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SONA summaries

July 28, 2008 2:01pm
Theme and gist of the speech

  • PGMA's 2008 SONA will be her eighth SONA since she became President in 2001.

  • So far, PGMA's longest SONA was her first SONA. She spent 1 hour and 6 minutes discussing her plans to provide jobs, education, housing and food on every table in her 2001 SONA. Her shortest SONA was the 25-minute, 55-second speech about charter change and the tale of two Philippines in 2005.

  • PGMA's consistently boasted of the country's economic growth in her SONAs. She often asked Congress to pass revenue measures.

  • She also consistently called for national unity and a stop to political bickering.

SONA 2001
July 23, 2001
SONA 2002
July 22, 2002
SONA 2003
July 28, 2003
SONA 2004
July 26, 2004

jobs, education, housing, food

1 hour, 6 minutes

Taking off from the wishes of three Payatas kids, PGMA outlined plans for job creation, education, housing and food security. She set targets and asked Congress for several legislative measures.


She called for national unity, at the same time stating her administration's policy to support the fair and speedy trial of all accused in the cases vs. former President Joseph Estrada.


PGMA promised to end the Abu Sayyaf.


PGMA acknowledged the importance of information and communication technology in economic development.



"strong republic"


53 minutes

PGMA envisioned a "strong republic" as the hallmark of her administration.


Point by point, she mentioned her administration's accomplishments in relation to targets set in 2001 (agriculture, land reform, food security, health, education, job creation).


PGMA reported an improved fiscal status.


She also cited gains in anti-terror (defeat of the Abu Sayyaf, rescue of Gracia Burnham) and anti-crime efforts (particularly vs. kidnapping, illegal drugs and smuggling).




war against terrorism, corruption, disease and drugs

42 minutes

PGMA created fact-finding commissions to investigate the failed Oakwood Mutiny and the Davao bombings.


She declared war against terrorism, corruption, disease and drugs.


PGMA proceeded with a rundown of accomplishments achieved in keeping with the 2001 SONA promises - job creation, food security, housing and education


PGMA declared that there will be no moratorium on the death penalty for drug traffickers, but maintained that she is still pro-life in other matters.


"Mamamayan muna"; sacrifice, reforms


38 minutes

In light of OFW Angelo dela Cruz's hostage taking and release, PGMA defended the pull out of RP troops from Iraq: RP's foreign policy is to defend national interest, including the safety of OFWs.

With the budget deficit as the country's "most urgent problem", PGMA asked for reforms, revenue measures, and "more sacrifice".

PGMA expected Congress to consider charter change in 2005.

PGMA reported economic gains, investments, and provision of basic needs.

She also cited anti-crime efforts (breaking up drug and kidnapping syndicates) and government reforms (lifestyle checks, procurement reforms, downsizing government by abolishing 80 offices)

SONA 2005
July 25, 2005
SONA 2006
July 24, 2006
SONA 2007
July 23, 2007

tale of two Philippines;
charter change


25 minutes, 55 seconds

PGMA described the country as divided -- poised for economic take off but is beset with a degenerated political system.

Half of the entire speech was devoted to pushing for charter change.

PGMA expressed her preference for charter change by way of Constituent Assembly.

PGMA gave a rundown of accomplishments in previous years: economic growth, job generation, tax collection, housing, health insurance, drugs, kidnapping -- all mentioned very briefly and described in general terms.

Super Regions


1 hour, 3 minutes

PGMA detailed her plans for the "super regions":

  • North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle
  • Metro Luzon Urban Beltway
  • Central Philippines
  • Mindanao
  • Cyber Corridor

The plans include construction of infrastructure -- road networks, airports, bridges.

With record revenue collections and savings, PGMA said there are enough funds --

  • to address social inequity
  • to combat terrorism, lawless violence and corruption
  • for constitutional and electoral reforms

PGMA also mentioned the repatriation of OFWs caught in the hostilities between Lebanon and Israel.




59 minutes

PGMA cited her administration's accomplishments in previous years and laid out investment priorities for the remaining three years of her term:

  • infrastructure
  • social programs
  • bringing peace to Mindanao

The most part of her SONA focused on ongoing construction/ improvements on various infrastructure projects in the "Super Regions", including road networks and airports.

