Opposition split on snubbing SONA: my view is, Boycotting the SONA is wrong. See also my column for today, Quackery, along with the column of Conrado de Quiros. Also, the Inquirer editorial points out something I’ve talked about before, in 2005: the Vision Thing.
Starting around 10 AM… Even before the national anthem was performed at the opening of the House, the trouble started. A point of order was raised. After the opening prayer, the shouting started. Privileged point of order was raised; pandemonium broke out. Dilangalen got into a shouting match with Defensor. Abante went berserk on the floor. Garcia’s thundered that the rules have ceased to be.
I got the above information as texted updates as of all days, the Skycable connection conked out and DZBB, where the action was reported live, was impossible to find online, so I had to unearth a functioning AM radio…
11:12 AM Meanwhile, at the Senate (where Battle at Senate degenerates into name-calling, which could have been embarrassing if the House didn’t end up going nuts, as it has), Protesters greet Zubiri’s first day in Senate while the voting for Senate President is ongoing, while the House can’t get started.
11:25 AM Without explaining their votes, the Senate simply went through the nomination process, and with 15 votes, Manuel Villar, Jr. is the new Senate President. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. got 7 votes because Sen. Trillanes was not allowed to attend the session. Villar says if he needs to hit the administration, he will. Sen. Lacson rose to speak: points out the new minority is 8, the new majority 15. Hits the opposition members who voted with administration senators. Sen. Pangilinan follows with a defense of his vote. Says there was a “fairly decisive election,” but that it’s time to set the elections aside. Hello? Seriously, Pangilinan should just become a Nacionalista.
11:33 In the House (per DZMM), a vote took place to determine whether or not House Secretary-General Nazareno had authority to preside over organization of the House; Nazareno’s authority was upheld, session suspended; Sec. Claudio has been dispatched to the House to try to corral the members.
11:48 Impassioned explanation of parliamentary procedure from Neptali Gonzales, Jr. Congressmen leaping to their feet to but in; House Secretary vainly trying to impose order; Dilangalen trying to make himself heard; gallery breaking out in applause for contending sides. Motion made to declare Dilangalen out of order. Dilangalen insists he is fully in order; says House has to dispose with motion on nominal voting. Chair says higher constitutional privilege raised by Rep. from Mandaluyong.
What is that motion, Dilangalen insists.
You haven’t let me finish, complains Gonzales.
11:52 Gonzales screams: “I move to nominate Jose de Venecia as Speaker of the House!” to thunderous applause from the gallery.
11:54 After more pandemonium, session suspended. Reporters mention there’s a “huddle-huddle” going on in floor; apparently at one point, in the pandemonium, Gonzales of Mandaluyong (acting as pit bull for the de Venecia camp) wanted Dilangalen (acting as pit bull for the Garcia group, along with Rufus Rodriguez of the opposition, apparently in a tactical alliance with the Garcia camp!) seized by the House sargeant-at-arms. Gallery apparently full of people.
Let me say at this point, that the opposition in the House, by consorting with Luis Villafuerte, et al., may be enjoying the battle but it ought to have stayed out of the fight for the same reasons the Senate opposition should have avoided making a deal with the administration.
12:05 PM Online news updates: Solons squabble as House session opens; Garcia supporters fail to derail opening of session; Villar remains Senate President; Cops bar SONA protesters.
12:12 PM DZBB radio coverage of House resumes: all’s quiet in the House session hall. Student blogs how they got a day off from school because of the SONA. Neophyte congressmen, radio reporter says, are shocked, shocked, at the tumult in the House.
12:28 PM Pro-GMA rally to take place in front of Commission on Audit. Yellow placard-bearing people apparently being sent from Quezon City Hall.
12:42 PM House coverage resumes. Dilangalen insists on nominal voting; House Sargeant-at-arms instructed to brandish mace in front of Dilangalen to show he’s out of order. TV coverage shows mace being brandished in front of Dilangalen as congressmen huddle around and giggle. After a few minutes, the Sargeant-at-arms brings back mace to its stand by the podium. A supporter of Garcia moves to adjourn the session; supporters of de Venecia object.
12:53 TV shows Pabling Garcia in a huddle with supporters (Louie Villafuerte mopping his forehead) and Joe de Venecia, looking very grim, in another huddle with supporters. Bongbong Marcos sits on his desk looking highly amused by everything. Ronnie Zamora waddles in to de Venecia’s huddle along with Roilo Golez, Satur Ocampo, etc.. Whispering going on.
