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SONA hangover
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on July 25, 2006 72 Comments 3 min read
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The blogosphere was abuzz during and after the State of the Nation address (billed by the Press Secretary’s office, modestly, as the longest and first interactive and high-tech SONA). You can watch it or read it.

The reactions of young bloggers ran the gamut from admiring to dismayed.

Students like Waypoint to sudden death, or the present’s just a pleasant interuption to the past and anne_17 had to watch it because of school requirements (and seem mostly bored). Sarcasm makes the World go round… and pearlpaopao listened (the former hopes it’s not just promises, the latter found it informative, while qtme was more skeptical). Twenty-One believes it’s better to work together to correct the administration’s shortcomings.

Others, like princesstala, attended one of the rallies. Some, like My Suite, watched cable.
Punzi gave a running account. Peryodistang Pinoy weighed in with her (highly informed, I must say) reactions. Alleba Politics reacted, too. Genocider believes the problem is not the President, but the people who surround her. Nagsusulat Lamang reacts in a pithy manner. Hope springs eternal in Comelec AKO (despite initial skepticism). Bunker Chronicles makes a provocative comparison to how Saddam Hussein gained power. In withoutwax, there’s a pretty thorough commentary, too (the speech, the blogger says, had vision).

(A report from General Santos City was intriguing: supposedly, the mayor expressed opposition to the mega regions scheme, saying it would only add to red tape. I hope the Mindanao media looks into this. So far, there’s this from MindaNews.)

Jove Francisco gives an eyewitness reaction (good observations on the audience in the Batasan).

My reaction to the SONA:

1. Two campaigns have begun. The first, for amendments to be approved in a referendum (immediately after the speech, the drum-beating began); the second, the 2007 elections (Neil Cruz on Viewpoint surprised me when he asserted it’s likely that more than 79 opposition members of the House will be elected).
2. It was a division of the spoils.
3. It was the Mother of All Pork Barrel Speeches.
4. It is, however, proof of something we don’t pause often enough to recognize. Regardless f what the President does, or doesn’t do, things move on their own. Many of the plans and projects announced aren’t the fruits of the President’s hard work, or leadership, it’s the result of continuous meetings between national and local officials, elected representatives and members of the bureaucracy. Some of these projects began when the administration was new; others date back to previous administrations; some were identified and mapped out long ago, but it is only now that they have been given the green light.
5. Therefore, much of what was announced would have happened, regardless of who is President; but there are definitely many officials happy that they have been given a curtain call, and that regardless of her motives, the importance of those plans has been recognized.
6. We should rename the Batasan Pambansa the Kroll Opera House. Not even Ferdinand Marcos indulged in such public displays of legislative sycophancy. Or double-speak. As Torn & Frayed points out, she condemnded killings then praised to the skies the number one suspect.

Foreign commentary: Thaksin and Arroyo, two thick-faced devils, on top for now (in The Nation of Thailand).


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  1. bravo, we’re way up in the economic and peace ladder. di lang sa sulu, may jollibee din naman sa u.s., ah!

    honest students, honest cops. kewl, but honest president?

  2. he he..”two-thick-faced devils”..and Thaksin soing “an Arroyo”..

    Interesting comparative there.

    Thick-faced na kapalmuks nga.

    Doing “an Arroyo” as in:

    promising not to run in 2004 ..

    Now,she mentions in her SONA, that she will finish her term as president in 2010– she must be swimming in confidence that cha cha is a foregone conclusion and she will return to public office as prime minister from 2010 onwards —

    poor JDV — always the bridesmaid and never the bride…. har har

  3. Only in the Philippines will a President be so concerned about a mass transit system like the LRT. When will Arroyo think big? Maybe when she becomes President.

  4. There’s intellectual dishonesty in attempting to oversimplify government initiatives and programs by conjuring the image of government on automatic pilot.