PGMA envisioned RP to be in the ranks of rich countries within 20 years.

Legislative agenda

  • PGMA's pet legislation include the anti-terrorism bill, election computerization, farmland as loan collateral, and various measures for fiscal reform and revenue generation. She requested Congress to pass these legislative measures in more than two SONAs.

  • PGMA asked Congress for an anti-terror law in her 2002 SONA. She reiterated her request in 2003 and 2005. In 2007, the Human Security Act (RA 9372) was signed into law.

  • In her first ever SONA, PGMA expressed her hope that the just concluded 2001 polls would be the last national elections to use "primitive methods of voter identification and ballot tabulation." PGMA was elected President in 2004 while new senators and local government officials were elected in 2007; both polls were conducted manually.

  • PGMA constantly asked for legislation allowing farmland to qualify as loan collateral from 2001 to 2004. She dropped the request since her 2005 SONA.

  • Many of PGMA's requested fiscal reform/ revenue measures became laws. Some of these are the Special Purpose Vehicle Act (RA 9182) Reformed VAT Law (RA 9337), increased excise tax rates on alcohol and tobacco products (RA 9334), and a rewards and incentives system for the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs (RA 9335).

SONA 2001
July 23, 2001
SONA 2002
July 22, 2002
SONA 2003
July 28, 2003
SONA 2004
July 26, 2004
farmland as loan collateral

computerization of elections

laws to reduce red tape in the national government

amend the BSP charter and the Banking Act to improve supervision and promote financial prudence

enact the Personal Equity Retirement Act

enact the Investment Company Act

enact the Securitization Act

enact amendments to the Securities Regulation Code

enact a law providing for a gross income tax

overseas absentee voting

enact laws addressing internet privacy and security; allowing for multimedia convergence; creating a Department of Telecommunications and Information Technology

wage increase

creation of a Department of Housing

tax reform law

enact a law reducing the amount of drugs in a suspect's possession for him to be charged with drug trafficking
anti-terrorism bill

farmland as loan collateral

special purpose vehicle act

absentee voting bill

Transco franchise bill
Senate ratification of 5 remaining UN conventions against terrorism

anti-terrorism bill

Transco franchise bill

farmland as loan collateral

rationalization of excise tax on automobiles

elimination of documentary stamp tax

creation of National Revenue Authority

indexation of sin taxes (to finance the universal coverage of Philhealth insurance)

make sure that coconut farmers benefit from coco levy funds -- allocate a portion to victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime
farmland as collateral

extra year of studies (standardize what is taught in barangay daycare centers)

strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman

government re-engineering (abolish redundant offices, reduce red tape)

consider charter change

pass 8 revenue measures to collect P80 billion

Transco bill

SONA 2005
July 25, 2005
SONA 2006
July 24, 2006
SONA 2007
July 23, 2007
charter change

pre-need code

legislation encouraging renewable, indigenous energy

swift passage of anti-terrorism law
automate election process

local governments must get their rightful share of revenues
create the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines

enact laws to protect witnesses from lawbreakers and law enforcers

laws to empower special courts

laws to impose harsher penalties for political killings

laws reserving the harshest penalties for the rogue elements in the uniformed services

expedite the computerization of the COMELEC

fund poll watchdogs

enact a stronger law against election-related violence

pass the Cheaper Medicines Bill

create a law that would improve long term care for the senior citizens

amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act for open access and more competition

Context, observations

  • PGMA tended to cite her administration's accomplishments in cumulative rather than in year-on-year terms.

  • Unlike in her earlier SONAs where she reported on her administration's accomplishments, PGMA's later SONAs focused more on detailing plans. In 2005, she described achievements briefly and in general terms. Meanwhile in 2006 and 2007, PGMA rattled off a list of ongoing and upcoming infrastructure projects.

  • Peace and order used to be a key issue in PGMA's SONA. In 2001, PGMA promised to end the Abu Sayyaf. in 2002 she cited gains in anti-terror and anti-crime efforts, particularly vs. kidnapping, illegal drugs and smuggling. in 2003 she deplored the Oakwood Mutiny and declared that there will be no moratorium on the death penalty for drug traffickers. In 2004 she reported the break up of drug and kidnapping syndicates. Peace and order became less of an issue in PGMA's later SONAs.

