President Aquino engaged Filipinos to a nearly two-hour game of hide-and-seek in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday – but no one was in the mood to play.
It is unclear who the taya is – was it PNoy, who threatened to comb every corner in pursuit of the most wanted wrongdoers; or was it the people, who religiously listened to his 18-page droning in search of issues to no avail?
This childish game had enough players, but of who were entertained, we do not know. One thing’s for sure: the people have grown tired of the long and stunted path – the tuwid na daan – that the President has long championed.
Perhaps, it is time to take on a new road – one not too obsessed with only several sectors, but one which traverses the issues at the grassroots level.
This year’s SONA luxuriously devoted minutes lauding the achievements of the Department of Defense, but had no room to even mention if his administration was able to address the 136 political prisoners and 142 extrajudicial killings since he assumed office, according to human rights group Karapatan.
Aquino took time in glorifying the notable deeds of three police officers, but he failed to realize that they could have been nothing but exceptions to the norm. Behind their shadows hid the policemen with their dirtied hands.
Had he not traveled to Batasang Pambansa in a helicopter, he could have seen with his own eyes how police brutality still persists. The looming fact that rallying groups still gathered along Commonwealth Avenue to reveal realities he otherwise wanted kept in the dark was a stark reminder that there were still a number of issues that badly needs to be noticed.
The President generously shared various statistics to demonstrate his platform of inclusive growth. However, we, along with our fellow countrymen, seek for the realization of the increase in economic ranking and investment grades.
Lest every Filipino can truly feel that he is healthier and more financially stable, these percentages and testimonials are nothing but numbers that are good only for the books. We do not need nominal growth; instead, we demand that these developments be felt down the line.
A good President does not shove figures down his citizens’ throats; rather, he strives to put an ample supply of food to the table.
For Aquino, however, the long game of tagu-taguan continues, shoving the memory of some 3.9 million Filipino families with self-rated hunger. It would ruin the eloquence of his speech if he did mention it, anyway.
He did mention a few wrongdoings, hastily calling out names of those he caught. Eradicating corruption was among his top priorities, so he says.
But how can good governance be achieved if concrete benchmarks for transparency and accountability are not in place?
The Freedom of Information (FOI) bill has completely been wiped from plain view, secluded behind other pieces of legislation reportedly also hoping to combat tongpats and wang-wang.
But the problem remains: until the public is given access to all government documents can there really be a genuine measure of full disclosure.
For one, the FOI would assure the people of the true state of the nation – not one with a shallow façade covering the nation’s many baggages.
Little was covered while much was hidden in this year’s SONA.
We call on President Aquino to use his time judiciously – may it be a one hour, 40-minute long speech or a six-year rule.
He should come out from hiding the issues: address what needs to be addressed, and bring to light what has been kept in the dark. The last thing he would want is for the people to come out searching, firm and outraged.
“You were given three years to demonstrate your readiness to change; now, I shall pursue all of you and hold you accountable. No hard feelings,” Aquino said in Filipino, addressing those who fail to join his journey towards the tuwid na daan.
Mr. President, we could throw the same words back at you. Quit playing games, for we are not entertained.