The President’s address

The President mounted the rostrum to a great volley of cheering from the throng. Speaker clapping madly; Senate President standing quietly.

President looks tired but relaxed and confident.

President broke protocol by recognizing former President Ramos ahead of the Senate President.

“Ours is a country divided. The story of our nation is a tale of two Philippines… one is the Philippines whose economy.. is now poised for take off… the other is the Philippines whose political system… has become a hindrance to progress…”

She points out 6% growth and 4 million jobs despite high oil prices; marked improvements in tax collections, improved infrastructure, rice productivity… 69 million beneficiaries of health insurance including 30 million indigents being re-enrolled. The drug menace “cut in half”, kidnapping reduced, and the “insurgency in the South, abated…”

She makes reference to the “titanic struggle” to achieve fiscal reforms, to end the cycle of borrowing, “to snap the chain” that binds us to “our profligate past.” That struggle, she says, has done Congress great honor.

Abroad, “we’ve worked long and hard to restore” the country to its place as a co-founder of UN and prominence as a front line of free countries… Pays tribute to Speaker (great, appreciative hooting from audience). Says Bush lauded Philippine anti-terrorism efforts.

“Permanent peace in Mindanao is within reach. Indeed, our story as a country on the verge of take off is real.”

“If only we can overcome our tendency to become our own worst enemy.”

“We will not waver in our commitment to economic reform and fiscal discipline whatever the political cost.”

“The other message to send… We will address the burden to the other Philippines… I refer to how… our political system has become a hindrance to progress…”

“To be sure, the system is still capable of achieving reforms… it has betrayed its promise… Filipinos… are voting with their feet and are leaving that system behind… Perhaps our best is not good enough… It’s time to bring the people into government and change the way the business of government is done.” (Applause, wild cheering)

“The people want good government that works for them at every level… From the barangay… and does not end at the closed door of a bureaucrat in Metro Manila…” (cheering)

“The system needs fundamental change, and the sooner, the better.”

“It’s time to start the great debate on Charter Change.” (very happy applause and cheering)

“Such questions as: how much more government is needed for the greater safety of our people… and how much less is needed for.. economic progress…”

“A Constituent Assembly might give our people the quickest way to needed reforms.” (Frenetic applause and happy cheering).

“I shall work with Congress, civil society groups, and local government executives” (interrupted by applause) “who are convinced that charter changes are needed…”

President acknowledges local government executives, gestures to them: whistling, cheering, stamping of feet in response. She says they represent “An LGU power revolution to transformative leadership.”

“They.. make a compelling case for Federalism.” Gallery leaps to its feet with joy.

“Perhaps its time to take the power from the center to the countryside that feeds it.”

She suggests a parliamentary system -interrupted by more cheering and another standing ovation- “similar to that of our progressive neighbors in the region.”

“…I hope we can still work together on other initiatives…” Here, she proposes more funding for schooling.

She asks Congress to pass a pre-need code to regulate the pre-need industry.

She has issued an executive order mandating that hours spent in vocational training be credited toward a college degree.

“Our competitiveness is greatly endangered today by the oil crisis…” She asks Congress to pass legislation promoting renewable energy.

For national security: she urges the passage of an Anti-Terrorism Law with adequate safeguards for civil liberties.

“There is much work to be done. Now is not the time for divisiveness… While there’s no avoiding partisan politics… All sides can limit the collateral damage to a country poised for take off.”

“Let’s call on the Lord to lead us…”

Then a passage in Filipino: “I know we all want peace, stability… I appeal to all of you, to help me work for the benefit of the country….”

“We may disagree among ourselves but let us never lose sight of the greater battle for one people, one country, one Philippines.”

“Not the country of this of that president, but the Philippines of our shared, and impassioned, affections.”

She ended to yet another standing ovation; Speaker delighted; Senate President looking mournful. There hasn’t been such an outburst of political joy in a State of the Nation Address since Cory Aquino opened Congress in 1987.

Crowd chanting: “GMA! GMA! GMA!”

It seems the trial balloons of a conciliatory speech were just that; the speech wasn’t taunting, but firm, and incidentally, completely what Fidel Ramos wanted.

Senate President jeered when he gaveled the session closed; Speaker wildly cheered. More chanting of “GMA! GMA!”.

Update, 6pm: The full text of the President’s speech is now online.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

77 thoughts on “The President’s address

  1. ang galing naman ng blog. parang online ang coverage. the speech at the start sounded well crafted. tama, she is selling her administration. makes a good material for change management practitioneers.

    will see how it ends.

