What to expect from the July 22, 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Noynoy Aquino

noynoy_aquinoIn the next couple of weeks on the 22nd July 2013, Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III will once again face a joint session of Congress to deliver his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA). What will BS Aquino be reporting to the people’s “representatives” this time? This one will be a tough one. The old excuses that made reporting non-achievements easy as pie have now faded into the background.

More importantly, many of those excuses have long been invalidated — much-touted “economic gains” have been shown to be the outcomes of groundwork laid by previous administrations. Allegations of former President Gloria Arroyo’s overspending and blown national budgets made by BS Aquino when he first ascended power turned out to be mere temper tantrums thrown by an inexperienced chief executive employing scant understanding of fiscal management. Loudly-trumpeted “framework agreements” being worked out between Manila and “representatives” of Muslim Mindanao turned out to be fatally-flawed by design and quickly degenerated into a horrendous fiasco that burned all parties involved, including the government of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak which played the role of arbiter in the negotiations. And who could argue against the reality that Manila, the Philippines’ political, economic, and cultural capital, continues to rot under the weight of its noxious atmosphere, its fetid storm-channels-turned-open-sewers, and its energy-sapping mind-numbing traffic jams?

Of course, BS Aquino’s fans will quickly point out the “positive” outcomes of his administration — how the “reforms” instituted under the banner of BS Aquino’s Daang Matuwid (“straight path”) doctrine have resulted in a reduction in the incidence of corruption in government and, as a result, renewed investors’ confidence in the Philippines; how “inclusive growth” has delivered relief in the form of a trickle down of these economic gains to the masses of impoverished Filipinos; and how “stronger fundamentals” have made the economy more resilient and turned it into a more fertile environment for a “sustained” rate of growth following the last couple years’ impressive statistics.

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So how did the Philippines perform over the first half of the Second Aquino Presidency?

The best place to start is to recall some key indicators posted following BS Aquino’s SONA in 2012 baselined mainly around the year 2010 when he assumed the presidency:

(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.

(3) OFW remittances: 12% of GDP for 2008. According to statistics sourced from the Philippines’ Central Bank, “cash remittances from OFWs coursed through banks represented about 6.5 percent of the country’s gross national income and 8.5 percent of the gross domestic product” in 2012.

What we see here is the perfect example of how a balanced scorecard works. All of the above seem to point to incremental improvements in the economy. But the comparatively small improvements in the areas of human development and the significant fall in the Philippines’ worldwide ranking there present compelling questions around whether the improvements in corruption perception and economic indicators are of any actual relevance to ordinary Filipinos.

In any case, who’s to say that any of these movements in the above indicators can be attributed directly to the administration of President BS Aquino? For that matter, can improvements or worsening of economic conditions over any given period be attributable to any one sitting president? That’s a question that will forever be mired in pointless debate. The only clearly consistent common denominator across ALL of the Philippines’ history of mediocre performance and failures is quite obvious: it is Da Pinoy. Presidents come and go, but the Filipino will always be the same bunch of folk who will be overseeing the all-too-familiar muddling along that characterises the Philippines in general.

So come the 22nd of July, we will likely be hearing the same quaint assertions that certain actions “caused” certain outcomes. I’d take all that with a grain of salt. The economy of the country and the general level of social development that Filipinos collectively gain — or lose — over any period are vastly complex systems composed of far too many variables and parameters for any bozo to presume to model much less make claims to being a key contributor to any manner of behaviour it exhibits.

Unfortunately for President BS Aquino, the sorts of explanations that resonate the most among cretins have long passed their use-by dates.

35 Replies to “What to expect from the July 22, 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Noynoy Aquino”

    1. SONA 2013????> > > > > NOTHING AND NO SENSE

  1. Expect nothing. Because that is what the people will get. NOTHING, ZIPPO, ZILCH, NADA.
    Face it, there is nothing good that will come from the rich and powerful in the country. They want things much the same way they have been for 60 yrs., and will stop at nothing to keep it that way. Oligarchic w/subservient docile masses. That is all.
    DO NOT WATCH THIS EVENT(?), it is a waste of valuable time. Better to plan an escape from the HELL-HOLE country.

    1. The problem with some, especially those wanting to always earn “bucks” the easiest way, is that they are so used to complaining all the time. When it rains they complain of the rain. When the weather is sunny, just the same, they complain that it’s hot. These people seem to have no care at all and they are so full of bias within them. They are totally oblivious of the current dispensation’s effort of ridding the government of crooks like most of the ones previously in power. They can’t see or do things objectively because they are going around only to look for things that are bad or happening badly. Incredible, isn’t it?

      1. More appropriately: “Don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining!”

        What is incredible is that so many Filipinos don’t realise that PNoy is a one trick pony. His “Daang Matuwid” might have been a novel rallying cry that generated interest among foreign analysts and investors (both local and foreign). But everyone is still waiting for him to deliver on three year old promises. His PERFORMANCE is what will define his legacy, not his pronouncements of honest government.

