Tungo sa Kinabukasan

Noong nakaraang Lunes, ika-22 ng Hulyo, ay muling hinarap ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino ang sambayanan para sa kanyang ika-apat na SONA. Muling inabangan ng mga Pilipino ang kanyang mga sasabihin tungkol sa kanyang mga naisagawa at naipatupad sa lumipas na isang taon sa kanyang administrasyon. 

 
Kasabay ng paghihintay sa mga mahalagang sasabihin ng pangulo, inabangan din ng media at ng ilang mga tao ang mga kasuotan ng mga kilalang personalidad. Tulad ng sa mga nakaraang SONA, nagmistula na namang isang malaking fashion show o awards night ang SONA na ito. Patalbugan at pagandahan ng mga kasuotan ang mga nagsidalo. Mamahaling mga damit na ipinagawa pa sa mga kilalang designer sa Pilipinas ang ating nakita. Oo, naiintindihan kong pormal ang okasyong ito, ngunit sa tingin ko ay hindi naman ganun kahalaga kung mamahalin o tadtad ng disenyo at detalye ang iyong kasuotan. Sa kabila nito, mas dapat pa ring bigyang pansin ang mismong laman ng SONA ng pangulo. 
 
Ipinagmalaki ni PNoy ang kanyang mga nagawa sa nakaraang taon habang siya ay nasa pwesto. Inisa-isa niya ang bawat sektor upang banggitin ang mga pagbabago sa mga ito. Sinimulan niya ito sa edukasyon. Binanggit niya ang pagbabago sa kalakaran sa TESDA at sa mga scholars nito pati na rin ang magandang nangyari sa DepEd sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni Kalihim Armin Luistro. Oo, maraming pagbabago tayong nakikita, ngunit dapat pa rin nating bigyang pansin ang ilang mga problemang hindi pa nabibigyan ng solusyon sa sektor na ito tulad na lang ng K to 12 Program ng kasalukuyang administrasyon. Nawa’y maisakatuparan ang mga magandang plano para rito at sana ay maibigay ng pamahalaan ang suportang kinakailangan ng programang ito. 
 
Binanggit din ng pangulo ang tungkol sa mga naisakatuparan para sa serbisyo-publiko: ang matagumpay na Pantawid Pamilya Program, ang SSS pension scheme, sapat na kaalaman para sa mga tao sa panahon ng kalamidad, at solusyon sa problema ng kapulisan at ng sandatahan. Nais kong bigyan ng papuri si PNoy dito dahil sa mga solusyon na kanyang naibigay ngunit nais ko rin namang sabihin na hindi pa sapat ang mga ito para masabing tunay ngang matagumpay ang mga programang naipatupad. Maaaring sa pagdaan pa ng panahon ay may mga problemang umusbong mula sa mga programang ito. Mangangailangan pa ng mas maraming oras upang mapatunayan na epektibo at kapaki-pakinabang nga ang mga ito kaya naman hindi tayo dapat agad gumawa ng iba’t ibang konklusyon. 
 
Ang isa pang puntong nabanggit ng pangulo na gusto kong bigyang-pansin ay ang tungkol sa transportasyon partikular na ang operasyon at pamasahe sa LRT at MRT. Matagal nang isyu ito dahil tila nga naman na hindi patas ang distribusyon ng mga gastusin at subsidiya sa mga tao. Paano nga naman ang mga nasa Visayas at Mindanao na ni minsan ay hindi nakagamit ng MRT o LRT pero kasama sa pagbabayad ng buwis para sa subsidiya ng pamahalaan. Magandang mungkahi ang ibinigay ng pangulo na noon pa sana naisagawa. Ito ang pagtaas ng pamasahe upang mabawasan ang gastusin ng gobyerno sa operasyon ng MRT at LRT at mailaan ang maiipong pondo sa iba pang makabuluhang gawain na magiging mas kapaki-pakinabang sa nakararaming Pilipino. 
 
Sa kabila ng lahat ng sinabi ni PNoy na nagawa niya sa nakaraang taon, hindi tayo dapat makuntento at pasalamatan na lang siya dahil sa mga natatanggap natin o magreklamo dahil sa mga layunin na hindi pa natin nakikita o nakakamit. Bilang mga mamamayan ng Pilipinas, dapat din nating gawin ang ating tungkulin para maisaayos hindi lang ang ating sariling buhay kundi pati na rin makagawa ng mga bagay na makatutulong sa pag-unlad ng ating bansa. Maraming taon pa ang daraan at marami pa tayong magiging Presidente na magbibigay ng kani-kanilang SONA. Nawa’y sa mga susunod na taon ay makita at lalo pa nating maramdaman ang pagbabago na ating inaasam. 
 
