GMA News Online
Winnie Monsod

SONA Analysis

July 29, 2009 2:45pm
(Following is the transcript of the segment "Analysis by Winnie Monsod" which aired on News on Q following President Arroyo's last State of the Nation Address on July 27, 2009.)

As expected, the President put the best face she could on the accomplishments of her administration – this is not unusual, as all her predecessors have done the same thing.

Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales asked her to admit to her failures, but the last time she apologized to the country for inappropriately talking to a Comelec Commissioner, that apology was twisted beyond recognition, and was interpreted as admitting to cheating. So I didn’t think she was going to make the mistake of admitting a shortcoming.

But were the accomplishments that she bragged about accurate?

On the whole, they were, and her administration certainly had many – particularly on the fiscal, financial and monetary side, as well as on the infrastructure side, such as roads, airports, bridges.

But one would expect such accomplishments.

After all, the amount of resources she had at her disposal since 2001 – that is to say, the sum of the national government annual obligation budgets from 2001 to 2009 – amounts to P8.963 trillion (almost 9 trillion pesos – that’s 9 with 12 zeroes after it), with the amount for capital outlays equal to P971 billion, or almost 1 trillion pesos.

So there must have been some accomplishments.

The issue is not whether she accomplished anything, but whether she accomplished what she set out to do, what she said she would do.

Unfortunately she did not get to that part in her SONA, and to be fair, her predecessors were just as cavalier about comparing accomplishments with targets – that seems to be the sakit of most politicians – they make promises and then forget about them.

As in the BEAT THE ODDS legacy that she said she would leave to the Filipino people by 2010. Notice that she made no mention whatsoever of BEAT THE ODDS .

B - Balanced budget,

E- Education,

A- Automated Elections,

T- Transportation and Digital Infrastructure,

T- Terminate Hostilities with the NPA and MILF,

H- Healing the wounds of Edsa's 1, 2 and 3,

E- Electricity and Water for all,

O- Opportunities for livelihood and ten million jobs,

D- Decongestion of Metro Manila,

D- Develop Subic and Clark

As I said earlier, on the whole, the accomplishments she talked about were accurate. With two very glaring, and very important exceptions.

The first is that she reported that the number of poor decreased by 2 million during her watch, and I almost fell off my chair.

The latest objective data we have is based on 2006, and official figures show that the number of poor people increased by almost 3 million people – about 2.8 million people, actually. Where she got her data, I have absolutely no clue.

But I can state categorically that those figures are wrong.

The second glaring inaccuracy is in the claim on jobs created.

As I have said before in this show, 2.8 million new jobs were created between 2004-2008, or about 700,000 jobs every year. That is a far cry from the SONA claim that more than 1 million new jobs a year were created.

And an even further cry from her BEAT THE ODDS target of 10 million jobs in six years.

Then, there are what I would call the attempts to slide over the unpleasant facts.

One such is the education situation. Her target was education for all. What she said was that no developing country would be likely to attain that target by 2015.

What she didn’t say is that (a) she promised that everyone who was of school age should be in school by 2010, and that (b) the progress in that direction has been at a snail’s pace – (net participation rates went up by 3.54 per cent in five years when it should have gone up by 18 per cent in six years).

Moreover, it is very cold comfort to say that 700,000 poor families have been helped by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program – very cold comfort , that is, to the other 4.1million families who live below the poverty line.

On the other hand, she must be given credit for spunk.

She turned the tables on her critics, and gave them as good as she got.

She is one tough cookie, and she wasn’t about to go out with her tail between her legs as it were.

Her critics would call that being unrepentant and defiant, and kapal muks, and say that it was beneath the Presidential dignity, stooping to mudsling the way she did – but her Congressional audience clearly enjoyed her performance as much as she did.

I certainly am not going to judge her on that.