12:56 Ricky Carandang on ANC reports that if no Speaker is elected, House may have Secretary-General preside over the House, or designate a temporary presiding officer. Carandang says the Secretary-General’s a bit “overwhelmed” by the goings-on. de Venecia camp huddled on the Left side of Session Hall, the Garcia people on the right; opposition members zigzagging from one group to another.
Seriously, instead making his way from huddle to huddle like the QE2, Ronnie Zamora and opposition should have stepped aside and allowed the majority to engage in cannibalism in full public view.
Meanwhile, senate elections continue apace: Jinggoy voted Senate president pro tempore; Kiko is majority leader.
1:23 Radio coverage resumes. Rep. Carlos Padilla made a motion to adjourn; motion was defeated. Figthing now going on between Padilla and Rep. Defensor, acting Majority Floor Leader, who moved to have Padilla declared out of order. Reporter says some congressmen have snuck out to eat; others glued to goings-on. Reps. Mikey and Dato Arroyo, according to reporter, voted to reject motion for adjournment; reporter says the anti-adjournment group represents de Venecia’s position; so the brothers Arroyo are bandied about as pro de Venecia.
Just a note: if the House fails to elect its leadership, it will be the first time since the tradition of the State of the Nation Address began in 1936, that the House will have no leadership for the SONA.
1:30 After a brief suspension, Padilla appeals; Defensor moves for a vote; screams of Aye and Nay; Nays have it. Defensor reiterates Dilangalen’s motion: a motion that presiding officer has no authority to preside over the session. Instead of viva voce, voting will be by tellers; congressmen to stand up if they believe Secretary-General has no authority to preside (i.e. in favor of appeal). Then another group will rise to indicate they’re in favor of Secretary-General presiding (i.e. against the appeal). Rep. Escudero rises and asks how come Secretary-General’s term hadn’t been extended in the previous Congress. Defensor says by allowing the Secretary-General by not voting in a replacement, the Sec-Gen’s stay in office was ratified. Defensor says the membership of House is “estopped” from challenging the authority; snarl, bark, bark from both sides.
Congressmen try to butt in; Secretary-General calls for vote; more butting in; motion made to appoint tellers to count those in favor. Zamora moves that Binay, Cayetano and Baraquel be designated as tellers. Bongbong Marcos among those who rise.
1:37 PM “Those against the appeal, please stand,” says presiding officer; applause from gallery. Ortega, Zamora, Zialcita designated as tellers for the other side. Some hooting from crowd and floor at one point. Arroyo sons rise.
1:41 Overheard on microphone: “They should just elect Mikey as Speaker!” Confusion over counting and over interpretation of rules. de Venecia shown on TV trying to look cheery. Garcia sitting making goldfish-like movements with his cheeks: oh, he’s chewing a big wad of gum. He rises and waddles over to Neptali Gonzales Jr., Ronnie Zamora, Dilangalen, etc. de Venecia remains seated, wiggling his eyebrows at people.
1:55 I told Ricky Carandang there are some precedents at work here: Dilangalen’s point was raised in 1949 and 1958 and rejected both times; Secretary has presided over election of Speaker in every House reorganization since 1907; no House has failed to elect a Speaker prior to State of the Nation since the SONA was first delivered in 1936; but prior to this, in 1922 House went through 11 ballotings in 2 days for the most contentious Speakership fight, when Manuel Roxas was elected Speaker in 1922.
2:11 TV clip shows Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. congratulating Villar and proposing Villar’s election be recorded as unanimous. Marked contrast to wrangling in the House. Juiciest irony: Gringo Honasan nominated Kiko Pangilinan as Majority Leader.
2:24 Ricky Carandang reports that Jose de Venecia is moving “inch by agonizing inch” closer to becoming Speaker. He’s finally been nominated for the Speakership (by Rep. Antonio Cuenco), with Rufus Rodriguez asking whether it’s fair that Garcia, if he loses, might become Minority Leader. More wrangling on the floor.
2:29 Roll call.
2:35 PM Pia Hontiveros says the minority has already selected its leader, to avoid either de Venecia or Garcia ending up minority leader. Ricky Carandang says de Venecia is grinning broadly and TV cameras show congressmen going up to him to congratulate him -implying it’s in the bag. Hontiveros says it’s safe to assume de Venecia will be Speaker. Hontiveros says Garcia didn’t even want to be nominated for the Speakership, but story has to be investigated further.
Was it all just to make de Venecia sweat, and remind him he owes his job to the Palace?
