The Youth’s View of the 2008 State of the Nation Address

The Arroyo government has been dismissing surveys showing that the satisfactory rating of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is at an all-time low of –38 and that majority of Filipinos think that the SONA is untruthful.  Do these reflect the views of the people?  The following are write-ups from two high school students, which was sent to Bulatlat.

Why is GMA’s SONA a False Pretense?
Arellano University Plaridel High School

The 2008 State of the Nation Address is the 8th SONA of our “President” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and it is perhaps the most abysmal address that she has ever done in her entire term considering that this time is supposed to be a crucial situation.

Firstly, her so-called deceiving advertisement is a flaw of her Public Relation’s People. A SONA that has got to do with individual personalities such as Federico Alvarez – a jeepney driver; Rodney Berdin – 13 year-old boy; Edwin Bandila – a rice farmer; Rosario Camma – chieftain and mayor (in tribal attire); Jessica Barlomento, Shenve Catana, Mary Grace Comendador, Marlyn Tusi – all welders of Hanjin (a private firm); Victoria Mindoro – a farmer and factory worker; Pedro and Concordia Faviolas – rubber farmers; Justice Vitug and Francis Lim – of Texas Instruments and Philippine Stock Exchange, respectively; Allan Amanse – a fisherman turned whaleshark watching officer; and Joey Concepcion – a partner entrepreneur, is probably a publicity stunt to make herself appear like she’s doing a good job. Too bad this kind of deceiving doesn’t really work anymore.

This exploitation of these kinds of people from different walks of life is more about saving the president’s face than actually saving the people. She is implanting (or at least tried to) an idea on the minds of the citizens that everything is all right by showing illusory success and development in standard of living of these people. Moreover, we cannot use specific developments of people as individuals to prove success and improvement in our country’s state. A SONA is about the nation’s situation and NOT of an individual.

Another attempt of camouflage is bringing up the current oil crisis. She pinpoints the blame on the oil crisis for the nation’s current downward spiral so much in order to cover-up the misgivings of her government. Isn’t her government supposed to be finding concrete solutions to this problem instead of blabbering and defending it that it isn’t the government’s fault that people are suffering?

Because of her persistent stubbornness regarding the removal of VAT, believing that this will save the people, there is still no apparent solution to the nation’s problem though oil prices had already decreased. VAT would be really helpful if the people of the country she is suppose to be governing has money. But at this current state, how can the people carry the burden of paying the VAT if they have barely enough money to SURVIVE? Ideally, the said value added tax is to benefit the Filipino people but let’s not kid each other in facing the reality that the people pay their taxes but they aren’t really getting the benefits they should. It’s like dumping the citizens’ money in an endless pit.

Where does the money go? The pit that I’m talking about is the hungry pockets of our government leaders.

And there is the P 0.50 cents text messaging. This is the one project that gathered the most number of applause. But this reward is not even close to an inch of what the nation really needs. This is another deception because following the SONA, we all found out that it’s a promo – a promo that will probably last for 3 months or so.

Mrs. Arroyo spoke generally about what her government aims and what it has achieved for the past year. The issues in Mindanao were expected to be tackled in the first place since they have been issues way before her term. In history, one way of getting the sympathy and love of the people is when you talk about uniting the Moslem and Catholic Filipinos. It’s not surprising if she attempted to use this issue to gain the people’s love.

I don’t know if anyone else considers the president’s statement, “I will let no one – and no one’s political plans – threaten our nation’s survival,” an irony or not. Considering that the president has been involved in controversies, including the infamous “I am sorry” speech, isn’t this a proof that she herself has political plans? And up to now it remains a question mark if her plans are for the nation’s survival or for her family’s wealth.

The Sona 2008 made the 9th Sona on 2009 less anticipated since it gave no impact to the people. Maybe because the people are too tired to listen to words that are so good to hear but bear no action, or maybe the people feel that the government has already lost its integrity. They choose to depend on themselves because the government’s promises bear no fruit for them. This is probably the most critical problem of all – to regain the nation’s trust, which the government officials had long ago killed.

Critique of the 8th State of the Nation Address
Arellano University Plaridel Campus

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo delivered her 8th State of the Nation (SONA) last July 28, 2008 at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

Another fairytale story has ended. The SONA of Pres. Arroyo for this year 2008 was so full of unbelievable reports, all were a fiction maybe that even me, I don’t know if I can still believe or trust those words.