  • PGMA started to hint about charter change in her 2004 SONA. She devoted half of her speech on the topic in 2005.

  • PGMA's 2006 and 2007 SONAs were laden with infrastructure projects and nods to pro-administration local government officials.

SONA 2001
July 23, 2001
SONA 2002
July 22, 2002
SONA 2003
July 28, 2003
SONA 2004
July 26, 2004
PGMA mentioned a few specific deadlines in her speech -- e.g. "deliver tangible results vs. graft within 12 months"; "a school building in every barangay by 2004".

The SONA also contained specific targets.

This was PGMA's first SONA, fresh from the events of EDSA II and EDSA III.

The 2001 senatorial elections had just been conducted in May that year.

Months before the SONA, the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped foreign and local tourists from the Dos Palmas Beach Resort in Palawan. They also escaped military offensives in the Lamitan siege, taking a few more hostages as they went.
PGMA mentioned concrete accomplishments, but did not set specific targets and deadlines like before.

Abu Sayyaf hostage Gracia Burnham was rescued by government troops a month before the SONA. Burnham's husband, Martin, and Filipina nurse Ediborah Yap were killed in the rescue attempt.
This SONA was delivered...

  • less than a year before the 2004 presidential elections. Yet, PGMA did not signify her intention to run for president.
  • a day after rebel soldiers staged the failed Oakwood Mutiny.
  • two weeks after suspected terrorist Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi and two others escaped from detention in Camp Crame.
  • Unlike her previous SONAs, PGMA's 2003 speech did not have a long, story telling introduction.
This was PGMA's first SONA after winning the 2004 presidential elections.

Kidnapped OFW Angelo de la Cruz was released by his captors in Iraq days before the SONA.

SONA 2005
July 25, 2005
SONA 2006
July 24, 2006
SONA 2007
July 23, 2007

PGMA delivered her SONA amid the Hello Garci and jueteng controversies, and yet she made no mention of these issues.

PGMA also faced impeachment complaints at that time.

Mention of concrete accomplishments and goals were scarce as the speech was practically devoted to charter change.

This speech proved to be the shortest among all the SONAs PGMA delivered from 2001-2007.
PGMA credited a lot of politicians in her speech.

She had survived the impeachment complaints filed against her in 2005.

PGMA delivered her SONA amid charter change moves: Certain groups have been gathering signatures in support of chacha by people's initiative since the start of the year.

PGMA praised 7th Infantry Division Commanding General Jovito Palparan for his campaign against rebels -- and in the same breath said she condemns political killings (Human rights groups have linked Palparan to political killings).

The SONA was more on detailing plans for the Super Regions, less on reporting accomplishments.

PGMA signified in her speech that she will relinquish presidency in 2010.
PGMA peppered her speech with the names of several politicians and Pinoy achievers.

Again, she survived the impeachment complaints filed against her in 2006.

The 2007 senatorial and local elections had just been conducted two months before. Despite allegations of administration-backed election fraud in parts of Mindanao, most of the opposition senatorial candidates won.

Weeks before the SONA, 14 Marines were killed in a rebel encounter in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan. PGMA paid tribute to the slain soldiers in her speech.

Gimmicks, sidelights

  • PGMA's SONA always had a human face. She feted Filipino achievers (e.g. Manny Pacquiao), acknowledged political supporters, and cited commonfolk who benefited from government programs (e.g. Payatas kids/ "bangkang papel" boys, freed OFW hostage Angelo dela Cruz, a call center agent she had coffee with).

  • PGMA often paid tribute to her father, former President Diosdado Macapagal, in her speeches. She opened her 2002 SONA with an anecdote about him; she also mentioned him in passing in her 2001, 2006 and 2007 speeches.

