The next presidential State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be delivered to joint sessions of Philippine Congress next week is likely to have ‘BS’ written all over it. That’s because the 2012 SONA is, in fact, a speech that will be delivered by Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III.
Like any speech that aims to appraise people on the status of something you’ve supposedly been on top of, President BS Aquino needs his SONA to be heavy on achievement. So the obvious question is this this:
What “achievements” are likely to be reported by President BS?
Here are the likely candidates:
(1) President BS Aquino will claim to have made good on his promise to end Philippine corruption on the back of the impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona he had engineered. This is President BS Aquino’s crowning achievement — an initiative began with the monumental tantrum he threw when, as President-elect in 2010, he first came to the realisation that he might be sworn in by Corona as President. Yes. Chalk one up to President BS Aquino here. The country now has one less allegedly “corrupt” government official.
(2) President BS Aquino will claim to have kissed and made up with China after thanking them for partly funding the Angat aqueduct improvement project. According to a â€œreportâ€ issued by MalacaÃ±ang news outlet Rappler.com, “the economic ties between Philippines and China were in full display” during this momentous occassion in Bulacan on Tuesday, the 17th of July 2012.
While he is at it, President BS Aquino may as well thank China for not shooting its missiles at the Philippine Navy. The Philippines, is currently on the losing end of a diplomatic and military spat with China over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal. Despite its enormous population of 100 million, its serpentine archipelagic coastline, and its vast territorial waters, the Philippines can only throw a pathetic “arsenal” of vintage warships, foul language, and colourful fantasy posters at its naval nemeses.
(3) President BS Aquino will claim to have presided over unprecedent economic prosperity. Much of what contributes to the way the economy is behaving today and over the last couple of years is an outcome of measures and fundamentals put in place over the last decade and a half. The two pillars of the Philippine economy — the remittances of overseas foreign workers and outsourced low-added-value work — had both been a decade or two (several, in the case of the earlier) in the making. Yet by some bizarre coincidence, supposedly “respectable” media outlets have made it look like these are recent developments, implying that they were developments that came together under the watch of President BS Aquino’s administration.
Businessweek, for one, â€œtalked up the country’s fortunesâ€ by “reporting” that the Philippines is a country to “keep an eye on” — a distinction earned “under the leadership of Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III”.
Then, more recently, comes CNN packaging old news (how the country is propped up by OFWs, BPOs, and call centers) as if it were new news then goes on to “report”…
Economists also credit President Benigno Aquino for his efforts to push back corruption and undertake infrastructure projects.
â€œYou can see evidence of construction activity in Manila,â€ Teather said. â€œYou can see cranes on the horizon. You can see new roads have been put in place.â€
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Bottomline is quite simple. Show us some measureable outcomes Mister President.
A while back in my seminal article Facts and figures: President Noynoy Aquinoâ€™s promises by the numbers I came up with some baseline metrics around three key success factors that describe the fundamental health of Philippine society. Here are the numbers baselined as of July 2011:
(1) Corruption: CPI of 2.4 at end of year 2010
(2) Human Development: HDI of 0.64 at end of year 2010
(3) OFW remittances: 12% of GDP for 2008
And the challenge for any government that presumes to preside over real change is really quite simple:
(a) Come up with target figures for each of the above metrics (i.e., aim to increase the first two points and reduce the third one)
(b) Grow the cojones to measure and evaluate itself along these lines
Did President BS Aquino effect real change using this simple but powerful measurement approach? Will his SONA be one that will address these simple imperatives to the point? What are the equivalent figures for each of the above key success factors for 2012?
If we cannot expect the above questions to be answered convincingly next week, then the President of the Philippines will be wasting our time yet again, the same way he wasted the democratic process back in 2009 by running on a platform thin on substance and thick on appeal to idiocy.
As President BS Aquino’s former teacher reminds him, it’s the economy, student.