Let's give it to the president! I think her SONA for this year, hopefully her last SONA, is more straightforward and has less garnishings as compared to her past SONAs. The downside is its proclivity to present the president's achievements in order to refute and discredit her critics, which makes it appear cheaply defensive. I believe SONAs are aimed at presenting the real state of the country, good and bad! It is not to be used as a bragging instrument against dissent.
The president also mentioned important commendable declarations: the extension of land reform program, implementation of sin taxes for alcohol and tobacco, the fight against terrorism, mitigating climate change, and most importantly -- addressing the Mindanao problem. The president deserves all the support for making these official statements, which somehow find themselves as unmistakable policy directions.
But the most significant semblance of assurance is the president's declaration that the 2010 elections will push through and proceed in full automation. Yes, there will be elections! It's just about time!
But here's the unwitting spoiler: "At the end of this speech I shall step down from this stage but not from the Presidency. My term does not end until next year." The president is dangerously cloaking in ambiguity. If she really intends on the second line, why make a tease on the first line? Amidst the worsening dissatisfaction ratings and increasing public uneasiness towards term extension, this ambiguity is too important to ignore. The president's men cannot and should not fault the public -- GMA promised not to run for the presidency in 2004, and she broke the promise! Public trust gets scarcer in a politics where promises are made more in breach instead of fulfillment.
This year's SONA is jam-packed with economics, despite conflicting figures and statistics of various economists (can't we convene an economics congress and tell us the reality?). But I really wondered why the president skipped on other equally important issues. I would have wanted to hear from her some categorical description on corruption and the state of anti-corruption efforts in the country.
Why did she not mention her government's anticorruption programs? I would have wanted to hear updates about AO 255 that mandates for the implementation of integrity development initiatives in all national government agencies and local government units. What about the Anti-Red Tape Act (Republic Act 9485)? I would have wanted to hear what is happening in the efforts to resolve big-time national scandals like the NBN-ZTE Broadband Bribery Scandal, the Fetilizer Fund Scam, NorthRail and SouthRail Overpricing, the WB-DPWH Expose', the DepEd Computers and Noodle Scams, inter alia!
I would love to get clear policy directions on Constitutional Change, especially the provisions that many say need to be amended and updated. As well as how the president wishes the change to proceed (ConAss or ConCon) and when (before or after the 2010 elections).
Corruption and constitutional change are two very important issues denied of official attention ascribed to the SONA. Sana nabigyan din sila ng pansin!
This is the problem when the president resort to ambiguity. The president's men can take matters on their own. If they succeed, they have the full presidential blessing. If they fail, resort to plausible deniability!
Wes Bently warns us again:
“Never underestimate the power of denial!”