The third SONA (State of the Nation Address) of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) was aptly bannered as “Report kay Boss (Report to the Boss)” by the PTV Network. It was crafted and delivered in a language that ensured that it will be appreciated and understood by the Filipino people, the bosses of P-Noy.
Scanning the various media commentaries on the SONA showed a wide variety of reactions. There were those like Dean Tony La Vina who appreciated it in the context of its intended primary audience. Even known P-Noy critics like Teddyboy Locsin and Prospero de Vera expressed general approval of the president’s political will to set quantifiable targets. The most pathetic of the critics of P-Noy, as usual, is the Left who tried to provoke street violence outside the SONA venue, knowing that the security forces will have to react. They then branded the reaction as “state tyranny.”
The various polls showed a general public approval ranging from 70 percent (social media tracking) to as high as 88 percent Inquirer online poll where 88 percent rated it as excellent, very good and good. This was reflected in what former ASEAN Ambassador Menito Villacorta shared with me on Monday evening. Menito and his wife Marylou had their afternoon snack during the SONA in a restaurant where a TV set was on, and they observed that the waiters there were very appreciative of what P-Noy had reported to his bosses.
It will take an intellectually dishonest person not to appreciate the achievements of the 25-month old P-Noy administration. Comparing the 9 years under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime with the 25 months of P-Noy—the numbers were just too impressive not to laud. What made these impressive feats more dramatic was that we did this while the whole world was reeling from bad economic times.
From 760,357 household-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program during the GMA regime, P-Noy reported that the three millionth household-beneficiary had already been registered. A target of 3.8 million has been set for 2013, or five times the number during the GMA regime.
There were only 62 percent of Filipinos that were registered in Philhealth when P-Noy took over. Now, 85 percent are members, adding 23.31 million Filipinos benefitting from Philhealth. The 5.2 million poorest households identified by the National Household Targeting System will now fully benefit from PhilHealth’s programs, free of charge. “Because of the Department of Health’s No Balance Billing Policy, treatment for dengue, pneumonia, asthma, cataracts—as well as treatments for catastrophic diseases like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and acute leukemia — can be availed of for free by our poorest countrymen” P-Noy reported.
In Eastern Samar, Governor Ben Evardone reported that full, real electrification has been accomplished. In Bukidnon, the cases of the dreaded dengue disease dropped by 97 percent after the introduction of the mosquito trap. Similar drops were recorded in areas where the mosquito trap was used.
On education, P-Noy reported: “Before the next year ends, we will have built the 66,800 classrooms needed to fill up the shortage we inherited. The 2,573,212 backlog in chairs that we were bequeathed will be addressed before 2012 ends. This year, too, will see the eradication of the backlog of 61.7 million textbooks—and we will finally achieve the one-to-one ratio of books to students.”
In TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Authority), P-Noy announced that they’ve “trained 434,676 individuals under the Training for Work Scholarship Program. The TESDA Specialists Technopreneurship Program likewise delivered concrete victories—imagine: each of the 5,240 certified Specialistas are earning 562 pesos a day, or 11,240 pesos a month.”
In the BPO sector, as of 2011, 638,000 people were employed by BPOs, and the industry, contributing 11 billion dollars to the economy. P-Noy stated: “It has been projected that come 2016, it will be bringing in 25 billion dollars and will be employing 1.3 million Filipinos. And this does not include the estimated 3.2 million taxi drivers, baristas, corner stores, canteens, and many others that will benefit from the indirect jobs that the BPO industry will create.” P-Noy added: “From 483,862 liters exported in 2009, to 1,807,583 liters in 2010, to a staggering 16,756,498 liters of cocowater were exported in 2011.”
Contrasting with the “crime wave” being promoted by primetime TV newscasts, P-Noy reported: “Crime volume continues to decline across the country. In 2009, over 500,000 crimes were recorded—this year, we have cut that number by more than half, to 246,958. Moreover, 2010’s recorded 2,200 cases of car napping have likewise been reduced by half—to 966 cases this 2011.” We must ask if the crime wave is for real or just on TV?
Despite the fact that these cited achievements all fall under the category of gut issues—food, education, health, personal security and jobs—some critics claimed that P-Noy fails when judged by that yardstick. None are so blind than those who refuse to see. The sorriest of the lot insisted on applying their personal yardstick and not gauge the SONA on the basis of the intended target audience.
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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”