Thirteen days after President Benigno S. Aquino III's fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), Pinoys still couldn't get enough of the anticipated annual report of his administration's accomplishments.
Proof of this post-SONA fever was the "Kung Ako SONA si PNoy-: A Post-SONA Assessment" of the University of the Philippines Diliman community held three days after the July 22 SONA.
As expected, the UP community led by professors and student council leaders from the School of Economics (SE), National College of Public Administration (NCPAG), College of Mass Communication (CMC), and College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) dissected, aspect by aspect, Aquino's report and pondered on the nation's progress a year after the last SONA.
'MISSING' ROAD MAP
Economist and SE professor Dr. Benjamin Diokno was the first to critically assess the report in the forum held at the SE auditorium. He urged the President to implement a clear and comprehensive road map for the next three years to better address national problems such as inadequate infrastructure, institutional flaws and corruption, and competitiveness enhancement. "The Philippines (Gross Domestic Product) grew by 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013, but the country remains the poorest among the five original ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economies," Diokno says.
The country's Gross National Income for 2012 stood at only $2,470 for each person, lower than those of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Diokno added that 463,000 more Filipinos were poorer in 2012 than in 2009, blaming the government's "lack of decisiveness, policy consistency, and policy credibility."
He also criticized Aquino's "serious underspending" in public infrastructure, as shown by the current Mindanao power crisis, and the "restrictive economic provisions" in the 1987 Constitution, especially the "60-40 ownership" rule.
"In a globalizing world, we should be more open," he points out, adding that corruption in the country has "barely lessened," tagging policemen, public officers, and justices as his corruption "Hall of Shame" winners.
WORK IN PROGRESS
NCPAG dean Edna Estifania Co said that Aquino's reform agenda is facing an uphill battle, as many of the country's issues (e.g. Freedom of Information Bill, structural defects in governance, and various human rights violations, etc.) are "left unaddressed."
Co described the report as merely "a mighty proclamation and banner of achievements of his administration in the past year," as he failed to "declare clearly how we can sustain the achievements."
"Aquino dealt more with the nuts and bolts, not the big picture," she says. "The 'glowy performance' of the Aquino administration is not too good enough in fighting poverty."
Co also pointed out Aquino's failure to speed up development in the countryside, to solve the urban transportation crisis, and to effectively mitigate climate change.
Despite these, she lauded Aquino's pioneering reforms in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and the measures to boost the government's performance at the national and local levels, which are hallmarks of good governance. …