    Besides consultations with congress and local officials on priorities, funds have to be sought and earmarked. It took much effort and persuasion to force the hand of a grandstanding, spineless congress to pass revenue measures that were needed to sustain these programs.

    The recent efficiencies in tax collection were also attained largely because of initiatives by the executive department. And, to the dismay of the Hyatt 10, government did not cease to function without them. As a matter of fact, it has carried out its business more efficiently.

    What some people can’t stand is that the person they had so badly underestimated has come out on top. And it is the victor who gets to distribute the spoils.

  5. GMA, by saying that she will finish her term in 2010, pointed to the obvious (that impeachment-2 (and -3… and -4) will be for naught).

  6. how can we expect other nations to respect us a people if they see how gullible we are in the eyes of our very own president. the pinoys propensity for fantaserye and telenovela was once again exploited by GMA to the hilt in her SONA. she knew too well how to psyche the masa. the people are looking for someone who can deliver them from the economic and social morass and for six years straight GMA blatantly doned the armor, rode on horseback, galloped and poised as ‘the’ superhero the masa has been looking for — bruised, bloodied and all but still willing to keep the fight until the end.

    GMA is an epitome of a trapo and yes, a master of double-speak. but as a filipino i still hope and pray that the heavens will look kindly on us and change the course of our fate. indeed i am praying for a miracle. but meanwhile let us also do our share in our own little ways starting from our very homes. by then we can claim the right for a true leader.

  7. I think the greatest thing still about the country is the fact that everyone is allowed to say what he or she believes to be. The bad side is though it appears that government is killing those that seem to have a contrarian ideology. I have always believed that a feudal democracy that is the Philippines is an oxymoron. Some call it ersatz democracy but those like Mr. Quezon schooled in the principles and ideals of liberal democracy render an invaluable service to the country. He has quite successfully elucidated some guideposts in his writngs.

    Feudal economic systems and structures will always render liberal democratic systems shallow. They belong to two differing universes. Jeffersonian principles and ideals never matched Jefferson’s reality. Till today they serve as guideposts even in the United States. He himself reminded everyone of the need to be always on alert eternally.

    Liberal democratic structures have evolved along with liberal economic systems premised on property rights and the social contract. Smith and Marx are joined at the hip on this reality. This still is an alien concept in the Philippines.

    All this is centered on the representative idea of faith. Yes faith, not in a supernatural entity but on faith in a state. We have allowed awesome powers to the so called representative agents of the state in a faith based metaphysical commodity called currency. The power to create assets from those still to be born to benefit those that are alive. That power has been used to oppress, debase and distort the political economy of this country.

    This creates an awesome responsibility for those in the present.
    The de facto president has announced a wish list premised on having a Jollibee in every neighborhood it seems. Meanwhile half of the labor force have no actual wage paying jobs. One third of the labor force actually works part time. Only approximately 16 percent of the labor force comprise full time wage employment.

    The percentage of workers joining the so called unpaid family workers and self employed group is rising at more than twice the number of full time wage paying jobs.

    Hence the ideals behind the social contract is weak since close to 70% of the work force have no economic interest to protect.

    Hence they are not vested with any sense of ownership in the state. They have to sustain physcial survival at any means.

    Look at Lambino and the rest of the scavengers that circle over the carcass of the weak state trying to get their piece of the action.

    You cannot stop the tidal wave of economic expectations that will engulf the state that would probably rip apart this country.

    God help us all.

  8. If a President is scared to report on the “true” State of the Nation for lack of real achievements, what does one do? You entertain. Put up a big show… a circus. A super production the likes of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey.

    Pack the arena with your favored super-trained chimps and get them into the act. In fact, make them the act. Make them your willing props. Then whistle, call out their names. Oh, they love that. They clap, they cheer. Toss them some bananas. Pat them on their heads. Watch them clap and cheer some more. Scratch their bellies. More, more, more… Sprinkle in a beauty queen complete in gown and crown, a champion gambler/boxer, and few mountain climbers. Get a former President in on the act, too. A pat on the head will do.

