Live-blogging the SONA 2008

Below is my attempt to live-blog de facto President Arroyo’s eighth State of the Nation Address. the SONA is an annual constitutional ritual where the President gives a report to a joint session of both houses of Congress.

3:58 pm – Villar and Nograles call the joint session to order. Nograles introduces the national anthem.

4:00 pm – Villar introduces “legislators’ prayer”.

Several religious leaders lead the prayer. Muslim leader included.

Plume of smoke rises after GMA makes the sign of the cross.

4:02 pm – Nograles introduces GMA. Applause. GMA walks down to the podium. Applause galore.

Thank you Speaker Nograles. Senate President Villar… etc. The usual pleasantries.

We ended 2007 with the strongest economic growth in 2007. We are looking to a brighter future.

Because tough choices were made.

Applause galore.

Biglang bigla, nabaligtad ang ekonomiya sa buong mundo. Ang pagtalon ng presyo ay nagbunsod ng pandaigdigang krisis…

[Tonyo’s note: GMA is practically saying that she has absolutely nothing to do with the Philippine crisis.]

Uncertainty has moved like a tsunami across the globe. This is a complex time that defies easy solutions. It is hard to identify villains unlike in the 1997 financial crisis…

To address these global challenges, wemust go on building and buttresing bridges to allies across the world…

Walang sense na applause.

[Minamalat na si GMA. Napakatagal siguro ng rehearsal.]

Applause uli.

We have the money to care for our people.

Palakpakan uli.

Neither I or anyone else expected this.

For footing the bill, I thank the taxpayers.

The result has been, on the one hand, ito ang nakasalba sa bayan. On the other, more unpopularity for myself. Even unfriendly polls, self-rated poverty is going down.

My responsibility as president is to take care, to solve problems, to provide vision. Many in this great hall live privileged life and exert great influence. I spend time with the underprivileged… Nag-aalala ako sa nakaawang maybahay na pasan ang pananagutan… Nag-alala ako sa magsasaka… I care for hardworking students. Nag-aalala ako sa padre de familia na di araw araw ang trabaho… I care for our teachers who give the greatest gift… I care for our OFWs.

[Mental note: I don’t care.]

Applause.

Nagpupugay ako ngayon sa kanilang mga karaniwang Pilipino.

Applause.

This is a global crisis where everyone is a victim where only a few can avoid or delay the effects. Tulad ninyo, nag-aalala ako para sa kanila. Itong mga taong bayan na dapat samahan natin because they are our countrymen.

How do we solve these many complex challenges. The answer must be: special care and attention at this hour of need.

Ease price challenges.

Food self-sufficiency, less energy dependence, greater self-reliance as people and posture as nation.

Short-term relief cannot be at the expense of long term reforms. These reforms will benefit not just next generations of Filipinos but the next president as well.

Napakahalaga ng VAT sa mga hamong ito. Itong programa ang sagot sa mga problemang namana natin.

Applause from some bastards.

Una, para mabawasan ang mga mautang at shore up fiscal independence.

Konting applause.

Higit na pamumuhunan at imprasktraktura.

Konting applause.

Sapat na pondo para sa programang pang-masa.

Applause.

Showcase! Showcase! Samar in Eastern Visayas!

Applause.

Take VAT away and you and I abdicate our responsibilities as leaders.

Lalong lumakas ang tiwala ng investors. Cites peso exchange.

Kung alisin ang VAT, hihina ang kumpyansa negosyo.

Visual: VAT proceeds purportedly for the poor.

Take away VAT and we strip our people of the means to ward off food and energy crisis. We have come too far and made too many sacrifices. To turn back now from reforms. Leadership is about doing what is necessary, however hard.

Para sa namamasada at namamasahe, sinusugpo ang kotong at kolorum para maitaas ang kita ng tsuper.

Showcase! Purported driver stands up! Applause!

Texting is a way of life. I ask the telcos to reduce internetwork texts. It is now down to 50 centavos.

Applause!

Noong Hunyo, dalawang bilyon para sa mga mahihirap, isang bilyon para sa scholarship o pautang para sa mga estudyanteng maralita. Kalahating bilyon para sa jeepneys. Kalahating bilyon pampalit sa fluorescent.

Sa sunod na Katas ng VAT, may one billion para sa kuryente ng mahihirap, kalahating bilyon sa matatanda, kalahating bilyon sa pamilya ng namamasada, kalahating bilyon para sa hospital sa mga lalawigan.

At para sa mga kalamidad, angkop na halaga. We released 1 billion pesos for victims of Frank. Calamity budget from VAT proceeds.

Showcase! Kid saved mother, brother, sister from raging river! Applause!

Mentions tax exemption for minimum-wage earners, thanks Congress.

May 32 pesos na na commercial rice. Nagtagumpay tayo sa pagtutulungan ng bayan. Thanks Art Yap.

Sa mga LGUs at religious groups, na tumutulong dalhin ang NFA rice, maraming salamat.

Dahil sa subsidy, NFA rice is among the region’s cheapest. There is no substitute to solving rice and fuel problem here at home. There has been a fundamental shift in global economics. Prices will likely remain high. Government cannot solve problem but we can ease the pain.

Since 2001, irrigation systems… 1.5 million hectares…

Erwin Bandila of Pugalingan, Carmen, North Cotabato cultivated 1 hectare harvested 13 cavans. Now he cultivates five hectares, harvest 97 cavans per hectare.

Applause.

Pangasinan is one of our largest rice producing provinces but under-irrigated.

[Tinira si JDV.]

LBP has given loans. DA instructed to revitalize farmers’ coops.

We are providing seeds at subsidized farmers. Incremental Malampaya revenues of P4-b will go to our rice self-sufficiency program.

Rice production since 2001 increased 4.07 percent a year, twice the national population growth rate. We have curbed population growth using natural methods.