In her 8th SONA, Pres. Arroyo said that we ended 2007 with the strongest economic growth in a generation, inflation was low, the peso strong and a million new jobs were created that we were all looking to a better brighter future. Do we all look to a better brighter future? It seems that our president was joking when she said that thing. The records from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) showing that millions of Filipinos are “mired in poverty, have no work, and are being punished by high food and oil prices. “Seven years after the she made these promises, poverty further worsened, prices of commodities increased, and many lost their jobs”, Binay read from his five pages SONA entitled “Ang Tunay Na Kalagayan ng Bayan” (The True State of the Nation) at the Makati City Hall. And DOLE Statistics reveal that almost three million Filipinos are unemployed while nearly seven million are underemployed, contrary to Pres. Arroyo’s promise to create one million job opportunities every year. There is only one truth that our economy is getting worse and nearly to fall. According to national statistics, the inflation rate this month of July which is 12.2 is the highest in 17 years ago which only means that food prices and other necessities of people are getting higher and higher that cause suffering on the side of Filipino people and additionally the truth that job opportunities in our country are not enough to employ all Filipino people.

According to her, we built a shield around our country that has slowed down and somewhat softened the worst effects of the global crisis. What kind of a shield? A shield that are made up of fragile materials. In other words, a solution that is only for short period just like a pain reliever. Our nation doesn’t need an alternative or ephemeral solution just to ease the worse effects of the global crisis. What we need is an unhurried action. Our nation needs a definite answer which serves as a long-lasting solution to this global crisis. Because the worse effects of the global crisis will be felt by our nation again and again if there is no definite solution to solve it and we are not prepared for its coming.

Pres. Arroyo mentions that we have the money to care for our people and pay for food when there are shortages; for fuel despite price spikes. I believe that there is really money obviously a larger amount of it. The question is that, where is the money that she is talking about? Why does every Filipino still endure the sad fate rooted in poverty? Open your eyes and take some time to look at your surroundings and you will see and realize how our nation is poor. For the past years, even until now, our nation has been in the financial tight spot, a problem that the previous and present administrations failed to stamp out. In every highways, streets and places you are walking, you will see a large number of Filipino people with no food to eat. The answer is that the money our president is talking about was already in the pocket or wallet of every abusive public servant. The fact is that the money is being used in the wrong way, received by wrong hands and reserved for wrong people.

In the speech of Pres. Arroyo, she said that the telecoms responded to her pleas to cut the cost of messages between networks; it is now down to 50 cents. Paradoxically, right after the speech, headlines said that there was actually nothing in the 50 cents reduction in text messages.

She said she cares for our teachers and for our OFW. But why do some teachers sell food or anything to his/her students or co-teachers to earn additional income if Pres. Arroyo really cares for them? Why do some teachers bear and suffer from the low wages they receive? Teachers don’t need praise like the government programs intend to do. What they need is action for the betterment of all teachers. If Pres. Arroyo cares for our OFW, why are there so many news showing that many of our OFW are being abused and violated abroad? Why are there are so many helpless OFW who can’t come back to their home? If she really cares, she must do something for the goodness and improvement in the conditions of our teachers and OFWs.

Pres. Arroyo said that rice production since 2000 increased at an average of 4.07% a year, twice the population growth rate. If that’s true why are there food shortages and the Philippines continues to buy rice from other countries? She can’t say that it is merely because of nature that according to her puts our islands ahead of our neighbors in the path of typhoons from the Pacific. There is a way that we can fight and avoid the disastrous effects of typhoons. The government just need to improve our drainage to where all waters flow. We don’t need to import rice. Improvement in technologies is a must and full support to our farmers is necessary. In importing rice, Filipino people are not the one consuming the benefits and take the advantage out of it because imported rice is higher than our own rice. So the person taking the most benefits is the one who is going to sell the imported rice.

She strongly said that VAT or E-VAT is so important and without it we can’t survive and should not dispose of it. We can’t deny that the Expanded Value Added Tax (E-VAT) has contributed to the oil price increase, but instead of giving the people immediate relief by suspending the E-VAT, Malacañang opted to use the windfall from E-VAT collections to extend more subsidies. In her exhaustive enumeration of the amounts of money taken from E-VAT for various programs of government, it becomes crystal clear that without E-VAT, her administration should have long succumbed to death.

President Arroyo’s SONA 2008 is replete with fake economic gains and band aid solutions to the worsening poverty. There is nothing to be thankful for in the programs being implemented by this government.

To end, let me quote what the great Augustine once said in The City of God be alluded to: “I think I have now, by God’s help, discharged my obligation in writing this large work. Let those who think I have said too little, or those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I said just enough join me in giving thanks to God.” We may have said too much about this thing of urgency, but that’s only a faithful accomplishment of our duty. However, few words are enough. We don’t have to be verbose about a national concern at all times. Actions are still better than words. Actions would suffice. “Amen.” Posted by Bulatlat

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