PACE OF PEACE: The SONA, PDAF, and simplicity

29-August-dela-torre-300x225MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/27 August) The yearly State of the Nation Address (SONA) is one of the highlights of the monitor of the government’s performance.

It is used as a gauge by various sectors in assessing the president’s performance along with his cabinet and other agencies in terms of the general status of the country – economic, polity, socio-cultural – and its direction for the next year of governance.

It is supposed to be a report of what have been done or accomplished and what must be done further by what agencies including those involved in the success or failure in some areas.

For years, the SONA was greeted with mixed reactions by different sectors. 

With the advent of technology, the people had the chance to listen to the SONA delivered live.  However, with this technology, it is not only the one’s giving the SONA who is at the spotlight.

The other attention-drawer of the SONA affair is the display of expensive Filipiniana attire in gowns or dresses among women in government. They took the opportunity to show-off who looks good and (and not so good). 

Prior to the President’s speech, the Batasan Pambansa complex seems to be a venue where the most expensive fashion show is held.  Both the wearer of the gown and the designers have entered the scene.

What did this bring to the general public?

It showed contrast or contradictions in lifestyles.  

While the President is presenting improvements in the quality of life of the masses through the lens of minute economic growth, the “servants” of the people displayed the total contrast of their lifestyle from the condition of the people they ought to serve.

The BOSSES in society could hardly have decent clothes or slippers for protection.

To the different government agencies and LGUs, the SONA must be viewed as an agenda or framework of development at any level of governance. 

The President mentioned generalities.  It is the task of each of the agency to do the specifics for they are in close contact with their own constituents.  The issue of “trickle down” can be concretized by different line agencies.  The BOSSES must see the reality of development at their own level through the improvement of the quality of life of the people.

The recent PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) controversy shakes the whole bureaucracy.  

Will abolishing the pork barrel solve the problem of corruption?  Is the pork barrel the main problem? Is it not the system that has not been put in place to strictly monitor where the money is going?  Removing or abolishing a defective legislation that grants funds to the congressmen and senators does not solve the problem of corruption.

It is not only the lawmakers who have been given development funds are diverting these funds for their own vested interest.  Other officials in the cabinet before have been involved in similar practices (e.g fertilizer scam).

If abolishing a government system that is prone to manipulation for corruption that benefits only the few is bold step toward the “matuwid na daan”, then the whole government bureaucracy should also work collectively to establish a replacement for such.

Otherwise, we may succeed in uprooting a defective tree, but failed to have the productive tree that can drive our people to development.

This may be what we expect out of the SONA.  SONA (sana) … a stronger and more aggressive governance with effective system put in place. 

Instead of the contest of extravagance in fashion, there should be a display of simplicity in lifestyle among officials who are supposed to be models. More Filipinos are still homeless and hungry, that’s why.

(BUKIDNON VIEWS is the opinion section of Bukidnon News. Dr. Lourdes G. dela Torre is a researcher whose works have been presented in various national and international conferences. She has published books on Peace Education and Field Study. She is a consultant on community organizing, social, and peace studies. Pace of Peace is her column for Bukidnon Views.  She can be reached at bukidnonews@gmail.com)