P-Noy’s maiden State of the Nation Address – critique

Critique on the SONA

In the whole, P-Noy’s State of the Nation Address builds upon his campaign slogan of “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”. Thus, the first course of action was to actually do a work in profiling. And much interesting findings have been unearthed.

Government agencies, as a result, were placed their possibly more appropriate ‘notoriety tags’ and so the consequent ‘horror list’, if we may call it that, put some members of the old officialdom into the defensive. The Sword of Damocles remains hanging over their heads since P-Noy says, “there cannot be reconciliation without justice”.

Let us name the agencies mentioned.

MWSS. It is said that an official or board member gets P2.5 million a year exclusive of car service, what is equivalent to a 30-month salary, P14,000 every board meeting, P8,000 annual groceries, and homes for top officials. That its performance and financial management operation courtesy of ‘midnight appointees’ leave much to be desired really add insult to injury.

DPWH. Only 28 projects of 246 otherwise priority ones get funded from the motor vehicle user’s charge. The 218 projects are replaced with 70 projects not in the plan. The budget of P425 million was even increased to P480 million. Thus, it is reasonable to ask whether this kind of management is sound.

NAPOCOR. When the government has to shoulder P200 billion in debt, P-Noy thinks that ‘bad politics’ could be the culprit and thus, the interests of the people have not really been best served.

MRT. The operator was forced to keep the rates low with government giving guarantees to the operator to recoup on investment. What really happens is the government does not fulfill its promise. Consequently, DBP and the Land Bank have to buy MRT. Again, something has been thrown out of the window, come to think of it.

NFA. It appears that government purchases are not realistic or proportionate to the actual shortage of supply. So even if the shortage is only 117,000 metric tons, it buys 900,000 metric tons in 2004. Again, in 2007, it bought 1,827 million metric tons when the shortage of supply is pegged only at 589,000. So is this kind of break-even analysis sound? As a consequence, it incurred debt of P177 billion – the amount that could fund judiciary’s budget of P12.7 billion, Conditional Cash Transfers of P29.6 billion, and classrooms for P130 billion.

In general, it would seem that P-Noy has inherited a budget deficit of such proportion that only P100 billion or 6.5% can be used for the remaining months of the year from the P1.54 trillion national budget.

In fact, P-Noy claims that P1.4 billion of the P2 billion calamity funds were already spent with a slice of P108 million for Pampanga alone or P105 million of which went to that one legislative district of PGMA.

Yes, the new regime also saw the budgetary configuration in the way P3.5 billion intended for Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng funded 89 projects where 19 of such projects amounted to P981 million without the benefit of a public bidding per finding by Secretary Rogelio Singson.

An entire litany of problems bordering on possibly unsound economic fundamentals could yet be unearthed by the young regime of P-Noy. Thus, it is on the ‘arrest mode’ to run after smugglers as well as tax evaders with the example of a pawnshop owner who does not pay taxes and yet can afford to buy a P26 million worth of Lamborghini.

P-Noy is set to sail in the high seas, matter-of-factly. And his regime would not be a ship in the harbor. He is committed to address extra-judicial killings. He will sign the executive order to create the Truth Commission which will look into the 9-year of administration of GMA. Further, he will strengthen the bond of public-private partnerships.

An expressway from Manila to Bulacan to Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya until the end of Cagayan Valley is about being proposed at no single peso cost on the part of the government.

What other major areas of concern has P-Noy touched?

National defense. Apparently, the Philippine Navy can boast only of 32 boats in relation to some 36,000 nautical miles of shoreline. A proponent suggested to rent the present Navy Headquarters in Roxas Boulevard and the Naval Station at Fort Bonifacio in exchange of $100 million dollars. Said proponent even offers to give portion of its profits to transfer the Navy Headquarters to Camp Aguinaldo.

Railways. P-Noy plans an efficient railway system that would bring down prices of commodities. Relatedly, the Build-Operate-Transfer Law shall undergo quick and efficient processes in a way that would shorten the project’s so-called gestation process.

Streamlining registering of business names. A fast-lane approach is probably conceived that would trim from 4 to 8 hours to only 15 minutes registration of business names. Likewise, it will reduce from 36 documents down to only a page application papers required to be filled in.

Education. Rightly or wrongly, P-Noy subscribes to the global standard of 12 years of education rather than only 7 years. Likewise, Conditional Cash Transfers would be funded to lessen the burden of education on parents.

PhilHealth. In the face of conflicting statistics, P-Noy wants to expand coverage of the PhilHealth to realistic levels. NSO estimates only a 35% coverage while PhilHealth claims 89% then downplays it to only 53% coverage. Whatever it is, the ball is P-No’s court.

There will be a National Household Targetting System put in place to identify families that need assistance which requires P9 billion to provide coverage for 5 million poor Filipinos.

In terms of legislative agenda, P-Noy bats for the convening of the LEDAC to pursue important bills one of which is the Fiscal Responsibility Bill since there are about P104.1 billion to fund laws already passed. For another, he bats for the passage of the National Land Use bill as well as the improvement of the Witness Protection Program. More importantly, he calls for the ‘codification of laws’ to harmonize many conflicting pieces of law. Not to be forgotten is a new National Defense Act attuned with the current needs in national security.

True to form, again P-Noy echoes his call for “no monopolies, no cartels”. He enjoins everyone to trek the road to peace in the Mindanao or CPP-NPA-NDF through honest dialogue. The media is also to police their ranks according to P-Noy.

It all bears watching how the new bureaucracy will be managed by P-Noy’s new ‘corporate’ team. Pray that this regime succeeds, rightly or wrongly. (END)