Some sobering truths about the SONA

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Everyone has been writing, talking, raving about, and criticizing President Aquino’s recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), but before anyone out there bursts a blood vessel, I would have you know some sobering truths about the SONA that could help us come to our collective senses.

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1. SONA is a needless spectacle
The President is not required under the Constitution to deliver a SONA at the opening of the regular session of Congress. It is optional.

The relevant provision in the Charter, Article VII, Section 23, reads:

“The president shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session. He may also appear before it at any other time.”

But he can, if he desires, present legislative measures for consideration by the Congress, or articulate his agenda of government.

Why didn’t anyone tell Aquino this? He could have been spared the ordeal of reading his agonizing 2-hour speech on the Teleprompter, of choking back tears before the TV cameras, and of having to lie about the state of the nation.

2. SONA as political theater
No one told him this happy news because everyone was caught up in their respective visions of the opening of Congress, such as:

• All the president’s men and women— in their fantasy that PNoy would turn the event into a triumph.

• The president’s sisters—in their daydream of Ninoy and Cory’s apotheosis

• Women legislators and congressional spouses—in their desire to parade in gowns.

• Activist groups in their vision of the Congress opening as an opportunity to prove they are still a live force in national politics.

Plainly, the annual Congress opening is now political theater at its most phony, endlessly punctuated by prompted applause.

This used to be an event where presidents and speechwriters could flash their oratory and rhetorical craft. But nowadays, no words soar. No ideas disrupt our train of thought.

It’s fair to ask why Aquino opts to speak in Filipino on this occasion. I believe it is to avoid being forced to organize his ideas and points in the speech.

3. Aquino’s first SONA fathered the DAP
The local practice of an incoming president delivering a SONA at the start of his term, which is during the final year of his predecessor’s is incomprehensible. Strictly speaking, the incoming president, if he is wise, should confine himself to the articulation of his vision and program of government.

This was the tack followed by President Fidel V. Ramos in his first address to Congress in July 1992. He did not undertake a review of the final year of Cory Aquino’s presidency.

Doing a critique of the predecessor is bad form.

This was the mishap that befell President BS Aquino’s first message to Congress in July 2010.

It should now be revealed that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) had its origins in incompetent decisions regarding that first SONA.

In what follows, I got my information mainly from the excellent analysis and critique by BenignO, the webmaster of getrealphilippines.com. He wrote:

“Indeed, it is too bad for the administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III that their brainchild, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), has been deemed unconstitutional by the Philippine Supreme Court. The DAP was conceived following a disastrous economic result in 2011 when the Philippine economy grew by only a little bit more than 3 percent after more than 7 percent growth rates in previous years.

“noynoy_aquino_wrong.

“Economic experts have attributed the growth rate crash of 2011 to then presidential newbie BS Aquino’s short-sighted and spiteful canning of many public projects initiated during the term of his predecessor former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The drying up of public funding created a ripple effect across both upstream and downstream economic activity that depressed commercial activity and flattened economic growth almost below annual population growth rates.

“As the words in the DAP imply: disbursement acceleration. President BS Aquino was desperate to accelerate government spending after that economic disaster of his own doing. His foolish decisions to drastically cut spending in 2011 was a result of an appallingly uninformed take on the Philippines’ fiscal position when he first took office in 2010, when he foolishly failed to differentiate the concept of budget and actual expenditure. Evidence of this infantile grasp of fiscal management was his use of the nonsensical notion of a ‘depleted budget’ in the hysterical first State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered to Congress on that year (translated in English from President BS Aquino’s Tagalog speech)…

[Quotation from Aquino 2010 SONA begins]

“ ‘Our budget for 2010 is PhP1.54 trillion. Of this, only PhP100 billion—or 6.5 percent of the total budget—can be used for the remaining six months of the current year. Roughly 1% of the total budget is left for each of the remaining month.

Where did the funds go?’ “

[Quotation from Aquino SONA ends and BenignO article resumes.]

“Hello, anybody in there?? Think McFly, THINK!

