Just before midnight, I finally get to read the full text of yesterday’s SONA.
Girlie asks me: “Why are you scribbling notes?” I tell her it’s to help me analyze the structure and main messages of the speech.
I wind up with 7 pages of notes, using the TN-MN method: TN is taking notes – writing the outline and key points. MN is making notes – writing my comments and questions.
Here are seven questions, and comments, after reading and re-reading the SONA.
1. What messages did PNoy emphasize and highlight?
I have only the Filipino text, 18 pages on my computer, as basis. I wish I had the chance to watch and listen, and catch his ad libs.
If we go by the principle that the main messages of a speech are what is at the beginning and at the end, this is what I picked up:
From his opening greetings to the closing lines, he reprised his mantra: Kayo ang Boss ko.
Humaharap po ako sa inyo bilang mukha ng isang gobyernong kayo ang boss at kayo pa rin ang lakas. Inuulat ko lamang ang mga pagbabagong ginawa ninyong posible.
Hence the inspirational ending: Inuulit ko: posible na ang dating imposible. Humaharap po ako sa inyo ngayon, at sinasabing: hindi ko SONA ito. Kayo ang gumawa nito. SONA ito ng sambayanang Pilipino. Maraming, maraming salamat po.
It’s a message in the spirit of Lao Tzu’s saying about leaders, that after accomplishing a task, the people should say “We did it ourselves.”
This message has very positive resonance. I wonder how it comes across to those whose expectation is different – that leaders should do things for the people.
2. How did PNoy respond to the pre-SONA commentaries that he should stop blaming the past administration and focus on what he has delivered about his promises?
I don’t want to read too much into the structure of the speech, since the final text of the SONA is partly “negotiated” and is reported as having undergone repeated revisions.
But I think the SONA reflects what has been reported as PNoy’s sensibility and stand. His message is about change that has happened despite formidable “legacy” problems. Hence throughout the speech, there is a running structure of contrast and comparison, of numbers and timeframes.
This is highlighted towards the end by his response to those who call on him “to forgive and forget.”
3. What programs did he emphasize?
Going by the number of paragraphs and level of details, I’d say health, up to the vision of “universal health care.” This is closely followed by education, from basic education to technical-vocational education, to higher education.
He discussed these at length after citing economic growth, as indicators of a key concept of the new Philippine Development Plan – inclusive growth. I sense that health and education are given greater emphasis compared to earlier explanations of the CCT as a poverty reduction program.
4. Should we read anything into who of the cabinet secretaries were mentioned by name and who were not?
This is the stuff of juicy political gossip and speculation.
But just for fun, I listed the names of cabinet secretaries as they were mentioned and commended by Pnoy: Sec. Ona of DOH and Sec. Montejo of DOST, Sec. Luistro of DepEd, Sec. Villanueva of TESDA, Sec. Roxas of DOTC, Sec. Singson of DPWH, Sec. Jimenez of DOT, Sec. Alcala of DA, Sec. Almendras of DOE.
Other senior officials mentioned are ARMM OIC Hataman and Ombudsman Carpio-Morales.
These names were mentioned in the context of the programs and achievements cited positively by PNoy.
What should we make of those officials who were not named even though programs within their sphere of responsibility were also cited positively? To mention some, there are lengthy passages on environment-related issues, but the only name mentioned is an LGU official, not the DENR secretary. The president vows to finish CARP, but does not mention the DAR secretary. We could even ask why CCT is discussed at some length without mentioning the DSWD secretary.
Maybe there is nothing to this, since defense, foreign relations, and economic growth are also discussed at length without mentioning the DND and DFA secretaries or the economic managers.
But then again, being mentioned in the SONA is a major concern of competitive government officials.
5. What glaring silences and absences caught my attention?
Obviously, even a lengthy hour and a half SONA cannot mention very issue and sector. Still, I am quite disappointed that some “favorite” concerns of mine didn’t get mentioned at all.
The indigenous people and their issues are invisible. A few days before the SONA, I posted in our Aeta Coordination group my hope that IPs would get even a few lines. Sorry.
Since I work as a consultant to the Secretary of Agriculture, I know that the fisheries sector often complain that though “agriculture” includes fisheries, it is usually only the farmers who get mentioned, and not the fisherfolk. There were efforts to have their issues and achievements mentioned. But, sorry.
There was a mention of the OFW in the closing paragraphs, but no substantial discussion of their contribution and their concerns. Again, sorry.
6. Since both Enrile and Belmonte have brought up the issue of charter change, did PNoy have any response in the SONA?
Can we read this passage as a subtle reference?
Ngunit huwag po nating kalimutan ang pinag-ugatan ng Batas Militar: Kinasangkapan ng diktador ang Saligang Batas upang manatili sa kapangyarihan. At hanggang ngayon, tuloy pa rin ang banggaan sa pagitan ng gusto ng sistemang parehas, laban sa mga nagnanais magpatuloy ng panlalamang.
As the late Inday Badiday would say: “Careful…”
7. Political commentators say that this year’s SONA is an “electoral” SONA, given the coming May 2013 elections and the October 2012 filing of candidacies. What is PNoy’s campaign message?
Paparating na naman po ang halalan. Kayo po, ang aming mga boss, ang tangi naming susundan. Ang tanong ko sa inyo, “Boss, saan tayo tatahak? Tuloy ba ang biyahe natin sa tuwid na landas, o magmamaniobra ba tayo’t aatras, pabalik sa daan na baluktot at walang patutunguhan?”
The opening salvo can’t be any clearer.
The challenge will be how to handle the “cognitive dissonance” that will ensue as realpolitik determines some choices of who will be projected as the pro-administration candidates.