July 23, 2023 (2:34 PM)

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Photo Credits to Philippine Information Agency

Amidst various issues happening in the country, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. described his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be “very simple.”

“It’s really very simple. It’s just a performance report for Filipinos to see sa dami ng mga pronouncements, sa dami ng mga salita, kung ito ba ay talagang may kabuluhan o salita lamang,” Marcos said in an interview with Inquirer.

Accordingly, the standing issue on the West Philippine Sea, price inflation and deflation of buying power, increasing national debt, the controversial yet newly signed-to-law Maharlika Investment Fund, and issues in Mindanao await Marcos’ report in his second SONA. 

In the case of the country’s inflation rate, it can be remembered that the Philippines hits its highest inflation rate in 14 years, with a recorded rate of 8.7% last January 2023. Concurrently, under Marcos’ term as the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary, basic kitchen commodities prices have spiked – a kilo of onion was priced at P600.

In a pre-SONA forum conducted by Publicus Asia, Inc., Economic Analyst Eric Yancy Estrabo said that the administration could have done better in handling the situation.

“Sa pagkontrol ng inflation, the President could have done better in the first six months. Kayang-kaya ng President na magdeklara ng State of Economic Emergency to impose public freeze o hilingin sa Kongreso na bigyan siya ng power to temporarily suspend oil excise tax,” Estrabo said in SONA 2023: Bumabangon o Bumabaon?.

Political and Policy Strategist Malou Tiquia also questioned the transparency and accountability of the administration on the now signed-to-law Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill. 

“Iyong punto ng accountability at transparancy napakahalaga ‘yon kasi pondo ng tao ‘yan e. Sinabi nga ni Pangulong Marcos noong una niyang, during the signing, ang una niyang bitaw ay ‘we now have a sovereign wealth fund,’ nagulat ako doon kasi hindi naman iyon ang usapan kundi investment at kung investment, there is government agency – the National Government Agency – whose role is really to get investment and put it in the country,” Tiquia said in the Pre-SONA special episode.

“Kaya nga ako, medyo hindi sang-ayon pero napirmahan na kaya tignan natin. Tignan natin ang roll-out. Tignan natin anong proyekto ang mapopondohan at tignan natin kung hindi makakain ng korupsyon,” Tiquia added.

The MIF bill was personally suggested by the President himself in 2022 with the goal of taking a “bold step in the country’s economic transformation” by investing in various sectors like foreign currencies, foreign and domestic bonds, infrastructures, and real estate. 

Earlier version of the bill received backlash from the public as the investment fund seeks to use pension funds of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) as seed money. In the final version of the bill, capital money will be sourced from the dividends of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, and government financial institutions.  

Moreover, China’s growing aggression in the territorial fight over the West Philippine Sea requires Marcos’ attention as the President placed the dispute against China a priority in his foreign policy.

Last July 14, China’s monster ship, together with more than 30 Chinese militia vessels, was spotted at the Ayungin Shoal, which is situated within the country’s exclusive economic zone. The tension with China continues as it can be recalled earlier this year in February that a Chinese Coast Guard vessel used a military laser against a Philippine Coast Guard ship that caused a PCG crew to be momentarily blinded. 

To address the ongoing issue with China, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri told CNN Philippines that the senate was planning to pass a resolution to push Marcos to raise the case in the upcoming United Nations General Assembly this September. Outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Andres Centino was also newly appointed presidential adviser on WPS to focus on handling the WPS problem. 

On the other hand, it can also be remembered that the President, in his first SONA, skipped several issues affecting Mindanao, such as the rehabilitation in Marawi, mining and corruption, and the peace process of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Marcos’ second State of the Nation Address is set to happen tomorrow, July 24, at 4 PM.



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