Julius Anthony Q. Sinoy 
2012-00852
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From a Vantage Point: A Different Approach to SONA

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS . . . read to me as “NO CLASSES!”

In all honesty, I looked forward to the SONA not because I want, moreover, need  to be socially relevant, if you want to put it that way, rather I had been awaiting a class suspension – just a break from all the academic load and whatnot. Just to clarify, it’s not to say that I’m apathetic to such matters. On a lighter note, I feel very positive, which is rather unusual of me, regarding this SONA.

I’ve heard comments by word of mouth basically stating that this was the longest and most “unapplaused” SONA. I beg to disagree because (i) it covered every aspect as much as it can to report how well we are doing and (ii) somehow I saw an attempt  at being honest.

L  O  N  G  E  S  T     S  O  N  A

One thing that I appreciate about this particular SONA is that it tried to cover all the aspects that are relevant – from relocating 280, 398 informal settlers, to exporting high quality rice, to recent updates regarding sin tax bill and such, to the peace process forwarding with ARMM representatives, to the unexpected growth and contribution of the manufacturing industry which have been believed to be deteriorating exponentially, extending up to a sensitive topic namely the Hacienda Luisita itself. It shouldn’t be a question of how long it was; what counted was it covered matter that people should know about. It wasn’t a question of what happened to the offices that one specifically worked for, but it was seeing the bigger picture, a vision for the Philippines as a nation.

MOST “UNAPPLAUSED”

I’d rather consider it vain for people to even try to comment such one. Applause may mean the approval of people but do not necessarily equate to something of significance. Another thing that I took note of was the attempt at being honest. The President was bravely namedropping specific people or certain branches or institutions which needs acknowledgment in one way or another. I believe that on one hand it incentivizes the people to continue doing the good for their fellow Filipinos and the Philippines and on one hand it reveals the inadequacy of certain institutions such as Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Customs. Why is this the only way for things to take place? I believe that the President does not really want to shame as given by the fact that he mentioned names he was grateful to throughout  his speech, rather he had given such ones fair warning and he wants them to change.

Finally, we all should be reminded that this is a SONA. It’s suppose to state how well we are doing now. Those in offices should not do something just because the SONA is approaching, but because that is their duty, first and foremost, and for the welfare of the country. You don’t approve of a request for this and that just for the people to see that you did something not even judging whether benefits outweigh harms. On the contrary, yes, I agree that the SONA should also contain the President’s future plans given the remaining time that he has, but I don’t think that people should cause unnecessary commotion to be heard. I’m uncertain about how people perceive the words “critical” and “talk” today; sometimes, we just need to sit it over tea (well, not literally). People must also remember that given our circumstance if we were to approve one party’s request one must be downplayed via the concept of Pareto Efficiency or trade off – it is impossible to make one better off without making someone else worse off. Having that said and given the present circumstance of the Philippines, it is a rather a question of how deep is the trickle down of your proposal or how wide can it cover for most people.

On a final and lighter note: Be positive Philippines!

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Ma. Isabel Jillian B. Eala~

Maging kritikal. Mag-ambag ng kontribusyon.

“Lunes na naman,” iyan na lamang ang aking nasambit nang maka­­-sakay na ako sa jeep pauwi sa tinitirhan kong boarding house. Ilang saglit lamang ay nakatanggap ako ng text mula sa aking kaibigang madalas kong kakuwentuhan tungkol sa mga bagay-bagay. Ang sabi niya’y “Eto na. Lunes na. SONA na naman. Mag-suri. Maging kritikal.” Oo nga, ang Lunes na iyon ay hindi basta-bastang Lunes lang. Dala ko ang tatak UP at hindi maaaring katamaran ang araw na iyon dahil kailangan kong marinig kung ano ang sasabihin ng humahawak ng pinakamahalagang posisyon sa bansa. At hindi sapat ang pakikinig lang; kailangang maging kritikal at tingnan kung ano ang talagang nangyayari sa ating bansa.

