Analysis of the 2012 State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III delivered before Congress July 23

Number of classrooms made available, increased access to public healthcare, performance-based bonus incentives for government employees, mosquito traps to curb the spread of dengue, Sin Tax bills, jobs at BPOs, new airports in Bohol, a passenger terminal in Caticlan, properly paved roads… Yadda yadda yadda is what kicked off and sustained the 2012 State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III. Citing disembodied statistics out of context and stringing them together into a litany of little “wins” to tell a story of “achievement” is a good way to distract the attention-deficited mind of the Filipino from where the substance should have been.

Indeed, by mouthing what is no more than an unstructured list of purported “achievements”, President BS Aquino came across more as a bricklayer reporting the laying of each new brick rather than an architect describing how the overall edifice is taking shape. Instead of a report befitting a true chief executive, the President delivers to his people an address befitting a mere administrator.

National treasure Nick Joaquin points out eloquently in his seminal essay A Heritage of Smallness how large quantities of small things do not necessarily translate to power; rather truly powerful colossi possess inner structures that are coherent

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We could bring in here the nursery diota about the little drops of water that make the mighty ocean, or the peso that’s not a peso if it lacks a centavo; but creative labor, alas, has sterner standards, a stricter hierarchy of values. Many little efforts, however perfect each in itself, still cannot equal one single epic creation. A galleryful of even the most charming statuettes is bound to look scant beside a Pieta or Moses by Michelangelo; and you could stack up the best short stories you can think of and still not have enough to outweigh a mountain like War and Peace.

President BS Aquino’s litany of little achievements perhaps stands tall like a pile of sand that crumbles when taken to the task of bearing a load. Compare that pile of sand to an engineered structure of trusses of equal height — perhaps one tenth the mass of said sand pile, but 100 times more stable.

Nevertheless, for good measure, President BS Aquino cited that May 2012 article from Bloomberg Businessweek that attempted a rather lame talk-up of the Philippine economy which, really, was no more than a re-gifting of hollowed-out truisms about the Philippines’ “emerging” economy…

The BusinessWeek report is all positive spin, but ends up inadvertently highlighting pretty much all of what makes the Philippine economy a hollow shell — a bubble even — citing as signs of good times ahead, the fact that Manila “sports the third largest mall on the planet: SM City North EDSA, with 1,100 shops, 400 of which include places to eat”, and the attractiveness of the country as a site for multinationals’ call-centre operations, a trend that simply points to the fact that there is nothing in the domestic economy and its capital base that promises much else for the exploding supply of Filipino job seekers. In the same manner, the report paints a peachy picture of what is really the quintessential weakness of the Philippine economy — its dependence on foreign employment…

Suffice to say the President, and perhaps the vast army of cheerleaders who surround him, failed to grasp the irony in his deference to a foreign news journal to substantiate his claim that all is going swimmingly in the Philippines while issuing a poignant appeal to the local media: “I only wish that the optimism of foreign media would be shared by their local counterparts more often.”

President BS Aquino’s SONA need not have been the hour-and-a-half pabasa that it was had he focused on a small handful of key measures that, by themselves, would have sent across a far more powerful message of achievement if the numbers were right. He only needed to highlight how three simple indices changed since he assumed office as President of this sad republic:

(1) Corruption: CPI of 2.4 at end of year 2010
(2) Human Development: HDI of 0.64 at end of year 2010
(3) OFW remittances: 12% of GDP for 2008

The challenge for any government that presumes to preside over real change is really quite simple: (a) come up with target figures for each of the above metrics (say, aim to increase the first two points and reduce the third one), and (b) grow the cojones to measure and evaluate itself along these lines.

As expected, the 2012 SONA of President BS Aquino failed to describe a consistent application of the most fundamental principle of accountability — to set measurable targets and evaluate one’s performance on the basis of clear results.

[NB: The English translation of the President’s 2012 SONA published on the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines was used as reference for this article.]

29 Replies to “Analysis of the 2012 State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III delivered before Congress July 23”

  1. What’s there? What do you expect? I just heard mosquito traps. and health? and School? economy? …visit our hospital and schools and even our homes…you will see reality speaking even without uttering a single word…

    1. Malapait mo nang marinig from YELLOW D-ARMY… Noynoy 2016!!! Tatanggi ba si Benigno-Simeon when he hears voices that he should stay in Malakanyang after 2016… lalo na kung nakikinita-kinita niya that GuLLOO may get released (Christian kindness!!!) in 2017 or sooner???

      Noynoy 2016, yey!!!!

  2. After the line which said that the Philippines was now “open for business,” I basically just stopped watching. This whole idea of the country “On The Brink” (e.g., Arroyo’s “ready for takeoff” from a few years ago) has been the staple of these annual speeches for so long now that I don’t even care anymore.

    I got the feeling that BS Aquino just cut-and-pasted State of the Nation speeches from years past and just formed them into something that reads as credible to the general public.

      1. That quote, specifically the Filipino translation “Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?” seems to be more of a reference to Ditto Sarmiento, a student activist during Martial Law.

        1. “kung hindi ngayon, kailan? kung di tayo, sino?” sigaw ng mga kabataan aktebista sa pagnanais kumawala sa tanikalang nakagapos sa bisig ng kalayaan noong huling ikapat ng dekada sitenta.

