My SONA to P-NoyBy Jose Ma. Montelibano
I write as one of the bosses of P-Noy, and I direct this message to him. This is not unsolicited advice. Rather, this is a restrained expression of what I feel and what I think. I know my sentiments and views are not universal, but whose are anyway? What I am sure of is that many will agree with what I am about to write. In fact, if I have a chance to reach more of the Filipino people, I am confident that the majority will find resonance with my message.
This is my State Of The Nation Address, and intended for the only president who ever called and considered me his “boss.” I wish I can be totally frank instead of being somewhat restrained in the choice of my words, but my open support for Noynoy the candidate and P-Noy the President may give more occasion for hired guns in tri and new media to attribute my words to P-Noy. Still, despite the restraint I will exercise, I will try not to dilute the essence of my message.
Let me begin.
Dear P-Noy, it has been one year and one month since you assumed the presidency. I did listen intently when you were delivering your SONA. It was a special treat for me to watch you from the gallery as a guest of one of the members of Congress. In truth, though, I just wanted to experience being personally present in the plenary hall while you were giving your speech. After all, I have been observing your actuation and pronouncements since you decided to run for president. I did not need to hear your SONA to have a good grasp of what you want for the Filipino people and how, in substance, you intend to go about achieving your goals.
Of course, that does not mean that you cannot give a surprise, to me and to the whole nation, by deliberately inserting in your SONA a radical policy. Still, that would be simply gimmickry unless the timing of what you will surprise us with is clearly coincidental. There are many who thought that you gave a good SONA, and some who thought you could have done much better. Again, it was not your SONA that I really cared about but how you have been trying to grapple with the utter mess, moral and financial, that have become embedded in both governance and in society’s value system.
The President’s SONA is often a hyped event and media-driven. It does not make it false when there is a deliberate attempt to focus attention on one speech, year after year, in the same plenary hall of Congress. It does not make it false, but it still does make it hyped. I noticed that the ladies who attended the event, either as members of Congress or their special guests, did their best to display their best attire. Of course, I admired their beauty. At the same time, I knew that they did not have to go all out to present themselves extraordinarily just to listen to what would seem as the most important presidential speech of the year.
What has been very important for me from the start was that you chose to run, not from ambition, but from vision. That is why I am confused why your critics keep pounding on your lack of vision, not just in your SONA, but ever since you stood there as a candidate that denied their candidates the presidency they coveted. What is so complicated about “Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap?” If corruption and poverty are the main cancers of Philippine society, and have been so for so long, even at the best of times, why would their elimination as a resolve and direction of a presidency not be an outstanding vision?
When the policy of exploitation of centuries finds extension in the attitude of corruption, it is not easy to root this out in six years, or sixty years. If the only president who has made it his vision to clean what others have learned to accept and tolerate will lose his resolve, then dishonesty, not integrity, continues to be the operating system of a society.
The pursuit of truth and justice should be relentless. You need not undertake it alone, not even by your government alone. The Filipino people can be harnessed to provide the environment for truth to be revealed and for justice to be applied. It is only incidental that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is the most recent president of the last nine years and appears to be the target of truth and justice. She is the first target because her presidency is largely believed to be very corrupt and deceitful. Any effort to let the skeletons, or hidden wealth, out of the closet will necessarily affect her first before others who served before her. If she falls, so will others.
Trust your people, Mr. President, as they trust you. They are not your bosses for nothing. They will march with you if you ask them to. Even now, many of us are doing what we, as good citizens, have to do. If you want us to do even more, just tell us where, when and how. You will be pleasantly surprised with our response.
We know you need the politicians and the bureaucrats to run a democracy. At the same time, the people are the best guarantee that democracy will work.
And, yes, an economic development program requires economists, investors and managers to make it succeed. On the other hand, the path of righteousness, the “Matuwid na daan,” requires wisdom and courage, and a hero to make it a lifestyle.
Go be a hero, P-Noy, and wake up the hero in us.
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