SONA stirs mixed reactions from solons; political analysts say P-Noy took figures out of context
(SPOT.ph) While some lawmakers applauded President Noynoy Aquino's State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, July 25, others were left wanting, reports GMA News. Aquino’s speech detailed how the past year has been dedicated to eradicate corruption and enumerated some of his plans for the future.
Returning to his first ever presidential order-the removal of wang-wangs (sirens), Aquino said: "Sa matagal na panahon, naging simbulo ng korupsiyon ang wang-wang (For a long time, illegal sirens were a symbol of corruption)," he said, referring to politicians and private citizens who used sirens to escape traffic. "Walang wang-wang sa ating administrasyon at ngayon ay patuloy nating ginagawa ito (There are no sirens in our administration and we are continuing to do that)." Aquino proceeded to give a review of the past year's achievements like reducing unemployment and rice importation, upgrading the capabilities of the Armed Forces, providing housing, among others.
House Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III believed that the SONA sent a clear message. "Maganda ang speech ni President. Sinabi niya talaga na nasa kakayahan ng bawat isa ang pagbabago at kaya nating gawin yun (The President's speech was good. He really said that change lies in everyone and that we can accomplish that)," said Belmonte. Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao was also pleased. "Happy ako, lalo na 'yung tungkol sa pabahay sa mga mahihirap at pagbibigay ng trabaho sa ating mga kababayan... Naintindihan ko pangulo dahil isang taon pa lang naman sya nagseserbisyo. At least, sa isang taon may pagbabago (I'm happy especially about the housing for the poor and more employment opportunities... I understand that he has only been president for a year. At least in that year, there was change)," said the boxer-turned-solon.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, however, likened Aquino's speech to a report card. "Personally, I was looking forward that he... defines the problems of the country and the present state of the country, were we are and [the] solutions," he said. His sister, Sen. Pia Cayetano, meanwhile, expected Aquino to cite more specific programs. While the figures the President presented were "encouraging," Sen. Bongbong Marcos said it was "very difficult to get a sense of what the true nature of the improvement (was). Marcos added, "We have to look at how the number was arrived at and see what the parts of the economy have been growing, have been shrinking... these are the ways that we will analyze it."
Meanwhile, militant and opposition solons were left disappointed, hoping for news about the Freedom of Information Bill, the Reproductive Health Bill, and land reform. "Napakahaba ng sinabi niya about anti-corruption, pero ni isang salita sa FOI, wala siyang binanggit, which is disappointing. Ito ang key measure in looking forward. Otherwise, ang fight for good governance puro nakaraan lang (He said so much about anti-corruption but nothing about the FOI, which is disappointing)," Bayan-Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said. Rep. Mitos Magsaysay noted that Aquino failed to present clear plans on how to provide Filipinos with livelihood and employment, as well as control the rising prices of basic commodities.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, however, focused more on Aquino’s appointment of retired Supreme Court Justice Conchito Carpio-Morales as the new Ombudsman-which was announced during the SONA. She advised the President to tell the Ombudsman to give cases unearthed recently priority. "The way to dispose of the backlog is for the President to authorize the justice secretary to appoint special prosecutors with the sole function of resolving pending cases in the Ombudsman," she added.
Political analysts, meanwhile, said that Aquino took his figures out of context. Economist Winnie Monsod said the President "went the way of all his predecessors, which is to showcase his accomplishments but forget his shortcomings." For instance, while Aquino emphasized the increase of rice production in the country, IBON Foundation research head Sonny Africa said this could not be directly attributed to the Aquino administration. Quoting the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, "This could be attributed to the expansion in harvest area and improvement in yield compared to last year's conditions when palay production was adversely affected by the El Niño phenomenon," he explained, adding "Walang kinalaman ang gobyerno sa weather at sa expansion ng rice lands (The government has no say in the weather and expansion of rice lands)."
The pair also mentioned that Aquino glossed over the finer points of the figures, like the increase of underemployment. Monsod said that Aquino had been selective when it came to drafting his speech, noting failing to cite that hunger rose in the first quarter of the year. "If he accepted that hunger went down in the second quarter, then he must accept that hunger went up in the first quarter." However, she commended Aquino's firm stand on the territorial debate over the Spratlys Islands.
President Noynoy Aquino at the start of his SONA