    The specific measurable target of the whole exercise is to get at least 164 applauses.. On that score, it was a howling success. Chimps happy, public deceived, Circus Master feeling triumphant.

    By the way, the Circus Master should fire her couturier. Her glittering crimson outfit, I think, was patterned after a lampshade.

  9. Carl, Rep. Salceda pointed out that in the case of his area, the plans announced by the President have been there for some time: what he praised the President for, is that finally she announced they would be priorities, so everyone involved can stop waiting. So indeed, the delight of those in the Batasan was genuine because she’s given many of their pet projects her backing. That is one of the greatest power of a President -prioritizing.

    However I do believe much of the government is on autopilot, because the President and her staff are interested in things like survival and managing the news flow.

    Her critics point out -grudgingly or not- that while things are moving forward in quite a few respects, you have to wonder what more could have been done had the presidency’s legitimacy not been under a cloud.

    As for funds being sought and earmarked, the President’s own economic team -shockingly enough- have come forward and indicated that they will have to scrounge around for the funds. So it is not accurate to say it’s all been fully mapped and blueprinted by the administration. Maybe by the President, but obviously her economic team was caught by surprise.

  10. I think GMA gave a good SONA. She spoke from a position of strenght. I could just imagine all her “best friends” grinding their teeth in anger & inis. she is still president while some people are the perpetual noise makers blood thirsty for anything they can pick on. Forever inventing & re inventing themselves. Hard selling their ‘agenda pushing” ideas.Always forever insisting on their Rights. I can only hope that some people keep their nmisery to themselves & not drug the entire Nation w/ them.
    I think she was smart in highlighting the people who have made a difference.
    Certainly not those who make the most nosie.
    I think she was speaking as a President of the entire nation & not just forever noisy Imperial Manila.
    The old man from Ifugao was significant since he was more concerned about the future of his grandson.
    I think she highlighted all the people who are “silent heros” of this country who are responsible & do their bit for the Nation.
    Certainly not the self-proclamed “know it alls”
    I’m sure her forever obsessed critics will have a feast day on all she said.
    The zillions needed for those ambitious projects because they really are.
    But as always they will miss the entire point. The point that if we really want to proper & progress we can also do the impossible.
    I think it can’t be said that GMA is not making an effort to provide leadership.
    Like in everything. I think the problem is not about her alone but it’s about the mind-set & attitude of people who can’t be in control of their own emossions & fillings & just past all the blame on others forever.
    Personaly, I too would like to leave something concret for the generations to come & not just a lot of hot air.
    I too beleave that we can all be winners if only we can learn to be more in control of our egos & pride

  11. As pointed out by Sen. Ralph Recto, the bases may not yet be 100% covered, but the financial figures are still well within the ballpark.

    First of all, the public works programs cover a period of around 4 years. Secondly, economic growth is expected within that period, creating in turn more revenue. And thirdly, there is that old dependable device used by all administrations called debt. With credit ratings agencies having improved their outlook for Philippine sovereign debt, banks are once again lining up to loan the government money.

    Despite the fact that I personally disapprove of going into debt, I mention that possibility only to show that the figures are not as unattainable as they may seem. Even if push comes to shove, the projects can still be funded because government has many recourses, even if they often may not be the most ideal.

    And if history is any guide, no administration has made debt reduction a priority. No administration has shirked from borrowing, if that is what it takes to complete pet programs, because the common belief is that the impact from accomplishments far outweighs the burden of debt.

  12. GMA is really the reincarnation of dona Consolacion vda de de Espadana from Rizal’s novels. She wears the same garish jewelries , rather, oversized jewelries in an undersized physique. Speaks spanish and would wish she were fair and really castillian rather than brown skinned and a midget with a permanent scowl and a more permanent lisp.

