27 July 2011

Post SONA Reactions Part I


This is the first of a series of personal reactions to the recent State of the Nation Address by the President. Rather than analyze the address in its totality, I have decided to cite from it and insert my personal thoughts after each citation.

Because of the length of the speech, the reactions will probably have to come in several segments.

“Sa matagal na panahon, naging simbolo ng pang-aabuso ang wang-wang. Dati, kung makapag-counterflow ang mga opisyal ng pamahalaan, para bang oras lang nila ang mahalaga. Imbes na maglingkod-bayan, para bang sila ang naging hari ng bayan.”

Great metaphor! But… many of the very same were probably sitting right there inside the Batasan listening to him. And no, not everyone has refrained from using the wang-wang on the roads…

“Nitong taong ito, taumbayan na mismo ang nagsabing nabawasan ang nagugutom sa kanila. Mulâ sa 20.5 percent na self-rated hunger noong Marso, bumabâ na ito sa 15.1 percent nitong Hunyo, katumbas ng isang milyong pamilyang Pilipinong nagugutom dati, pero ngayon ay nakakakain na nang tamâ kada araw.”

Good to know if true. But… unsubsidized rates of petroleum products, higher toll and transport rates? Everything is passed on eventually to the consumer, so this bit is difficult to reconcile with reality.

“Sa larangan po ng negosyo, sino ba ang nag-akalang pitong ulit nating malalampasan ang all-time-high ng stock market? Ang dating 4,000 index na inaakalang hindi maaabot, o kung maabot man ay pansamantala lang, ngayon, pangkaraniwan nang hinihigitan.”

There was not just a bit of nerve to make this citation. It is not as if the index shot past the 4K level inside one year. Sound economic policies of the previous administration built up the stock market index; and the breaching of the 4K level was incidental to the current one. If the President did not have it in him to give credit to his predecessor, then it would have been more appropriate not to cite this as an achievement at all.

“Dahil wala nang wang-wang sa DOE, muling nabuhay ang kumpiyansa ng mga namumuhunan sa ating energy sector. Patunay dito ang isandaan at apatnapung kumpanya na nakahandang tumayâ sa eksplorasyon at pagpapalakas ng ating oil at natural gas resources.”

I will have to applaud this; particularly if this is brought to fruition and if this can make us less dependent on importation and volatile international prices. This probably explains the relatively firm stance vis-à-vis the Spratly Islands issue against China and other claimants.

“Wang-wang po ang pagbili ng helicopter sa presyong brand new, pero iyon pala ay gamit na gamit na.”

Ho-hum… Deal with it instead of boring all of us with more anti-Arroyo sentiments!  It is almost like a fetish to the President.

“Ang budget pô ang pinakamalinaw na pagsasabuhay ng ating tuwid na landas. Ang aking pahiwatig sa lahat ng gusto pang ilihis tayo rito: Kung mang-aagrabyado ka lang ng mahirap, huwag ka nang magtangkâ. Kung sarili mo lang ang papayamanin mo, huwag ka nang magtangkâ”

I appreciate the care of the poor; and even political and economic analysts gave pats on the back to the President for this. Somehow, though, something does not feel right. What about the rest of us in the middle who are neither dirt poor nor filthy rich enough to feel sorry for the poor and are also caught up in our daily struggles to make a living? We do, after all, pay the taxes!

“Ayon sa BIR, mayroon tayong halos 1.7 million na self-employed at professional tax payers gaya ng mga abogado, doktor, at negosyante na nagbayad lamang, sa suma total, ng 9.8 billion pesos noong 2010. 5,783 pesos lang ang ibinayad na income tax ng bawat isa raw sa kanila, on average — ang ibig sabihin, kung totoo po ito, ang kabuuang kita nila ay umaabot lang ng 8,500 pesos kada buwan.”

Is that so? If true – and some figures cited are being contested – then I chose the wrong profession! Seriously, the problem with taxation in this country has always been that citizens do not really feel tangibly that their taxes are being returned to them in the form of infrastructures, social benefits and the like.

“Ngayon, ang dating 1.3 million metric tons na kakulangan natin sa bigas, halos nangalahati na; 660,000 metric tons na lang pô ang kailangan nating angkatin. Kahit dagdagan pa natin iyan ng panangga laban sa sakuna at gawing 860,000 metric tons — na ginagawâ na nga pô natin—mas mababa pa rin ito sa tinatayang taunang kakulangan na 1.3 million metric tons.”

Great statistic from the savings point of view! I hope the frugality does not come back to haunt him, particularly as the monsoon season has been wetter and more damaging to crops than it has been of late.

“Kayâ ang ipinangakô nating solusyon pabahay nitong Pebrero, ngayong Hulyo ay tinutupad na. Nakapag-abot na po tayo ng apat na libong Certificate of Entitlement to Lot Allocation sa magigiting nating kawal at pulis.”

This has been receiving flak from champions of the financially marginalized. I do agree with the notion that soldiers and policemen should get some attention from government although it may seem naïve to assume that corruption among the ranks will subside as a consequence of a housing project.

***More to follow…





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