Lengthy. Spotty. Incomplete. Three bold adjectives that could somehow depict our President Aquino’s fourth State of the Nation Address.
Lengthy for it was recorded as the longest SONA in the history of Philippine Government for a period of roughly an hour and 42 minutes. Paying attention to every detail he disposes was indeed a tall order. With every distraction here and there ranging from the frequent coughing of the President, flashing scenes of sleeping congressmen, and other external factors, digesting all that he says seems hopeless. But as stakeholders, we need to lend our ears to capture the President’s perspective on the state of our nation and critique its veracity.
Unlike his previous SONAs, he bombarded us with numerous statistics supporting his achievements for the past year. We often simply take it in as if we truly understand its true meaning. We sometimes fail to question our critical minds of whether these are facts. The passing of the Freedom of Information Bill would have allowed us access to such information. We could easily derive and analyze on how things have transpired in order to get these figures. But yes, once again, it was not passed. Hopes dropped to an all-time low as it was not the priority of one of the former supporters of the bill.
Spotty. Although the insertion of multimedia and technology in his annual report makes it more engaging and unconventional, there is still that common trend of previous administrations’ speeches that arise. The SONA speech is continually being used by the president as a platform to publicize all his accomplishments of the past year. It is also an opportunity for him to add up to his piling list of promises. Who can expect the president to disclose the shortcomings of his performance? Maybe some would have to say that he did. But emphasizing them is out of the discussion. Once again, he failed to identify his real audience in delivering his annual speech. Yes, he did use the Filipino language for the most part and even delivered it in a manner that common people would be delivering and people would be easily mislead of his intention. How the content of his speech was organized and presented was the more crucial part in this interaction. The President should have laymanized and broken down piece by piece to the Filipino citizens how and why such circumstances jive and contradict. It is as if his audience for the most part was the investors of our country. Although he succeeded in the first aspect of language and delivery, the content and its organization should be given more attention.
Lastly, President Aquino’s report was incomplete. I completely understand that it is extremely difficult to make a SONA as concise as possible but at the same include all the important issues that concern all the stakeholders of the nation. But certain issues like the Freedom of Information bill and the budget for SUCs was inexcusable. It disappoints me for the FOI bill would have been a gigantic step towards his ultimate goal of daang matuwid. Yet he failed in even mentioning it. Another big issue would be the falling of the budget for the SUCs and the K to 12 system. It is the responsibility of the government to provide accessible education for all. But his non-addressing of such issues left me a puzzle to solve.
To cap off, the fourth SONA of President Aquino was still the old traditional one. Good news here and there. But I would not take anything away from his remarkable achievements this past year. He did a lot this year. People should truly understand that some of these figures would not be felt in a blink.
The ultimate purpose of delivering a SONA was not fulfilled. I can appreciate his effort though it was not enough. Presenting a road map for the second half of his term was also non-existent. We do not know where we are heading. With all these, I believe that he came up short. Let us all be vigilant for the future endeavors that our country will about to face. Our President and the government cannot do it alone. It is us, the people of this nation, who will build and bring our nation to a brighter future.
-Ian Nicole A. Generalao