People’s SONA: PNoy Failed His Bosses
photo by Angelo Nico Daroy
A People’s SONA rally was staged by Bayan hours before President Aquino gave his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) before the joint legislative session. Around 100 demonstrators marched from Osmena Boulevard to Colon Street, expressing their frustrations regarding the promises the Aquino administration failed to make after his previous five SONA’s.
Over the five years of the Aquino Administration, what the president has been promising before Congress has been contrast to his performance. Bayan Central Visayas Chairman Jaime Paglinawan voiced his sentiment on the land reform failures, with Hacienda Luisita as a symbol of the administration’s shortcomings in providing lands to the farmers.
Poverty has not been alleviated, despite the billions of Pesos allotted for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P). Paglinawan also criticized the implementation of Anti-Corruption measures, as the Pork Barrel, Disbursement Acceleration Program, and Ghost Projects are still alive.
Julian Libato formally started their version of SONA by expressing his sentiment on the government’s failures to bring adequate budget for education and social welfare. Maricel Aparado of Gabriela then expressed disappointment on the status of women in the post-Yolanda rehabilitation, while Evelyn Cuyos of AYUDA Cebu voiced her frustration President Aquino’s lack of concern for typhoon victims treating them like the “living dead” in the harsh conditions after the calamity.
Mia Famor declared that the president “betrayed” the people by “selling” the country to, citing the rampant mining in Toledo City as an example.
BANGKA, an organization based in Northern Cebu Province, entertained the crowd through their interpretative presentation of “Rosas ng Digma.”
In the youth sector, Nino Olayvar of Anakbayan expressed sentiment on the government’s failure to control tuition fee increases and the low budgets for state colleges and universities. Greg Perez of PISTON addressed the state of transportation, highlighting the overpricing of gasoline set by oil cartels and underwhelming support by the government to provide basic services to the transport sector.
All is not too late for the Aquino Administration, according to Paglinawan. The president can still make a final push for a P 16,000 nationwide minimum wage, enable industrialization, focus K -12 on domestic industry education, and divert remaining resources as capital for industry and agriculture and not for political interest for 2016 General Elections.
To summarize the Aquino Administration, the protesters gave the president either a failing mark or an incomplete grade due to him not specifying where “daang matuwid” was heading, although they hope that the next president be able to hear the sentiments of the poor, agrarian reform, and produce programs to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice production.