Was “hope springs eternal” too much

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

When I decided to write this article, I thought of using the words “Hope springs eternal” as my theme. Since I honestly did not know who authored it, I went to the internet. Readily the Net told me that it was in Alexander Pope's 1732 poem An Essay on Man where he wrote “Hope springs eternal in every human breast.”

The 1986 Constitutional Commission found it important to write into our fundamental law as a duty of a president to tell us the state of our nation and equally important what we can hope for in his regime. The commissioners agreed that the president should do it at the start of the session of both houses. So, they wrote this constitutional provision: “The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.” The State Of the Nation Address was designed to give the president the podium on which to outline what his people can hope for under his leadership.

In the days leading to the SONA, I randomly asked ordinary citizens if they would want to listen to the president tell the Filipino people what has become of our country within the year of his family’s return to power and what he plans to do henceforth as our leader. While a negligible few said their work schedules would not allow them the luxury of hearing the president, a great majority of them felt excited to understand what the country’s state has been in the first year of BBM’s administration. Their overwhelming number changed my earlier plan of going instead to the farm to attend to few Tugas trees that I planted.

What did I eventually hope would Pres. Marcos Jr. announce as his biggest achievement in the first year of his presidency? Or what would be his boldest plan to benefit his people in the next year? I did not expect the president to repeat his electoral promise of making the staple rice available to the people at P20.00 per liter. That propaganda already netted him 31 million votes. Neither did I imagine him to speak about continuing his predecessor’s war on drugs because that would link him to the International Criminal Court where former President Duterte might be indicted.

Alexander Pope’s “hope springs eternal” persuaded me to spare my afternoon last Monday to listen to the SONA. But, I hoped that the president’s speech would be a little different from the other SONAS of the past. There was one particularly disturbing topic I hoped Pres. Marcos would tell his audience. Talking about it, in all honesty, would put an end to the issue that many of his unbelievers always smear him with. I was referring to the reported billions of pesos of estate tax liabilities his family allegedly refused to pay. I really hoped that Pres Marcos Jr would use the SONA stage to tell us, his constituents, that it is untrue that his family owes the government anything. Or that he would humbly admit his family’s failure to honor the tax laws of the country of which he is now the president and in one remorseful stroke draw from their reputed fortune the amount of money needed to pay their tax debt. In the end though even hoping against hope was too much.

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