        We are still waiting for the infrastructure that he promised — a modern, functioning airport, roadways, water utilities, power generation and distribution. Those of us who deal with government are still complaining about the inefficiency of his bureaucracy. Businesses are still unclear as to his administration’s economic plan and its implementing rules and guidelines. And we all know he has a stranglehold on the legislature and the Supreme Court. How can one trust the president will be “transparent” when he can pretty much dictate policy and suppress any opposition?

        It is unfortunate but these are all areas in which PNoy and his lackeys are either glaringly unprepared or unwilling to deliver. And now, it looks like we will be bypassed yet again as investors focus on Vietnam and Myanmar.

        Incredible, isn’t it?

  2. I can already feel the malacanang
    internet-stooge group plotting another “attack” on GRP.
    Try as they may, they will NEVER succeed in bringing GRP down with their severely flawed ad-hominem attacks.

  3. The real SONA

    Poverty up
    Unemployment up
    Underemployment up
    Prices up
    Inflation up
    Corruption up
    Money-laundering up
    Political dynasties up
    Crime up
    Inequality up
    Cover ups
    f#cked up

    Up yours, pnoy:
    wake up
    Wise up
    Man up

  4. The NOYNOYING Song

    “Today I don’t feel like doing anything
    I just wanna lay in my bed
    Don’t feel like picking up my phone
    So leave a message at the tone
    Cuz today I swear I’m not doing anything…”

      1. @Gogs…LOL! where does GRP get these pix of this guy? He really is laughable….and SAD proof that greatness is not necessarily passed from generation to generation. Emphasis on SAD!

        in the West, that look is commonly referred to as:

        “THE BLOWFISH”, as in ‘Do the Blowfish’, ‘Doin the Blowfish’ etc…I am sure u get it, its just HYSTERICAL! and fits the guy perfectly!

        1. Benign0 has done this a while. As for the President’s natural proclivity for being photogenic. My head spins how he never made it as a male model in his youth.

    1. Laughable.:P

      Keep on defending the 7.8% GDP and it’s not because of the government efforts but because of something else. Or worse, it’s just a ruse set up by the Abnoy government.

      Keywords: Stupid economic policies.

    2. The GDP may be at 7.8% but what makes you think that it will stay that way for the rest of your incompetent president’s term?

      Like I said, you will never succeed in convincing us with your flawed propaganda.
      Only idiots like YOU will keep believing in your president’s lies.


    3. You really think that GDP will stay that way??
      Of course, you will keep insisting that “fact”.
      Unless you present us with facyou are trolling us.

      Since you keep showing your retarded face here it must mean one thing,you guys are in panic mode again.
      Unless you present us with non propaganda,you will never succeed.
      Can you keep believing your president’s lies? I seriously doubt you can.
      Keep posting your stupid propaganda and we will keep bashing your president.

    4. You really think that GDP will stay that way??
      Of course, you will keep insisting that “fact”.
      Unless you present us with facts,you are trolling us.

      Since you keep showing your retarded face here it must mean one thing,you guys are in panic mode again.
      Unless you present us with non propaganda evidence,you will never succeed.
      Can you keep believing your president’s lies? I seriously doubt you can.
      Keep posting your stupid propaganda and we will keep bashing your president.


  5. Gdp, whilst a universal indicator, is as meaningless as a pnoy promise, just as a company reporting a 10% increase in sales means nothing without the corresponding metrics of costs, margins, market share etc.

    The SONA may well be peppered with motherhood statements about inclusive growth and a theme of ‘jam tomorrow’, but as any independent analyst will tell you, the economic fundamentals of the philippines are not as sound as the propagandists purport them to be.

    Specifically the gdp growth figure is inflated by a rise in debt to gdp ratio – now 52% -, and up 10% in 2012.

    Credit funded consumption is creating short term growth, but mid-term pain if mis-managed.

    And the fluidity of ‘hot money’ only shows the weakness of a small stock exchange and the irrelevance of the pse indices in the scheme of things, so major mistake for pnoy to crow whilst it was rising as though it was his doing, and now stick his head in the sand.

    The bell weather of ofw remittances has again helped prop up the economy as more filipinos go to work abroad for decent wages and opportunities, and abuse.

    1. GDP figures don’t really tell anyone if the economy (1) actually PRODUCES stuff or (2) merely shuffles money around. From the looks of it the Philippine economy is engaged mainly in the latter — shuffling money around, middle-manning the trade in goods and services, and redistributing feudal wealth during elections. With every peso that exchanges hands in these activities, a point is chalked up in the nation’s “GDP” statistic — which means the Philippine economy is nothing more than a thin-skinned empty shell that can implode anytime at the slightest pressure applied to it by an external force.

    2. Add to that Filipino families belonging in class A, B and C compose 10% whereas those in class D and E make up 90%[link].

      How would President Aquino excuse … ahem explain the current in-equal distribution of wealth.

      1. Ah, but the president won’t be explaining the dichotomy. Remember — the Aquino administration’s current mantra is “inclusive growth.” His position when he delivers the SONA will likely be some variation of how his “superior” economic team is “studying” different strategies on how to stimulate business development. Then he’ll make some pronouncement about how poverty will be reduced dramatically by the end of his term.