“In accounting there are many concepts that describe outgoing funds, and just as many words articulate these concepts: spent, disbursed, appropriated, accrued, allocated, provisioned, etc. Choosing the right word to use among those examples basically comes down to deciding whether funds referred to were set aside or moved from one account to another. A ‘budget’ does not necessarily imply the existence of actual money. A budget is planned expenditure, and as such, the concept of a depleted budget does not make sense. We may exceed a budget, but to say it’s been ‘depleted’ is to state an oxymoron; which is exactly the way P.Noy stated it in his SONA.

“The amount of funds, say cash, in an account, say a bank account, on the other hand, represents something that could be depleted—both in principle, in practice, and in a real sense. Perhaps if the President made specific reference to an actual statement of account and made use of more precise accounting terms, then his 2010 SONA and the decisions he made following it would have made better sense. Following that presidential gaffe, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman did exactly that in a statement challenging P.Noy’s accounting acumen (or that of his handlers). Lagman makes use of precise words on the matter, in the way that a more informed person would.

“Quoting the Bureau of Treasury, Lagman said ‘the total cash disbursement or the national government expenditures as of June 30, 2010 amounted to close to P789 billion. This means that close to P752 billion pesos or 48 percent of the budget remains unspent, he said.

“ ‘The problem in the President’s accounting must have been caused by a lack of understanding of the difference between allocation as covered by a Special Allotment Release Order and actual disbursement to pay accrued or matured obligations,’ Lagman said.” [End of long quotation from BenignO in getrealphilippines,com]

4. Roads from Manila to Hollywood
The many errors of fact and thought in Aquino’s SONAs since 2010 could have been avoided had he availed himself of the services of a fact checker, and better Cabinet members and writers.

His claim last Monday that his Administration has built 12,000 kilometers of roads is spectacularly flagrant. It is being hammered and ridiculed on social media.

Aquino got this information from his DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson. DPWH claims that it has built 12,184 kms of roads during the term of BS Aquino.

If this were true, say the online bloggers, it would mean that the Aquino government had built roads that could stretch all the way from Manila to Hollywood, and from Manila to Paris.

The distance between Manila and Hollywood (Los Angeles) is 11,747 kms, and between Manila and Paris, 10,747 kms.

5. Goodbye
For his final appearance at the opening of a regular session of Congress (which should be July 2015), Aquino should deliver his valedictory. All he has to really say is one word: “Goodbye.”

He can heave a sigh of relief. And we the nation can heave a sigh of relief, too.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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33 Comments

  1. President BS Aquino has a very good plan for our country because it is common for anybody to dream about what he can do for betterment of life while we are in this temporary world. With all those plans it was overtaken by the desire to run after his opponents and the desire to protect the wealth of his family in desguise of daang matuwid. He needs the result of his dream faster that he himself forgets his daang matuwid and walang mahirap pag walang corrupt. Pres. Noynoy has so many rah-rah boys pretending to be smart and brilliant (kickers of the president) forgetting that this people are experienced in how to gain. The pork barrel conscious people which is the source of recovery after spending in election time. In PDAF, all receipients start to smile. DAP ahh, that’s the best because president discretions. To make the story short DAP bankrolled the impeachment of CJR everybody knows. The issue of corruption will never stop because it is in the system of all government departments. All the Pilipino people becomes the solution of this problem if we all change. Because of hardship even office janitors, clerks, etc. becomes corrupt. Criminality is rampant. In poverty the impossible becomes possible. So we have to change ourselves. While we breath we hope.

  2. oh-tie-a-yellow-ribbon on

    Pnoy and his boys must be independently audited for the DAP and PDAF magic the gang of Liberal Party created to their liking. It’s not possible until 2016. So the pro PNoy
    and anti-DAP and PDAF theft will have to wait. Pagbigyan natin si Pnoy, halos umiyak nga sa State-Of-Noy-Again (SONA) nya dahil bumaba yung rating nya dahil sa iilan lang na bumabatikos sa kanya at iilan din ang nagsuot ng yellow ribbon katulad ng oversized na yellow ribbon pin nya(anong bayan kaya ang may yellow ribbon ang flag?).
    Bagay kaya ang yellow doll palit sa ribbon for a change? Ask Juana Change,hehehe.