Natural family planning!

From 1978-1981, we exported rice. Panahon pa ng Kastila, bumibili na tayo ng bigas sa labas. Compares Philippines to Thailand.

To meet the challenges of today, we will feed the people now, not later.

We must become more self-reliant, self-sufficient and independent.

Land reform…

[Namatay saglit ang monitor ko.]

Hectares upon hectares…

Tribal leader now a mayor and helped 15,000… achieve food self-sufficiency.

Agrarian reform should not merely subdivide misery.

Sinimulan ng aking ama ang land reform

Extension of CARP is top priority.

I will contribute all I can for the rural at urban poor.

Former tenants must be empowered to become agribusinessmen, allow land to be used as collateral.

Dapat bigyan ang magsasaka ng dangal.

Applause.

I want the rackets out of agrarian reform.

There must be a path where justice and progress converge. Let us find it before Christmas.

Dapat nating linisin ang landas sa mga ibig magpursige sa pagsasaka.

Along with massive rice production, we are cutting costs through efficient transport.

RO-RO.

This year, we launched the central Philippines nautical highway.

Nestle cut transport costs. Salamat, RO-RO.

Transport costs have become so reasonable.

Price of Gardenia bread in Iloilo, same as Manila. Salamat uli, RO-RO.

To LGUs who stopped collecting fees from cargo vehicles, salamat.

Applause.

Re-paved airports.

Applause.

Producing rice, moving it. On the demand side, we are boosting buying power.

20,000 Oysters sa buong bansa.

Tech-voc education. 2007 alone, 1.7-million graduated. Among them, Jessica. Now in Hanjin as supply officer. Shen. Marie Grace Comendador. Marilyn Tusi.

Applause.

Lady welders, congratulations.

In micro-finance, loans have reached 102-billion pesos, with a 98 percent repayment record.

Major lenders include LBP…

For partnering to unleash the entrepreneural spirit, thank you Go Negosyo and Joey Concepcion.

Applause.

Rubber is strong in Zambo Sibugay and North Cotabato.

Aling Victoria used to earn 5,000 pesos as farmer and factory worker. Now owns land, earns 10,000 pesos a week.

Another example…

Jatropha.

Comprehensive peace has eluded us.

Last night, differences on the tough issue of ancestral domain were resolved.

There are political dynamics among people of Mindanao. Let us sort them out with utmost restraint.

I ask Congress to enact reforms during our term of office.

Better talk than fight.

[Skipped to rest.]

We have introduced Pantawid Pamilya.

Thank you employers for paying the SSS premiums.

Dagdagan ng GSIS at buksan muli ng SSS ang housing loans. I ask Congress to let SSS provide housing loans beyond 10 percent.

[Mental note: More money for Neri’s disposal!]

Ngayon, 65 million ang may health insurance. Kasama ang 15 milyong maralita.

Philhealth has paid 100 billion pesos for hospitalization.

Palalawakin ang important programa sa [rattles off a list of provinces] lalo na sa magsasaka at mangingisda.

Nadoble ang scholarships.

I have started reforming and clustering the programs of DepEd, CHED and Tesda.

Government agencies are reducing their energy and fuel bills by 10 percent, emulating Texas Instruments and Philippine Stock Exchange who did it last year.

To reduce power system losses, we count on government regulators and EPIRA amendments.

We are successful in self-sufficiency. We promote geothermal.

The new oil field produces one/twelfth of our ….

Renewable energy bill as passed… Thank you…

Applause.

Chattering about jobs.

Our world competitiveness ranking rose five notches. Congratulations to us.

We are sticking to and widening the fiscal reforms that earned us the respect. Thank you investors for your invaluable role in our development. I invite you to invest… following the example of the [new Central Luzon] expressway.

I ask business and civil society to work on …. balance of interest.

Our administration enacted [environmental laws].

We have set up over a 100 sanctuaries.

For clean water, so important to our health, we have [money]. 21 sanitary landfills. Zero Basura Olympics. For garbage officials to stop squabbling.

Our investments include strengthening institutions of government, scourge of corruption. I will continue to fight this battle every single day. While others are happy with headlines… we have allocated largest anti-graft effort in history.

From its dismal past record, Ombudsman conviction rate has increased 500 percent. Lifestyle checks never seriously implemented have led to dismissal and or criminal prosecution of dozens of corrupt officials.

I recently met with Mellennium Challenge Corp. They commended our gains, gave grants and declared us eligible for more grants,

On my instruction, the BIR and Customs established government-civil society tie ups for corruption and tax evasion monitoring. Colleagues in Congress, we need a more stringent anti-graft act.

Sa pagmahal ng bilihin, hirap na ang mamimili tapos dadayain pa. Hinihiling ko sa Kongreso na magpasa ng Consumer Bill of Rights.

I call on our government workers to be more responsive and accountable to our people. Panahon ito ng pagsubok. Kung saan dapat tumulong ang pamahalaan, we must be there.

Let us be more helpful, more corteous, more quick.

Iisa ang ating pangarap, maunlad at mapayapang lipunan.

Sama-sama tayo sa tungkuling ito. We are three branches but one government. We have disagreements. We have ambitions and differences. But we are one nation, with one faith.

As your president, I care too much for this nation to let anyone stand anyone to people’s well-being. Hindi ko hahayaang humadlang ang sinuman na humadlang sa pagsagana ng taumbayan. I will let no one’s political plans threaten our people’s survival.

We must be there for them [people] now.

Maraming salamat at magandang gabi sa inyong lahat.

[Palakpakan.]

[Mental notes: Roughly one hour, ten page speech]

5:00 pm – Villar and Nograles adjourn session on behalf of Senate and House respectively.

Full text of SONA 2008 may be viewed here.

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