Pimentel on Sona: ‘Nation’s state is worrisome’
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Floor Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday exposed the real state of the nation, debunking many of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s claims during his last State of the Nation Address (Sona).
In his 25-page kontra-Sona speech, which he dubbed as “The Realistic Sona,” Pimentel said the “state of the nation is worrisome.”
This was a direct response to Marcos’ remark on his second Sona, when the President said that the “state of the nation is sound and improving.”
On prices of basic commodities
Pimentel started his speech by lamenting the skyrocketing prices of food and basic commodities in the country.
“Hindi tama sabihin na sa mga nakalipas na buwan, nakita natin ang pagbaba ng presyo ng bilihin sa iba’t ibang mga sektor. Meron tayong cost of living crisis ngayon. And let us add to this the cost of dying. Dapat tignan din ito ng gobyerno,” said Pimentel.
(It is not correct to say that in recent months, we have seen a decrease in commodity prices in various sectors. We have a cost of living crisis now. And let us add to this the cost of dying. The government should also look into this.)
He then enumerated the necessities that have “noticeably” gone through price increase since July 2022. These include rice, fish, beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, fruits, sugar, electricity, as well as transportation fare.
On fighting corruption
For Pimentel, the growing national debt is still a cause of concern.
“With national debt at 14.1 trillion pesos and population at 117 million, each Filipino has a debt of around P120,000,” said the lawmaker.
“Mamamatay na lang tayo nagbabayad pa rin tayo ng utang, tapos meron pa tayong ipapamana sa sunod na henerasyon para sila naman ang sumunod sa parehong ikot ng buhay,” he added.
(We’re going to die while we’re still paying debt, then we’ll pass this on to the next generation and they will follow the same cycle of life.)
Pimentel then stated that corruption has contributed to the ballooning debt of the Philippines.
“In the 2022 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International which rates countries based on the perceived level of public sector corruption, the Philippines ranked 116th out of 180 countries, scoring only 33 out of 100 which is way below the global average of 43. The lower the score the more corrupt in perception,” said the lawmaker.
“Ang ibig sabihin nitong study na ito ay corrupt ang tingin ng mundo sa ating bansa,” he added.
(This study indicates that the world views our country as corrupt.)
He then slammed Marcos for not tackling corruption in his more than hour-long speech.
“We need this government to show that it is committed to the fight against corruption. We need to hear the orders being issued. We need to know who are assigned to do the crackdown. We hope President Bongbong Marcos will soon announce his administration’s gameplan in fighting the worsening corruption,” Pimentel noted.
Marcos, in his Sona, has vowed to go after agricultural smugglers and hoarders, but Pimentel stressed that airing this promise to the public alone is not enough.
“The President said bilang na ang mga araw ng mga smugglers at hoarders na ‘yan. Kilala na ba natin sila, para makapag umpisa na tayo sa pagbibilang ng araw?” Pimentel asked.
(The President said the days of those smugglers and hoarders are numbered. Do we already know them, to the point that we can start counting the days?)
“There is rampant agricultural smuggling into the Philippines. And there are reports of drug smuggling out of the Philippines. There are reports too of personalities involved in these smuggling activities being able to join the President on his foreign trips. So, just a word of advice and caution to the staff of the Office of the President – please exercise vigilance and impose the highest standards in qualifying personalities as part of the presidential delegation or of the people allowed to be seen and associated with the President,” he furthered.
The Senator likewise claimed that the President is “overpromising” on the housing units that he can deliver, adding that he is not convinced that the Marcos administration can provide more than one million units for Filipinos nationwide.
“I think the President is overpromising on the housing units that can be delivered in a year’s time. I don’t think it can be done,” said Pimentel.
“Those providing these housing units better be careful because we cannot rush these units especially if their plan is to provide these housing units in high rise structures. These structures need the proper time for curing which cannot be rushed,” he stressed.
Other issues not mentioned in Marcos’ Sona
Pimentel also noted the issues “left out” during Marcos’ Sona.
These include wage increase, the West Philippine Sea, EDCA sites, Afghan refugees, and the US Military Aircraft landing on Philippine airports among others.