  3. Not too long ago ang sabi ni Coloma dont take the words of the president seriously, which means alam nya sinungaling ang amo nya?

  4. jason bourne on

    My fellow Filipinos, look at the evidence for what it is. This President has f____d_p bigtime. No amount of BS ala Thats Entertainment will help salvage his image. His bunglings are of his own making.

    As I said before and I say it again, a mediocre shoe salesman, mediocre politician can not run a country as big as ours. We or the PCOS machine elecetd the wrong Conjuangco. We elected a nincopoop instead of electing the smart cousin Gibo.

    Again we wasted another 6 years and we will do it again unless heaven intervenes….

    • It’s you who’s fu^^^^ up..don’t blame it on the president. And yes if you and the rest of your kind will not stop blaming the president maybe one day God will intervene….how about a big earthquake that can wipe out the country that you keep on criticizing. .. be careful with what you wish for.

    • Yes everyone will be f_ _ _ _ _ u_

      Earthquakes are impossible to predict but, based on historical records, Metro Manila’s West Valley Fault is due for the Next Big One within our lifetimes.

      A possible 7.2 earthquake looms around the corner if the West Valley Fault along the eastern side of Metro Manila cracks, Renato Solidum Jr., Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director warns.

      You should be more concern with this one.

  5. Our President did not stole money from the government what is wrong with that kind of spending formula they used? Lawmakers who were accused of stealing the government money thru their own complex formula conniving with their associate to embezzled our money. Why not commented on them because they are more deserving to hear from you what they did was obviously wrong compared to your negative comment to our president. Wake-up Mr. Makabenta.

    • i guess the term “mismanagement” still applies to any organization running any entity. running a country such as ours has no difference. pnoy happens to be the head of this country, so the ball is in his hand. my reading from all the critics of pnoy, never mentioned anything, money or in kind, being stolen by him. perhaps, it boils down to incompetence in his part, nothing less or more…pnoy got all the chances to be a great man, except he misses all those moments. other moments still ahead of him…can he seize it before time runs out…

  6. P. Akialamiro on

    Looks like those who are criticising Mr. Makabenta are personality cultists. If you understand the basic workings of the 3 branches of the government in relation to each other and analyze what is being discussed in this column, you will see that there’s nothing personal against the president. It’s the role of columnists to tell the people what is going on and what is wrong. Otherwise, we the people will always be kept in the dark knowing not what is going on and will always be victims of ignorance of what is going on in our government. What you read is domocracy in action.. And to the one who dares this columnist take the place of the president to see if he is better off, I’d say “Amen”!

    • You do not need to spell out and call the president a liar and bullshit…..do you know the meaning of “respect?” or you do not respect your parents at all?? Hindi bobo at tanga, bingi at bulag ang mga pilipino…tahimik at nakikiramdam lang sila/kami. At the end of the day, kahit pa siraan mo ng siraan ang pangulo…dumakdak ka ng dumakdak para ipakita na mas may alam ka at matalino kaysa sa kanya ..nakikita at nagmamatyag ang mga mamamayang pilipino at binabalanse nila sa kanilang isip kung maganda ang intensiyon ng pangulo or niloloko lang niya ang mga tao…..At hindi ikaw ang mag de desisyon sa bandang huli kung tunay ba or hindi ang katapatan ng presidente..nasa mamamayang pilipino ang kasagutan.

    • matalinong pinoy? on

      tetay, kung hindi tayo bobo na sinasabi mo, bakit naihalal natin ang ngayon ay mga nakakulong na dahil sa pagnanakaw sa bayan, unang una ang mga marcos na paulit ulit pa rin inihahalal, mayroong mga naihalal na sa kulungan nagpapatakbo ng kanyang bayan…
      MUKHANG MATALINO NGA TAYO.
      sa sobrang talino, pag sinabi mo ang katotohanan ay hindi na pag galang, paano tayo babangon kung ganito tayo…nabibili ng pera at nasisilaw sa mga artista.
      huli kong paki usap, tanungin sana natin ang ating sarili…BAKIT GUMAGASTOS ANG KANDIDATO NG MILYON MILYON SA ELECTION PARA SA KONTING SUELDO pag upo nila? Bakit???

