It takes more than 3 years to get a country back on its feet, but it only takes a hopeful 103 minute speech to believe that you’re heading in the right direction.
True enough, with his 4th State of the Nation Address themed “Sa Gitna ng Daang Matuwid”, President Benigno Aguino III delivered with the achievements of his administration as of 2013 and promising plans we’ve yet to witness throughout his term. Despited delivering his longest SONA, it was packed full of data indicative of how things are looking up in our country, at least to some extent.
The SONA covered a lot of different sectors and tackled most issues our country is dealing with; whether it be in agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, education and the economy. He stressed significant and commendable accomplishments such as the success of the Pantawid ng Pamilyang Pilipino Program benefiting 4 million households and the housing program for families who were once informal settlers. He also mentioned the approval of the Sin Tax and RH Law, as well as reforms in in the education system (K-12). An increase in the number of TESDA graduates and an increase in PhilHealth enrolles from 62% to 81% were also some of the improvements made over the past year. Facing a persistent problem of flooding in our country, P6.2 billion is allocated for flood control in Metro Manila and a completion of 9,377 housing units for Typhoon Sendong victims were made to address some of these issues. In terms of tourism, there were 4.3 million tourist arrivals in 2012 comprising a 21.4 increase from 2010. More importantly, the administration boasts 7.8% GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth during the first quarter of 2013, which is the highest recorded GDP in East and Southeast Asia.
In the midst of all these however, we ask ourselves where will we go from here? Yes, things are looking up but there are still some things that needs resolving. With a stellar 7.8% GDP, it is unfortunately accompanied by a 7.5% unemployment rate, equivalent to 3.08 million Filipinos who are jobless. Both statistics increased over the past year, when in fact, what we should be seeing is a negative relationship between the two.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be happy over the GDP increase, honestly, I’m proud that I’m in a country experiencing this kind of growth. However, at least to some extent, as I said earlier, we’re barely where we should be in terms of growth, inclusive growth that is.
When we talk about inclusive growth, what we’re really after is shared growth, meaning opportunities for everyone, especially those who are most in need. While the government focuses in allocating the resources properly and efficiently, it is also our socio-civic responsibility to others that chimes in to be able to get to that point of inclusive growth. That’s why a highlight of PNoy’s speech to me was when he asked the public to ask to themselves, “Ano ang iniaambag ko sa solusyon?” This to me speaks volumes of how badly do we, as Filipinos, want to reach even greater heights in putting this country where it needs to be. I can honestly say that I see how much PNoy wants to see our country flourish, but his sincerity for helping each and every Filipino is what stands out to me.
Truly, it isn’t his SONA, it’s our SONA. To some extent, it’s about him doing the best he can do to lead this country to the right direction. However, the real growth comes from us, in doing our part as Filipinos.
– Arguelles, Jean Adriel