A Commentary on the SONA 2013 by Pammy Macasaet
On July 22, 2013 President Benigno Aquino III delivered his fourth SONA or State of the Nation Address. Like in the past SONA’s the president spoke in Filipino and addressed his “boss” or the Filipino people.
The main focus of his SONA the transformation of the government and nation. He also talked extensively about the improvements within the nation. Undoubtedly, there have been many. There has been P40 billion that has been allocated to various sectors in society, education, health, social services etc. In the education sector, the implementation of the K-12 and the addition of thousands of new classrooms. Agriculture was also a focus this year as we know import only 350,000 metric tons of rice from 500,000 metric tons of rice in 2012. The agricultural sector grew to 3.3% percent from 1.1% in 2012. He also mentioned his efforts to help the coconut sector, where some of the poorest farmers work. He proposed intercropping which suggests planting a variety of crops in between the coconut trees in order to add to their income. He also took time to clean his hands of the Hacienda Luisita issue (one of issues raised against him) where he said that the documents for proper land distribution are already being processed. He mentioned the health sector- the building of more hospitals and adding of more health services for different diseases. He then moved on to the building of various infrastructure – which is extremely important for the progress of the nation (a lesson from economics). He talked about the building of the connector for the NLEX and SLEX which cut travel time between the two highways to 15 minutes. He mentioned the building of a bridge in Tarlac wherein he was able to reduce the budget by millions of pesos. President Benigno talked about the economy. He boasted the 7.8% growth in the first quarter of 2013 – the highest in Southeast Asia. He pointed out that the World Bang has called us a “rising tiger.” According to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, the Philippines is the “brightest spark.” He credits this improvement in the economy to the effective tax collection, creation of infrastructure and correct usage of funds. The Philippines has jumped ten places in Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum. Yes- there have been a lot of improvements.
However, the Philippines still boast an unemployment rate of 7.5%. It actually increased from 6.9% to the current figure it has today. There has been a lack of the “trickle down” effect of the improvement in the economy. According to SWS, many Filipinos still consider themselves poor. There has to be more improvements made within the government to ensure that there is “inclusive growth.” P-Noy also failed to mentioned certain pressing issues like the Philippine’s relations with China and the FOI (Freedom of Information) Bill.
He winds down the SONA by questioning the morale of the different government agencies who refused to be part of his anti-corruption crusade. “Saan po kayo kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha?” Pnoy says to those corrupt agencies. He mentions their type of bahala na thinking- how they could not care about their jobs as long as they become wealthy. This I completely agree with. Government officials should know that entering government is about service and not about becoming wealthy. He mentions officials who have been doing their job well like Foreign Affairs Secretary- Albert del Rosario and the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo. He ends with speaking about his pride of being the people
This I believe is an appropriate way to end the SONA by talking about honor, service and national. Despite the growth of economy, the improvement in various sectors of without the aforementioned, there would be no progress. Because it is through honor, service and love of country that the country has gotten to this point and hopefully will continue to go forward.