

Much has been done. That should not be denied. But to be honest, the statistics and facts – highlighted with pictures and video testimonials – must be checked with reality. Yes, much has been done. But how does the “much” compare with what “could have” and “should have” been done?

Just a quick recall and comment:

  • The SONA opened recalling the corruption under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and involving Arroyo. That turned me off. Why nag? The integrity of his administration must stand on its own merits, not on the demerits of Arroyo. That will only expose the dirt in his closet. PNP Director General Alan Purisima is his close friend. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad is in trouble with official acts ala Gloria. Vice President Jejomar Binay was his cabinet member. And more!
  • Comparing his achievements with those of Arroyo is incomplete assessment. To see the complete picture, the comparison must start with his mother’s government. Development is cumulative – the present builds on the past under varying factors. For instance, he made much of electrification. Electrification of the barangays started with Marcos. Every President was expected to continue the program. His statistics includes the accomplishments of Marcos and the next presidents.
  • He presented a chart of Internal Revenue collections. There was big increase of the 2014 collection over that of 2012. But the 2013 collection was not shown. Why? The collection in 2013 (P2.28 trillion was higher than that of 2014 (P1.91 trillion), according to a study by multisectoral Movement for Good Governance, composed of prominent economists, with other economist from allied groups (Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 27, 2015: Aquino gets lackluster grade on dev’t goals).
  • Except one, all new roads and bridges mentioned and shown in pictures are in Metro Manila and Luzon. The exception is the Jalaur Bridge in Iloilo spanning Barangay Tiring in Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara. Tiring is the site of the new Iloilo airport. The old Jalaur Bridge had to be modernized since tourists check in at hotels in Iloilo City, 20 kilometers away. No picture of similar development in Mindanao was particularly mentioned and shown.
  • Nothing categorical was mentioned about the Bangsamoro Basic Law bill pending in the Congress. It was not in the list of “priority legislations”.
  • The President lavishly praised DILG Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas III. That can be the prelude to his “anointment” as Liberal Party-led Coalition standard bearer.

In passing, let this be noted. President Arroyo’s last SONA was as glowing as Aquino III’s. Yet, within the year after leaving Malacañang she was accused of plunder and since then she has been detained without bail – and, without trial, too.

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