2009 SONA of Mrs. Arroyo

Thousands braved the rains and marched at the Congressional avenue in Quezon City. Many young people were there. Of course, some senators, congressmen and old faces. They were all waiting for Mrs. Arroyo who came in about 3:33 pm. Wearing a symbolic puschia dress, Mrs. Arroyo came prepared with about an hour’s speech. And as expected, she told us a litany of accomplishments and wasted no time on lambasting her political detractors. A trademark of Gloria.

Crit­ics of Mrs. Glo­ria Macapagal-Arroyo say her State of the Nation address (SONA) was noth­ing but self-serving state­ments meant to paint a rosy pic­ture of our sit­u­a­tion. When Mrs. Arroyo said we had the high­est Gross Domes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) per­cent­ages in his­tory, one or two would counter and say that a few noticed it. Sure enough, stats would show that the num­ber of poor peo­ple increased, due pos­si­bly to lay­offs after sev­eral multi­na­tional com­pa­nies closed shop and those small and medium-sized enter­prises, par­tic­u­larly of the export kind, shut their fac­to­ries down. Many Over­seas Fil­ipino Work­ers (OFW) went back here, vic­tim­ized by a wors­en­ing global finan­cial meltdown.

After sev­eral pre­dic­tions that the coun­try would go the way of Argentina, sur­pris­ingly, we’re still stand­ing on our own two feet. Sin­ga­pore, Japan, Korea, Thai­land, Malaysia, Indone­sia and China are all reg­is­ter­ing neg­a­tive growth. The last time that I checked, the Philip­pine econ­omy is still kick­ing ass with 2 – 3% per­cent pos­i­tive growth in quar­ters. We’re still grow­ing after 33 quarters.

Let’s admit that there are prob­a­bly some good things that Mrs. Arroyo is doing for us to stay in this sit­u­a­tion. Yes, about 12million Fil­ipinos remain poor. Yet, 700,000 Fil­ipino fam­i­lies (25 mil­lion Fil­ipinos) fed and pro­vided emer­gency assis­tance by way of the poverty-alleviation pro­gram and the stim­u­lus pack­age. And the increas­ing pop­u­la­tion growth is sim­ply too hard a prob­lem to solve.

Yes, there are still class­rooms to be con­structed. And yes, there are still roads to be built and bridges too.

What Mrs. Arroyo just told the nation now is very clear — there’s still some work to do, seri­ous ones that need very close atten­tion from the pres­i­dent. When some crit­ics and even one ally remarked that Mrs. Arroyo is still not step­ping down yet, they’re right. Mrs. Arroyo is still not hang­ing out her gloves yet because her man­date allows her to still work some stuff until June 2010.

Is it really nec­es­sary for us to hear those spe­cific words of “yes, I’ll step down” and ” no, I’ll not seek another term or run for Con­gress in 2010″? Obvi­ously, we’re not that stu­pid or naive. Mrs. Arroyo already told us that she is not plan­ning to extend her term beyond the con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated limit. Talks about mar­tial law or state of emer­gency are just wild talk, imag­in­ings. It’s quite under­stand­able that peo­ple would think that way prior to the SONA. Now that she already told the peo­ple that she’s leav­ing office after June 2010, that is, I think, already fair enough for us to just go ahead of our lives and leave her alone. Yes, alone.

I believed her when she says that there are so many things left to do. Inher­it­ing a gov­ern­ment with a 500 bil­lion peso debt is not easy. Leav­ing office with a US$ 7 bil­lion reserves is com­mend­able, to say the least. Giv­ing homes to about 1.8 mil­lion Fil­ipino fam­i­lies within a span of nine years is noth­ing to sneeze at. And gen­er­at­ing one mil­lion jobs per year while your econ­omy sucks, is noth­ing short of a miracle. Over­seas remit­tances are increas­ing instead of slow­ing down. Roads and bridges con­tinue to be built. There’s no halt in efforts to pro­fes­sion­al­ize the bureau­cracy, with some sug­ges­tions of revis­ing the char­ter of the Cen­tral Bank and cre­at­ing a Depart­ment of ICT.

Yes, Prof. David is right — these mea­sures are not direct answers to the ques­tions of increas­ing poverty, of unem­ploy­ment or what have you. But, I have a ques­tion though – what is? These efforts are meant to enhance the cur­rent sys­tem and at least make stop gaps to avert a pos­si­ble sys­temic melt­down. They are not imme­di­ate solu­tions. They are strate­gic. If we always expect tac­ti­cal solu­tions to age-old prob­lems, surely, there would never be any time when we would say that every­thing is already in order.

For we ask the impossible. If we say that Mrs. Arroyo failed to quell insur­gency like what she promised, we are again, ask­ing for the impos­si­ble. The insur­gency is an inher­ited prob­lem. I believed her when she said she wants peace in Min­danao. And I believed her when she prayed for Social­ists to turn a new leaf. Because that’s really all we can expect from her, and pos­si­bly even her successor.

The prob­lem really is we expect Mrs. Arroyo to churn out mir­a­cles after mir­a­cles, when we all know that it is this decay­ing demo­c­ra­tic sys­tem that is caus­ing the prob­lem. How can you do good things when the very sys­tem pre­vents or hin­ders you from actu­ally mak­ing it? We expect Arroyo to dras­ti­cally change things when we know even then that this is impos­si­ble under a decrepit system.

We expect mir­a­cles to hap­pen when we just sit down and let her do all the work while we wait for her to fail so that we can boast that “oh, see, we’re right.” It’s time for us to help her fin­ish the work she vowed to accom­plish come 2010. As both Sen­a­tor Enrile and Speaker Nograles said, his­tory would judge Mrs. Arroyo more kindly after all the dust has set­tled down. I believe them. In her last remain­ing months in office, time for us to recon­sider and think that change is impos­si­ble if it’s just one or two doing the work. Time for us all to shut up and do some seri­ous nation-building.


One Response to 2009 SONA of Mrs. Arroyo

  1. livingstain says:

    kailan mo kaya maririnig ang pinakamagandang SONA para sayo…

    magkakaroon nga kaya ng SONA na kakatuwaan ng lahat?

    hnnnmmmm parang napaisip ako dun ahhhh…

    padaan lang po

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