Providing an avenue in analyzing this year’s State of the Nation Address’ (SONA) content from various lenses, the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC), in partnership with the Ateneo Economics Society (ECOSOC) and Samahan ng Mga Mag-aara ng Agham Pampulitika ng Ateneo (SAMAPULA), organized a Pre-SONA Pakighinabi Conversation last July 23 at the Ricci Hall.
Theology Department Chair Lunar Fayloga facilitated the discourse, which focused on the content and implications of SONA to the Filipino citizens.
“May kasalanan din si Digong. Ang taas ng standard na niraise niya kasi ng dami niyang napromise. Sa dami ng napromise niya, ngayon sinisingil siya,” Political Science and History Chair Ramon Beleno III initiated.
While acknowledging this case, representative of the International Studies and Diklat Journal Anderson Devilla also stressed that it is the “receptiveness” of the current government that sets them apart from other administrations.
“What’s good with the president is ‘yung kanyang administration, they encourage dissent or mga dissenting opinions. Two days ago, there was already a sort of conference with the leftist groups ng mga progressive groups to ensure that there is a peaceful and orderly demonstration,” he said.
Several of the lead discussants expected few mentions on one of the most relevant matter the president faces: the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Hours before the SONA, the Congress delayed the ratification of the said law, stirring dismay from its supporters for what could have been one of the “good news” the Palace liked to focus.
“How will he reconcile the drastic delusion or editing nung BOL, knowing na sa kanyang previous SONA he said na sa MILF? Yun yung napangako niya sa kanyang previous SONA pero 365 days later, hindi na ganun ang state,” Campus Club Organization (CCO) President Jorjani Sinsuat said.
He also compared the behavior of the bicameral regarding the Train Law and the Bangsamoro Organic Law, wherein both Houses easily passed the former while the latter received a lot of ‘contentions.’
“Silent ‘yung ating executive. In fact, wala tayong narinig na reconciliation ng BOL,” he added.
Sinsuat also pointed out the public change the implementation of federalism has been receiving, with a significant number disapproving it amidst the president’s unyielding campaigning during his candidacy.
Nonetheless, Beleno said that the president assured a 90 to 95 percent approval for the Consultative Committee’s draft of federal.
Economics Department representative Mildred Estanda expected a report on federalism in the aspect of the allocation of goods and resources.
Security, peace, and order
“More talks regarding security and order because these are the statements that bannered him to power,” SAMAPULA Internal Vice President Kyre Fernandez said.
Duterte, after all, is renowned for his iron fist and high regards for alleviating, if not totally eradicating criminality in the country.
Fernandez also touched the subject of the NPA-Government relationship whether the president will “push for more talks,” considering that, before he was president, “he is already maintaining a good relationship” with the rebel group.
On the other hand, Samahan Pres. Jerry Louise Huerbana and Center Against Illegal Drugs Director Roawie Quimba focused their expectations on the administration’s ‘bloody campaign’ against drugs, its take on the extrajudicial killings and its relationship with the Church.
Sinsuat would also like to know how the government will handle the terror plots in Mindanao brought about the rise of the peace process.
Appeal to emotions
Center for Politics and International Affairs (CAID) Director Neil Pancho believed that choosing Joyce Bernal, a light romance film director as the director for this year’s SONA aims to “humanize Duterte” by “polishing his image” and theming on him being the father of the nation.
“They can’t afford continuous bombardment of criticisms lalo na noong bumagsak ang satisfaction rate ni Duterte tapos magpapatuloy ang criticisms internationally,” he said.
Also, although interested on the content of the President’s speech, Fr. Ogie Cabayao is more curious on how the people will react with the revolving theme of the SONA and the effect of this theme in reporting his achievement.
“Minsan madali lang natin makalimutan na hindi datus ang hinahanap ng mga tao, minsan yung emotional appeal. At kapag ikaw ay nagta-top sa isang mahalagang archetype halimbawa, pagdating ng relasyon ng tao sa kanilang leader, kapag ginamit mo na ikaw ay ama at kayo ang aking mga anak, napakalakas noon. Ang emotional appeal sometimes, it overturns even on how people are going to respond to the facts of the matter,” Fr. Cabayao stressed.
As an accomplishment report of Duterte over a year, and presentation of his agenda for the next, the SONA is already expected to contain relevant laws passed like the TRAIN Law and the Mental Health Law and the improvement of the country’s international relations.
Moreover, the lead discussants expected some remarks regarding media killings, recent public official killings, Marawi rehabilitation, job generation, contractualization issues, public works, and other domestic policies pending.
As the SONA started almost two hours late because of a house leadership row, the discussants were still able to discuss the “unstable” political system of the Philippines.
“People are choosing sides only for experiencing whatever seems convenient to them, whatever serves their best interest,” Fr. Cabayao said.
Fernandez also emphasized the political parties’ function as only “mere vehicles to acquire resources,” pertaining to the ripple effect the PDP Laban felt when they asked Duterte to be in their party because of his viability.
“Political parties don’t use principle-based approach… It’s not much about principles but convenience,” he said.
The other lead discussants of the Pakighinabi were Joshua Tañola of the Political Science Cluster, Jamrell Buynay of Atenews, Alexander Quilaton of ECOSOC, Rowie Quimba of CAID, and Neil Panchio of CPIA.
The PRE-SONA Pakighinabi Conversation is held annually to analyze and dissect the incumbent president’s possible speech content.
This year, the said discussion was played via live streaming in the 8th floor of the Community Center for First Companion Building, the Miguel Pro and the university’s Youtube account, allowing students to share their sentiments in social media in reel time.