SONA 2011 highlights

In summary: President Aquino's second State of the Nation Address lasted for fifty-three minutes. By our tally, he was interrupted by applause forty-five times.

In his second State of the Nation Address, President Aquino...

(Oh man, this is a work post.)

-- Announced the appointment of retired Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales as the new Ombudsman, ending weeks of speculation. (Earlier this month, the Judicial and Bar Council submitted four names from an initial list of 27 – Morales, Justice undersecretary Leah Armamento, former Justice Secretary Artemio Tuquero and PCGG commissioner Gerard Mosquera. Talk has been rife since then that Morales was going to be appointed. Incidentally, Morales was also the one who administered the oath to Aquino when he was sworn in in June last year.)

-- Revealed having uncovered yet another anomaly: “In PAGCOR, the previous management apparently spent P1 billion on coffee alone. At P100 per cup, that would be 10 million cups of coffee over the last several years. Where did all that coffee go? Who drank it? Perhaps we can find the people who consumed all that coffee and ask if they have been able to sleep in the last few years.” (One side-comment I loved: Naku, ninenerbyos na yang mga yan ngayon. – TOO TRUE OH MY GOD.)

-- Used the word “wangwang” (how I could ever explain this to friends from foreign lands I’d probably never figure out) in every imaginable way possible. Verb? Adjective? Adverb? Check check check. One of these days, I’d probably say something like, Oh, but you wang-wang’d your way into my heart and there was no stopping it. CHAROT.

-- Here be a list of things he was proud of:
o Lower hunger rates – well, SWS figures showed hunger declining from 20.5% in March to 15.1% in June.
o Credit rating upgrades – Moody’s, S&P, Fitch, Japan Credit Ratings Agency: "Let me remind you: in the nine and a half years before we were elected into office, our credit ratings were upgraded once, and downgraded six times by the different credit ratings agencies."
o "Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers P23 billion in the first four months of this year. This is enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries for the entire year."
o Record-high PSE index
o Renewed investor confidence -- some 140 companies to invest in the energy sector; new power plant to be built in Luzon
o Zero-based budgeting which ended many wasteful programs; the President also announced he was proposing the new budget before Congress tomorrow
o DPWH via Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson sacking erring DPWH engineers involved in anomalous activities
o Reduction in rice shortage -- from 1.3 million metric tons to 660,000 metric tons, thanks to a 15.6-percent increase in rice production (Something that Economics professor Solita Monsod isn't entirely impressed with, I heard in a briefing.)
o Houses for cops and soldiers!
o Reduction in crime rates especially involving car theft. (With a slight ribbing directed at media: "Unfortunately, it is the one or two high-profile cases that make the headlines, and not the bigger picture—the fact that there is a large drop in car and motorcycle thefts, and that we have returned a higher percentage of stolen cars to their rightful owners.")
o Reduction in unemployment rate -- from 8 percent in April 2010 to 7.2 percent in April 2011
o Poverty alleviation via the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program -- estimated 100,000 families helped every month ("inaahon sa hirap buwan-buwan" -- some things are better in Filipino)

-- Here be a list of things he didn't like:
o Self-employed professionals: "Around 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers: lawyers, doctors, businessmen who paid a total of 9.8 billion pesos in 2010. This means that each of them paid only an average of 5,783 pesos in income tax—and if this is true, then they each must have earned only 8,500 pesos a month, which is below the minimum wage. I find this hard to believe."
o PNCC execs: "Before they stepped down from their positions, the former heads of the PNCC gifted themselves with P232 million pesos."
o Jobs mismatch: "According to the Philjobnet website, every month there are 50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies."

--Here be some plans and other things that sound like promises:
o Capability upgrades and modernization of military equipment; purchase of vessels, weapons, etc. AT GOOD PRICES WITHOUT NEED FOR BRIBES. Hmm.
o Involvement of communities in taking care of newly planted trees ("We will be investing in the people, even as we invest in the environment.")
o Compensation of Marcos victims, support retired soldiers, expand coverage of DOST scholarships, etc
o Upgrade/development of facilities for BuCor, NBI, PTV 4

And for some strong words:
Re: Corruption -- "Some of my critics say that I take this campaign against corruption personally. It’s true: doing what’s right is personal. Making people accountable—whoever they may be—is personal. It should be personal for all of us, because we have all been victimized by corruption."
Re: Spratlys -- "Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours."

Here be my source: The English version of the President's SONA.
Things I am also thankful for: The 2011 SONA Technical Report -- so prompt. Thank you!

Other Footnotes:
o Here's something we did: Promises, promises: Hits and misses (Part1) -- Eliza laid the ground for this; I just added a few details, and the Big Boss did a lot of significant sprucing up. Hmm.
o I have reservations re its delivery in Filipino -- the figures, especially, were harder to comprehend. Does this make me a bad Filipino? (Or a bad Math student? Or both? Who among my elementary school teachers will be more slighted, my Filipino teacher or my Math teacher?)

This was a thoroughly long day. Next year na ulit. Haha.

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