  7. Edgar G. Festin on

    More mainstream media should broadcast and publish the truth about the reason–the President’s sheer ignorance about the difference between a budget and actual available funds in 2010– behind the DAP.
    But I don’t think Sec. Abad, Sec. Purisima and Sec. Mar Roxas were also that ignorant and stupid. I think they and others, like Senator F Drilon, and the people in the Palace Press Office — Messrs Coloma, Lacierda, Carandang–did not know that PNoy Aquino was making an assisine statement in the 2010 SONA that he had inherited a “depleted budget.” They were just letting their Boss make that ignorant and stupid declaration in a SONA because they were alreadt planning to cancel the projects of former President Macapagal-Arroyo, which cause the unforgivable dip of our county’s GDP!
    God will punish these people.
    But they must also be made to pay for economic sabotage, dereliction of duty, negligence and betrayal of the national amd common good for putting their partisan pro-Liberal Party design to raise funds for the 2013 elections above all other interests.

    • Maxtar Tudtud on

      God save the Philippines from BS Aquino 111 and the Liberal Party.Serious damages were inflicted by this people to our country that the suceeding President will inherit. Good luck to him or her.

  8. Roldan Guerrero on

    Not in my wildest dreams that our country would have a president like what the incumbent is. Our nation had been ruled with successions of incompetent chief executives yet another sub-standard individual rose to power and become the president of this Republic. BSA must have realized in the early stage of his tenure that being a prsident is not a joke. even in his tender age when his mother was the President, he must have learned that staying in Malacanyang Palace is not just playing mahjong as did his mother with her amigas…and him just playing video games with his special child? nephew. The damage BSA did to this Republic is irreparable and the best thing for him to do is to resign now. He must not be defeated by his hipocricy but must accept the painful truth, he does not and will never fit the job.

  9. Mr Makabayan, kung sa tingin mo di hamak na mas magaling/matalino ka sa presidente ng pilipinas….bakit kaya hindi ka tumakbo bilang presidente ng pinas??? Sa tingin mo sa mga comments mo dito at pag aakusa sa presidente parang mas marami kang nalalaman at mas magaling ka sa presidente??? or baka naman puro yabang ka lang?? Tignan natin kung ano at paano mo mapapaulad ang naghihirap na bansa natin dahil sa puro corrupt na naging presidente at mga pintasero at nagmamarunong na mamamayan na katulad mo….

    • Mr. bayanko: yan po ay opinion lang. kung tatakbo po si mr. makabenta ay mas iboboto ko sya kaysa any LP president bet. pero alam ko matatalo si mr. makabenta kasi wala syang dap funds, kahit gaano mo kagaling di ka mananalo dahil marami ding korap na voters na kagaya mo. at pananalita mo nga lang eh, utak pipitsugin ka rin kasi wala kang ka-logic2x. gets mo?

    • Sa tingin ko hamak na mas magaling si Mr. Makabenta kay P-Noy. Di na niya kailangan tumakbo sa pagka Presidente para ipakita iyon. Hindi ka dapat napipikon sa mga sinusulat niya dahil totoo lang ang mga sinasabi niya..

