It’s the season for State-of-the-Nation-Addresses or SONAs. Everyone worth his or her salt is writing, arguing, venturing one’s own take on the SONA. The important SONA, of course, is the SONA of President Aquino, which is the constitutionally required annual report to Congress on his government’s performance and plans.
All other SONAs are usually critical of the President’s SONA or reflective of specific concerns of the issuers. Rarely does one find an alternative SONA completely in accord with that of the sitting President.
So, what does one expect from next Monday’s official SONA. Certainly, it will contain glowing statistics and accomplishments, probably the top one on the achievements of the macro economy (growth rate, investment climate, credit ratings, etc) and on anti-corruption (filing of cases and arrests of big fishes, Corona impeachment reforms in procurement and other bureaucratic processes, etc.).
There will be claims of progress in anti-poverty work, but this would be muted as there is as yet no discernible–more so, dramatic–achievement to crow about. Asset reforms are a bit more problematic, with land reform in the doldrums, entire communities still losing their forests, fishing grounds, and prime agricultural lands, and even their very environment (clean water, clear air, and open spaces) to powerful and greedy carpetbaggers, and entire industries continuing to be monopolized by a few billionaires.
The record so far of the Aquino government centers on making the entire economy work, establishing a corruption-resistant government. However, the impression on the ground, except maybe for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), the beneficiaries had been the wealthy elite, and not the vast majority that is the poor.
However, since the Aquino government has only completed one-third of its shelf-life, the poor are still giving it the chance to make good on the inaugural promise of “delivering the benefits of democracy to the people.” At this point in our history, “the people” is almost synonymous with “the poor.” Only an agenda for the poor is relevant in the coming SONA.