  2. Those loud clapping and “great volley of cheering” — there goes the fate and verdict of impeachment route!

  3. Have a look at Drilon. He’s so out of place. If I were him, I’d just walk out or sink away from view. Contrast him with JDV. What a sight!

  4. We’re listening over the Internet and we could imagine both houses doing a human wave. There’s an apparent power in numbers–I’m waiting for a voice from the opposition.

    One friend remarked on the brevity of GMA’s SONA: “Bagay sa kanya ang short speech.” Pun intended. But she should have maximized her tacitness during her “I’m sorry” spiel.

  5. god, ngaun ko lang nakita na ganito ang sona. parang ang daming hakot. parang panahon ng national canvassing. daig p ang mga nasa kongreso iyong palakpak boys sa luntea. the show of “pork” affection to gloria is similar but short of the time ng maipasa ang impeachment ni erap.

    hay….constitutional reforms through conass [ as opposed to previous concon mode decalaration ni gma] seems to be a waste of time…hay…

  6. buddy, the opposition’s voice [ the progressive ] are in commonwealth. yung mga traditional opposition as well is there united in boycotting the sona.

    rice, drilon might look ‘kawawa’ but he had no choice but saty there coz it’s proper protocol for a senate president. hehehe

    by the way, have you notice, gma seems not happy when she’s delivering the shift in parliamentary form of government…well…

  7. thanks for the live online coverage. i’m sure the opposition will simply dismiss as a divertionary tactic her dangling the prospect of federalism and a parliamentary form of government. what do you think?

  8. Well the opposition did boycott the SONA so who was there to jeer. On the other Lakas always had the majority so why is it surprising that it was standing ovation. I have not seen it but it seems like a well planned affair. I guess Ramos is now grinning from ear to ear.

  9. gari, GMA is preaching to the converted. Under a federal system, these will be the same people who will make up the parliament, and whose relatives will fight for the executive and legislative seats in the state governments. A constituent assembly will enable them to set the rules of the federal game — which of course will favor them and their clans.

    I am for federal system because it recognizes our regional identities which, under a presidential setup, is only given lip service through the Regional Development Councils that plan but are overruled by Congress at the end of the day. But I am truly worried when the very same class who will directly benefit from the new rules will have a say as to how they will be crafted.

  10. I told you so Manolo, Gloria needed Ramos more than she needed anyone. My view about that sona? thats Ramos talking

  11. miron, i dont’ think so…we [belonging to a political party within the progressive opposition] dismissed the general idea of constitutional reform with PGMA around…we are not against parliamentary form of government and federalism but the point is, Gloria’s charter change is no different with the previous chacha proposal of ramos and jdv which, in one way or another, determines the extension of term for the president OR declaration of either FVR or JDV or even Danding as Prime minister with Gloria serving as titular head…

    what is fearsome for us is the fact that chacha might open up changes in the nationalist provision of the constitution particularly in the economy and civil liberties.

    the best way to go for chacha is through a participatory process of constitutional convention.

    two points of discussion: merit of constitutional change is there but [1] the motive/intent/spirit of change remains to be favoring those who are in power an [2] the mode of charter change is questionable in a democracy.

  12. juned, yeah…ramos is grinning from ear to ear. his proposal at the height of gloriagate scandal has been picked up by gma and to the extent focusing on “that” in the speech. 🙂

  13. jack, yeah…that’s how the cookie crumbles…with i don’t find it exciting to see a lineage of villafuerte’s political dynasty in the history of bicolandia…well…buti sana kung mga katulad ni jess ang uupo…hehehe at any point, it’s a futile advocacy that will further divide the nation. i agree with federalism pero kung ang magtutulak ng pederalismo ay katulad nila chavit, duterte, gwen garcia at iba pang mga arogranteng local officials na nagbanta at the height of the political crisis na gagawa ng sariling republic… i doubt it.

    Ed, he BADLY NEEDS RAMOS and SURVIVED the lates t blow in her administration because of other GENERALS…relying on the entire military force. 🙂

  14. Whether it is a constituent assembly or a constitutional assembly, there wouldn’t be much difference in the composition. One may involve the congressmen themselves, the other their proxies. Leftists and so-called “progressives” may as well accept the fact that they do not reflect the peoples’ values. The people do not trust them and cannot relate to them.

  15. carl, leftist and progressives do not ENTIRELY reflect the people’s value. if you don’t know your left politics you won’t be able to understand the dynamics within the left.

    as far as i know, as far as my political bloc in the left is concern, we do not assume that we are reflective of the people’s value nor believe that we had the monopoly of idea for change. as far as i know, being the left/progressive bloc for the last 10 years since i joined them and 3 years of government service, i think i am certain we are practicing pluralism at its core.

    i beg to disagree in your generalization that people do not trust them and can not relate to them when in fact if you’re going to look at the electoral exercise [which is so traditional at this point in time] i think there are 820,000 registered voters who cast their ballots of confidence to the group i belong.

    of course, you can’t dismiss the fact that the 6 congressmen who declares their independence from the majority are all from left who got a cumulative vote approximately of 2M.

