The State of the Nation Address Is Useless and A Waste of Time as well as Money

President Aquino’s two hour fudged State of the Nation Address exhausts Sign Language guy
President Aquino’s two hour fudged State of the Nation Address exhausts Sign Language guy

Benigno’s Analysis of the Fourth State of the Nation Address of President Noynoy Aquino basically states that Presidential term launched by hazy goals has produced hazy results.  Following it up, what I am going to take a stab at is why this happens and will continue to happen every year unless something changes.

Article VII Section 22 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states: “The President shall submit to the Congress, within thirty days from the opening of every regular session as the basis of the general appropriations bill, a budget of expenditures and sources of financing, including receipts from existing and proposed revenue measures.”

Simply explained, this is actually the basis for the yearly State of the Nation Address and the speech usually given by the President before congress should be an accounting of what was done with the previous year’s budget and an exposition of the main justifications for the proposed budget for the following year.  One can assume that the intent behind this is to make the President accountable and transparent about his administration’s performance or non-performance.

In essence, what the State of the Nation Address should be is the people through its representatives asking the President, “What did you do with the money we gave you and why should we give you more money?”

However, it is debatable whether there is real accountability and transparency in the yearly SONA — thus giving some basis for the suspicion that the yearly SONA is nothing more than a fudged report.

This problem really has its roots with vaguely stated campaign promises, which in Aquino’s case was to lower corruption as a way of decreasing poverty.  Being generally stated, even a slight decrease in either corruption or poverty could make for a justification for the Aquino Administration’s Php 1.8 Trillion 2012 National Budget.

In assessing the Second Aquino Administration’s performance, Benigno points out the following:

(1) Corruption: CPI of 2.4 (out of a 10.0 representing “Very Clean”) and ranked 134 in the world at end of year 2010. The Philippines was given a CPI of 34 for the year 2012 (100 representing “Very Clean”) — an improvement of one point and accompanied by an improvement in ranking to 105.

(2) Human Development: HDI of 0.642 ranked 97 worldwide at end of year 2010. In 2012, the Philippines was given an HDI rating of 0.654 — a slight improvement but accompanied by a sharp fall in ranking to 114.

The question that now arises is, of what consequence is this proof of the Second Aquino Administration’s underwhelming performance?  Well, granting that most senators and congressmen haven’t grown principles and backbones overnight, I’d say it will be of little consequence.

Ordinarily, when someone either achieves so little despite being given so much resources, that person is usually given the boot.  But there is no way that’s going to happen given that:

A) The length of a president’s term is not based on performance.

B) There is no way to sack a President other than impeachment, which essentially needs an overwhelming number of votes from both houses of congress.

Given that, the only other consequence should be congress looking at the underwhelming performance in 2012-2013 and determining whether or not to approve the proposed 2014 Php 2.3 Trillion National Budget.

Now that President Aquino has more allies in both houses of congress, I have no doubt that the proposed national budget will pass — seeing that it’s the only way they’re going to get their hands on their pork barrel.