President Benigno Aquino III delivered his sixth and final state of the nation address (SONA) at the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon. The full text of the speech, which lasted for around two hours, can be read in this link. I am posting below my thoughts on various portions of his speech, as initially posted on my Facebook page. Think of it as a live-blog/commentary of sorts:
1) I live in the vicinity of Batasang Pambansa, and it is not an exaggeration to say that because of the number of police officers stations in this area for today, our barangay looked like a war zone. Also, this year seems to be the first time that classes in all levels all over the city were suspended just because of a President’s SONA. Is this an overkill or does the situation really require an abundance of caution?
2) This being his last SONA, Aquino was expected (and did) use the opportunity to thank Filipinos for the mandate they gave him and to clearly indicate his desire to step down. Here’s how his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, finished her final SONA (1991): “I hope that history will judge me as favorably as our people still regard me, because, as God is my witness, I honestly did the best I could. No more can be asked of any man.”
3) As has been widely reported already, Aquino began his SONA with a barrage of attacks directed yet-again against former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who’s been in detention since 2011. Perhaps in anticipation of criticisms he’ll receive for doing so, Aquino said: “Makakamove-on lang tayo kapag nakamtan ang katarungan.”
4) Aquino’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by his coughing that I’ve began half-expecting him to say, “Excuse me po!” a la Mike Enriquez.
5) Aquino used a huge chunk of his final SONA to tout the economic progress (together with the rating upgrades from international agencies) as well as the expansion of DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilya under his watch. Unfortunately, just like in previous years, he never gave credit to the Arroyo administration that started it all.
6) The President also boasted that the national cadastral survey is already due to be finished later this year – over 100 years (no typo there!) since the passage of the Cadastral Act in 1913.
According to DENR, the survey is important in “determining the political boundaries of local governments as well as the properties of private owners.” Good thing Aquino didn’t use the opportunity to blame American Governor Generals William Howard Taft and Francis Burton Harrison as well as former President Manuel Quezon for the delay.
7) Aquino appears to suggest that complete government takeover of MRT’s operations can improve its service to commuters. But what if it will be lead by the likes of DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya?
8) In what can be described as the most deplorable part of his two-hour address, Aquino boasted about the killing of international terrorist Marwan WITHOUT honoring the 44 PNP-SAF officers who died to accomplish that.
9) Aquino surprised most observers by pushing for the passage of the long-stalled anti-political dynasty bill. I am not impressed. It’s okay now for him to say that now because his term is already ending even though he benefited from his famous last name throughout his political career. He’s the last person who has credibility to speak out on political dynasties. You see, it’s like Kris Aquino preaching chastity to Maria Ozawa.
10) Aquino gave a shout out to American expat and fellow political blogger Joe America. I can’t say it for sure, but this might be the first time that a Philippine president used the word “blogger” in a national address.
By the way, upon hearing P-Noy say that shout out, my mom was like: “Hindi ka ba nagsusulat tungkol sa kanya?” :p
11) When P-Noy said “Masteral and doctoral degree sa engineering? Kayang kaya!” a number of my former students complained that they’re struggling to even make it past their statics class. LOL
12) The President is so confident of his popularity that he pronounced that the 2016 elections will be a referendum on his much-ballyhooed “daang matuwid.” Shortly after that line, a split screen image showing Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas was projected onscreen.
13) Speaking of the coming presidential polls, it seems that Aquino is all-set to endorse Roxas as his successor. How else can you contextualize these words? “Dahil talagang may ibubuga ka, nagpupursigi silang ibagsak ka. You can’t put a good man down.”
14) Members of the so-called Makabayan bloc including Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon staged a protest when the SONA ended. I disagree with what they did but we have a democracy.
1) Any tribute to the heroism of the 44 PNP-SAF officers who died during the raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January.
2) Support for the freedom of information (FOI) bill
3) LGBT issues