    If you’re going to count all the votes the LEFT got in the 2004 election, there are more or less 5 million votes which only means that there are still a fraction of a population who can relate and trust the left.

    anyway, 5M is still part of fraction of a general population who determines the trust ratings of those who are in power.

    although, it may sounds so pathetic: if no one trust the left, the government wouldn’t dare to engage them.

  16. The president’s assertion that “kidnapping [has been] reduced”, and the “insurgency in the South, abated…” is in marked contrast to the following advice issued by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Saturday:

    “We believe that terrorists and criminal elements are in the advanced stages of planning to kidnap foreign tourists from the islands and coastal areas south of Panay in the southern Philippines. Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets. Foreign tourists have been targeted before, particularly in the southern Philippines and coastal resorts.

    There is a high threat from terrorism throughout the Philippines. We continue to believe that terrorists are planning attacks against both Philippine and Western interests. We still believe that terrorist groups have the capacity to mount attacks at any time and anywhere in the Philippines.”

  17. You guys just flatter yourselves. You can’t even agree among yourselves, except to make noise. As for the armed struggle, it is prudent for government to engage an armed group. It will even negotiate with a hostage-taker if it has to.

  18. Well. The Westerners have a saying, “everything can turn on a dime.” That just happened for GMA. Her Charter Change via consituent assembly was a brilliant move. That overwhelming response just quashed the impeachment complaints. GMA has regained her hold on the throne. I can’t believe it myself but she pulled it off. This is after all a land where spectacle and pageantry matter in the configuration of political reality. From here on, the opposition will look like sourgraping worms. Brava, Gloria! I don’t know though if I can say the same for our country. Let’s see.

  19. carl, you missed the point.

    i don’t think you know what your are commenting for. as far as i know, there are only one ideological bloc in the left who believes in the armed struggle as main strategy for change.

    i believe, you flatter your self into believing that you know the left well. when i said “engage” it is not only in the military sphere.

    i must suggest that you seek, a discussion on the political spectrum to understand the entirety of things. the “left” and even the “right” are not singular monolithic organism. they are so complex and dynamic.

    it is unfair not only for the left to say that:You can’t even agree among yourselves, except to make noise.

    what if i say to the Right: You almost agrees on everything on how to perpetuate in power, divides the spoil and oppress the poor.

    Of course, i won’t say that, because doing that is stooping down to your level of understanding and simplistic approach in dealing with the political conjuncture.

    have a nice day and it seems you really love the left to lambast it. 🙂

  20. torn, GMA’s assertion may be contradictory to British advisory,but I wouldn’t take theirs’ as gospel truth either.

    Did they send out similar ‘travel advisories’ to their citizens before their subways in London were hit?

    They should concentrate improving ‘intelligence’ on their shores first, before dipping their hands unto others.

  21. If ever the government engages the left it is only because of the armed component. The left on the political sphere is laughable. They make a lot of noise and stop a lot of traffic. They are an obnoxious lot, to say the least. But Left as an electoral force doesn’t count for nuts, so let’s stop talkint about them. Ping Lacson has admitted on ANC he is for charter change and Federalism. He just won’t go for it under GMA’s terms. He will only do it on his terms. Oh well, at least he is honest enough to admit that these issues matter.

  22. Manolo, who wrote that terribly convoluted phrase describing the provincial politics are leading “an LGU-powered revolution through transformative leadership” in the Arroyo speech?

  23. I thought it was a good speech — good enough to have saved her presidency.
    I really agree with the part about Filipinos being their own worst enemies. The economy is (was) ready to improve. Anything is needed to help lower the 90 percent of the budget used to pay off interests on debts. I also agree with the part about while partisian politics being unavoidable, let’s limit the collateral damage and basically maintain some decorum.

  24. carl, we can agree to disagree. it’s a good thing that you showed your true color. i sense its a big red sign in a yellow background which makes me realize that i should not be afraid.

    well, i agree that chacha should not be under gma terms but let see whether it’s under ping lacson’s term.

    that would be possible if and only if ping can muster enough support to pull off a snap election. of course, i would not dismiss that ping is making a calculated and calibrated moves.

    well…whether can ping succeed or not…we’ll gonna see. but am certain that my former boss, cmp, will be there to support him. 🙂

  25. gari, be not afraid. We can certainly agree to disagree. We can even be friends, even if we don’t see eye to eye. The last thing I would want is a Ping-GMA relationship where black is white and vice-versa.