    • Mr ochoa, saang bundok ka ba nanggaling?? Dahil sa ating dalawa sure ako na mas nakakalamang ako dahil wala ako sa pinas at nandito ako sa Estados Unidos pero concern ako at mahal ko ang presidente ng pilipinas dahil nakikita ko na maganda ang intensiyon niya na paunlarin ang corrupt na corrupt na bayan mo dahil na rin sa pag uugali ng mga tao na katulad mo/niya na puro bastos, nagmamarunong, makasarili, feelingero. Kahit siguro sinong presidente ang umupo kung katulad mo at ni makabenta ang makakaharap lalong maghihirap ang pilipinas. Wala kayong ginawa kung hindi humanap ng mali sa lahat ng ginagawa ng presidente…sa halip na magtulungan at gumawa ng mabuti at maganda para sa ikauunlad ng bayan …pintas dito at puro kabastusan at panlilit sa sarili ninyong presidente ang mga ginagawa ninyo…Walang taong perpekto .Hintayin mo na lang kaya ang prediction na magkakaroon ng 7.2 major earthquake sa metro manila para matapos na lahat para wala ka ng complain sa susunod. Kaya pati ang Diyos naguguluhan na sa inyo dahil binigyan na kayo ng presidente na matino dakdak at complain pa rin kayo.

    • Magkano po ba ang ibinabayad sa inyo MR.. Makabenta ng mga hndi katunggali ng Presidente upang siraan ng siraan at paratangan ang presidente ng pilipinas?? Kahit sino naman sigurong tao ay pagbubutihan ang paninira at pambabastos sa presidente kung nababayaran ng sapat …hindi po ba? part time po ba ninyo ito Mr. Makabenta?? Sino po ba sa mga ito ang boss ninyo: a. jinggoy b. JPE c. bong d. macapagal e. Corona f. all of the above

    • Mr. Ocho, sa obserbasyon ko nakikita ko ngang pareho kayo ng pagiisip ni Mr. Makabenta kaya hindi na ako nagtataka na ang isang katulad mong bopols din ang boboto sa kanya bilang presidente ng pilipinas. Katawa tawa di ba? isang nagmamarunong/feelingero at isang bopol na hipokrito. Sana naman huwag dumating ang araw na yon dahil mas magiging kaawa awa ang ating bansa kung kayo ang mamumuno baka tuluyan ng mawala sa mapa ang bansang pilipinas. LOL

    • Mahirap lang kami. Saka wala kaming pagnanais na manloko o magsinungaling at magnakaw ng pera ng bayan. Subalit bilang mamamayan, may karapatang magsalita at pumuna sa ginagawa ng mga namumuno ng bayan ko.

    • Mr. Ochoa gusto ko lang itama ang mga haka haka mo ..nahawa ka na rin kay Mr. Makabayan mahilig mag husga ng hindi pa napapatunayan. Unang una hindi po ako botante ng pinas dahil wala po ako sa inyong nilalait na bansa…pangalawa hindi po nababayaran ang boto ko dahil hndi po ako botante ng inyong bansa… huwag po magassume agad ng kung anu ano kung hindi sigurado ang sinasabi. Ikatlo…kung wala pong logic ang mga comments ko bakit po parang apektadong apektado kayo??lol…bakit po ninyo sinagot? lol ….ikaapat ..Kung mag po post kayo dito sa manila times na hindi pabor sa Presidente at pabor lang sa inyo nararapat lang na mag expect kayo na may sasalungat sa mga sinasabi ninyo na mga naniniwala sa Presidente. So in other words, kung may karapatan kayong tawagin ng liar, thief, bullshit ang Presidente ng Pilipinas ay may karapatan din kaming ipagtanggol siya at ibalik sa inyo ang inyong mga hindi kanais nais na salitang binitiwan. fair is fair…freedom of speech ika nga.

    • Kaya cguro napipikon si Bayanko dahil katulad din sya ni Aquino hindi kayang abutin ang malalim na kaisipan ni Mr.Makabenta.I’m sure Mr Makabenta is more than qualified to become our president,only he doesn’t have the means to become one:)….Itong mga yellowtards dito,talagang ang lalim ng pagkakahimbing at Hanggang ngayon di pa rin magising sa katotohanan na ang kanilang Pangulo ay ang laki na ng nagawang damage sa bansa natin…And please do us a favor ,to stop telling us that he’s an honest person.He’s been caught lying not only once,twice,but all the time.Remember the dictum”LYING IS TANTAMOUNT TO STEALING”there you go…

  10. Mr. Makabenta, don’t tell us na naibenta na rin sa inyo ng mga kaaway ng presidente ang patuloy na paninira sa lahat ng ginagawa ng presidente??? Gusto ko pong malaman mo na hindi mo pwedeng diktahan sa gusto niyang gawin at sabihin ang Presidente ng Pilipinas. Bakit sa halip na puro dakdak ka at pintas na halos sa araw araw na yata binabantayan mo ang lahat ng kilos at gawain ng presidente …bakit hindi mo gamitin ang pakikialam mo sa mabuting paraan para makatulong ka sa mga mahihirap at sa bansang pilipinas.

