The State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino 3rd lingered on the smaller issues but missed the bigger picture, according to panelists at a Post-SONA Analysis held at UP School of Economics on Thursday.
The participating panellists are experts in economics, governance, politics and media.
Economics Prof. Benjamin Diokno said the Philippines has the worst employment rate in the original Asean-5, in contrast with the 7.8 percent growth that the President claimed in the SONA. Diokno said the Philippines is second in poorest quality of infrastructure next to Vietnam in the original Asean-5.
Diokno agreed that the economy grew in quarter one of 2013 but joblessness continued to worsen, with the unemployment rate up 7.5 percent from 6.9 percent.
He said that Transparency International rates the police as the most corrupt government institution, with 69 percent. Public officials and civil servants ranked second (64 percent) while the Judiciary was third (56 percent).
Prof. Edna Co from the National College of Public Administration and Governance said the SONA was a mere bench-marking of Aquino’s performance. She said that on a whole the speech is a mighty proclamation of the President’s achievements.
Co said the administration’s accomplishments were trumpeted and the much bigger issues downplayed.
She recommended the approval of Freedom of Information Bill to fight corruption in government which was not mentioned in the SONA.
“When the President was a senator he supported the FOI Bill but his position changed when he became President.” Co said.
SONA 2013 was copied almost in toto from the State of the Union Address of the US President Barack Obama, said Prof. Victor Avecilla of the UP College of Mass Communication.
Political Science Prof. Jean-Encinas Franco said the SONA seemed to be directed at foreign investors.
At one hour and 45 minutes, Monday’s SONA was the longest delivered by a post-EDSA President.
Franco said that one good point in the address was strengthening of the Civil Service Code which will be a powerful weapon in fighting corruption.