That was it, Mrs. Arroyo’s last state of the nation address. Except perhaps for the brainless hordes who clapped for her no less than 126 times even for the oddest moments and whenever she looked begging for it, most of us were unimpressed by the speech.
It was incoherent and lacked focus. If it was coherent in anything, it was in giving the public an incoherent response to demands that she declare before Congress and the nation that she will leave the presidency at noon time of June 30, 2010 and thereafter retire from politics. She was obviously disinterested in taking the high road of stateswomanship and went after leaders of the opposition as if the SONA was a speech on the campaign trail.
Those interested in a just and lasting peace were much disappointed because she heralded no radical change in policy. She claimed she merely used the powers of the presidency in thwarting “threats” to her regime, especially in 2006 when she imposed emergency rule, cracked down on the Left and the press and banned rallies. Never mind if the Supreme Court found most of those acts unconstitutional because it was her SONA and she projected this self-confidence and self-importance that her interpretation of historical events since she assumed 2001 is more important than the sentiments and verdict of those who supposedly elected her.
The speech was a smorgasboard only Arroyo can pull off. She defended her record to the hilt with questionable statistics, poked fun at her critics with choicest words and phrases, and sought to project the illusion of a president in total control. She called it “determination”. But what can we say in response to a President who refuses to consider and listen to criticism and dissent of her critics and the public when her supposed election remains under question to this very day? Do we expect Arroyo who stole the presidency in 2004 to suddenly discover the tents of and practice democratic leadership, substantive democracy and democratic dialogue? Of course not.
Donned in a gown whose color reminds us of Barney, Arroyo wanted the public to believe we are in a better economic position now than ever before and proclaimed Philippine success amid the global economic crisis. Just like Barney, she actually projected herself as a political and economic dinosaur who cannot and would not accept the social realities the nation face today. Never mind if the NEDA cheats vital statistics by doctoring the definitions of unemployment, underemployment and employment. Never mind if the nation continues to suffer from the endless diaspora of many of our brightest new and old professionals. Never mind the gazillions lost in corrupt deals, aborted or successfully operationalized. Never mind what we all say because it seems unimportant to Arroyo who, as a political and economic dinosaur, misinterpret as determination the savaging of the Constitution, the misuse of political power for corrupt ends, the maintenance of the worst political relationships among the elites, the dependence on firepower and force to kill critics and demonize rallies and activists, and finally, the spreading of a poisonous sense of cynicism that she owes everything to all of us for allowing her to be the country’s ruler for the second longest term.
Her parting shot in her speech is perhaps the worst insult she hurled to us individually and as the people. It is as if we wanted her to be president for the longest time and to do every rotten thing she has done:
To the people of our good country, for allowing me to serve as your President, maraming salamat.
Let us tell Arroyo: Thanks, but no thanks.