  26. Well the fact that GMA recognised FVR ahead of Drilon reinforces my belief that FVR is really our de facto Prime Minister.

  27. Miguk,
    I agree with you. We’ve had too much drama for our own good. Time to get down to the business of restoring our economy.

    If FVR becomes Prime Minister, I do not mind at all. After Marcos, his administration was the most stable and progressive we’ve seen. I had the chance to meet him for an event where he was guest speaker for the KBP where I was working. He got off his car and left piles and piles of folders and papers in the back seat. He worked just as hard between appointments. In fact, he had this deathly grey pallor that was just a sign of how hard he was working. A year later, I was then with ABS-CBN where another affair was held with Erap and the former presidents in attendance. In contrast, FVR was in the pink of health and looking so relaxed. In my book, the man has been tested. We have to learn to recognize and acknowledge the leaders among us cause there are so few.

  28. When GMA pulled out in Iraq…I told my friends she wont finished her term! Going against the “Power of the Willing” was impossible. That prediction was about to become a reality…but, well

    I am still wondering…I throught she wont survive July 2005…with all the scandals and everything, but after this SONA, I concede…indeed we havent seen the last of GMA. Hanggang kailan kaya?

  29. THIS IS SICK. absolutely sick. did filipinos just had sudden amnesia about all the issues these past month…??? sheesh… all the effort of those who are trying to be honest are put into waste… i blame people who only thinks of themselves… SONA stands for state of the nation address, correct, and what That Mrs. Arroyo (So-called president) did earlier is elaborate on all her “good deeds”…when she should have been honest about the true and obvious STATE OF OUR NATION…she’s such a liar, and thats an UNDERSTATEMENT!

  30. The SONA was not about the State of the Nation. It was made as an oppurtunity for GMA to boost morale and drumbeat support for her beleaguered Presidency. The President’s allies ensured the necessary fanfare by filling the halls of congress with cheering squads.

    As with the other SONAs, the President’s speech was devoid of reality and trifles on peripheral accomplishments and empty promises. Although it attempt to evade direct mention of the current political crisis, her speech gave hints of her new battle plan to hold on. Thanks to FVR.

    GMA meant to rally the support of the local governments by issuing the call for cha-cha, for federalism and shift to parliamentary form of government. To dangle the issue of Federalism will surely light the fire amongst local politicians who are longing to entrench their local fiefdoms for their own political and economic interests. A strategy that is not only diversionary but will render any attempts for GMA’s ouster either by impeachment or by extralegal means as exercises in futility.

    By putting Cha-cha and federalism as the main order of the day, moves for her impeachment will be eventually sidelined and thrown into oblivion. And extra legal measures will once again be reduced as machinations of communist provocateurs and opposition destabilizers.

    By expanding the battlefield into the provinces, any attempts to subvert or even delay cha-cha will earn the scorn of the local politicos. The scope of battle is now drawn not only in the halls of congress or in EDSA. It is now laid in a nationwide scale.

  31. The SONA of GMA if you heared it correctly made everyone who has been shouting out loud for her to resign a monster. She painted Gloria Resign Movement (?) are the reason why we have this ruined economy and stuff. I dont know about you but I feel insulted by her statements but IT INSULTED HER MORE FOR KISSING ASS. I DONT KNOW ANY PRESIDENT TO ACKNOWLEGDE A RETIRED HAS BEEN JUST BECAUSE HE SAVED HER FROM RUIN..

    really all I can see is ramos talking. did you notice the way he stares at Gloria while she was speaking? the way he smiles when Gloria said something about chacha? and the quick exit after the bruhaha? I think Ramos Attended that SONA to guard what he want done. medyo magulo talaga post ko but this is what i feel.

  32. Ed,
    I listened to the SONA a couple of times and did not get the impression you got. She was referring to the SYSTEM and not any personallity calling for her resignation. And why is FVR now the Boogie Man we should all be afraid of? Please explain this cause I really cannot comprehend…

    If you think her stats were made up, please provide us sources that contradict hers so we can all make up our minds.
    Nag-boycott ang mga oposisyon diba? And this is what Emil Jurado of the Manila Standard has to say about that, to which I heartily agree, “congressmen and senators alike — chose to boycott the Sona, they in effect abdicated their responsibility as duly elected members of Congress to listen to the President’s agenda for Congress…..It was more than just disrespect for the Office of the President and the institution it stands for. It was childish and a sign of immaturity for members of Congress. And above all, it was also insult to the people who elected them into office.”