Muling humarap si Pangulong Aquino sa taumbayan upang ipabatid at ilahad ang kalagayan ng bansa sa ilalim ng kanyang pamumuno. Sa mahabang SONA ng pangulo, nasabi ko sa aking sarili na hindi natin maipagkakaila ang kanyang kagustuhan at determinasyon upang makamit ang pag-unlad na inaasam niya at nating lahat. Kapansin-pansin ang mga nakamit ng kanyang administrasyon. Ngunit nais ko sanang bigyang pansin ang ipinagdiinan niyang “pag-unlad” ng ekonomiya ng bansa. Tumambad sa atin ang mga ipinagmalaki niyang nakamit at nagawa ng kanyang administrasyon, kabilang na dito ang 7.8% na paglago ng gross domestic product. Ito nga’y kapuri-puri, ngunit ang paglago ng GDP ay hindi natin masasabi na tanging indikasyon sa pag-unlad ng bayan. Ang pag-unlad ng isang bansa ay hindi simpleng paglago ng yaman sa buong bansa. Ang benepisyo ng lumalagong ekonomiya ay dapat lamang na maramdaman ng lahat, ngunit kitang-kita ang huwad na pag-unlad na ito dahil sa napakarami paring nagtiis ng gutom, pagod, hampas at pagkaladkad ng mga pulis upang ipakita sa pangulo at sa taumbayan ang realidad, ang katotohanang nagaganap – laganap at mas lumalalang gutom at kahirapan. Ano nga ba ang kabuluhan ng GDP growth rate na ito sa pang-araw-araw na buhay ng mga ordinaryong Pilipino? Ano nga bang klaseng pag-unlad ang ramdam lamang ng iilan? Anong klaseng pag-unlad ang pagpapa-alipin sa malalaking dayuhang kapitalista? Kasaganahan na lamang ba palagi sa iilan, at kahirapan pa rin sa mahihirap? Ang malakas na stock market ay taliwas sa lumalalang krisis sa trabaho, ang kupad-pagong na pagpapatupad sa reporma sa lupa, at ang mala-kumunoy na kagutuman at kahirapan na patuloy na humihila paibaba sa milyun-milyong Pilipino. Nagmimistulang binibigyan pa ni Aquino ang mga tao ng mas marami pang dahilan upang lumaban at mag-martsa para sa mas mataas na sahod, disenteng trabaho at pabahay, at hustisya para sa mga karapatan. Malinaw na hindi mayorya ang nakakaramdam at nakikinabang sa pag-unlad na ito kundi ang pinakamayayamang pamilya sa Pilipinas at ang mga dayuhan. Tunay nga na mas yumayaman ang mayayaman, at mas humihirap ang mga mahihirap sa ating bayan.

Ang miserableng pamumuhay ng masa – mababang sahod, kontraktuwalisasyon, kawalan ng disenteng trabaho, kagutuman, palpak na reporma sa lupa – ay hindi pinapaksa sa kanyang SONA at  tinatakpan ng mga datos at mga ulat ukol sa “pag-unlad” na sinasabi ng pangulo. Tama, kailangang mag-suri at maging kritikal. Hindi maaaring tanggap lamang nang tanggap kung ano ang inilalahad sa atin. Malinaw na hindi sumasalamin sa tunay na kalagayan ng bansa ang State of the Nation Address ng pangulo. Hanggang kailan kaya itatago ng administrasyong ito ang tunay na kalagayan ng bansa gamit ang mga salita at numero upang bigyan ang taumbayan ng ilusyon ng isang umuunlad na Pilipinas? Marami paring mga tanong na hindi pa nasasagot, mga tanong na hindi pa nabibigyang pansin at tugon.

Upang wakasan, hindi man ako lubos na kumbinsido sa kanyang mga inilahad ay sumasangayon naman ako sa kanyang pakiusap – “Ginagampanan po ng gobyerno ang kanyang obligasyon. Tanungin din po sana natin ang ating sarili: Ano ang inaambag ko sa solusyon? Kung may magtapon sa ilog, sitahin mo sana; kung may magtayo ng building sa estero, isumbong mo na. Lalo po tayong malulubog sa problema kung magkikibit-balikat lang po tayo.” Ito ay isang napakamakabuluhang bagay para sa atin. Hindi maaaring kapintasan lamang ang ating napapansin at iasa nating lahat sa gobyerno. Mahalagang may kaalaman tayo sa problema at may maiambag din na kontribusyon sa solusyon.

If you see something, say something. If you see something, do something.

 

2012-21391

Where Did All The Goods Go?

