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Opinions: PGMA Administration: “So long!” or Sooo long!”?

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) delivered her last State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 27, 2009 at the Batasan Complex… or did she?

This is the mind-boggling question that has been lingering in everyone’s minds even after PGMA had delivered her 9th and “last” Philippine SONA for her administration.  As ridiculous as it may seem, the most anticipated part of the SONA wasn’t her declaration of the country’s status or the contributions of her administration, but rather, a straight-to-the-point, and hopefully, a final statement regarding her political aspirations and her plans of accelerating the ratification of Charter Change. But to everyone’s dismay, PGMA didn’t give a straightforward answer during her last SONA, and the expected contents of her SONA were delivered followed by a surprising blow.

As it has always been with her previous addresses, PGMA delivered the SONA with various statistical data and mentions of personas who were able to benefit from her programs and wished them well. By doing this, she reinforces her statements and assures that what she’s saying is factual. The dilemma would now rest on whether the people should agree or disagree, believe or doubt the facts presented. However, she didn’t end all portions of her SONA with a simple wish or appreciation.

At the end of almost every achievement she mentioned in her speech, PGMA delivered quick jabs to her detractors and other political aspirants who have been critical of her administration since the elections are fast approaching. Some people would just let this action as it is because they believe that it is PGMA’s right to vent out her sentiments and defend her administration from the “unjust” criticisms thrown at her. Some, however, deem this action as a low blow that was definitely unfit for the situation. Ideally, the event should have been a medium for us, Filipinos, to be informed of their country’s development, and the things that are still needed to be done for it to progress – not the woes of the president. It might have been understandable if it was mentioned for a few times in her speech. But her continuous reiteration of her retorts seemed to have transformed the speech into something that is uncalled-for. There was too much “unnecessary” emotion that seemed to have impregnated the supposedly formal and informative address. Yet, what’s done is done; whether Filipinos approve of her response to all those criticisms she had received through all her years of governance or not is entirely up to their liking.

However, we should consider the fact that she has remained silent whenever she was the one who was receiving all those low blows. In a psychological sense, the SONA might have been the only means wherein she can defend herself and her administration. Come to think of it, all presidents were able to lead his/her country to advancement, even for just a sector of the government. No one can ever say that his/her country wasn’t able to benefit anything under the leadership of a president. We may detest the Marcos regime for its period of dictatorship, but no one can deny that at the earlier part of the infamous president’s reign, there was a remarkable progress in the economy, particularly in peace and order. This is not to equate President Marcos to President Arroyo. This is just to point out that there will always be an opposition and their presence will always be felt, or to be more specific, heard. Just as the fallibility of humans is in question, so is the fact that PGMA is not devoid of any faults in terms of her governance. We do have numerous scandals such as the “Hello, Garci”, “ZTE”, “Fertilizer Scams” and other controversies during the time of her presidency. Yet, no one can claim that the Arroyo administration wasn’t able to lead the country to development, especially in the various sectors of economy, education, employment and energy utilization – all of which she had given due emphasis as her achievements in the SONA.

After delivering all the important details and reports in her SONA, PGMA concluded her speech with these words: I shall step down from this stage but not from the Presidency. My term does not end until next year. Until then, I will fight for the ordinary Filipino. The nation comes first. There is much to do as head of state—to the very last day.” This may not be the explicit response that every Filipino is hoping for, but it is indeed a sign that she intends to relinquish her position when her term ends. This is not to say that PGMA did plan to hold on to her position—no one would really know the answer to that one. It’s just that the Filipinos cannot help but to heighten their senses for the possibility of her lingering onto the position, especially with her apparent motions of promulgating the Charter Change and with her rumored political aspirations as a governor, post-presidency. Some Filipinos would admit that they have much fear that she might push all of these so that she can be the first “Prime Minister of the Philippines”. But then again, they are also aware that this wasn’t the first time wherein there was a motion for Charter Change. As it was mentioned in the SONA, PGMA’s predecessors have already tried to impose this during their regimes, also harboring the same criticism. But, nevertheless, the suspicions were present and this is why we are so keen to come into action because we know that “prevention is always better than cure” and we would opt to prevent the possibility of history repeating itself. Although PGMA never said that she intended to stay in her position, we, Filipinos, find that her actions speak otherwise and thus call for an immediate action. But still the same, nothing is certain.

Everyone can only hope that PGMA would willingly and peacefully vacate the presidency once her term ends, just as it should be done. We have experienced much from her administration and we are grateful for the public service that they received. However, come 2010, just when the Arroyo Administration has served its purpose very well, the Filipinos will be ready to bid it a ‘so long’—akin to what they did with the previous administrations. Yet again, we Filipinos could only hope that it would turn out that way. 

Only time will tell what the future holds. Everyone has his/her own vision or forecast of what the future might bring. Some Filipinos see the possibility of PGMA staying in her position as the most probable outcome, while some believe that she would peacefully and willingly give the position to her successor. All that we can do for now is to wait and see what the future might bring. 

Yet we couldn’t help but ask ourselves the same dog-eared questions:

Will we bid the PGMA administration a “So long!”?

Or are we going to rant another desperate “Sooo long!”?

  By: Mervyn C. Tan: Just Thoughts


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