SONA2022: On highlights and omissions

New Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. outlined his administration’s priorities and plans for the next six years in his first state of the nation address (SONA) last July 25.

 

The Center for Liberalism and Democracy, together with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Philippines, gathered experts on health, education, and the economy to talk about the president’s SONA, July 29.

 

What are the highlights?

Marcos Jr opened his first SONA with a technical rundown of his economic plans and goals to try and illustrate a “sound state.” However, UP School of Economics professor JC Punongbayan, PhD reacted, 

Pres. Marcos, Jr. said that the state of the nation is sound, pero kung susuriin mo nang mabuti and contrast it to what is happening in the country, you will realize that the state of the nation is not as sound as he is painting it to be.”

Meanwhile, Philippine Business for Education acting executive director Justine Raagas lauded the president’s take on the education sector, emphasizing the need to address issues on nutrition, improvement of teaching quality and lifelong learning, improvement of learning inputs and environment, education governance, and the review of the current education system.

 

Former health secretary Dr. Manuel Dayrit noted how the new president, as compared to his predecessors, had much to say about the health sector. However, he furthered that addressing the problems in the country’s healthcare system should follow a multisectoral approach, especially as it recovers from and continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

What are the omissions?

While there were a lot to unpack from Marcos Jr’s SONA, the panelists agreed that there were omissions – issues on human rights and press freedom being the most obvious ones.

 

There was also not much said about vice president and education secretary Sara Duterte’s plan to reinstate mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Raagas expressed reservations, “There are ways to teach love of country inside the classroom and make sure they’re learning their history right, increase their knowledge and appreciation of their culture, and find ways to be better citizens through volunteering. Say that the education sector needs a lot of help so why not channel your efforts there?”

 

At the end of the discussion, Punongbayan and moderator Paeng David echoed the need to stay vigilant. 

Napahalaga na mabantayan natin mga mamamayan yung mga pinangako ay meron plano, at masiguro na hindi tayo mapagod humingi ng detalye,” David closed.

 

Watch the forum here