By DAVAO TODAY
The eighth state of the nation address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo elicited different reactions. Progressive groups staged their own version of the SONA, which they believe reflect the “real” condition of the Filipino people. People from the government, church, business and men on the streets also share their views. Some still believe in what the President said but others were not so impressed by her speech. Davao Today gathered their reactions:
“I happened to watch the Sona but it was not worth hearing at all because I didn’t believe in what she was saying. The poor are still hungry, lining up for rice everyday for a limited kilo. The expanded Vat is still there. Her speech had no soul, sad to say. Sona must provide direction on major concerns which depicts the state of the nation of the past year. Not to report on what has been perceived as accomplishments of the government which she does not need to tell us because we know already. No clapping is needed!”
–Sister Marietta Banayo, M.A., president, Assumption School of Davao, Cabaguio Avenue, Davao City
“Nothing really new but rehashed statistics that does not translate into food on the table of Mang Pandoy.”
–Mr. Allan Villanueva, board member/ project coordinator, Akbay Kalusugan, Inc.
“We do not need free education only. We need quality education at the elementary and high school level especially in public schools. Increase the number of class rooms, hire more ‘quality’ education graduate teachers, build schools in every barangay, and accommodate investments that will allow our graduates to work in their field of expertise (other than the call center industry).
According to Amartya Sen, a nation could only attain genuine development if the state develops the capabilities of its citizens. The Philippine government should focus more on improving the basic education system (as well as social protection program as health security) and make it available to everybody.
–Reine Kathryn Taya, professor, Department of Social Sciences University of the Philippines – Mindanao, Mintal, Davao City
“The Arroyo administration has just thrown out the window its austerity program. In proposing a P1.4 trillion budget for next year, it has likewise reneged on its promise to balance the budget. The current economic crisis is the convenient excuse for Malacañang to ask for a 15 percent increase in its budget in 2009. The increase in the budget next year is meant – not to prop up the economy – but to fatten the war chest of the administration in the 2010 elections. Oh, I can hear the trapos (traditional politicians) singing “the good times are here again!” ironically at a time when the number of poor families are rising. The call of the government to tighten our belts and live simply in these times of difficulties is pure hogwash. At the Senate, there is also a disturbing change of tune. Where before Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was batting for a side agreement on the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Pact (JPEPA), now she is about to lead the second surrender of the Philippines to Japan. Her beef – hard to educate people who are afraid of the unknown. The feisty lady, staunch defender of the Constitution and candidate for the International Court of Justice, is giving up! This is harakiri!
–Peter Laviña, councilor, Davao City first district (as posted in his blog: http://ptlavina.wordpress.com/)
“If Vat was to be removed, lowering fuel prices by four to six pesos…Give oil companies a few weeks, and they will find excuses to increase fuel prices again and again and again until the decrease due to the removal of VAT will eventually be lost. So, there is still no effect.”
–Karlo Bello, councilor, Davao City third district
“Who made the speech? Hahaha”
– Paolo Duterte, president, Association of Barangay Captains
“The President spoke of what is happening. I was surprised about Mindanao being the fruit rather food basket of the nation yet a lot of population here are hungry.” — Susabel Reta, councilor, Davao City second district
“I did not hear her Sona up to the end. But I think that the good programs will not be effective if corruption issues are not handled. If businesses are not happy, we won’t get the foreign investment.” — Angel Puentespina, president, Davao Tourism Association
“I’m happy that the president is focusing on programs that will alleviate poverty and help our countrymen survive the global economic crisis.” –Margarita Montemayor-Nograles, distributor, Havaianas
” If GMA says that VAT stabilized the economy, the people did not feel that. People suffer more because of VAT. VAT is the reason why prices of basic commodities are rising. She says that VAT became source of subsidies but majority of the Filipino people did not benefit from it. According to data, Arroyo collected 86 billion from VAT but only5.7 billion was distributed. Where did the 80 billion pesos go? Vat has only become a source of corruption. –Makpil Camacho, deputy secretary- general, Bayan
” For the workers under the Kilusang Mayo Uno, what GMA is saying that the economy has progressed is not true. Wage only increased by 10-20 peso and most of it is the cost of living allowance. Progress is not felt by the people. If you look at what’s happening, the cost of fare is very high. Lines are very long in NFA outlets. What she said are mere ‘pogi’ points. The economy is in crisis. Survey shows that hunger is prevalent. Workers are deprived of the 125 across- the- board wage increase. Where can you see the progress in the economy? There is no logic with that. Many people are starving.” — Robert Lausa, spokesperson, KMU- Southern Mindanao Region
“What more can we expect from PGMA’s 8th SONA? It’s just another round of state rhetoric, empty promises and lack of political will to address the real state of the Filipino children. Since PGMA assumed power, the gap between children’s vulnerability and the fulfilment of their rights continue to widen. To some extent, there’s growing despair among children who are deprived of their basic rights to survival, development, protection, and participation. Poverty and hunger incidence is at its peak especially here in Mindanao which registers a poverty incidence of 40 percent. Peasant children (Lumad, Moro, Christian) are also being displaced because of intensified militarization in the countryside. If she really meant social programs for the poor in her Sona, what we want is a comprehensive approach and not palliative measures. Filipino children demands food not bombs, education not bullets, free and accessible health services and not militarization, basic social services for the disadvantaged and not exhorbitant taxes.”
— Honey May Idul-Suazo
KABIBA Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Inc,
“Vat is the reason why the people wallow in poverty. Vat should be removed especially the Vat in gasoline because it directly affects the poor. Big oil players are not affected by this. There is no progress as what she claims.” –Gabriel Dumayac, 23, laborer in Matina
” The subsidies she gave are only propaganda to cover up her crimes against the people. She wants Vat because of the kickbacks. It could be true that she distributed lands but only to a few. ” –Richmond Madraso, 22, husband in Buhangin
“GMA’s speech is same old story. I don’t feel any progress. There is no change in the clamor for wage increase. The prices of basic goods and fare are very high. Oil prices are being manipulated because if Shell and Petron are loosing in their business, why is it that plenty of small players in the oil industry are emerging?” –Jhong Abraham, 24, self- employed
” Why is she prioritizing building infrastructures? She should feed the people. She only wants to boast to foreigners that the society is progressing but deep inside many people are hungry.” — Mark Anthony Casquio, 18, mountaineer
“She says that she gave plenty of scholarships and yet public schools are not for free.” –Marc Roca, 17, student
SONA 2009 reactions were posted as comment by our valuable readers. Read-on and comment.