MANILA—Tagged as the most emotional and best State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III yet, Filipinos all over the globe were divided over the chunk of information that he had said in his 5th nation address last Monday, July 28.
Prof. Prospero De Vera, Political Analyst and University of the Philippines Vice-President for Public Affairs believes that the President’s speech emotionally appealed to Filipino hearts as he adlibbed his father’s famous quote, ‘The Filipino is worth dying for’ and added, ’The Filipino is worth living for… The Filipino is definitely worth fighting for.”
Dr. Clarita Carlos, pioneer of Political psychology in the country, similarly believes that PNoy scored sympathy from Filipinos in his hour-and-a-half speech. She added that the President’s emotion was genuine following the filed impeachment complaints by his former allies. “He was hurt, terribly hurt,” she said.
However, De Vera and Carlos individually revealed that they found the speech lacking information. De Vera said that there should have been an update regarding the sought-after Freedom of Information Bill and believes that there should be less criticism of his nemeses. Carlos, on the other hand, found the SONA ‘lacking of substance’. Both are worried that the President might not finish his long term plans such as the Bangsamoro Law.
The President’s political foes—Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada—now detained for plunder charges surprisingly praised Aquino’s SONA.
Revilla commended PNoy for setting aside macho posturing and politicking in his speech and giving the spotlight to what is supposed to be heard by the public—his achievements and programs in the past five years.
“Habang maraming mga importanteng paksa ang hindi nabanggit at natugunan sa SONA, I feel that this was his most decent. Pinili niya na sumentro sa mga programa at proyekto sa halip na magpa-macho, mamulitika, at magpatutsada,” Sen. Revilla said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s reaction coincided with that of Revilla’s. “Though the past year of the administration has been rocked by numerous controversies, calamities and early politicking, we must give credit to the Aquino government for steering the PH economy into becoming one of the region’s most resilient and robust,” he said.
However, Estrada pointed out that the President failed to recognize overseas Filipino workers and their contribution to the economy.
In the streets of Manila
Not everyone was interested in hearing the President’s SONA, especially in the streets of Tondo, Manila where not everyone is capable of stopping their daily routines just to listen to the technical terms-filled speech delivered by the head of the country.
Most of the residents of Tondo believes that the administration lacks effort in resolving corruption, unemployment, and poverty based on what they are currently experiencing.
“Iyong tuwid na daan na sinasabi niya, parang para sa aming mahihirap, parang hindi naman eh. Parang lalo kaming naghihirap.” one resident said.
A day before the anticipated SONA, more than a dozen progressive Filipino organizations protested in the streets of Woodside, New York, according to an ABS-CBN News report.
“Sawang-sawa na kami sa ganitong gobyerno… Ang panawagan namin impeachment o yung sukdulang pagpapatalsik sa isang regimen na—inutil na pinabayaan ang mamayang Pilipino,” DJ Arucan of Gabriela Philippines said.
Four years into President Aquino’s term, some claim that President Aquino has failed to deliver on his promises, especially when it comes to “Daang Matuwid.” It was this campaign battlecry against graft and corruption that won him the presidency in 2010.
“His straight and narrow path has been nothing but crooked and corrupt,” Jennine Ventura of Gabriela New York said.
“Mga appointee niya at sa mga kapartido niya marami ring guilty dito subalit wala pa sa kanila ang nasasampahan ng kaso… Pinalinaw niya sa sambayanang Pilipino na wala siyang pinagkaiba sa panahon ni Marcos, sa panahon ni Arroyo, sa panahon ni Estrada at panahon ni Ramos lahat sila pare-parehong mapagsamantala at nagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan,” Gary Labao of Bayan USA said.
Conversely, the President is supported by some Filipino groups who recently held a rally against China’s bullying following the territorial dispute between the two countries.
“He is the best President, I believe, because he is able to make the Philippines rise up. We are now the new Tiger in Asia,” community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis said.
“I really feel personally that the Philippines has been very blessed for having President Aquino. For the first time, we have something that is really a democratic Philippines,” Joe Ramos of US Pinoys for Good Governance said.
However, Filipino migrant workers of the US said that PNoy failed to address the issues and needs of OFWs, specifically in the issue of human and labor trafficking.
“During Benigno Aquino’s term, we have also seen migrant workers in the US subjected to terrible conditions. We have seen hundreds of cases of abuse and trafficked workers,” Lorena McRae of Philippine Forum said.
McRae says the Philippine government has yet to shut down unscrupulous and abusive recruitment agencies as well as prosecute those that prey on unsuspecting OFWs.
Netizens joined the pool of reactions over the 5th SONA of the president through Twitter and Facebook’s trending topic #SONA2014.
Jim Paredes of Apo Hiking Society, tweeted, “#SONA2014 Despite what his detractors say, he has achieved A LOT. Now he must make sure that the changes will be permanent. No going back.”
Cecilia Orena-Drilon, commonly known as Ces Drilon from the late night news telecast, Bandila, described Sona as ‘emotional’. “…PNoy held back tears showing the heavy burden of the presidency & impact of protests and criticism.”
Sen. Sonny Angara, ally of the president said, “Happy to see prez acknowledge non politicos #sona2014”
Risa Hontiveros, Filipina activist, journalist and Akbayan Party-list representative, posted, “Fewer number of strikes the only mention of labor? pass the Security of tenure bill! #SONA2014”
Other netizens went crazy over the arrival of guests in the SONA, especially those wearing extravagant outfits.
(With reports from ABS-CBN News)
(Las Vegas July 31 – August 6, 2014 Sec A pg.1)