Weighing Aquino’s First SONA

Posted on July 28, 2010

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by Dr. Judy Taguiwalo, UP Faculty Regent

As his first SONA, I expected President Aquino to provide an overview of the directions of his administration in the coming six years.

So what are my impressions of his SONA?

The use of Filipino is a welcome change from the predominantly English SONA of the unlamented Arroyo. The addition to the list of corruption issues of the Arroyo administration through the expose of the MWSS Board of Trustees’ perks and allowances, the calamity fund mainly directed to Arroyo’s Pampanga district, the NFA rotting rice stocks and the DPWH shenanigans reinforced the fact that the nine years of Arroyo were nine years of unbridled corruption. However, government personnel would have wanted to learn more about GSIS under Winston Garcia and the extent to which employees’ contributions have been mismanaged. We are also left hanging on how he intends to prosecute Arroyo except for the statement that an EO will soon be issued on the so-called Truth Commission headed by Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Davide (yes the same Justice who swore Arroyo into office in 2001 and who accepted a UN ambassadorship from Arroyo after his retirement from the Supreme Court).

Three policy pronouncements that I find alarming:

The so-called public-private partnership which essentially means privatization of government properties and government services. Aquino merely confirms that he would be continuing the IMF-WB-WTO neo-liberal globalization prescriptions of opening up the economy to foreign and local investors whose main goal is profit maximization rather than service. This is a major source of concern for those of us advocating for more support to social services as additional provisions for education, health and other social services appear to be tied to such “partnership”.

The precondition of a ceasefire for peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF is a pronouncement for the continuation of a military solution to a political problem.

The expansion of Philhealth coverage rather than putting in place a Universal Health Insurance proposed by concerned health practitioners and people’s organizations.

And then there are the omissions:

1. Nothing on land distribution of estates such as the Had. Luisita and Canlubang; only putting in place a National Land Use Plan.
2. Nothing on extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances and various human rights violations of the Arroyo administration. Nothing on political prisoners such as the Morong 43.
3. Nothing on the reproductive health bill and the Freedom of Information bill.

In sum, the policy pronouncements in Aquino’s first SONA do not really address the change that our country needs.

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