The eighth state of the nation address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo elicited different reactions. Progressive groups staged their own version of the SONA, which they believe reflect the “real” condition of the Filipino people. People from the government, church, business and men on the streets also share their views. Some still believe in what the President said but others were not so impressed by her speech. Davao Today gathered their reactions:

I happened to watch the Sona but it was not worth hearing at all because I didn’t believe in what she was saying. The poor are still hungry, lining up for rice everyday for a limited kilo. The expanded Vat is still there. Her speech had no soul, sad to say. Sona must provide direction on major concerns which depicts the state of the nation of the past year. Not to report on what has been perceived as accomplishments of the government which she does not need to tell us because we know already. No clapping is needed!

–Sister Marietta Banayo, M.A., president, Assumption School of Davao, Cabaguio Avenue, Davao City

Nothing really new but rehashed statistics that does not translate into food on the table of Mang Pandoy.

–Mr. Allan Villanueva, board member/ project coordinator, Akbay Kalusugan, Inc.

We do not need free education only. We need quality education at the elementary and high school level especially in public schools. Increase the number of class rooms, hire more ‘quality’ education graduate teachers, build schools in every barangay, and accommodate investments that will allow our graduates to work in their field of expertise (other than the call center industry).

According to Amartya Sen, a nation could only attain genuine development if the state develops the capabilities of its citizens. The Philippine government should focus more on improving the basic education system (as well as social protection program as health security) and make it available to everybody.

–Reine Kathryn Taya, professor, Department of Social Sciences University of the Philippines – Mindanao, Mintal, Davao City

The Arroyo administration has just thrown out the window its austerity program. In proposing a P1.4 trillion budget for next year, it has likewise reneged on its promise to balance the budget. The current economic crisis is the convenient excuse for Malacaang to ask for a 15 percent increase in its budget in 2009. The increase in the budget next year is meant – not to prop up the economy – but to fatten the war chest of the administration in the 2010 elections. Oh, I can hear the trapos (traditional politicians) singing “the good times are here again!” ironically at a time when the number of poor families are rising. The call of the government to tighten our belts and live simply in these times of difficulties is pure hogwash. At the Senate, there is also a disturbing change of tune. Where before Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was batting for a side agreement on the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Pact (JPEPA), now she is about to lead the second surrender of the Philippines to Japan. Her beef – hard to educate people who are afraid of the unknown. The feisty lady, staunch defender of the Constitution and candidate for the International Court of Justice, is giving up! This is harakiri!

–Peter Lavia, councilor, Davao City first district (as posted in his blog:

If Vat was to be removed, lowering fuel prices by four to six pesosGive oil companies a few weeks, and they will find excuses to increase fuel prices again and again and again until the decrease due to the removal of VAT will eventually be lost. So, there is still no effect.”

–Karlo Bello, councilor, Davao City third district

“Who made the speech? Hahaha”
— Paolo Duterte, president, Association of Barangay Captains

“The President spoke of what is happening. I was surprised about Mindanao being the fruit rather food basket of the nation yet a lot of population here are hungry.” — Susabel Reta, councilor, Davao City second district

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