    1. If gdp growth and unemployment remain the same in 1 years time then obviously the problem becomes worse.

    2. GDP sustainable for the next year? Throw a party! Better yet, host a concert at the graven image of the Aquinos on EDSA that will bring Metro Manila to a standstill for the next day or so.

      Kidding aside, GDP isn’t even the issue. Former NEDA chief Cielito Habito made the observation that the largest percentage growth in GDP continues to be the equivalent of the growth in the smallest minority of our society — our elite. That translates to mean that the wealth in our country is still being cornered by the oligarchy.

      If this wealth disparity is not addressed, we will have a greater problem down the line — instability brought on as a result of massive poverty. The 28% poverty level needs to come down. Despite his pronouncements, however, it is doubtful if BS Aquino will be able to accomplish anything within the next few months to solve this mess short of cheating on government statistics.

      1. Exactly.
        When growth is positive but employment elasticity is zero, as it now is in the philippines, then it only favours owners of capital (jobless growth), not workers, resulting in labour having a smaller share of gdp and ultimately an increase in inequality. (gini index)
        That is the looming scenario.
        Increasing CCT and manipulating figures/surveys will not hide the reality.
        pnoy will continue to be the lapdog of ayala etc economically, and the US politically, neither of which are concerned about job creation.

        1. This is compounded by the fact that the Aquino government’s token job creation efforts persist in economic sectors that have low added value. Case in point — business process outsourcing and other cheap service sector positions.

          Worse, they can’t even be honest about their own statistics. The labor department considers “employed” anyone who has worked AT LEAST ONE HOUR in one month at even low wage, low value jobs such as part time day labor. That is nowhere near a credible standard for sustainable employment.

        2. “Jobs” created on the back of foreign capital as usual. The outsourcing and OFW industries are a particularly limpdicked way of “creating jobs” because the capital that creates those jobs is domiciled outside of Philippine borders.

          If we used to be worried about fly-by-night sweatshop companies whose idea of “foreign investment” is to put up a tennis ball factory in one of those “export processing zones” easily yanking out their operations from the Pinas at the first sign of trouble, what more these outsourcing companies which can simply pull the plug when they feel they’ve found a cheaper source of English speaking parrots to do the work.

        3. “…what more these outsourcing companies which can simply pull the plug when they feel they’ve found a cheaper source of English speaking parrots to do the work.”

          And that’s likely to come sooner rather than later as more and more children from mainland China learn to speak English like California natives. There is an increasing probability that China can literally corner the sweatshop market for both manufacturing AND BPO services, beating out India and the Philippines.

        4. It is s. korea that has a kpo strategy to leapfrog the philippines.
          The technology, where they excel, is being supplemented by the requisite english skills – much of which was originally taught in the philippines – and is now being enhanced by specialist schools in s. Korea.

          The global bpo market is changing rapidly and unless there is an actionable roadmap ( the BPAP plan is simply an extrapolation of past growth) then it is still crumbs for the philippines, and with so many benefits to suppliers it is almost tantamount to buying jobs.

          “Fiscal and non-fiscal incentives from the government have
          supported the growth of the Philippines’ BPO industry. IT
          BPO enterprises enjoy an Income Tax Holiday (ITH) of 4 to
          8 years and a special 5% tax rate on gross income after
          the lapse of the ITH, in addition to a host of tax and duty
          exemptions for capital equipment, deductions for labour
          expense, 12% input VAT exemption on allowable local
          purchases of goods and services and employment of
          foreign nationals.”
          S. Korea times

          Outsourcing companies are consolidating to provide global platforms, and services are specialising be it lpo – law, rpo – research, hro – human resources etc., and often along industry sectors eg healthcare, finance.

          The days of high volume low margin voice driven cold calling/outgoing traffic is nearly over.

          Businesses, marketing, and technology have become more sophisticated and more demanding of genuine added/high value services driven more by innovation, integration and customer service than cost, with mobile being a key driver.

          Finding app designers in the philippines and people who understand data analytics, global process management is a tough challenge.

          Those nurses who failed their exams may be able to handle a phone, but bpo is not for them and no wonder there is 50% attrition rate, aided by low wages, bad management, and often poor working conditions.

      2. That’s interesting, libertas. People here tend to overlook the rise in South Korean visitors in the country. And we hardly ever question what they are doing taking enrolling in local English language courses.

        I was more focused on the low price point for technical support, transcription and online sales usually associated with India and the Philippines. Specialized business services — healthcare, human resources, even ERP and OLAP services — adds a new, more sophisticated dimension to the industry. Sadly, Filipinos still emphasize the quick and easy route in the BPO market — low intelligence requirement, minimal investment, maximum profit. We’ll need to significantly upgrade our skill level to be able to accommodate the evolving conditions of global business.

        1. A pet subject – my previous boss was known as ‘the father of outsourcing’ and that was 35 years ago when we started, originally as facilties management for buildings and admin services to professional companies, and then IT/ data centres & telecomms/virtual private networks.

  6. Enter the SONA… A list of accomplishments mixed with window dressing, lies, half lies and deception. Accompany this with the usual happy days propaganda, heavy applause and the gullible will think everything is alright in the Republic of the Philippines.

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