23 July 2012

SONA Pa-bits

President Noynoy Aquino’s 2012 SONA is without a doubt the best he has so far delivered; albeit one sort of wonders why it took his speech writers so long to learn how to write one. The language was crisp, even ‘hip’ at times; and I could have sworn that he ad libbed to draw laughs that part about Tarlac having to wait for its airport to be built.

In other words, I thought that at the third attempt, the President finally managed to get across the message that he does, after all, know what he’s doing. It was not so much the way he spoke – he rather tends to eat words as he speaks – but more its content.

This SONA had meat. The reportorial aspect of it had a feel-good effect – assuming, of course, that the economic figures were accurate rather than embellished. One rather got the feeling, however, that all the background info could have been given in the earlier SONA’s so that it could be believable that in this one, the President was actually reporting on the fruits that were harvested from what he had sown.

In a nutshell, the President said that the plan all along was to conduct a vigorous anti-corruption campaign, build up the coffers and then spend on judicious projects when we can afford it. Fair enough; only that in previous speeches, one sort of wondered why he had such a fetish about the Arroyos. He would have been better served had he said all these from the off.

If the figures are honest, then I am halfway happy. The growth rate is indeed robust and the stock exchange has been a star performer. The figures do not lie insofar as the figures themselves are not lies.

There were some aspects of the speech that I have issues with, not least of which was the reference – albeit tempered compared to last year’s – to ills of the previous administration. Please!!! All our ears are already bleeding from the topic! Who needed to hear more?

All the posturing against those who had committed crimes against his ‘boss’ sounded petulant and, to my mind, had no part in a SONA. This President, I’m afraid, has not yet discerned the unifying power that he holds in his hands and prefers to subscribe to the tayo-at-sila kanto mentality. Ghandi he will not be.

I was happy to hear of increased budget allocations for education and other sectors; that our civil and military forces are getting upgrades; that there are serious attempts to address illegal logging; that more roads and other infrastructures have been or are being built; and many other things that show that government has not been deaf or asleep.

The reference to responsible parenthood drew applause. Could the President not have said more? I thought that the cheers were all the encouragement that he needed to be more emphatic. Yet, he hurriedly moved on. Cold feet?

I don’t know about law and order. Perhaps he ought to deploy somebody to monitor TV Patrol. If those aren’t dead bodies that they show each and every godforsaken night, I sure as hell don’t know what they are!

I was not too happy to hear the President boast that we are now lending to other nations. Seriously?

Common sense says that you lend what you can afford to lend. With government underspending, who wants to hear that the money is being sent abroad? Is it not the most annoying thing to always hear government complain walang pera only for us to suddenly hear meron pala but it has been lent out? (Hay! I know somewhere na exactly the same thing was done!)

Perhaps the President could have spoken about regulating oil prices, toll fees, transportation fares and the prices of commodities. This administration thinks it is wrong for government to subsidize these things. In other countries, subsidy is seen as a natural role of government. At least, the distribution of benefits is equal to all, not merely favourable to the marginalized sector which also happens to be the largest voting bloc.

Don’t give them fish, they do say. Instead, teach them how to fish. That is why, as a taxpayer, I have such great issues with the dole-out programs. I do not mind helping the poor; but as the taxpayer, I would also like to know that government has not forgotten about me!

Congratulations, nevertheless, to the President. At least, today he showed a clarity of vision that was lacking before. Now, we know where he wants to take us; and himself laid down the tools by which he will be measured in next year’'s SONA. But please, send the wrongdoers to jail and ‘nuff said about them. We all prefer to hear bits of what he has done rather than what they failed to do.








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