  13. What we witnessed yesterday was an awards night. She was surrounded by all her supporter. Should she push for her plans, expect another round of foreign borrowings. I think it was Eves who said that for this year alone, the administration is going to borrow a total of $8B. While they make a toast to themselves for a “job” well done, the ordinary Filipino languishes in the quagmire of despair. Sensitivity, they have none. Callousness and greed, now that’s what they have a monopoly of.

  14. Carl Sid Inting,

    Hello there!
    You believe that it is true that there are funds for all those laundry list.Is senator Recto is accurate,the revenues would be 100 million a year,until further notice.Rep. Salceda our appropriations chair estimates the dpwh to be 250 billion a year.That means 150 billion a year should be borrowed just for the sake of infrastructure.

    How optimistic,Carl!

  15. Sorry, I am not yet done.

    Gloria,together with the ususal suspects gets to reeanact the budget,more often than not.

    Lets not talk three years or four years..let us talk about next year.

    Nonoy Andaya should submit a budget within 30 days,if not,there will be no budget for election year.

    How can her government operate,without accountiung hocus pocus every year without jumpstarting the budget.

    Congressman Salceda must walk the talk,and ask the budget proposal from his predecessor.

  16. Back on corruption: Corruption is well entrenched in the Philippines. It is not only rampant in the public, government sectors. It is prevalent as well in the private and big business sectors.

    If you check with private banks and their loan officers, you are likely to find that a few require kickbacks to process and approve a loan application.

    The nation’s gotta act before corruption destroys the last remaining of fibers of morality in the country.

    Those huget ticket projects, which undoubtedly will be financed by incurring more debts, are springboards for more corruption – accountability and transparency must be enforced.

    Gloria herself and her family should be subjected to scrutiny without let up.

  17. It may depend on whom you’re listening to. Other sources said the total infrastructure package would be about P500 billion (half a trillion pesos). Spread out over 4 years, that’s a little over P150 billion per year. Under that scenario, funding is certainly attainable.

    As mentioned, aside from the usual sources of revenue, annual economic growth should create more channels of revenue.

    And, as a last resort, there is that silver bullet which every administration since Marcos has resorted to – debt. That is not a personal endorsement, but borrowing has been the most predictable recourse. It enables programs to proceed, to the credit of the incumbent administration, while bequeathing the onus to the succeeding administration.

    So it isn’t a matter of being “optimistic” but a matter of objectively assessing the goals versus the resources available to attain them. This is a dispassionate estimation of whether those programs can be carried out, nothing more. We know that government has resources and recourses it can turn to when it needs to. And it has been known to be particularly creative when it is faced with a predicament.

    I will not nitpick on which cost estimates are more accurate regarding the programs outlined for the next 4 years. But given the rough information available, attaining those targets is feasible. It is only a matter of resourcefulness and resolve in pursuing them.

  18. Still on corruption.
    If this can happen to just 25 projects of the DPWH,what more to all the up and coming mega projects…

    http://radyohataw.blogspot.com/2005_05_01_radyohataw_archive.html

    Dalawampu’t apat na proyekto pa ng dep’t of public works & highways ang natuklasang “overprice.”

    Bukod sa 200-milyong pisong halaga ng overpricing road project sa catanduanes, nadiskubre rin ng pma class ’59 ang iba pang kuwestiyonableng proyekto ng dpwh.

    Sa panayam ng dzrh, sinabi ni ret. Commodore plaridel garcia na aabot sa anim na bilyong piso ang kabuuang halaga ng 25 overpriced project ng dpwh.

    Tinukoy ni garcia na lumagpas ng 27 porsyento ang mga pinasok na kontrata ng dpwh para sa mga paggawaing bayan kumpara sa 19 bilyung pisong pondo na inilaan ng gobyerno para sa naturang mga proyekto.

    Nagharap na kahapon ng petisyon ang pma class ’59 sa korte suprema na ipatigil ang konstruksyon ng maanomalyang road project sa catanduanes.

