30 July 2011

Post SONA Reactions Part II


This is the second instalment of a series of personal reactions to the recent State of the Nation Address by the President, the first of which was published on 28 July 2011. I continue with the format of citing an excerpt from the speech and then writing my reactions under each excerpt.

“Kung seguridad na rin lang pô ang ating pag-uusapan, di ba’t karugtong din nito ang ating pambansang dangal? Dati, hindi man lang natin makuhang pumalag tuwing may sisindak sa atin sa loob mismo ng ating bakuran. Malinaw ang pahiwatig natin ngayon sa buong mundo: Ang sa Pilipinas ay sa Pilipinas; kapag tumapak ka sa Recto Bank, para ka na ring tumapak sa Recto Avenue.”

What can I say to this one except, “Bravo!” I had said it before, after the Rizal Park fiasco, that a Hong Kong forensics team should have been sent straight back home after having had the utter gall to demand access to the investigation. I was totally affronted by the way the Chinese behaved; and although we all know that we will all take a hiding in case of a shooting war – which is, to begin with, unlikely – there is no way in hell we will gain respect in the international community if we do not know how to stand up to a bully. It is comforting to have Uncle Sam’s Seventh Fleet visiting once in a while, of course.

“Alam ko pong magbubunga ang pag-aarugang ipinapamalas natin sa mga lingkod-bayan na nakatutok sa ating seguridad. Mantakin po ninyo: sa unang anim na buwan ng 2010, umabot sa isanlibo at sampung kotse at motorsiklo ang nanakaw. Ikumpara pô natin iyan sa apatnaraan at animnapung kotse at motorsiklong nanakaw mula Enero hanggang Hunyo ng taong ito.”

These statistics actually appal me; and not because of the drop in the vehicle-napping but, rather, in the mention of these irrelevant statistics in the first place. While those who lost vehicles have my sympathies, I would have thought any reference to security should have been in terms of human lives saved from the bad guys. Maybe it is because it has only been of late that I have been able to catch the Southern Tagalog edition of TV Patrol; but there are murders reported just about every passing day in this region alone. Even cops are being sent to the other side with alarming regularity; so what was the point of citing security in terms of motorcycles lost?

“Dumakô po tayo sa trabaho. Dagdag-trabaho ang unang panatâ natin sa Pilipino. Ang 8 percent na unemployment rate noong Abril ng nakaraang taon, naibaba na sa 7.2 percent nitong Abril ng 2011. Tandaan po natin: moving target ang nasa hanay ng ating unemployed, dahil taun-taon ay may mga bagong graduate na naghahanap ng trabaho.”

Another of those good-if-true statistics. Truth be told, I am amused every time a Job Fair sponsored by the government is reported over the news programs. The nation needs jobs; not job fairs. These can only be generated by a vibrant economy. Maybe, if the overzealous anti-corruption campaign bears fruit in the way of an improved business climate, investments will really pour in and create the jobs everyone needs. For the meantime, though, this trumpeting seems a lot like wishful thinking at ground level.

“Dati, nakapakô sa pangingibang-bansa ang ambisyon ng mga Pilipino. Ngayon, may pagpipilian na siyang trabaho, at hangga’t tinatapatan niya ng sipag at determinasyon ang kanyang pangangarap, tiyak na maaabot niya ito.”

As a patriotic Filipino who has never even considered going abroad to work, this sounds like melodic music to my ears. However, Filipinos forcibly repatriated by the unrest in the Middle East actually cringed at the nothingness they faced upon their return home. The danger here is if government thinks employment is a simple case of matching the employable with a job opening. The reason people go abroad is because of the better pay as well as the improved standards of living. Simply counting the available jobs is nothing but a classic case of oversimplification.

“Malaki pa pô ang puwedeng madagdag sa trabahong nalilikha sa ating bansa. Ayon pa lang pô sa web site nating Philjobnet, may limampung libong trabahong hindi napupunan kada buwan dahil hindî tugmâ ang kailangan ng mga kumpanya sa kakayahan at kaalaman ng mga naghahanap ng trabaho. Hindî pô natin hahayaang masayang ang pagkakataong ito; ngayon pa lang, nagtatagpô na ang kaisipan ng DOLE, CHED, TESDA, at DEPED upang tugunan ang isyu ng job mismatch.”

This simply reinforces what I said earlier; albeit, I am also alarmed by the implicit admission. Are we being told that the aforementioned agencies never spoke to each other before? That said, they can talk to each other to the death but if the jobs available do not pay enough to improve living conditions, people will continue to go abroad. This is a clear dilemma to government because it is the cheapness of labour that attracts investors. How do you continue to attract them whilst improving the take-home pay?

“Sa dalawang milyong pamilyang rehistrado sa ating Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, isang milyon at animnaraang libo na ang nakakatanggap ng benepisyo nito. Sa pagpapakitang-gilas ni Secretary Dinky Soliman, tinatayang may mahigit isandaang libong pamilya—uulitin ko pô: mahigit isandaang libong pamilya ang naiaahon natin mula sa kahirapan kada buwan.”

This is one of the programs of the previous administration that has thankfully been continued by the present one. The program lends conditional assistance to the poor by obligating them to send their children to school and to government health centers on a regular basis. There is wisdom to this in that the next generation is targeted for an indigent family’s economic improvement. The program can, perhaps, be improved if there is an equally obligated livelihood training program in whatever form for the parents themselves. My only slight reservation about this program is the possible dependency it may generate among the recipients on government dole-outs.


“Binibigyan natin ang mga maralitang pamilyang ito ng pagkakataong makaahon sa buhay, dahil ang pag-asenso nila ay pag-angat rin ng buong bansâ. Sino ang tatangkilik sa mga produkto at serbisyo ng mga negosyante, kung isang kahig, isang tukâ naman ang mamimili? Kapag may amang kumakapit sa patalim para may kainin ang kanyang pamilya, at siya ay magnakaw o nangholdap, sino ba ang puwedeng mabiktima ng krimen kundi tayo rin? Kung ang mga kababayan natin ay walang maayos na pagkain o tahanan, mahina ang kalusugan at may malubhang karamdaman, hindi ba’t tayo rin ang nasa peligrong mahawa sa kanilang sakit?”

This part of the SONA is probably the one that I like best, particularly the logic that is behind improving the lot of the poor because, on the assumption that they will eventually have a little left over, they are also potentially of benefit to business. It is sound thinking. What I, perhaps, do not like about this same statement is the simplistic assumption that just because people are poor they will become thieves. There is some truth to that, granted; but I think the way it was worded was disrespectful to the very people the program is trying to serve.

***More to follow…





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RELATED STORIES:
Post SONA Reactions Part I
Political Quotes

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