    • Trabaho niya yaon bilang columnist. Kung hind natin matangap ang opinyon niya ay may karapatan ka din kamukha ko. O dili kaya ay inquirer na lang basahin mo dahil laging good si Noy doon.

    • Kung hindi mo kayang tanggapin ang katotohanan sa mga sinasabi ni Mr Makabenta,doon ka na Lang sa PDI o manood ka na Lang ng balita sa ABS-CBN,tyak na matutuwa ka doon…Di ko talaga makuha Kung anong kabutihan ang nagawa ng pangulo mo.Kung ang budget ng CCT ay palaki ng palaki,dalawa Lang ang ibig sabihin non,either ninanakaw nila ang pera or poverty is increasing or both.Hindi ba sapat na katibayan yan na wala talaga syang nagawa?Tigilan na ang kahibangan ha?’

  11. Here are some ways to imagine 12,000 km of roads that don’t involve Paris or Hollywood:

    1. We have 42,000 barangays. If each received only 300 meters of new road, the product would be 42,000×300 = 12 million meters = 12,000 kilometers.

    2. According to PIDS discussion paper 2011-38, we had 29,000 km of national roads back in 2005. With our economy having grown about 25% over the last 4 years, is it so hard to believe could not have added something like 41% more national roads on that 5 year old baseline figure?

    That 29,000 km figure also goes to show that most national roads are probably not visible to Manila-dwellers. But they exist.

    3. DPWH had a P101 billion budget for highways in 2013. Let’s say half or 50 billion went to new national roads, that all roads are 5 meters wide, that each square meter costs P2,000 to pave. Then we could have built 50,000,000,000 / 5 / 2,000 linear meters = 5,000,000 meters = 5,000 km of new national roads each year. Multiply by just 3 and you get 15,000 km.

    • Ok I agree with your computation but if you know when where and amount in each project so that the masa will know where those 12, 000 km of road are. It will be a big help if you publish the data.

    • Huwag kalimutan national road lang ang ipinagagawa ng DPWH. Kaya yaong sinasabi mong mali si Yen ay may halong manilawnilaw na mantsa.

    • jason bourne on

      !2,000 kms of NEW roads in the Philippines is a fantastic claim. It should be backed with evidence.

    • Perdi, Jason:

      I don’t have the data. I agree that DPWH should back up their claim since it is a big issue already. My point is only that their budget could have funded it.

      Arabof:

      I’m not yellow or peach. I am white daw

  12. In short, during the 1st Thief Executive tenure, there were already signs of disasters and he thought that the PDAF and the DAP are the solution.

    • YA,,, UNANG MGA NKAHIHINALANG GINAWA NYA AY ANG PG BIGAY NG HANGGANG 100 MILION SA MGA SENADOR NA HINDI MAN LANG NAGHINGI O NGPROPOSED NG PROJECT,,, PERA NATIN AT BINABIGAY SA WLANG HIDI NGHINGI, MASAKIT SA ATIN YUN,,, KAHIT ANAK NATIN, BIGLA BA NMAN NTIN BIGYAN NG PERA, SO THE QUESTION THERE IS,,, NASAAN NA ANG ATING PERA NA PINABIGAY NYA,,, PLUS SA PDAP PA, PLUS SA DAP PA,, PLUS NPAMAHAL NA BIGAS,,, NKU,,, D KO NA TO MASIKMURA,,,IS IT TRUE, ANG MAGNANAKAW AY GALIT A KAPWA MAGNANAKAW??? TAMAAN NA ANG MAY MASASAMANG GINAWA SA HIHIMATAY NATING BAYAN,,,