2:41 JDV circling the floor, suddenly everybody’s favorite guy. Victory laps?
2:45 Clapping on floor and gallery: Defensor moves committee be formed to inform de Venecia he was elected Speaker with 159 votes. Villafuerte tells Hontiveros the whole thing was a “sham election.”
Coverage seriously lapsed on election: how and when did it happen? This, apprently, according to Villafuerte, is why Garcia refused to be nominated, as a protest. Villafuerte says, “their will be a lingering cloud of doubt over the legitimacy of de Venecia.” Cheering erupts from floor and gallery as de Venecia is called to take his oath at the podium.
2:50 PM JDV takes his oath as Speaker. Gina de Venecia exclaims, “It’s finally finished!” Another voice, overheard: “We made it!” de Venecia is only the 2nd congressman to be elected Speaker for the fifth time; the first was Sergio Osmena who was elected Speaker 5 consecutive times. de Venecia is Speaker for the fifth time, but not consecutively.
2:57 JDV says I love you and thank you to everyone; says he will submit his “very long speech” for inclusion in the Congressional Record. Proceeds to rhetorically levitate.
3:08 Congressmen take their oaths. Propaganda from Palace on what the SONA will contain begins. News updates: De Venecia retains Speakership; Zamora minority leader. GMA7 says, 159 lawmakers pick Joe de V Speaker in ‘sham’ election.
3:23 JDV interviewed by Pia Hontiveros. Says he ended up unopposed. Says God made him Speaker. Praises Garcia. Hotniveros says Kampi calling his election a sham; JDV says no, it was conducted in plain sight. Carandang asks, when did you know you had it? JDV: Last week! When 177 congressmen and women signed a manifesto of support, in writing! Yesterday, only 40 attended other side! Whereas here we had 166-167! But i’m reaching out! United we stand, divided we fall!
3: 27 Friend ran into presidential convoy at Santolan a few minutes ago…
3:37 President arrives at the House of Representatives. Wears fuschia terno. Miguel Zubiri in attendance. Imelda Marcos floating through Session Hall in a pink terno. Pia Hontiveros quotes Sec. Rick Saludo as saying the SONA will include a statement that the “trickle down” effect is real. Fidel V. Ramos’ combover noticeably sparser. Pia Cayetano in a hideous white Maria Clara with gigantic buttons that makes it look like she’s wearing a clown suit.
3:48 ANC says closing theme of the SONA will be about bequeathing a legacy, etc., etc. Economist guest says OFW money has not contributed to poverty alleviation -surprising statement.
3:53 President’s husband, looking thin, arrives at Session Hall, waving at people. Congressional aircon has obviously conked out or is performing under par: much fan-waving among audience.
3:59 With Miriam Defensor Santiago (dressed to look like a Balinese banana) at her side, the President makes her way to Session Hall. President looks cranky.
4:00 President enters Session Hall, to standing ovation; band plays “Bathala Bless the President” (an FVR innovation) instead of the traditional “Mabuhay”; makes her way to the podium. TV coverage didn’t show if House and Senate convened and then moved to invite the President to deliver her message as tradition dictates.
4:05-4:07 Breaking all precedent (and appropriateness), President is present when Senate President and Speaker open the joint session; national anthem; invocation. Speaker introduces the President. President seems to be having problems with the bustier of her dress.
President: Thank you and congratulations. Hello, hello everybody. We are here to inaugurate a new Congress. Congratulations to everybody, everywhere. Election and politics are over. It’s time to serve without reservations and any concern other than public good, and with patriotism etc. My desire is to reach first world status in 20 years. By 2010 we should be well on our way to achieve that vision.
With tax reforms, thank you last Congress, we are well on our way; we have new taxes, thank you last Congress; we are well on our way with fiscal discipline; we are on track for priorities:
1. investment in phsysical, legal, and security infrastructure; 1,000,000 jobs every year;
2. Wider social safety net: cheap medicines, schools that are first class with good teachers and which maintains our English proficiency;
3. Investments in bringing peace to Mindanao and in crushing terrorism whatever the ideology and fighting human rights abuses whatever the cause; tribute, too, to soldiers killed.
We have created a Philippine model for reconciliation, built on interfaith dialogue and infrastructure investments. Infastructure is the foundation of human rights and the economy. Last year, I inaugurated Super Regions to spread development away from inequitable development concentrated on Metro Manila. The Philippines is more than just Metro Manila. Super Regions was not a gimmick! We have done much; latest survey in June says hunger rate has sharply shot down nationwide!
