Critique on PGMA’s 2008 sona

The acknowledgment given by no less than the President of the Republic of the Philippines to at least a dozen ordinary Filipinos on the occasion of her State of the Nation Address did justice to the newly-refurbished Congress by the new Speaker courtesy of taxpayers’ money. The one-day affair costs a P100 million after many years of neglect of a historical edifice that ought to be preserved and maintained.

On the viewing screen, at least, it serves as therapy that we don’t have to see a clapping Speaker as much as an equally patronizing Senate President. Fact is, Villar practically did not have to clap his hands that must have made it inhibitive for Nograles to have to overdo any indicative patronage act. Coming as 8th in a row of Sonas, this is probably the lousiest sona ever delivered lacking as it does in its climactic effect.

As reported, the sona has gone through 20 drafts to have been finalized on the wee hours of the morning. Paradoxically, right after the speech, headlines say that there was actually nothing in a P50 cents reduction in text messages. This has given PGMA away or whoever wrote that sona? Where it reads, the piece must have been written by a not-too-above-average person of influence. Fact is, it was almost unpresidential.

What has a sona got to do with the personal circumstances of the likes of Federico Alvarez – a jeepney driver; Rodney Berdin – 13 year-old boy; Edwin Bandila – a rice farmer; Rosario Camma – chieftain and mayor (in tribal attire); Jessica Barlomento, Shenve Catana, Mary Grace Comendador, Marlyn Tusi – all welders of Hanjin (a private firm); Victoria Mindoro – a farmer and factory worker; Pedro and Concordia Faviolas – rubber farmers; Justice Vitug and Francis Lim – of Texas Instruments and Philippine Stock Exchange, respectively; Allan Amanse – a fisherman turned whaleshark watching officer; and Joey Concepcion – a partner entrepreneur?

The story line seems to generalize from very individual instances of deceptive successes by particular individuals and necessarily, it is grossly violative of logic as we normally understand. We simply cannot generalize from limited particulars – in this case, singular instances or specimens. Its residual media value is of course of some help perhaps to launch that self-confessed admission of PGMA to spend her time daily with the underprivileged. But this piece of PR utterly lacks that modicum of honesty that makes advertising a good one.

There isn’t really much of a corpus of data that will make it hard for the average layman to understand from PGMA’s speech. There is no linguistic barrier as would otherwise make it difficult for readers to get the gist of what the PGMA has to say she has accomplished and will continue to accomplish. In other words, the sona is couched in near layman terms.

PGMA turned the oil price issue as a convenient scapegoat for the shortcomings of government in fiscal matters and braggingly enough, claims the government has all the money to cushion off the impact of oil price spikes.

Cunningly, PGMA defended her VAT policy dismissing as she did that opinion polls made her look unpopular. In her exhaustive enumeration of the amounts of money taken from VAT for various programs of government, it becomes crystal clear that without VAT, her administration has long succumbed to death. It further became clear that Malacanang always allocates from P.5 billion to P4 billion for every program it envisions to undertake. For instance, PGMA allocated P3 billion for anti-graft fund, can you believe it?

It ought to challenge reflection the uncharacteristic pride PGMA exhibits in her mention that Land Bank has quadrupled loans for farmers and fisherfolks; that Pag-Ibig loans have increased from P3.8 billion to P22.6 billion; that SSS as it is with GSIS has increased salary loans benefits to employees since 2001; or that PhilHealth has paid P100 billion for hospitalization (fact or fiction?).

In the end, there is nothing to be thankful of about programs being implemented by this government. Managing corporate RP has become a profitable business in governance that even government banks have become loan sharks to – fool the people, buy the people, off the people. See you in the 9th.

UP Diliman, Quezon City Email: Cellphone: 09164985265