Last July 22, President Aquino delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address in Batasan, Quezon City. According to the news, it was his longest so far as it lasted over 100 minutes. Throughout his speech, the president was applauded 88 times (I don’t understand why they take note of this). In my opinion, a SONA is a SONA. Surely, the president will promote the different achievements of his administration so I really didn’t expect him to update us on other pending issues such as the FOI bill, pork barrel, etc. Instead of focusing on those he didn’t mention, let me discuss three of those that he did:
- Conditional Cash Transfer or 4Ps – I wasn’t for this program initially, but after watching a documentary on it on ABS-CBN the night before the SONA, I saw its use. It’s not paying people to be lazy because some parents, no matter how hard they work, cannot earn enough or even anything at all to send their kids to school or to keep them healthy. In effect, their children’s education and nutrition are put on hold, which will just continue the poverty cycle. The CCT program gives out cash to the poor under the condition that their kids attend school and visit their rural health clinics for regular check-ups. The program hopes that by giving the children proper education and health support, more job opportunities will open for them and they’ll be able to help their families rise from poverty. However, without sufficient employment opportunities, the program will not achieve its goal of alleviating poverty. Hence, I don’t think the CCT program is wrong; I think it’s incomplete. While ensuring proper education and health, the government should also work towards ensuring that people land proper jobs.
- 7.8% GDP Growth – Let me quote Risa Hontiveros’s tweet right after the SONA, “The challenge is not only to sustain growth, but to put the people front & center in that growth #SONA2013”. We need the growth to trickle down to the masses. Also, while 7.8% sounds impressive, we have to consider that fact that we are a developing country so there really is more room for our economy to grow, especially compared to developed countries such as Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
- Agrarian Land Reform – I honestly didn’t see this one coming, but I’m glad he included this after being silent about it ever since he assumed the presidency. The promise is that by September, they will be starting the turnover of lands to the farmers. There’s not much I can say about this except that I’ll be watching out for the fulfillment of this program.
There are so many more that he mentioned which I won’t discuss anymore – rice self-sufficiency program, PPP projects, AFP Moderniztion act, etc. We are three years into the Aquino administration, and I honestly think that our president has been doing his job well. Little by little, we see an atmosphere of sincerity developing within the government. To say that there is no more corruption and that all government officials are doing everything thing they need to do will be a gross overstatement, but somehow, at least we can say that we’re getting there.