As Filipinos, it is our responsibility to know the concerns of our country. This is the reason why each and every one of us should feel that they are ought to at least listen to the State of the Nation Address (SONA). Last July 22, 2013, the fourth SONA of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was held and it was not just any other SONA. It now made history for being the longest so far. Despite this “longest” record, I still think that it lacks much since some other necessary details were not discussed.
Many good statistics were presented throughout the SONA and his list of achievements was quite long. Some of these were: reforms in the educational system (k-12), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programs (4Ps), approval of sin tax reform law and “Responsible Parenthood Law” (RH law), increase in the number of TESDA graduates, increase in PhilHealth enrolees from 62% to 81% and improved benefits, P6.2 billion allocated for flood control, 9,377 housing units completed for Typhoon Sendong Victims, 63% reduction in the number of private armed groups, 21.4 increase in foreign tourist arrivals in 2012, and the astounding 7.8% GDP growth during the first quarter of 2013 which was considered highest in South East Asia.
These are all good numbers, I agree, but should each and every Filipino be assured that we are indeed on the right track or tuwid na daan as how our president would put it just because this is what the good numbers are telling us? It is the “State” of the Nation Address but how come only the “good” numbers were showed? The nation deserves to see the two sides of the coin in order for them not to be misled. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against these achievements, where in fact, I even commend that a lot were accomplished which I do acknowledge that the president truly deserves to brag about but the question now would be: is this enough? Okay, let me put this first on a more realistic note. Of course, in the world we live in, nothing would always be enough. I just don’t know if it is better to have two “bads” or settle with one “good” and one “bad”. The bad that I am pertaining here is the employment condition of our country. According to the National Statistics Office, our current unemployment rate is 7.5% as opposed of the 6.9% of the previous year. Should this not be bothersome to anyone that while we are enjoying an economic boom how come our unemployment rate rose instead? Instead of having 2 “bads,” is it not worse to have a “good” and yet a “bad” or even a “worse” resulted. I think the right question to raise here is that where does the effect of this “good” go? In my opinion, this one “good” and one “bad” situation is a manifestation of growth – but, sadly, just plain growth. What our country needs is growth accompanied by development. If it does not really help the majority as great as it is supposed to, what good would the ordinary Juan Dela Cruz do with this economic success?
Indeed, our country garnered a higher credibility level from other countries as a result of the current administration’s tuwid na daan path. Our president even uttered in his speech that, “mula sa pagpapaunlad ng imprastruktura hanggang sa maaliwalas nang pagnenegosyo na lumilikha ng trabaho, talaga namang malinaw ang pahayag natin sa mundo: kaya nang makipagsabayan ng Pilipinas sa agos ng kaunlaran” I just hope that this kaunlaran described here is more of a development objective rather than just growth and that the Filipino pertained in his ending statement of “talagang napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito” constitutes not just a small circle of our fellow countrymen but also of the majority that truly deserves more of our attention.

A Bright Hope for Filipinos

When the Aquino administration began, President Noynoy Aquino already emphasized the importance of abolishing the “wang-wang” mentality. P-Noy was not only referring to the blaring sirens but more importantly, the noise made by corrupt politicians and dishonest citizens. P-Noy’s “anti-wang-wang” policy aims to make a sound government whose sole desire is to hear the cries and calls of every citizen and act on them. Sure, there are still lots of criticisms against the Aquino administration and we are all aware of those shortcomings but isn’t it high time that we give our president a chance to prove himself? In spite of everything, he has contributed a lot to our country. Let us stop being pessimistic and start looking at the bright side of things. Then maybe we can even help our president solve the problems of our country.

What I like about P-Noy is that he doesn’t let the wrongdoings of public officials pass. During his third SONA, he mentioned the bent system of the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Customs. These departments, according to President Noynoy, failed to fulfill their responsibilities because of their own self-interest. As P-Noy said, “Kung hindi mo nagagawa and iyong trabaho, hindi ka karapat-dapat na manatili sa pwesto.” P-Noy is definitely trying his best to dismiss government officials who are not worthy of serving the public.

On the other hand, the president also mentioned some of the improvements in the country for the past years. One of these is the investment grade status obtained by the country and the impressive GDP growth of the Philippine economy. The implementation of the Sin Tax Bill was also very commendable. At last, they have come up with a way to increase the government budget without hurting the wallets of all the citizens. He also mentioned the plan to put up generator sets to solve the electricity shortage problem in Mindanao. It will make the electricity a bit more expensive but if this will benefit Mindanao and its residents in the long run, then they shall push through with the plan. Regarding the LRT and MRT fare, I personally think that there is nothing wrong with increasing the fare so long as improvements will be made in the system of the trains.