  3. As it has been expected …His SONA has no relevance, no substance, no transparency at all that leads the filipino people into a puzzling or misleading situation….to think of it this is the Abnoy’s governance….full of ‘yabang’, revenge, anger and bitterness in his heart….by the way he is not an ECONOMIST on the other hand….

    1. Alfie what you just said now I believe is what I was saying in this post

      Ideally you want a president at the top of his “game”. . Because he has been through the wars. But by my own reckoning he has done no such thing. he has never evolved. What we are looking at is a child in a playground is what I personally get from your post. The guy has never matured. And most of us don’;t see it .

  4. The “responsible parenthood” solution to classrooms for me was a spin on “I take no stand on the RH bill. I prefer not to say anything to avoid angering either camp, but I will look as if I am saying something of substance and you will all praise me for it.”

  5. Very early on in the speech (I didn’t watch, I just read the transcript), he went back to the “GMA didn’t leave us any budget when I took office in 2010” thing that made him look like a complete fool the first time he said.

  6. The speech uses a classic diversionary tactic that Filipinos love: If someone points out all the obvious problems, take attention away from them and point to the good things, no matter how small they are. If someone keeps on pointing to a problem, the answer is, it’s always someone else’s fault. That approach was suggested by someone right after the Bus Hostage Crisis in 2010. The word “cover-up” comes to mind.

  7. Noynoy Aquino did not touch the problem with China. China is grabbing Philippine territories, and he is not doing anything about it. The standard of living is going downward, and the price of gasoline is going upward. Yet, he did not tell us about it. Noynoy Aquino did not even mention the corruption taking place on the CCT, a multi-billion corruption. Nor his handling of the insurgency. We need also to know the progress of the distribution of his Hacienda Luisita. Those projects he cited, are financed by our own taxes… they are not gifts to us…he is paid to work on them.
    Did you notice the many Riot Policemen, guarding him, as he delivers his SONA. It is a sure sign of his Unpopularity. He is afraid of his own people. If people love you, you don’t need those many Riot policemen…

    1. “Noynoy Aquino did not touch the problem with China. China is grabbing Philippine territories, and he is not doing anything about it.”

      so much for ‘Noynoy is Aragorn’

  8. too long…I did not see correct numbers…
    I did mention to friends once that should Pnoy win the presidential seat, I’m out of the country…Should have done so; hoping for progress is useless…Our military has no backbone to protect our land…Our politicians are liars…The middle-class continue to suffer financially…Yes, BPO’s are booming, but a person earning a gross of 20k a month to support a family of three is so not enough with the current rate of inflation…I wish we can be more realistic…I understand some are “satisfied”…But many are just trying to live with what they have…reality check needed Mr. President…Your Boss, the Filipino cannot even purchase his own house, cannot even haggle his worth, he is worried that whatever he receive in a payout may not be enough to get him and his family through his next paycheck…
    For tourism, can we not rely on those who come from outside?
    The only time that one can truly say that tourism is a boom is if its locals can enjoy their country. That builds national pride!
    No, I am sorry to say, there is no progress at all.
    Personally, my salary has increased, but its ability to pay for the utilities is not enough. I don’t even make a breakeven. Most of the months, I am bankrupt.
    Include expensive yet poor service provided by public and private industries…
    Please sir, try to walk and live the life of a middle class at least…then maybe you can tell us if there is indeed progress in your 3years of living in a Palace…

    1. Presidente Noynoy —- walang anak, walang pamilya ( he did not even make pundar to buy his house from his own salary) — he has no understanding of the difficulties of the regular families of Pilipinas.

  9. Since when have Presidents spelled out how their performance will be measured. To do so is suicidal and unpolitical. The author could have written this piece at any time under any President and it will not be any different.

  10. wow nung nabasa ko to just wow !

    ayoko magjudge kase mahirap ang mag judge lalo na kung wala nmn tau alam sa mga nangyayare ..

    tandaan nyo hindi sya kusang umupo tayo ang humalal sknya o sknila .. kaya kung meron man taung dapat sisihin dito .. hindi sila .. o hndi sya .. kung hndi ang mga sarili naten ..

    sana nmn wag kau maging judge mental mhirap ang posisyong bilang presidente sana nmn maisip nyo un..

    pero anu pinilit parin nya na gamapanan ung pagiging presidente ..

    sana nmn initndhin nten ang side nila ..o nya ..

    pgiging totoong tao nga lng hirap na taung gampanan eh .. pagiging presidente pa kaya ?

  11. pag kau ba ang nahalal bilang presidente mgagawa nyo kaya ang dapat nyong gwin gayung alam naten na sobrang dameng problemang hinharap ng bansa naten ?

    problema nga naten bilang simpleng tao hndi na nten masolusyunan eh .. problema pa kaya ng bnsa nten ?

    sana maisip nyo un .. hndi na tau mga bata .. tumtanda na tau .. tnx po

    1. Sorry, but since nobody here writes like a jejemon wanna be, don’t expects anyone to give two @@@@@ with what you said. Give you a hint. Use vowels, they do serve a purpose.

    2. Jejemons are the niggas of fliplandia and you are a proof of it. Are you sniffing too much rugby while writing that post of yours?

    3. Great just what we need… another retarded troll posting jeje crap. Begone you idiot, we don’t need a jejemon fag fouling up GRP.

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