  33. who says this was a state of the nation address,

    it was just a speech any priest would give from any pulpit to rouse his audience,

    and all that clapping, well looking at jdv i thought with all his enthusiasm his ears would join in and start clapping also.

    but honestly, gma had her sycophants eating out of her hands again,

    i dont think those congressmen and senators who did not attend abandoned their duty,

    is it a duty to listen to this rubbish being spouted by this lady who did not even give the real situ as it is today,

    and what about the people, did they understand all the english in the speech,

    she would have earned more respect if she had the speech in the vernacular where it would have made more impact with the common people who she is trying to reach out to.

    because the middle class wont buy the garbage she is spewing out whether in english or in the vernacular.

  34. What is wrong with using English? It is an offical language after all. Every country in the region, even north Korea, is anxious to learn English while Filipinos seem like they are trying their best to unlearn it. Big mistake — especially when the biggest export for the forseeable future is people.

  35. “Ours is a country divided.”

    Didn’t she echo this first when she promised, but later reneged, not to run for presidency, knowing fully that she–as she admitted–is the cause of divisiness.

    And just as I suspected, Ramos is still our president. Sheesh.

  36. I am tired of all this sham. We deserve every single misfortune that has befallen us. We ahve no collective character to speak of. I am moving with my family to Australia post haste.

  37. miguk nothing is wrong in using english in everyday life.

    but this is the president of the philippines addressing us the citizens.

    using the vernacular will give more impact to her message if there was one,

    just take a look at our asian neighbors as you say,

    see how they address their citizens and you will know.

    how can you create national pride when you use a language just for the purpose of the international crowd.

    i say, if they want to know what she is saying, they should learn the vernacular too,

    like they do, in foreign countries

    its all about developing national pride, and a way to start developing it.

  38. sunder, I’m with you. maybe when it’s Kabayan’s turn we’ll hear more the vernacular. Tagalog (or Pilipino) is a really beautiful language, full of imagery. The rest of the world should hear it more.

  39. I think round 1 of the political battle goes to GMA. In my opinion, her SONA was not meant to be anything ponderous, or filled with facts or to bore everyone with details of her achievements and her programs. Rather, it was her chance to prop up her beleaguered presidency, and it worked splendidly — applause and all.

    The opposition missed its chance to show force yesterday. Walk-out/boycott was ill-advised, it was childish and immature. I mean, really, why do our leaders rely on gimmickry and showbiz tactics to deal with issues? Sana naman naging mature lang sila, tapos sinagot ang SONA point by point afterwards. No. 1 “puke-inducing” sight of the day was Imee Marcos wearing those peach IM buttons. Impeach daw — looked like she was running for president herself. Turn-off yang mga ginawa nila for ordinary observers like me. They really just don’t get it.

    Impeachment complaint was a disappointment, after the opposition only got 39 signatures. Akala ko ba eight na lang ang kulang? Anti-GMA rallies went pffft.

    GMA won this round.

    And yeah, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this whole thing is just a political battle. The search for truth has long been abandoned by both sides.

  40. di ako nakapanood o nakapakinig, pero parang nakikini-kinita ko na ang sona. ayos! puro palakpakan. pati nga yata ang tenga ni jdv ay pumalakpak.

    ano ba yan?

  41. I don’t care about GMA. I just want all this political noise to go away so we can get on with our lives. Frankly, I thought that her resignation would have been the quickest way out of this mess. However, she seems to have found some inner reserve and has so far outwitted her tormentors. Those who carp about the SONA are just sore losers. I do hope she manages to change this discredited Aquino constitution and gives the provinces more self-determination via Federalism. I’m not too sure, though. The senate seems bent on thwarting this. Too bad, another case of letting personal politics get in the way of laudable reforms.

    As for speaking in English, I think more people understand it than Tagalog. Personally, I would have preferred it if she spoke in Cebuano.

  42. Before this escalates into an FVR for Prime Minister drive, recall that the guy’s administration was lucky to have coincided with the Asian boom, plus he sold a lot of government properties under a fire sale privatization scheme (Petron, PNB, Fort Boni, etc). Unfortunately the gains were frittered by the host of corrupt officials he had appointed to office (even more corrupt than GMA’s bunch, I’d say). Familiar story, no? Ramos’ “miracle” was smoke and mirrors.

  43. Carl,
    Know why I also feel the senators will thwart this? They will lose their jobs – dast ist why…but it’s high time we discuss this issues seriously. Things are not working as it is and it’s going to hurt us all the longer we ignore it.

    The SONA had to be in English – the world is watching and we have to send them a message that the Phlippines is still in business…

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