Arroyo’s Sona to highlight VAT, family planning

MANILA — The value-added tax (VAT), family planning, and the social welfare program would highlight President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s eighth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.

Presidential Management Staff (PMS) director general Cerge Remonde said the Sona, which would run up to about 10 pages, would still have the usual technical details, figures, and powerpoint presentations that characterized the President’s previous Sona.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

He said the President has been practicing on its delivery every afternoon for the past four weeks.

Remonde however refused to say whether Arroyo would be changing her stance on VAT, but said the President would make a policy speech.

According to him, Arroyo would also reiterate her stand on the family planning issue, which has been the subject of a heated debate lately between the Catholic Church and proponents of the “free-choice” on family planning methods.

For those who are planning not to watch the Sona, he said: “It is their duty as citizens to listen to the President, inasmuch as it is the duty of the President to make a report to the nation.”

The Freedom from Debt Coalition and a youth group have called for an “electronic boycott” of the Sona by turning off any electronic item that would carry her annual speech. They said it is part of their “see and hear no evil” campaign.

Remonde said lawmakers, including the opposition, are obliged to listen to the President because not doing so is tantamount to “dereliction of duty.”

Meanwhile, 46 percent of Filipinos are not sure whether President Arroyo’s Sona would be truthful, while 40 percent expect it to be “untruthful,” the July 1-14 survey of Pulse Asia showed.

The survey, which polled 1,200 respondents aged 18 years old and above, said 60 percent or six out of 10 the respondents said they were aware of past editions of Arroyo’s Sona.

Of the 60 percent, 40 percent were expecting Monday’s Sona to be untruthful, 46 percent were undecided about the speech while only 14 percent said they expected it to be truthful.

Among those who said the 2008 Sona would not be truthful, 50 percent came from Mindanao, 38 percent each from Luzon and the Visayas, and 37 percent from Metro Manila.

The biggest number of those who are not sure whether the Sona would be truthful came from Luzon (52 percent) followed by the Visayas (47 percent), Metro Manila (45 percent), and Mindanao (35 percent).

The level of indecision showed mostly in Class ABC (49 percent) followed by Class D (47 percent), and Class E (43 percent). Most of those who said it would not be truthful came from Classes D and E (42 percent). (JMR/Sunnex)

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