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July 20, 2016

How To Make The SONA Meaningful

Change is coming, they say. Thus, change must also come to the annual SONA of the President. Here are some suggestions on ways to make this year’s SONA truly different and meaningful.
Renator Reyes Jr | How to make the SONA meaningful

1. We agree with the President. Scrap the SONA red carpet and fashion show. There is something terribly wrong when paid public servants strut around in designer gowns and suits, at work, while ordinary folks struggle to make ends meet.

2. Do away with the overkill security measures. Security for SONA 2015 seemed to rival the security for the Holy Father Pope Francis’ visit, except that those being protected inside Batasan were anything but holy. The security measures of the past were a waste of public resources and a terrible inconvenience on commuters and motorists. Every year, Commonwealth Avenue is turned into a war zone because of the presence of thousands of policemen, backed up by soldiers, container vans, razor-sharp concertina wires and firetrucks.

3. Let the people near Batasan. It’s a matter of Constitutional right. Absent any evidence of clear and present danger, there is no reason to block rallyists from getting near the SONA venue. This is also the simplest solution to the problem of heavy traffic. By allowing people to gather along Batasan Road, government can open up Commonwealth Avenue. Commuters will thank, instead of curse, government. This year, thousands of rallyists from as far as Mindanao and Northern Luzon are hoping to march near Batasan in support of the People’s Agenda and the peace talks.

4. No more gimmicks, please. Gloria Arroyo had her “bangkang papel”. Noynoy Aquino had his AVP’s and constant blaming of GMA. These don’t amount to much in terms of solutions. People want to hear about concrete solutions to poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, landlessness, lack of sovereignty, human rights violations, peace and so on. People want to hear answers and programs, not just sound bytes for the evening news.

5. Keep it real. It’s called State of the Nation Address. It’s supposed to reflect our country’s current situation. To the President’s speechwriter, please don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t tell us how far we’ve come and how great life is. Don’t give us statistics on the so-called economic growth that’s not felt by most. Don’t bombard us about improved credit ratings and other concepts that don’t mean squat to the poor. Give us the ugly truth so that concrete solutions can be found. We’d rather have an honest SONA than one that reads like a script from Encantadia.

The current president made many firsts during his inauguration. He had no problem breaking tradition. Let’s hope he does the same with his first SONA.

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