SONA 2001
July 23, 2001
SONA 2002
July 22, 2002
SONA 2003
July 28, 2003
SONA 2004
July 26, 2004
Bangkang Papel boys - three boys from Payatas who wrote letters containing their wishes to President Arroyo; the letters were folded into paper boats and made to float on the Pasig River:

  • Jomar Pabalan, 10 at that time, wished for a permanent job for his father

  • Jayson Vann Banogon, 10 at that time, wanted to finish college

  • Erwin Dolera, 8 at that time, wished for the closure of Payatas dumpsite;
    he also wished that his family would be given land

PGMA spoke a few lines in Mindanao dialects.

PGMA mentioned her father, former President Diosdado Macapagal, as the one who promulgated the land reform law in the 1960s.
PGMA started her speech by recalling President Diosdado Macapagal’s humble

PGMA mentioned past kidnap victims (Mary Grace Rosagas, daughter of Uratex owner,
kidnapped in UP; Connie Wong, abducted and killed; Rowena Tiu, kidnapped in
La Union, rescued in 8 days, ransom recovered) and then cited accomplishments
against kidnappers.

PGMA briefly mentioned the rescue of Abu Sayyaf Gracia Burnham and the death of Abu

PGMA wrapped up her speech by naming Filipino achievers, referring to granddaughter Mikaela, and calling for God’s blessings in several dialects.

Cited Filipino achievers / Filipinos who overcame problems:

  • SARS-hit Brgy.Vacante, Alcala,Pangasinan

  • MILF-free Brgy. Inug-Ug, Maguindanao

  • Sonny Ayao, former MNLF member

  • OFWs in Kuwait

  • Teacher Josette Biyo

  • Outstanding farmer Luz Lozada

  • Quinapondan, Eastern Samar heroes police officers Cayetano Gannaban and Raul Graza

  • Police colonel Boysie Rosales, refused P35M bribe money

  • Manny Pacquiao (mentioned in passing)
PGMA's speech took off from the release of OFW Angelo dela Cruz from his Iraqi hostage takers.

She thanked the people for winning the 2004 elections and for giving her a huge majority in Congress and in the local governments.

SONA 2005
July 25, 2005
SONA 2006
July 24, 2006
SONA 2007
July 23, 2007

Opposition congressmen distributed peach roses (for "impeachment") before the start of the SONA, then walked out.

PGMA supporters wore blue ribbons (for "peace"); Rep. Way Kurat Zamora distributed calamansi plants.

Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao was in attendance.

PGMA wore an old gown to the SONA -- the blue terno she wore used to belong to her mother, former First Lady Eva Macapagal.

Senate President Franklin Drilon's stoic reaction to PGMA's charter change pitch was in complete contrast with House Speaker Jose de Venecia's enthusiastic clapping.

After delivering her speech, PGMA held hands with and walked alongside her daughter, Luli Arroyo (who, unlike other members of the First Family, has not been linked to any controversy).
Bloopers: apparently overexcited, House Speaker Jose de Venecia introduced PGMA before the national anthem and the opening prayer.

A Powerpoint presentation accompanied PGMA's speech.

Cameras trained to politicians and other personalities in the gallery as PGMA acknowledged them in her speech.

Those who merited special mention in PGMA's SONA ranged from government officials (mostly local government officials and congressmen) to Pinoy Everest summiteers, SEA games athletes, beauty queens, and boxing champs to a call center agent.
PGMA used a Powerpoint presentation.

PGMA congratulated every elected official, from municipal to provincial to Congress.

She mentioned the names of several government officials as she enumerated the various infrastructure projects in her SONA.

PGMA again cited several Filipino achievers (farmers, students who won in international competitions, etc.):

  • Gawad Saka awardees and other outstanding farmers

  • biochemist Baldomero Olivera, named Scientist of the Year by the Harvard Foundation

  • Robert Buendia and Wilson Alba, international math and science olympiad champs

  • Ivy Ventura, Mara Villaverde, Hester Mana Umayam, Janine Santiago, Melvin Barroa and Luigi John Suarez, young scientists

  • Amiel Sy, math olympiad champ

  • Diona Aquino, youth delegate

  • Warren Ambat, teacher

PGMA ended her speech with "Inyong lingkod, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas."

Sources: Full text of SONA 2001-2007, Office of the President, GMA News reports
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