What the president should tell the people during the SONA
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 21, 2019 - 12:00am

Today, Senator Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao defends his world welterweight title against an undefeated and much younger foe, 30-year-old Keith Thurman, in Las Vegas. Will it be good news for him? Or will Thurman finally send him to his retirement? Tomorrow, the Philippine Congress will open its joint session and the president will address the nation. What good news and bad news will he tell Filipinos?

The good news first. From 2016 up to this year, so much have changed, a lot of decisions were made and action taken. What impact had been caused on the socio-economic and political development of the whole country? Are the people better off today than three years ago? Has the economy improved, are there new investments coming, and have jobs been created as promised? To be fair, I submit that the answer to all these questions is yes. The Philippine economy has been performing well and even better than most of the ASEAN member-nations. This is due to the strong economic and financial fundamentals that have been put in place.

The bad news is that the fruits of the economic growth, again for the nth time, have not trickled down to the poorest of the poor. This economic phenomenon is a perennial malady that defies comprehension. The inflation rate has been steady and not rising but the cost of living has continued to be beyond the reach of the minimum wage-earners. Unemployment and underemployment rates keep rising and the government's drive against contractualization has driven too many investors away, thus exacerbating joblessness. Each day, over 5,000 Filipinos leave for other countries to work.

The war against drugs has been relentless but the number of drug addicts hasn’t been substantially reduced. Crimes are still rampant and there is a pervading fear against summary executions and extrajudicial killings. The propaganda mounted by senators Trillanes, de Lima, and Hontiveros, and Ressa's Rappler, seem to be successful in getting international attention. The president is facing a critical evaluation by the foreign press and international human rights communities. These negative perceptions have hindered the coming in of foreign investments, and caused the loss of tremendous job opportunities.

Duterte remains very popular. The C, D, and E segments of Philippine society are strongly behind the president. The police and military are with him. But there is a growing alliance between the progressive sectors and the A and B strata of the socio-economic spectrum, as well as the Church, students, the highly infiltrated and indoctrinated urban poor and rural peasants. These are Duterte's Waterloos. The state of the nation is that there is a growing disenchantment among the intelligentsia and the bourgeoisie of society. The businessmen are wary, the labor sectors agitated, and the youth disgusted.

His advisers and staff must have taken months to prepare what the president should tell the people. But he should spill the beans and tell the truth. He hasn’t brought in the social cancer killing the country. He inherited a nation already in stage 3 of this malady. It won’t be good to hide the facts, because most of the people know the real score, after all. Pacquiao may win anew. But Duterte has many rounds yet to fight. I wish these two Mindanaoans will survive their respective ordeals.


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