SOUND AND FURY OF PRESIDENT AQUINO’S SONA
Counter-SONA Speech delivered by Minority Leader
Edcel C. Lagman on 27 July 2010 at the House of Representatives)
Mr. Speaker and distinguished colleagues:
The Minority in this House has publicly declared that it will not be obstructionist nor will it be obstinate. It has offered the hand of amity and cooperation to the Administration. It would support the Administration’s agenda for sustainable human development and programs to alleviate poverty, protect the marginalized and strengthen the economy.
We in the Minority keenly awaited the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be informed of concrete and meaningful legislative agenda of President Benigno Aquino III – a shopping list of well-explained proposals from which the Minority could select and prioritize what measures it would adopt and jointly advocate.
The SONA frustrated the expectations of the Minority. Instead of being a blueprint for development and policy direction, the SONA was generally a partisan press release, a complaint sheet, a compendium of motherhood statements and a continuation of campaign rhetoric.
Instead of presenting a roadmap on policies and programs, the SONA was a discourse on “inherited problems” which overwhelm the President and painted an atmosphere of woe with very tentative and deficient solutions.
Yung SONA kahapon ng Pangulo ay bitin, kulang at kapos. Ano naman ang susuportahan ng Minorya kung walang binigkas na maliwanag na programa ang Pangulo? Just like a tele-novela: abangan ang susunod na kabanata. Talagang bitin.
The SONA was bereft of specifics or particulars. His proposals were virtually hanging in the air and most probably, he expected Congress to fill in the blanks. Or was it purposely vague or “safe” so that the people could not hold him accountable for a concrete program once it fails?
I have been cautioned to go slow on the SONA because President Aquino enjoys a tremendously high approval rating. But when the Emperor wears no clothes, can I honestly tell you that his robe is regal and majestic?
Yesterday afternoon the sound and fury emanating from the first SONA of President Aquino reverberated in this august Chamber.
“Sound” from the crafted “sound bites” on alleged misdeeds of the previous administration which the current dispensation considers “excesses” to solely rake up and expose, but not as pitfalls to avoid and hard lessons to learn from.
“Sound” echoing the voices of presidential subalterns who were specifically ordered to find past faults of the agencies they are now heading, for inclusion as inputs in the SONA, which contributions could have been contrived or hastily prepared.
And “sound” from the much-ballyhooed “speech from the heart”, which was indeed more cardiac than cerebral.
“Fury” from the ferocious campaign of perceived vengeance spearheaded by the Presidency whose “prosecutor’s complex” projects the creation of a “Truth Commission” which will only duplicate, if not supersede, the statutory and constitutional mandates of existing government prosecutorial and judicial agencies, aside from becoming a convenient launching pad for conviction by publicity of expected respondents.
“Fury” from the divisive disposition of the Presidency which plants a wedge among our people and leaders, instead of integrating and unifying sectors of society and institutions. The SONA must integrate, not divide, the nation.
“Fury” from misleading accusations and denunciations which defy the facts, violate the truth and trivialize probity.
We do not intend to defend the officials of the previous administration who could ably defend themselves from denunciations and innuendoes. What we are going to do is to clarify the statements of the President to establish the accurate facts and figures; buoy up the people’s faith in government institutions; maintain investors’ confidence and prevent capital flight consequent to an errant presentation engendering doubt and despair.
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