02 August 2011

Post SONA Reactions Final

This is the third and final post of my SONA reactions series:

“Tumungô naman pô tayo sa ARMM. Ang dating sistema: Nagbabatuhan lang ng huwad na utang ng loob ang mga baluktot na kandidato. Kapag pambansang halalan, malayâ ang nakaupô sa ARMM na imane-obra ang makinarya sa kaniyang rehiyon para matiyak na bokyâ, o sero, ang boto ng hindi kaalyado. Kapag naman eleksyon sa ARMM at maniningil na ng utang si Mayor o Governor, ang administrasyon naman ang magpapatakbo ng makinarya para manalo ang kanilang kandidato.”

I believe this is what is called by political analysts the “party machinery,” albeit in the context as cited by the President as a tool for corruption and another obvious reference to the previous administration. I am sure this sort of feudal politics existed long before PGMA; and in fairness there was no direct reference to her. If this pseudo-feudalism can be reversed, well and good then! A mighty good surgeon is needed to cure a cancer that has grown as big as the individual. On second thoughts, you need the Good Lord Himself.

“Gusto nating maranasan ng ARMM ang benepisyo ng tamang pamamahalâ. Kaya ang atin pong minungkahing solusyon: synchronization. Dahil dito, kailangan nilang tumutok sa kani-kanilang mga kampanya; magiging mas patas ang labanan, at lalabnaw ang command votes. Salamat pô sa Kongreso at naipasa na ang batas na magsasabay sa halalan ng ARMM sa halalang pambansa.”

Pro: It (hopefully) addresses the manipulation of the party machinery by prospective cheaters. Con: Nightmare logistics for both the voter and the COMELEC, which may end up making the elections even easier to manipulate. If only there is a button that can make dishonest persons disappear from the face of the earth; but, yeah, who am I kidding?

“Di pô ba’t may problema tayo sa baha... Isa sa mga solusyong hinahandâ na pô at pinag-aaralan ay ang gawing kapaki-pakinabang sa mga pamayanan ang pagbabantay ng punô. Bibigyan sila ng binhî ng kape at cacao para itanim at mamunga ng kabuhayan. Habang hinihintay ang ani, makakakuha sila ng stipend upang bantayan naman ang mga punong itinanim laban sa baha.”

Whilst the intention is good, this part actually makes me nervous. I have seen within the context of my own workplace the consequence of dangling money as a motivation to get a good thing done. Nothing beats making the stakeholders understand what is in it for them and not just in monetary terms but in terms of benefit to life as a whole. Now what about the infrastructures while we all wait for the trees to grow?

“Pinag-aaralan na rin pô ng DOST at UP ang pagkakaroon natin ng monorail system, para tugunan ang problema sa pangmalawakang transportasyon. Sa malikhaing pag-iisip ng kapwâ Pilipino, may pag-asa pala tayong magtayô ng light rail system nang hindî hihigit sa 100 million pesos ang gagastusin kada kilometro. Sa matitipid na pondo, mas mahabang kilometro ng riles ang mailalatag at makaka-abot sa mga lugar na malayo sa sentro ng komersyo. Ang mga dating sumisiksik sa siyudad para maghanap ng trabaho, maaari nang tumira sa medyo mas malayo, nang hindî pahirapan ang biyahe.”

This was a welcome deviation from the often holier-than-thou politicking tone of the speech; even if just to portray the country in a light different from mere corrupt politicians and impoverished citizens. For all the colour and pageantry the beloved jeepney has brought us, its preponderance on the streets is an indictment of past governments to provide affordable and efficient mass transport in the form of a comprehensive rail system. My concern is this government’s seeming obsession with cheap, which can often be more expensive in the long term.

“Iyan din pô ang aking panawagan sa ating Local Government Units. Kabilang pô ako sa mga sumasang-ayon na kayo ang pinaka-nakakaalam sa pangangailangan ng taumbayan sa inyong mga lungsod at munisipyo. Makakaasa pô ang ating mga LGU sa higit na kalayaan at kakayahan, kung makakaasa rin tayong gagamitin ito sa tuwid na paraan, at isasaalang-alang ang kapakanan ng buong sambayanan.”

Structurally correct, if just for the simple reason that central government cannot be minding everything that is happening in the peripheral governments. In real life, though, we all saw the near-standoff created by the Cotabato flood situation whereby critically-needed funds were not released by one government desk because ostensibly of some previously released funds not yet having been accounted for by the LGU. There will always be desks down the org chart that will be thinking it is merely doing its job and for this reason bogs down the release of funds for critical situations. In a perfect world of honest politicians, money will be right where it is needed when it is needed. Where is this world?

“Layon nating bigyan ng kaukulang kompensasyon ang mga biktima ng Martial Law; ang pagkakaloob ng makatarungang pasahod at benepisyo para sa mga kasambahay; at ang pagpapatupad ng isang mas maayos na sistema ng pensyon para sa atin pong mga kawal. Sinusuportahan din natin ang pagpapalawak ng sakop ng scholarship na ipinagkakaloob ng DOST sa mahuhusay ngunit kapuspalad na mag-aaral; ang pagtataguyod ng pinaigting na pangkalahatang kalusugan; at ang pangangalagâ sa ating kalikasan at sa mga pasilidad na titiyak sa kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan sa oras ng sakuna.”

For all the President’s frequent allusion to the pagpapa-pogî lang politicking by his opponents, his frequent citing of petty programs aiming to favour the economically-marginalized and, therefore, the larger part of the voting population may – if I were to play the devil’s advocate – already be seen as campaigning for the next elections. It reeks of the pot calling the kettle black. The danger is if the middle class and above are pushed over the brink by a perception of government neglect because they, after all, are the taxpayers.

“May mga nagsasabing pinepersonal ko raw ang paghahabol sa mga tiwalî… Ang malî — gaano katagal man ito nanatilî — ay malî pa rin. Hindî puwedeng “Oks lang”; hindî puwedeng “wala lang iyan.” Kapag kinalimutan natin ang mga ito, mangyayari lang ulit ang mga kamalian ng nakaraan. Kung hindî magbabayad ang mga nagkasala, parang tayo na rin mismo ang nag-imbita sa mga nagbabalak gumawâ ng masama na kung puwede, uulitin ninyo ang ginawa ninyo.”

From the point of view of social reform, this part is a gem. The president’s greatest contribution yet over time – i.e. when he is judged by history – may not be economic progress at all but social progress. That said, how far back does he go with the witch-hunt? We have families of the president of the first People Power still around and – God knows – the President of the second People Power even still active in politics. Are they now absolved?


The SONA deteriorated from this point into a plethora of rhetoric about which I have no appetite to comment anymore. Former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales was, of course, named the new Ombudsman in dramatic fashion.

To sum, and not that I will be saying anything new, I thought the President delivered a passable SONA. I continue to applaud his delivering his speeches in Pilipino. That speaks volumes. True to himself as the archangel against graft and corruption, the speech stayed focused on the itty-bitty things that lent credence to his self-declared campaign. The SONA’s greatest weakness is its tendency towards pettiness and rhetoric. This would have sounded like music to the ears of many of our countrymen; but the taxpayers would have preferred to have heard about a sound economic road map and more improved economic indicators to show that somebody had been at the office.

Post SONA Reactions Part II
Post SONA Reactions Part I




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