MANILA, Philippines – Two out of its 6 members may be in jail, but there is no stopping the Senate minority bloc from planning to issue a response to the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III on July 28.
During his visit to the detention cell of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday, July 9, Senator JV Ejercito said the head of the minority bloc advised him to push through with his suggestion to deliver a contra-SONA this year.
“I asked (Enrile), because it has been a tradition that every after the President’s SONA, the Minority Leader would deliver a contra-SONA. In this case I asked him if we need to have a contra-SONA, he said it would be better if there is one because in a democracy, the rule of the minority or the opposition is very essential in democratic governance,” Ejercito said in a mix of English and Filipino at the Kapihan sa Senado forum Thursday, July 10.
The contra-SONA is a tradition in both chambers of Congress, where the minority bloc examines the president’s SONA and gives their own version of the state of the nation.
Enrile, along with his fellow minority bloc member and Ejercito’s brother, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, are presently detained in Camp Crame for allegedly plundering millions of pesos in lawmakers’ development funds.
Ejercito has yet to consult Sotto regarding plans to deliver a kontra-SONA but he has asked for a meeting with the remaining members of the minority.
The senator is willing to deliver the minority’s contra-SONA should it push through.
Asked whether the minority’s contra-SONA will focus on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Ejercito said he would rather focus on the economy.
“Maybe we will touch on that but I think what is more important is the economic numbers. The president would report on his accomplishments that we have to verify if the economic numbers would reflect what is really happening. Were there jobs created? The so-called inclusive growth, that is what we want to look into, if it’s really happening. I just hope that the President would take this constructively considering that he only has two years left in his term to further improve our economic situation,” Ejercito said.
Aside from Ejercito and Sotto, members of minority bloc who remain in the Senate include Senators Nancy Binay and Gringo Honasan. – Rappler.com