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SONA: State of No Addressing of problems – Anakbayan

July 27, 2010

The first-ever State of the Nation Address by President Noynoy Aquino was expected by many to be the ‘road map’ of how he will solve the many problems of our country. His huge election victory has given him the mandate to undertake sweeping and dramatic changes, and it is not surprising that many people have high expectations about the Aquino administration II. What did Aquino say, and what does it mean for the millions of ordinary Filipinos, especially the youth?

  1. Contrary to what Aquino feels, progressive groups such as Anakbayan and Bayan have specifically enumerated the reforms and changes they want from the new administration, as well as specific ways to achieve those changes. For example, Anakbayan is pushing for the government to make education accessible to all Filipinos, and one suggestion is the immediate imposition of a nationwide tuition freeze.
  2. Anakbayan’s proposals, as well as that of other organizations, were totally ignored by Aquino in his SONA and in his other public statements before.
  1. Instead of a tuition freeze and other similar proposals, Aquino is touting ‘private-public partnerships’ as a means of supposedly making quality education accessible to more people.
  2. While this proposal does not have any specifics yet, ‘private-public partnerships’ go against the principle that the State should bear the main responsibility in ensuring the right to education of all. Since it looks to the private sector (including private schools and its owners) as ‘partners’, it respects the ‘right’ of private school owners in raking in millions of pesos in profits. Additionally, there was no mention of the promise by Aquino during the campaign period to provide an amount equal to 6% of the Gross Domestic Product for the education budget.
  1. Genuine land reform is a big issue in our country for two major reasons: the continued reliance of the majority of Filipinos on agriculture for their livelihood, and the failure of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, as well as the Program’s extension, to solve the centuries-old problem of farmers’ landlessness.
  2. There was no mention at all about any land reform program, much less any discussion, in the SONA. Aquino is repeating the mistake of past administrations of ignoring the problems of the biggest sector in our society.
  1. High prices of basic goods are a major factor in the poverty experienced by millions of Filipinos today. Aside from unfair taxes, the fact that we are reliant on imports for almost every product plays a huge role in why abnormally high prices persist in our country.
  2. Instead of choosing to find ways to develop our industries and agriculture to end our economy’s reliance on imports, Aquino has chosen to reduce the issue of high prices and the import-dependent economy to an issue of improving roads.
  1. A ceasefire and disarmament of the New People’s Army have long been rejected by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as pre-conditions for holding peace talks. This policy is based on its experiences during the time of Aquino’s mother where the ceasefire was used by the military to prepare assaults against the NPA and NPA-held areas.
  2. Aquino however is insisting on a ceasefire as a pre-condition for the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the NDFP. He is actually impeding the peace process by insisting on a historically impossible demand: the laying down of arms by a rebel group. No anti-government group, from the anti-colonialist Katipunan to the anti-Japanese HMB, has ever agreed to that condition without suffering dire consequences.

The state of the nation and Noynoy Aquino’s first-ever State of the Nation address are two opposite things. He promised a ‘shocking’ speech, yet the only shock came from the fact that Aquino’s first SONA has virtually no concrete proposals to address our country’s many problems. Judging from his version of the State of the Nation, it seems Aquino is in a different country from us. ###

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