President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has delivered her 9th and last State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday, July 27, 2009 at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City.
As expected, criticisms from people who know nothing of what the president says but criticize. Just like all the previous SONAs or speeches of the President, the opposition block will never be impressed.
Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo “Jamby Madrigal” who opted to spend her afternoon with the protesters said “All lies”. Such a sweeping generalized statement.
Then here is one comment from Renato Reyes, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) secretary general, “Arroyo’s address merely talked of infrastructure, something that had no direct effect on the lives of millions of hungry Filipinos.”
Then there’s Senator Pia Cayetano saying the “President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) resembled a Friendster list, but failed to address ordinary people’s concerns.”
Another opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who did not attend the State of the Nation Address, said “It sounded like an updated version of last year’s travelogue.”
Cielito Habito from the Philippine Daily Inquirer had a clear idea of what she was talking about.
Infrastructure, indeed, has been a glaring inadequacy of this country all these past years, and Ms Arroyo clearly wants to be remembered for helping fill this gap.
The common reaction has again tended to be on whether funds are available to do all of the projects. While the President did indicate where the money would come from, one can only hope that she and her economic managers have done the arithmetic right.
The infrastructure development program is critical to our economic future in many ways. Perhaps not known to many, the greatest threat to our economic future at this time is our glaringly low rates of investment, both domestic and foreign, in comparison to our Asean neighbors.
The situation is so alarming that the World Bank, credit rating agencies, and other foreign observers have sounded the alarm loud and clear. Data clearly show that our closest neighbors invest around 25 percent of their GDP; we currently invest less than 15 percent.
Worse, this gap promises to widen further in the near future. Since 2002, our investment expenditures grew at an annual average rate of less than 1 percent; our neighbors have seen annual investment growth rates ranging from 3 percent (Malaysia) to 20 percent (Cambodia).
Filling our infrastructure gap should help change this.