30% of Agriculture, etc. budgets will be devoted to Mindanao. This was articulated by Rufus Rodriguez in Cagayan de Oro.
Department of Agrarian Reform will move to Davao. Done right, reform will democratize us, as Magsaysay and Macapagal envisioned.
(Pays tribute to farmers in gallery who are agrarian reform benificiaries). Farmers rise and are applauded.
In the six years we’ve worked, we’ve achieved the greatest amount of irrigation ever. We will do things for fisheries as Nur Jaffar asked.
We have allocated 3 billion pesos for farm-to-market roads.
Ro-ro: has cut cost of agri-business products; fresh fish that cost 20,000 a ton to move now travels at 14,000. Dapitan-Dakak; and long catalog of new stops for congressional allies.
Lists congressional pork barrel projects, including Maguindanao, she’s funded.
New airports! New bridges! More improvements! Each development mentioned with name of congressional allies such as Digs Dilangalen.
Last July 10, we inaugurated 1.7 billion peso bill in Butuan! At initiative of Mayor Boy Plaza! My daddy first built bridge! I’ve done better!
Long catalog of projects, spending, provinces, and linked names of congressional allies.
Formula: province W, project X, Y pesos, congressman Z = thanks to me!
President! Tha’ts the kind of pork that has good cholesterol!
More on spending… power plants… cameo appearances by congressional and LGU allies.
Thank you Miriam and Migz for sponsoring biofuels law!
Praises Jetropa. Mindanao needs power lines; terrorists target them; we must resolutely implement Human Security Act. Praises Enrile; says it was proposed by him soon after first WTC bombing; praises Villar and Pimentel for crafting it.
Let’s go to Central Philippines…
Visayas: Pork, pork, clap, clap.
Palawan: Pork pork, clap, clap.
Power barges for 2009 shortfall in elecricity in Cebu.
Cebu: pork, pork, nature park, pork, pork, clap, clap, clap, clap.
Enumeration of pork, pork, pesos, pesos, congressman, congressman, continues…
Bicol: geography, pork, pork, pesos, pork, clap, clap, clap. biggest calamity fund release took place under me: Bicol is getting its own.
North Luzon Agri-Business Quadrangle: roads, pork, speed up, pork, pesos, pork. I ask Congress to get companies to pay their share directly to LGUs.
Pangasinan: pork, airport, pork, clap, clap.
Cagayan: pork, agri-business zone we inherited from FVR, pesos, clap, clap.
Chief Justice Puno, I’m glad to have you here…
Tarlac, Poro Point: pork, pork, clap, clap. We’re spreading the cheer across the political spectrum; we’re putting country ahead, setting aside politics.
Nueva Viscaya, Isabela, etc. included in geohazard mapping.
Windmills Bongbong Marcos started will be expanded.
Luzon Urban Beltway: pork! 5 billion pesos Mt. Pinatubo hazard irrigation project! Lubao protected from flooding!
Subic Clark Express way is first world road! Speedy!
Interchange in Porac, for Lito Lapid!
I cut a ribbon with Dick Gordon!
Clark Airport got its approach control radar! Plenty flights! Second busiest after NAIA! We want more service centers there! Speakling of NAIA3, ceiling that fell wasn’t only problem; but NAIA is speeding up development; public safety comes first.
Because public safety comes first, I ask Congress to create Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
C-5: we’re speaking to UP for new road to Commonwealth; expanding Talipapa to Malinta, to speed up access to NLEX.
(clap clap clap)
We broke ground to continue SkyWay to Alabang.
In a year, fast train from Caloocan to Alabang will serve thousands daily.
Alabang to Sto. Tomas, SLEX being widened, will reach next year to Batangas Port.
Coastal Road to Bong Revilla’s province under construction finally, after so many groundbreaking ceremonies.
Billion-dollar investments in ship building and Texas Instruments plants. As we build industry, we must ensure clean air. We have closed 88 firms for polluting environment.
New Maynilad owners have invested; Manila Water also invested.
Pork, pork, clap, clap.
$4 billion invested by Japanese firms in power plants, biggest ever.
Cheaper electricity! I ask Congress to amend Epira for open access and more competition.
(loud and prolonged applause)
Cybercorridor: from Baguio to Clark to MM to Cebu, Davao. We’re among top offshoring hubs. Because we have English-proficient IT people; praises Filipino from Baguio who got award.
IT will help BIR bring in more taxes! Monitoring real time! Will share info with LGUs!
