PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo apparently draws much of her strength from her much-vaunted infrastructure projects, to which she devoted most of this year’s state of the nation address (SONA).

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivers her 7th SONA. [photo by Jaileen Jimeno]

“We have been investing hundreds of billions in human and physical infrastructure,” the President said, adding that investments focused on three key areas:

  • investments in physical, intellectual, legal and security infrastructure to increase business confidence. Imprastraktura para sa negosyo at trabaho. Isang milyong trabaho taon-taon (Infrastructure for businesses and jobs. One million jobs generated every year).
  • investments in a stronger and wider social safety net — murang gamot, abot-kayang pabahay, eskwelang primera klase, mga gurong mas magaling at mas malaki ang kita, mga librong de-kalidad, more scholarships for gifted students, and language instruction to maintain our lead in English proficiency. Dunong at kalusugan ang susi sa kasaganaan (Learning and health are the keys to prosperity).
  • investments in bringing peace to Mindanao; in crushing terrorism wherever it threatens regardless of ideology; and in putting a stop to human rights abuses whatever the excuse.

Listen to Part 1 of the President’s SONA or read the text.
Length: 00:38:50
File size: 35.4 MB
Language: English and Filipino

Listen to Part 2 of the President’s SONA.
Length: 00:18:03
File size: 16.4 MB
Language: English and Filipino

Imprastraktura ang haliging nagtitindig hindi lamang ng kapayapaan kundi ng ating buong makabagong ekonomiya: mga kalsada, tulay, paliparan, public parks and power plants (Infrastructure is the pillar that supports not only peace, but our whole new economy: roads, bridges, airports),” the President said.

She was quick to add that the so-called super regions she unveiled in her last year’s SONA was not a gimmick, but rather a blueprint for building a future.

A long list of infrastructure projects from Mindanao to Metro Manila followed, interspersed with acknowledgments to yet another long list of politicians, companies and foreign donors — as if to remind them that the system of patronage is built around the Office of the President.

Many say that the President has a long way to go before realizing her dream of turning a weak economy into a strong republic. During the last six years, the economy has not performed well enough to make a difference in the lives of most Filipinos, especially the poor, according to former budget secretary and University of the Philippines (UP) economics professor Benjamin Diokno.

Former President Fidel Ramos, meanwhile, said during an interview with ANC’s Korina Sanchez that much time had been lost due to the fragmented leadership for the past seven years.

Ramos said that the President’s SONA was “ok lang, but not enough.” Indeed, many found the President’s guarantees, which included more infrastructure projects, P150 billion to improve education, and appeals to Congress to pass legislation protecting witnesses to extrajudicial killings and cheaper medicines, lacking.

The President said that her SONA was just a sampler of the P1.7-trillion Medium Term Public Investment Program.

Still, Representative Marcelino Teodoro of the newly created first district of Marikina and a member of Arroyo’s own party, the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), said that the President should have focused on a blueprint to provide the delivery of needs, instead of mere guarantees.

While Arrroyo adopted some of the recommendations of the Supreme-Court initiated summit on extra-judicial killings, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said that she took no executive initiative such as expressly ordering state forces to stop extrajudicial killings.

With only three years remaining in office, the President may be reflecting on what kind of legacy she will leave behind, saying, “It is my ardent wish that most of the vision I have outlined will be fully achieved when I step down…All that will remain for my successor is to gather the harvest. He or she will have an easier time of it than I did.”

Although she did not say that she would step down in 2010, she reiterated that she stood in the way of no one’s ambition.

Her speech however, ended with a warning, and a sentence that elicited the most applause during a SONA that lasted for almost an hour.

“But make no mistake. I will not stand idly when anyone gets in the way of the national interest and tries to block the national vision. From where I sit, I can tell you, a President is always as strong as she wants to be.”

Tough words from one whose authority to govern remains saddled by widespread cynicism and distrust owing to unresolved allegations that she stole the vote in 2004.

1 Response to 7th SONA: Arroyo shows off her ‘strength’


Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » Post-SONA hangover 2007 edition

July 24th, 2007 at 1:57 pm

[…] Pinoy Ambisyoso gives capsule reviews of some reactions;  the PCIJ Blog runs through other reactions, from all sides of the political fence (former president Ramos was, apparently, a bit cranky) but perhaps the most concise description comes from baratillo@cubao, who calls it the “Eat My Shorts Speech,” and who provides his own condensed version of the address. […]

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