Palace on Sona: Mum’s the wordBy Michael Lim Ubac, Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
President Benigno Aquino III has prohibited members of his Cabinet or any Palace functionary from leaking portions of his State of the Nation Address (Sona) ahead of his appearance before a joint session of Congress on Monday.
Hence, no one in the Palace is willing—or has the courage—to preempt the President in commenting on the performance of the administration.
Contacted by phone, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, one of Mr. Aquino’s most senior political advisers said: “The President has been working on it by himself just with his speechwriters. I don’t know if he’s going to call some of us to go over it.”
Asked to at least give the Sona’s contents in broad strokes, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was uncharacteristically tight-lipped.
‘Let’s just wait’
“Let’s just wait for the actual delivery of the Sona. I don’t want to comment on the analysis because the only way that you can judge the Sona will be when after it is delivered,” said Lacierda.
Will the speech last for an hour?
“I can’t answer that. Please do understand,” said Lacierda, admitting that he did not want to risk getting a presidential scolding.
Lacierda said the President and his team of speechwriters led by Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang and his deputy, Manolo Quezon III, have been “continuously going over the speech.”
Quezon replied to a request for details: “No can do, as you know, no details whatsoever are released unless by President himself.”
Lacierda denied that the Palace’s silence over the Sona’s contents was a form of gag order.
Pride in Aquino
Finally, asked to assess the President’s performance, Lacierda said: “There has been a positive change in the perception of Filipinos, owing primarily to the good governance of President Aquino. You know, I was out of the country recently. The Filipinos I met abroad are so proud of the country now. They can hold their head up high and to a man, they credit this pride to President Aquino.”
The Movement for Good Governance (MGG) advocacy group yesterday said Mr. Aquino achieved some gains in delivering on promises but progress was slower than expected during his third year in office.
The MGG, which evaluated Mr. Aquino on seven metrics—economy, public finance, health, environment, governance, education and agriculture—gave Mr. Aquino a score of 5.77 out of the highest 10 on his third year in office.
This was a modest improvement on the 5.59 score that the MGG gave the President last year and the 4.69 in 2010.
The MCG, which is chaired by former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and retired University of the Philippines professor Solita Monsod, said the annual assessment was not meant to be a critique “but a tool for identifying successes and alerting government on areas that need strengthening and improvement.”
The MGG assessed the performance of government based on the extent to which the promises and the platform of the President when he was campaigning in 2009 have been carried out.
The President’s campaign platform was reiterated in his inaugural address and metamorphosed into the program that served as the basis of the recently released 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan, with “inclusive growth” as the mantra, the MGG noted.
The highest scores in MGG’s assessment were in the areas of economy and governance with a grade of 6 and 6.62, respectively, against the previous year’s 5.66 and 6.5, respectively.