BY JULIA CARREON-LAGOC
AS a fourth grader in the San Antonio-San Nicolas Elementary School (SASNES), my alma mater, I recall how the teacher would repudiate the whole class, rather than focus on the pupil who gave the wrong answer as to what SASNES meant. Grrr, we were all unfit to be students of this school, Miss “Titser” said. I wonder what the fourth grader of today will say when asked what SONA stands for.
After PNoy’s SONA (State of the Nation Address), acronyms cropped up to humor, deride, praise — all the flavors as cooked up by columnists in the Op-Ed sections. It was a SOPA (State of the People Address), insisted one media man who perorated on PNoy’s failure to address the insufferable condition of the poor. One columnist had music in his mind, SONAT-TA (as in Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata), as he rumbled on PNoy’s high and low tones — a bouquet of roses for the positive and a bunch of thorns for the negative.
SONA to me is simply PNoy’s report to the people. Being away from the beloved country, I can only deduce the pros and cons of PNoy’s accomplishments from online newspapers and their respective intelligent columnists and efficient workforce. From the rich minefield of the electronic media and from my own intermittent stay in the homeland, I deferentially posit three points where Aquino could have done so much more in the four years of his administration: social injustice, fractured infra-structure, and silence on the freedom of information bill.
The poor at the bottom of the social pyramid keep on multiplying while the rich at the peak keep soaring up high with increased wealth. Do you see the escalating number of indigents scrounging in the mounds of garbage and the street children knocking for alms on the polished windshield of your cars? Meanwhile, the middle class continue to shrink. Heavens, forbid Philippine society from coming into a debacle of the one percent versus the 99 percent.
As for the country’s main thoroughfares and byways, many municipalities have partly cemented roads with the rest remaining as they are in the beginning of time. Where or where are the DAP and PDAF monies to make us enjoy the ride over well-paved highways, far from the fractured infra-structures? The farmers in the rural areas can hardly transport their produce over roads splotched with mud holes. How many kilometers of roads could have been constructed with the misused PriorityDevelopment Assistance Fund? How wisely was the Disbursement Assistance Program utilized, eh, Mr. President? And you, thieves – Tanda, Pogi, Macho, and your ilk – are you comfortable with your pockets heavy with the millions you have scammed? Listen to the multitude: Where you are now, rot in your discomfort! You have Janet Napolis for sweet company.
Third item I pointed out was PNoy’s utter silence on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill. Not a word on this in his SONA. Three years ago, we in the Worldwide Filipino Alliance signed a PETITION, hand-carried to the Office of the President, asking for his endorsement to Congress the passage of the FOI Bill. Zilch. Nada. Zero. Is it because when this bill turns to law, it will open a can of worms? If so, so be it. The obvious thing to do is to demolish the worms. The FOI is highly availed of in democratic countries. Why not in the Philippines? PNoy had endorsed to Congress the Reproductive Health Bill which became the RH Law in December 2012. Why does he keep mum on the FOI Bill? To endorse or not to endorse is not a question — for one who has made daang matuwid his highly popular personal guidepost. Daang matuwid was set for his coterie of government officials to follow.
PNoy must endorse to Congress the FOI Bill now before his term expires in two-year’s time. Let’s see whether or not the legislators will tear it into rags. Let’s see who among them are the naysayers. Let’s see who will not hesitate to vote for its passage because they believe it will result in TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY — congresspersons who are straightforward in their declared SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth).
The FOI Bill turned FOI Law will enhance the atmosphere of freedom in the country. It will give power to the people as never before. (firstname.lastname@example.org)/PN