  19. Gloria’s SONA has the feel of a corporate event – pre-screened audience, powerpoint presentation, recognition of the past year’s achievers, pep-talk for the coming year – all intended to make the current management look good and the target audience feel good. I’ve been to enough of these events to know what their good for.

    To be useful to the public, a State of the Nation Address should follow a well-structured format decided upon the year before, more like an Annual Report. It should not be one more venue for projecting power, rather a time for honestly giving an account to the people.

  20. Again on corruption:

    Representative Joel Villanueva of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC), who received the latest (6th)impeachment complaint signed by 1,000 people said, “What reconciliation does Mrs. Arroyo want?”

    “The one where we play deaf and blind when we know something is wrong and corruption is all we see? We cannot compromise and we will need to speak out,” Inq reports.

  21. Hello CVJ!
    Your comment was highlighted during the show.(the one regarding Al qaeda vis-avis SHi-ah)

    Ddo you have access of the show there in Sinagapore or Malaysia?

  22. Joselu,

    Well said.” I think she was speaking as a President of the entire nation ”

    Sayang nga lang the bitch has no legitimacy to speak as a President of the entire nation.

    Sana she was honest enough to say “I speak for Joselu andothers like him?

  23. HAHAHAHH “Sana she was honest enough to say “I speak for Joselu andothers like him?””

    MB, baka kagatin ka na ng mga tsongo sa Congress…

  24. Those PROMISES would be FORGOTTEN .. It’s UNATTAINABLE because of a SIMPLE REASON … NO BUDGET … Because the BUDGET that is SUPPOSSED TO BE USED for the PEOPLE will be USED TO SAVE DEMONYITANG GLORIA’S ASS – BUDGET will be USED for CHA CHA CAMPAIGN, TO BE USED TO BLOCK IMPEACHMENT, TO BE USED TO BUY PEOPLE IN CONGRESS, IN THE CHURCH, TO HIDE EVIDENCES, TO SILENCE A POTENTIAL WITNESS, TO BUY MEDIA, TO LAUNDER MONEY BY PIDAL !!! ETC. ALL RESOURCES WILL BE USED TO “HIDE” THE TRUTH THAT THIS GOVERNMENT IS CONCIEVED FROM “SINS” AND WILL NEVER AND CAN NEVER BE TRUSTED !!! THEY FEAR THEIR OWN CONSTITUENCY, THEY GOVERN BY FEAR BCOZ THEY ARE ALL GUILTY !!!

  25. Early campaigning is what she did yesterday. MLQ, we better prepare our voters early. We should make a manual on how to choose the candidates wisely.

    BTW, nice show. Your powerpoint served its purpose better than the one we witnessed yesterday at the SONA.

  26. Realistically, the 06 move to impeach Arroyo is unlikely.

    If elections in 2007 push through, we will need just 79 dedicated opposition members to get the 07 impeachment ball rolling.

    Are 79 opposition representatives in the lower house a strong probability?

    Is that even something to look forward to?

  27. 79 opposition members in 2007? I think you will have the biggest surprise of your life …soon you will see how isolated and in perpetual denial you are. I will bet that the pollsters will be put to permanent shame just as a lot of people here love to say they speak for the majority and the middle class they can not even convince to move.

  28. mrabello,

    when it comes to the impeachment process, I think the real problem is the Senate.

    Gloria needs only six senators to save her from conviction. Right now she has Lapid, Revilla and Miriam for sure. If she elects three more in 2007 she’s home free. If she does not elect three, she still only has to find three senators with the morals of congressmen. That will not be very hard, will it?

  29. In that circus of a SONA, Gloria was profuse with thanks and praise for her beloved Congressmen who made possible the passing of the EVAT that raised the revenues daw that she needed to embark on those super mega projects. I was waiting for her to even just thank the Filipino taxpayers for carrying that extra burden on their already creaking backs.

