Gloria’s SONA version 8

New props…

New statistics…

New scapegoat…

Same old trying-hard-to-emote face…

Same old boring voice…

Unlike the previous years, yesterday I watched and listened to GMA’s SONA  with fascination. Of course I have already anticipated the props…. the AVP on that giant screen, the people from all walks of life that she paraded as if in an exposition of the success of her administration. I knew she would lie, that she would magnify the value of small gains and improvements and deflate the gravity of the problems. But I was curious about how her spin doctors will weave her speech and on whom or what the blame will fall. So I listened with fascination.

Gloria’s message was quite simple… she made unpopular economic policy reforms that made her suffer in the opinion polls, but the country was on its way not only to recovery but to progress at the start of the year unfortunately the world economic crisis and the food crisis swept all the gains like a “giant tsunami” that swept across the globe but fortunately because of her upnpopular reforms our strong economy cushioned the impact of the global crises.

So what she was really saying was don’t blame the rice crisis on me… its a worldwide problem. Don’t blame the rising prices of oil and all other commodities on me… its the state of the world economy. Don’t blame me… in fact thank me because my Presidency saved that nation from the full impact of the world’s problems. I’m sure the traditional politicians will buy that line. I don’t.

Yes. across the globe nations are facing a food crisis and we have been a net importer of rice since the Spanish time. But does that mean that our own rice crisis is not a result of wrong priorities? Countries like Vietnam and Thailand grew from net rice importers to being among Asia’s biggest exporters of rice. Yes the world is facing a food crisis but that doesn’t explain why the Philippines is not self-sufficient in terms of food. We are only affected by the crisis of rice because we import rice from the international market but it does not explain why we have to import rice in the first place.

For decades government sacrificed our agricultural lands in the name of industrialization – converting prime and irrigated agricultural lands  into industrial zones. What was left of our agricultural lands we devoted to export crops to give Japan and the rest of the world their bananas and pineapples for dessert. For decades the government left the farmers to fend for themselves with only a pittance of government support. Government opened our domestic market to allow foreign agricultural products (which  are highly  subsidized and therefore cheap) to compete with our own products. This killed the Filipino farmers who do not even have decent roads to bring their produce to the market.

Mrs. Arroyo. the rice crisis and the food crisis for that matter is not about the worldwide food crisis. It is about our government, yours and those before you neglecting our own agricultural sector. Together with the OFWs, our agricultural sector is what has been saving our economy for decades.

She extolled the VAT as the savior of our economy. Gloria said that the VAT gave government enough resources to subsidize the poor and protect them from the harsh impact of the worldwide economic slowdown. If only our politicians, the President and her family primary among them, will cut their corruption to half, we would have more than enough resources not only for subsidies but for strategic development programs and projects as well. She said P500 million was allocated for access to clean water but that is just 150% bigger than the P200M Chairman Ben Abalos offered  to  Chairman Romulo Neri as bribe in the ZTE scandal? That too is just equal to the P500M fertilizer scam of Jokjok Bolante.

She said she had allocated P3 billion to so that the Ombudsman can go after the thieves in government. Very wisely done indeed. Madame President. I almost forgot you are not under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. How much did you spend to prevent Congress from impeaching you?

GMA also boasted that her administration has exceeded its targets year after year in the last 7 years in distributing lands under agrarian reform. TRUE! But that is only because your administration targets only 100,000 each year compared to the targets of previous administrations which exceeded yours. By targetting only a mere 100,000 hectares annually for the last 7 years, you succeeded in delaying land distribution and that is the reason why the termination of the Agrarian Reform Fund has overtaken the agrarian reform implementation and is now in limbo. Should the farmers thank you for bringing them into this quagmire?

The State of the Nation Address is an opportunity for the President to share with the nation in general and the two Houses of Congress in particular on the directions that the Executive wishes to lead the country into. It is supposed to guide the legislative branch of government as to the priorities of the present administration so that they too can prioritize legislation to that direction. Yes Madame President, you can paint the State Of the Nation Address whichever way you want. In your administration it is not what your public pronouncements that matter to Congress and your government but how much pork barrel you release for them to make them follow your lead. In today’s Philippines, Madame President, it not not what you publicly declare that matters to Congress but what you wish to hide from the public. For the Congress of the Philippines, the political crisis that you have led us into is a big money-making machine. That is the real state of the nation.