SONA Transformation

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - We expected a much shorter speech but the SoNA was 53 minutes long, and packed with so much information. As mandated in the Constitution, this annual reporting is intended to provide a legislative framework for Congress.

But over time, it was transformed into a yearly self-evaluation of executive performance, as well as an opportunity for the President to define his vision and priorities for the remaining years of his term.

These are among the highlights of P-Noy's road map that would guide him and his bosses (us) in getting to our desired destination. His strategy is that of transforming the physical environment and institutional structures and more important, our mindsets, values, and attitudes. They include:

1. President's vision of "matuwid na daan" - This is a response to concerns expressed by both critics and supporters who think that a straight path is not enough. That what is important is making sure the road leads us to a better life. Although he was not quite explicit about how and where he would take us, he was clear about not taking us back to where we came from. The challenge now is how to translate the Social Contract into concrete activities that would lead to inclusive growth. And that no one is left behind.

2. Attitude change - to transform a mindset that he describes as "utak na wang-wang" - The wang-wang had become a symbol of abuse and arrogance of power as shown in anomalous transactions such as bidding, and tax evasion.

3. Improved social safety nets - The dramatic decrease in anti-trafficking of persons, specifically women and children enabled the country to obtain benefits such as grants from the Millennium Challenge. There are now 1.6 million beneficiaries in the conditional cash transfer program who would then benefit in terms of access to health and education.

4. The appointment of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales as Ombudsman, perhaps the most welcomed news and which received the most resounding applause. …