Sizing Up GMA’s SONA: What The US Ambassador Wants To Hear Versus What The People Feel

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More than a week before Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s (GMA) State of the Nation Address (SONA,) there was this type of conditioning the government wanted for its people. The pompous military, 6,000 strong, hammered peace on the people’s mind even if according to them, there was no threat of disturbance. In a bewildering display of “respect for human rights,” police officers, in their scary gears and numbers, agreed to go on a human rights seminar. At the same time they assured the SONA will be a peaceful event.

But barely a week before the speech, there are pictures of armed military men here and there, in full-battle regalia, readying for something that one could only guess as preparedness for mayhem. (Photo Credit: Malaya/SalvadorR) The story has turned symbolically worrisome. The government is fully aware of the people’s widespread antipathy towards GMA, the most unpopular president since 1986.

There are reports of NPA ‘sparrows” who’d try to bring chaos at the SONA on July 30, 2008, giving advance warnings to anti-government protesters of what to expect if they venture out in the streets. Superficially, people can’t tiss apart truth, genuine public concern, and military scare tactics.

In a rather awkward statement, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney in Manila says she wants to hear GMA speak on the successes of her economic policies and the government’s in-roads in the peace process in Mindanao. The ambassador puts a positive spin on GMA’s SONA, but what she says doesn’t jibe with what the Filipinos are thinking.

I think the President has made a lot of economic reforms and the Philippine economy has been doing well. I’m hoping she’ll tell us more that she’s continuing on that important point of her program.”

We are hopeful and eager to see a comprehensive peace agreement in Mindanao. I think that will be so important for all citizens of the Philippines, for economic growth, and we are ready to continue to be a dedicated partner in that search,” Kenney said. Malaya (07/24/08, DeVera,E.)

Her remark seems a cheap shot at diplomatic correctness which most likely doesn’t reflect the Filipino sentiment at the moment. For sure Filipinos don’t want words that they can’t nibble especially if these words fall short of truth. They want a concrete plan of action which they can bring to their sleep: a solution to the hunger they’re facing. The people ask for accountability, a panacea for the rising prices of fuel and groceries, and they demand a resolution to the unsolved government corruption scandals—problems which simply don’t go away and leave the people numb in despair. =0=
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