Critique of the 8th State of the Nation Address
BY RONAH JANE M. VIDAL
Arellano University Plaridel Campus
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo delivered her 8th State of the Nation (SONA) last July 28, 2008 at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.
Another fairytale story has ended. The SONA of Pres. Arroyo for this year 2008 was so full of unbelievable reports, all were a fiction maybe that even me, I don’t know if I can still believe or trust those words.
In her 8th SONA, Pres. Arroyo said that we ended 2007 with the strongest economic growth in a generation, inflation was low, the peso strong and a million new jobs were created that we were all looking to a better brighter future. Do we all look to a better brighter future? It seems that our president was joking when she said that thing. The records from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) showing that millions of Filipinos are “mired in poverty, have no work, and are being punished by high food and oil prices. “Seven years after the she made these promises, poverty further worsened, prices of commodities increased, and many lost their jobs”, Binay read from his five pages SONA entitled “Ang Tunay Na Kalagayan ng Bayan” (The True State of the Nation) at the Makati City Hall. And DOLE Statistics reveal that almost three million Filipinos are unemployed while nearly seven million are underemployed, contrary to Pres. Arroyo’s promise to create one million job opportunities every year. There is only one truth that our economy is getting worse and nearly to fall. According to national statistics, the inflation rate this month of July which is 12.2 is the highest in 17 years ago which only means that food prices and other necessities of people are getting higher and higher that cause suffering on the side of Filipino people and additionally the truth that job opportunities in our country are not enough to employ all Filipino people.
According to her, we built a shield around our country that has slowed down and somewhat softened the worst effects of the global crisis. What kind of a shield? A shield that are made up of fragile materials. In other words, a solution that is only for short period just like a pain reliever. Our nation doesn’t need an alternative or ephemeral solution just to ease the worse effects of the global crisis. What we need is an unhurried action. Our nation needs a definite answer which serves as a long-lasting solution to this global crisis. Because the worse effects of the global crisis will be felt by our nation again and again if there is no definite solution to solve it and we are not prepared for its coming.
Pres. Arroyo mentions that we have the money to care for our people and pay for food when there are shortages; for fuel despite price spikes. I believe that there is really money obviously a larger amount of it. The question is that, where is the money that she is talking about? Why does every Filipino still endure the sad fate rooted in poverty? Open your eyes and take some time to look at your surroundings and you will see and realize how our nation is poor. For the past years, even until now, our nation has been in the financial tight spot, a problem that the previous and present administrations failed to stamp out. In every highways, streets and places you are walking, you will see a large number of Filipino people with no food to eat. The answer is that the money our president is talking about was already in the pocket or wallet of every abusive public servant. The fact is that the money is being used in the wrong way, received by wrong hands and reserved for wrong people.
In the speech of Pres. Arroyo, she said that the telecoms responded to her pleas to cut the cost of messages between networks; it is now down to 50 cents. Paradoxically, right after the speech, headlines said that there was actually nothing in the 50 cents reduction in text messages.
She said she cares for our teachers and for our OFW. But why do some teachers sell food or anything to his/her students or co-teachers to earn additional income if Pres. Arroyo really cares for them? Why do some teachers bear and suffer from the low wages they receive? Teachers don’t need praise like the government programs intend to do. What they need is action for the betterment of all teachers. If Pres. Arroyo cares for our OFW, why are there so many news showing that many of our OFW are being abused and violated abroad? Why are there are so many helpless OFW who can’t come back to their home? If she really cares, she must do something for the goodness and improvement in the conditions of our teachers and OFWs.
Pres. Arroyo said that rice production since 2000 increased at an average of 4.07% a year, twice the population growth rate. If that’s true why are there food shortages and the Philippines continues to buy rice from other countries? She can’t say that it is merely because of nature that according to her puts our islands ahead of our neighbors in the path of typhoons from the Pacific. There is a way that we can fight and avoid the disastrous effects of typhoons. The government just need to improve our drainage to where all waters flow. We don’t need to import rice. Improvement in technologies is a must and full support to our farmers is necessary. In importing rice, Filipino people are not the one consuming the benefits and take the advantage out of it because imported rice is higher than our own rice. So the person taking the most benefits is the one who is going to sell the imported rice.
She strongly said that VAT or E-VAT is so important and without it we can’t survive and should not dispose of it. We can’t deny that the Expanded Value Added Tax (E-VAT) has contributed to the oil price increase, but instead of giving the people immediate relief by suspending the E-VAT, Malacañang opted to use the windfall from E-VAT collections to extend more subsidies. In her exhaustive enumeration of the amounts of money taken from E-VAT for various programs of government, it becomes crystal clear that without E-VAT, her administration should have long succumbed to death.
President Arroyo’s SONA 2008 is replete with fake economic gains and band aid solutions to the worsening poverty. There is nothing to be thankful for in the programs being implemented by this government.
To end, let me quote what the great Augustine once said in The City of God be alluded to: “I think I have now, by God’s help, discharged my obligation in writing this large work. Let those who think I have said too little, or those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I said just enough join me in giving thanks to God.” We may have said too much about this thing of urgency, but that’s only a faithful accomplishment of our duty. However, few words are enough. We don’t have to be verbose about a national concern at all times. Actions are still better than words. Actions would suffice. “Amen.” Posted by (Bulatlat.com)