    But you know what? Not even a tweet of thanks on that. She then proceeded to thank and flatter practically each and everybody in that hall. Kulang na lang ang thank you sa mga butiki. Ah, but she finally remembered to thank the public at the very end of her long long palabas. And for what? For our “patience” daw. Five years na in office and all she remembers to thank us for is our patience!

  30. mrabello,

    79 I think is easy.

    Why do you think she so desperately, so blatantly and so vulgarly turned a SONA into a campaign speech? Kulang na lang sayaw ng Viva Hot Babes. Gads! Never seen a “president” behave this way. Never.

  31. Karl, thanks for the heads up. Unfortunately, TFC here in Singapore does not carry the Explainer. Otherwise, i would subscribe. I hope the show becomes available in the Internet soon.

  32. Phil,

    ”She then proceeded to thank and flatter practically each and everybody in that hall. Kulang na lang ang thank you sa mga butiki.”

    Now you are making me roll laughing…

  33. @ MB

    Hi manuel..

    You are right there.

    Bottom line : everything hinges on the outcome of the 07 polls — if indeed it sees the light of day.

    I believe that most will be after the actual impeachment proceeding at the senate perse and not any possible outcome.

    It will be quite a show if– and in the event– that first hurdle is breached and the House hands the torch over to the Senate.

    Let the facts of the case against Gloria present themselves and let Gloria’s attorneys work for their money.

  34. Examine the facts of life first. 90% of incumbent Congressment (or their proxies) will be re-elected. The electorate at the local level will vote pragmatically. It will vote back those who have delivered tangible projects and services. So it would be unrealistic to expect any signigicant changes in the composition of the House of Representatives. Thanks to that flawed 1987 Constitution, electoral exercises are skewed in the traditional politicians’ way.

    And even if the majority of the Senate goes to the opposition, it has been shown over the past year that the Senate is a eunuch that can simply be ignored.

  35. Carl, whether the 2007 elections will be a referendum on GMA rather than a multitude of local races (or a little of both) remains to be seen. That is a challenge to be taken up by the concerned citizenry.

    However, you should know better than to to single out and thank the 1987 Constitution for skewing the elections towards traditional politicians. There is no provision within the Legion’s proposed constitution that would change this tendency to elect incumbents or traditional politicians. At best, it is flawed in the same manner. At worst, it compounds this flaw by giving the traditional politicians the right to vote for the top leader.

  36. What to me is interesting to watch is how the impeachment proceedings in Congress is gonna turn out. Note that this time around, the impeachment is being endorsed not just by the usual opposition personalities but by a number of respectable groups and individuals. Next: watch the military– seething emotions are much too palpable. Could the remaining decent elements afford to watch Lim and company go to the dumps and — without a finger lifted, not a conscience stabbed– let the election cheats take over the helm of their organization? GMA allies could do just as they did last year, to hell with public opinion, but the repurcussions this time… could be so different

  37. Here’s another SONA hangover. Now this is really funny.

    So the rallies out in the streets during the SONA were reported as peaceful. The media generally credited the heavy rains as the factor for the smaller than expected rally crowds. The PNP complained. Give credit to where credit is due daw. It was not Typhoon Glenda daw but sila and their good planning that was responsible for the peaceful rallies.

    Pati ba naman si Mother Nature, aagawan pa.

  38. Ngark. Nakalink pala ako dito. Hehe. Ang saya nga ng SONA ni GMA eh. Sana nga lang matupad yung mga plans nila. ^^, Let’s all just hope for the best nalang. After all, matatapos na rin ang term nya, and isa pa, kung forever nating icocondemn si GMA sa mga pinaggagagawa nya noon at sa mga maling nagagawa nya, aba’y wala ring mangyayari nyan… tao lang din naman siya diba? Kaya let’s just say, it’s part of history na. Hehe. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Ãœ

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