People might have not yet felt or noticed the improvements in our country but there surely are. Let us give P-Noy a chance to gradually close the wound of this country. It may be a long process but any wound takes time to heal. The scars will still be there but at least we are not getting any worse. Let us cooperate and help our president change our country for the better.

– Arrah Batiles

Quality Over Quantity

On July 22, 2013, President Benigno Aguino III had his 4th State of the Nation Address. He presented remarkable improvements in the country for the past three years such as a 7.8% GDP growth rate in the first quarter of the year, an increase in the number of TESDA graduates, the approval of the Sin Tax Reform Law, the reduction of unemployment from 8% to 6.9%, and so on. He mentioned the government’s goals for the upcoming year like a 1:1 police-pistol ratio, improvements in the shortage of classrooms, a connecting road from NLEX to SLEX, more power plants in Mindanao, and many more. Startlingly, he also brought up losses in the country’s budget that corruption had generated. The SONA itself was impressive with its numerous highlights, giving hope to the Filipino nation that the country can strive and achieve development in the near future, but what is the true state of the nation?

Numbers play a significant role in the society. They represent increases or decreases in the budget and important rates such as GDP and unemployment rates; they symbolize improvements (or deteriorations) in the country like the number, shown in the number of Philhealth enrollees, number of houses built for victims, number of jobs created, etc., but numbers cannot fully represent the quality of improvements. Yes, the GDP growth rate increased, but does are Filipinos really better off? The number of employed Filipinos increased, as well as the number of those who are able to study, but are the qualities of these jobs and education worth commending?

It’s the same SONA every year. The President of the Philippines gives a long speech, concentrating on the list of projects done and goals to be achieved; they focus on the numbers. I think PNoy, in a span of three years, has attained such great advances in the country, but he, and future Philippine Presidents, can further develop the nation by centering more on what’s truly important: the value and effectiveness of their projects. What is quantity without quality? What is growth without development?

– Angelica C. Clemente

SONA 2013: Moving Forward

As mandated by the Constitution, President Benigno S. Aquino III delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, last July 22, 2013. With the theme, ‘Sa Gitna ng Daang Matuwid’, the President gave an overview of the government’s accomplishments in the fields of health, education, agriculture, and security, to name a few. Spanning an entire length of 102 minutes, making this his longest SONA yet, the speech garnered 88 rounds of applause from the Senators, Congressmen and different government officials present during his address.

In the field of Education, the cutting of textbook costs was mentioned as well as the plans for the use of these savings in the building of new classrooms. For the field of agriculture, it was shown how our importation of rice has been steadily decreasing through the years and how the agricultural sector has grown by 3.3%. He also talked of the plight of the coconut farmers and spoke of the coconut intercropping program that has already helped 10,000 farmers in the past year. For the fishermen, it was pointed out that despite their contribution to the economy, almost half are subsisting at the poverty line. He outlined their plans to increase the efficiency of the Bataraza fisherman through the construction of a cold storage facility. In the Health sector, the percentage of people covered by PhilHealth insurance has increased from 62% to 81% and 33 billion of government budget has been allotted for the improvement of rural hospitals and health units.  The passing of the Sin-tax Law and Responsible Parenthood Law were lauded, as well as our 7.8% increase in GDP growth for the year and dubbing of the Philippines as a ‘rising tiger’ by the World Bank.

Although I applaud the strides that have been taken towards development and the government’s numerous achievements throughout the year, I couldn’t help but feel that the rote recitation of statistics and accomplishments doesn’t quite paint a clear picture of the country or where we’re heading for the year to come. I think that the 102 minute long speech missed on a couple of important issues like the Freedom of Information Bill and the pork barrel scam, issues especially important to an administration founded on the tenet of ‘ang daang matuwid’.  With this being the main goal of his administration, I believe that asking how far the government’s been able to go about eradicating corruption within itself is the more important question. Also, the 7.8 percent increase in GDP growth does not explain or solve how more than 11 million Filipinos are still unemployed according to the results of the SWS and IBON Foundation survey, leading us to question who exactly benefits from the growth of GDP and how do we ensure that its effects are felt by everyone in society.

At the end of it however, I completely believe in what PNoy said at the start of his address, “We know that our country’s problems cannot be solved in the blink of an eye, in one year, or even within the six-year term of a President. But just begin, and we will be one with you in nurturing change.” I think that the steps that have been taken this past year has succeeded in moving our country forward and I look forward to  seeing what else is in store for the future. 

– Flora Anne R. Palabrica