Memo To Myself

Subject: State of the Nation Address

Darn, the SONA thing is due next week. What do I say? With three years to go Filipinos want to know my vision of the finish line.

I need an overarching theme. I could go with “Happy days are here again!” but that is probably inappropriate since I understand there are now more people out of work than before. I actually have reasons to brag: The Makati crowd tells me life has never been this good. Still, I should come up with something more in keeping.

What about Bayanihan and its spirit of sharing and trusting? That could work. I could tee-off with the idea the wealthy need to contribute to the community some of the bounty of the first three years. Businesses need to pay their fair share of taxes. The water companies and Meralco need to be merciful on what they pass to the consumer. The rich may have to subsidize affordable housing and education through a levy on urban property and high-end condos.

Burden sharing has never been big with business and the 1% –my staunchest supporters- so it may have to be force-fed. Hopefully it becomes an acquired taste, the notion that what is good for the many will ultimately be good for the few. By empowering the poor, we will broaden the consumer base, generate more buying power and create further jobs, the multiplier thing. This benefits business.

I like that Bayanihan is about trust. Filipinos have lost trust in their institutions and their leaders. Victims fear going to the authorities –police, judges or labor attaches- when in trouble. I need to restore that trust for it is the foundation of the social contract between governors and governed.

I should remind Filipinos to also trust in themselves and each other, to believe we can together make ours a better place. I could recall Mom’s battle cry of “Hindi ka nagiisa” to unify the individual with the collective.

There is the saying “Be careful what you wish for …”. Well, I am kinda there. I now control the Senate, the House and, it is perceived, the Supreme Court. The bad news is I now have to deliver. For this I must now call in my chips, nicely of course.

First on the list is CJ Sereno. Judicial reform was the priority of my Administration in 2010 but the country has little to show for it. The Court has to deliver its part, that was the promise on which Lourdes was selected. She will have to convince her colleagues to come around but that is not my problem. I cannot be the only one doing the heavy lifting.

Second are the lawmakers. They must be reminded who put them there when I gun my legislative agenda. The recent P10 billion pork barrel hoax is my opening to review what is once again confirmed as a legalized slush fund. I am unsure I could scrap the program without a mutiny in my hands; but I could downsize it and add stricter conditionalities. Pork barrel should not be a livelihood nor a re-election kitty for legislators.

Third is local Government. I need to talk to Mar, Butch and Jun about getting the LP to flex its muscles with Governors and Mayors so everybody toes the line.

Lastly is the bureaucracy. My people must work smart, execute well and be accountable. The National Irrigation Authority is an example when that does not happen.

With only 3 years to go, people may start to see me as a lameduck and lose heart. I must reassure them otherwise. They must know I am not going to ride quietly into the sunset. On the contrary I am now going on a war footing. If murderers and other criminals expect to wait out my Presidency they are mistaken. Justice will be served in my term.

 The same message goes to my political detractors. They will want to show me up so they can buy the 2016 elections on the cheap. Guys, I am not going away.

SONAs are a report card on the accomplishments of the nation but they also should be a recognition of its failings. Filipinos must know I know that it has not all been good but that we are working on it.

My SONA must be a message of hope for the millions who joined me on this journey of change. I have leveled the playing field for business. I should be doing likewise for the ordinary Filipino so everybody, regardless of circumstance, has the same opportunity at making something of himself. Those who have benefited from the new regime must now give back to the community. Those who have not must know help is on the way.

I think that’s it. Now to get it down on paper.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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2 Responses to Memo To Myself

  1. Jose R. Lim says:

    If I may add, Mr. President, you should also speak a little bit about the country’s determination to defend and protect our exclusive economic rights in the West Philippine Sea as provided under UNCLOS to which China, the Philippines and neighboring countries are signatories.

    Toward this end, the country will embark on modernizing the facilities of the Coast Guards and the other branches of the Armed Forces.

    On the disputed reefs, the country will continue to pursue its claim through peaceful means whether through multilateral negotiation with all claimant countries or arbitration by appropriate international bodies such as the tribunal of UNCLOS to settle disputes.

  2. Arthur says:

    Thank you for your sincerity Mr. President, and even getting at least our leaders to be conscious of the need for integrity. But as Charlie Brown had said it — We were so sincere, and yet we lost the game.
    What we need is an authentic Filipino vision of development, answering the question — Whom serves the Grail. By Now you must realize that what the Orthodox Economic- Financial religion of the Market — tells you to do and why — will not lead our people to its rightful destiny of a good society. (How you say that we should just be happy with our growth — if 90% of your people remain marginalized, leaving the countryside in hope of finding a living in the cities, and if not join the exodus out of the country.) It should be clear to you by now — what they taught you in school about the Market and its efficiency — does work -but only for the few who have the capital and technology and the scale — to be efficient. The task of development is to integrate precisely those who are marginalized in short Hindi kasali sa pansitan because precisely of the market system’s logic.
    IWe can not just go on with what the market signals you to do, because those signals were precisely produced by the forces and structures of economic power — that has maintained and protected the institutional systems — that brought about the equilibrium of economic power and wealth and market winners and mass poverty that we have now.
    In Short — you can not have INclusive Growth Unless you have structural changes in the way you think and deal with the market system. Profit maximization and following market prices – is not the only way to deal with the market. We need a Government that economically empowers the mass poor directly and i dont mean CCT transfers for consumption. That’s a cop out on government’s role in nurturing the economy. It even renders meaningless what your regime’s slogan of People Empowerment.
    Answer the Question — Whom serves the Market System??? Then translate this into true Empowerment Programs that empower the People — who deserve to be empowered. Then translate them into institutional systems and enterprises — that make this happen. Then allocate capital accordingly and dont get scared of what your finance club says. These are precisely the structures in your mind that prevent you from Daring to Think and Define the Choices that must be made for Systemic Change for our People. No need to re-express your wish for your people
    –nanalo na yan sa takilya. No need to admonish us — we also love our country (which in fact is why we write).
    With all Due Respect — the real State of the Nation requires You and your Cabinet — to reflect on your own Thinking — and in the words of Cromwell — Think, think Sir – in the bowels of Christ
    think it possible — Could you be Wrong?

    Arthur Alvendia

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