Change is coming, they say. Thus change must also come to the annual SONA of the President. Only July 25, President Rodrigo R. Duterte is set to deliver his first State of the Nation Address. Here are some ways this year’s SONA can be different and meaningful.
- We agree with the President. Let’s stop 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 programs to solve poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, lack of sovereignty, human rights and so on. Answers and programs, not just sound bytes for the evening news.
- Keep it real. It’s called State of the Nation Address. It’s supposed to reflect our current situation. To the President’s speech writers, 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 growth that’s not really felt by most. Don’t bombard us about improved credit ratings and other stats 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 for Encantadia.
The current president made many firsts during his inauguration. He had no problem breaking tradition. Let’s hope he does the same for his first SONA.