Present ‘battle plan’ for nation in Sona, lawmakers tell Marcos | Inquirer News

Present ‘battle plan’ for nation in Sona, lawmakers tell Marcos

Lawmakers said they expect President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to present a forward-looking State of the Nation Address (Sona), focusing on a “road map” and “battle plan” for the country’s development and rallying the Filipino people for “what they hope to achieve.”

President Fernand R. Marcos Jr. (Photo from Malacañang)

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers said they expect President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to present a forward-looking State of the Nation Address (Sona), focusing on a “road map” and “battle plan” for the country’s development and rallying the Filipino people for “what they hope to achieve.”

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) has yet to bare details on what Marcos will take up in his report to the nation today, unlike in previous administrations when government spokespersons informed the public a few days ahead on the topics to be covered, how long the speech would take, who wrote or contributed to it, and whether it will be delivered in English or Filipino.


So far, the PCO’s social media pages only featured short videos containing Sona trivia.


The PCO also made available GIFs for Facebook and Instagram and Viber stickers which netizens posting about the Sona could download.

The graphics include the Bagong Pilipinas slogan and logo that the PCO unveiled last week as part of the administration’s governance and leadership branding.

Among the few pieces of Sona-related information coming from the PCO was that government station RTVM will direct the televised program, and that soprano singer Lara Maigue will perform the national anthem.

Marcos did say on July 17 that his second Sona will be a “very simple” performance report on what his administration has so far achieved and what more needs to be done.

He said he wanted to explain to the people “that we have made significant progress” not only in governance but also in how the international community views the Philippines.

‘Compelling vision’

Lawmakers, however, said they expect a presidential report that will lay down the “battle plan” for the country moving forward.


House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto on Sunday said the president’s second Sona should not just be a “throwback moment” on the past year but a “battle plan on how we can fast-forward to what we hope to achieve.”

“I am not looking forward to spellbinding oratory tomorrow (Monday). I am interested about the marching orders,” the Batangas lawmaker said in a statement.

He said the Sona should not be a “mere replay of the past, but a preview of the future, setting a vision so compelling that it inspires and unites the entire nation to work hard for it.”

He added: “The text of the Sona should be truthful because, if not, the people will not be on the same page with the government in the critical days ahead.”

“It should give equal play to achievements — notable, negligible, and neglected. The work in progress is more important than the finished business,” Recto said.

He added that “at the very least, [the speech] should satisfy the people on what will be done to things that matter to, and bother, them the most” — particularly hunger, employment of skilled workers, public transportation and housing, as well as care for the sick and the elderly.

Recto said the Sona is an “opportunity for the president to present the architecture of Bagong Pilipinas where it is hoped that the full potential of the Filipino is harnessed, merit is given chance, and hard work rewarded.”

‘Rally the people’

Sen. Francis Escudero also said Marcos should not just focus his speech on a “feel good recital of achievements,” but also discuss the “bitter medicine” that the country may have to swallow.

The “Sona must… balance the ‘what has been done’ with the more important ‘what is to be done?’” Escudero said in a statement.

“The president deserves his victory lap as there are good things to be happy about. But he must end it with a pep talk that must rally the people to steel themselves for the hard work ahead,” he said.

According to Escudero, the country needs an annual presidential report that would “[shock] us about the great problems that we face, surprise us with the bold solutions, and scare us about the price of inaction.”

“A Sona cannot be all happy pills that sugarcoat the painful, but must include some bitter medicine to be swallowed for the nation to be healed of its many problems,” he added.

The President should not worry as the Filipino people “can handle the truth,” the senator said.


Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda said she was looking forward to Marcos’ discussion of the government’s pandemic recovery efforts and plans to solve issues affecting workers and the environment.

“I’d like to see a road map for sustainable pandemic recovery not just in the health sector, but in food and energy security, job creation, and livelihood,” she said.

She called on the appropriate agencies to monitor the country’s compliance with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

“I’d like to see our country continuously engage in the global and world stage—in terms of trade, cultural promotion, education, national security, and other forms of cooperation — which [Marcos] did in his [first] 12 months as chief executive,” Legarda said.

Sen. Bong Go said Marcos’ second Sona was an opportunity to discuss the government’s strategy in resolving the country’s major economic issues through the Philippine Development Plan.

“[This plan addresses] food security, supply chain management, decreasing energy cost and preserving energy security, reducing economic vulnerability from the pandemic by addressing health-care issues and strengthening social protection, [among others],” Go said.

Accomplishments, targets

For his part, House Speaker Martin Romualdez said his chamber would focus on passing the remaining nine of 44 priority measures identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac).

He added that initiatives would be undertaken toward the realization of the P20 per kilo rice promised by Marcos when he ran for president last year.

Ledac’s priority measures include the following:

  • the proposed Natural Gas Industry Enabling Law
  • Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System bill
  • National Employment Action Plan
  • the proposed creation of the Department of Water Services and Resources

The other priority bills propose amendments to the following laws:

  • Electric Power Industry Reform Act
  • Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act
  • Budget Modernization Act
  • National Defense Act
  • Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension for Uniformed Personnel

While Romualdez acknowledged that the administration has yet to achieve some of the objectives identified in the first Sona, it still had made strides in bringing down inflation, unemployment, and the cost of rice.

“As we’ve already seen, the inflation rate is going down so we are in the right direction but we still haven’t reached the point of really lowering the prices of commodities. We want to get there. That’s the direction,” he said.

Inflation settled at 5.4 percent in June from a high of 8.7 percent in January.

Romualdez also noted that the country’s unemployment rate was going down. This showed that “while we are not yet there, the direction is right.”

The Philippine Statistics Authority data placed the unemployment rate at 4.5 percent in April compared to 5.7 percent in the same period last year.

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As for achieving the P20 per kilo of rice aspiration, Romualdez said: “We are not yet there but we will soon approach that. We will make sure that in the House, we will take initiatives as we had done in the previous regular session [to] focus on the availability of affordable rice and we will try to target that P20 per kilo.”


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TAGS: 2023 State of the Nation Address, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Martin Romualdez, Ralph Recto

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