by CJ Cachola
Where are the reforms?
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III went about delivering the hour-and-a-half long State of the Nation Address (SONA), but the nation could not hold back its questions. As analysts dealt out commentaries on major news channels and radio stations, a similar discussion was taking place in De La Salle.
Moving Forward: The 3rd Annual SONA, was held on Monday, July 23, at the North Conservatory. Organized primarily by the Council on National Issues and Concerns (CoNIC), with the assistance of the Political Science and Development Studies Society (POLISCY) and the Office of the Vice President for External Affairs, students had the conservatory packed by 3 pm.
Anthony Borja, a junior faculty member of the Political Science Department, began the event by delivering a basic explanation of the nature of a SONA: that it is a venue for the President to assert the importance of the State as an institution by holding forth on the government’s accomplishments, and to set goals for future assessment.
The discussion afterwards was led by the Chairperson of the Political Science Department, Dr. Rizal Buendia, and Former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Antonio Contreras; Dean of School of Economics, Dr. Winifred Villamil.
“Wala namang kakaiba sa SONA ngayon, ito lang naman ang pinakamahabang SONA. Ngunit hindi porke’t mahaba ibig sabihin masustansiya na [Nothing new with this SONA, it just happens to be the longest SONA. But long doesn’t connote substance],” Dr. Contreras said during the discussion. “Pero sa totoo lang, mas maraming masustansya sa SONA niya ngayon [In fact, there are much more substantial SONAs than this one],” he added.
As the speakers were assessing the speech delivered by P-Noy, Buendia said that in the SONA it is clearly undefined what model of development the president trying to articulate. What Buendia saw were simply administrative reforms, reactions to the previous administration and the problems it encountered.
“What I like about the president’s program is his focus,” says Villamil. He captured what we should be focusing on right now, which is the Philippines’ main problem: corruption. The president said that being on the daang matuwid is the solution to address the problem… and in fact we are now on our way. The proof is that our GDP increased by 6.4% during the first quarter. He needs to have deeper reform agenda to address corruption rather than punishing the ones involved [with past corruption],” he added.
Buendia further assessed that the president should go beyond the issue of corruption, given his role as a visionary. He said that P-Noy must set the ground on how to address corruption.
Meanwhile, a lighter aspect of the discussion was focused on the different clothing worn by politicians and other guests who were at the Sandigan Bayan. “Dito lang ata sa Pilipinas ginawang fashion show ang SONA. Mahilig siguro tayo sa piyesta [It must be only in the Philippines that the SONA becomes a fashion show. We must love to show off],” Dr. Contreras said
Gladstone Cuarteros, adviser of the Political Science and Development Studies Society (POLISCY) delivered the concluding synthesis of the State of the Nation Address and emphasized that the Philippines’ likelihood of becoming Asia’s next tiger, a presumption suggested by the SONA, is still unlikely based on a mere quarter’s growth, as compared to the double-digit sustained GDP growth of other industrialized countries in Asia. It will still depend on the cooperation of actors.