So no Taiwan tremor can cut off our cyber backbone, thanks to PLDT and Globe for building new links.
1,000,000 jobs in Business Services by 2010! Accounting for as much income then, as OFW’s produce today!
Education! Our best inheritance! We will spend, spend! 150 billion! 29 billion more than last year! More classrooms! Every gradeschooler now has a book!
1/3 of public high schools now have internet access! Instead of building more high schools, we are awarding more scholarships so they can fill vacancies in private schools! More will benefit! More teaching positions! But we will improve training. Thank you Tessie Aquino Oreta for past laws. We are regionalizing payroll.
A raise for all government workers, effective end of this month!
TESDA! Better! Improved! More money to spend! DOLE, more money! DOST, more money! Praises Filipino named scientist of the year by Harvard Foundation. Praises students who won gold in Math competition in Korea: kids take a bow. Intel Young Scientists prize winners: kids take a bow. Etc.
(genuinely happy applause)
More proud kids take happy bows.
(happy, happy applause)
All these are happy consolations, because have spent more for human resource development than ever before, because if we do not spend for the people, it is a mockery of democracy.
Look at the chart, at how fare the poor. Money! Spending! More! For you! We’re doing it! We have drug stores selling cheap medicines! Cheaper Aspirin! Antibiotics! That’s why in a survey, almost half say they can afford medicines compared to 11% in 1999.
I want Congress to pass the cheaper medicines bill; almost enacted last year; let’s help pass it!
(bemused clapping as President mentions Mar Roxas, Biron and Teddyboy Locsin in same breath)
Let’s help Ed Angara!
Let’s help Noli de Castro -lowest interest on housing is unprecedented!
On terrorism and human rights: We fight terrorism. It fights our democracy. Therefore, we must uphold our values. It is not right to fight terror with terror. I ask Congress to pass laws:
1. Laws to protect witnesses from law breakers and law enforcers.
2. Laws to guarantee swift justice to more empowered special courts.
3. Laws to impose harsher penalties for political killings.
4. Laws reserving the harshest penalties for the rogue elements in armed forces that bring shame to those that are patriotic. (strong applause)
We must wipe the stain from our democratic record. But the first priority remains fighting hunger.
Let’s start with election reform. We look forward to the modernization of voting, counting, and canvassing.
We can disagree on political goals, but never on the conduct of democratic elections. I ask Congress to fund poll watchdogs. And to enact a stronger law against election-related violence.
(rather confused-sounding clapping)
We must weed out corruption; we have thrown money at Ombudsman; 77% conviction rate! We implemented lifestyle checks, dormant for half a century.
Bribery is down. Graft won’t be eliminated overnight, but we are making progress.
In conclusion, this is just a sampler of our 1.7 trillion peso medium term public investment program. How will be fund it? 1 trillion from tax reveneus; 300 billion from state corporations; the balance from everyone else, including foreign aid.
Our new confidence and momentum for progress was boosted by Asean Summit, increased assistance, security efforts.
We were able to to do all this because of great cost to me, of economic reforms. But I would rather be right than popular.
Stronger peso slowed increase in prices of essential goods.
My wish: that we will achieve my vision by the time I step down. That reforms will be fixed and bear fruit by then; all that will be left to my successor is to gather the harvest; he or she will have an easier time of it than I did.
They say campaign for next election started May 15. Fine. I stand in the way of no one’s vision. I only ask no one stands in the way of the people’s well being and progress.
(cheering, hooting, clappityclappity, woo woo!)
The time for facing-off is over; the time for facing forward, which our people deserve.
Make no mistake: I will not stand idly if anyone tries to stand in the way of the national interest and tries to block the national vision. From where I sit, I can always tell you, a president is always as strong as she wants to be.
(enthusiastic hooting; standing ovation, woo woo woo woo woo woo woo! President makes bunny-like smile)
5:03 PM God be with us. The State of the Nation is strong. Your servant, Gloria-Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines.
(clap clap, hoot, hoot)
5:05 Joint session gaveled to a close.
5:22 Commentary begins: Arroyo’s airport complex: 29 airports to open by 2010 and Arroyo unveils blueprint to propel RP into First World. Sen. Pangilinan says President’s claim of 77% conviction rate would put RP on par with Hong Kong; but says he has to look at data, because it might simply mean fewer cases are being prosecuted.
Update: Philippine Commentary recorded the whole thing. You can listen to it on line. Or read the full text of the 2007 State of the Nation Address.
Anyway, SONA coverage ends here.