#SONA2013: Citizen participation and engagement
MANILA, Philippines – The annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) is a time for the President of the Philippines to report his achievements and plans to the public. Increasingly, it is also a time for intense scrutiny by the same public of the President's performance.
Rappler, together with partners from the #Budgetwatch initiative, conducted a running commentary of the 4th SONA through its live blog. CODE-NGO Executive Director Sixto Macasaet, INCITEGov's Tanya Hamada, and SocialWatch's Marivic Arquiza provided context and commentary to the President's statements. Other netizens chimed in with their own views.
Corruption and good governance
Good governance is one of the Aquino administration’s major legacy goals. He reinforced this point during the SONA.
“Saan po kayo kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha?” Aquino addressed and publicly scolded Bureau of Customs, National Irrigation Administration and other government agencies for their performance.
Hamada believes the fight against corruption should not just be Aquino’s personal crusade.
“He is the most powerful individual. Pero yun nga dapat talaga pag corruption ang pinaguusapan, it should be everyone's crusade,” Hamada said. (He is the most powerful individual. However, corruption should be everyone’s crusade)
Hamada added that the public should remain vigilant and observe who the president will appoint in the future to carry out his good governance agenda.
Silence on other issues
Aquino’s silence on certain issues did not escape the social media sphere. Filipinos on Twitter demanded to know Aquino’s stance on important national issues.
Danilo Deo Trinidad, a reader from Camarines Sur for example, questioned the president’s silence on mining.
“Walang binanggit hinggil sa regulasyon ng mga minahan. Patuloy pa rin ang pag e-export ng iron ore sa bansang China ng mga minahang pag-aari ng mga Intsik na mayroong mga small scale mining permit lamang,” Trinidad said. (The president did not mention anything regarding mining regulations. Iron ore exportation to China continues even if they only have a small-scale mining permit.)
Regie Ucang also noted that the president only briefly talked about the education sector, which gets the biggest chunk of the national budget.
“In his 1 hour and 45 minute speech, he hardly discussed issues regarding education. He didn't even mention the freedom of information bill, the nation's current relationship with China, and other issues concerning OFWs.”
Macasaet hoped Aquino would discuss the pork barrel scam that implicates several lawmakers.
“What about the government agencies involved in the reported P10 Billion pork barrel scam? Aside from the fake NGOs, there were also genuine government agencies and officials involved,” wrote Macasaet.
Freedom of information
Many others expressed disappointment for the absence of any mention of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in Aquino’s speech. Macasaet agreed that FOI is imperative in combating corruption, promoting citizen empowerment and ensuring inclusive growth.
“Transparency and people empowerment also have to be institutionalized by passing the FOI Bill and by strengthening the Full Disclosure Policy and Bottom Up Budgeting,” he added.
Aquino also dodged the issues of job generation, relations with China, extra-judicial killing and human rights.
Hamada said that the SONA would have been a "great SONA" had the President talked about these issues.
Hamada added that in order for the SONA to truly be a people's SONA, the government must enable dialogue with all sectors of society. – Rappler.com
Missed the live blog? You can read it again here.