SONA 2006 Was Another Campaign Speech

Mrs. Gloria Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address yesterday sounded like a “miting de avance” speech.

While she admittedly reported on select aspects of our national life, such as economy (“22 consecutive quarters of growth”), information and communications technology (“Today international calls cost 6 cents a minute, down from 40 cents.”), and poverty (the number of poor families went down from 25%–because of a new computation, hehe), most of her speech dwelled on her promises and on-going projects.

Arroyo started her SONA by thanking her supporters in the government including her allies in congress and the military men who remained loyal to her. General Jovito Palparan–linked by activists to the extrajudicial killings in Central Luzon–almost blushed as he stood up after Arroyo mentioned him for his “struggle” against the enemies of the state. And in the same breath, Arroyo declared: “In the harshest possible terms I condemn political killings. We together stopped judicial executions with the abolition of the death penalty. We urge witnesses to come forward. Together we will stop extrajudicial executions.” Ironic, huh?

As she presented her plans, Arroyo did a roll call of her supporters from different local government units in her super regions : the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle, the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway, Central Philippines, Mindanao and the Cyber Corridor. These are the governors, mayors, and other local officials who frequented the Palace to express their support for Arroyo during the “Hello Garci” and other crises in her administration. They are also the same people who have been pushing for charter chage. Of course, Arroyo’s SONA wouldn’t be complete if she wouldn’t pitch for Cha-cha. She mentioned it several times.

In her trademark arrogant tone, she also addressed her opponents: “For those who want to pick up old fights, we’re game but what a waste of time. Why not join hands instead? Join hands in the biggest challenge of all, where we all win or we all lose: the battle for the survival and progress of our one and only country.”

Arroyo’s SONA, like all of her recent actions, has her political survival as its ultimate aim. If the impeachment proceedings is the elections, yesterday’s SONA was her miting de avance.

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