sooo not worth it

24 July 2012

from A tradition not worth it, cito beltran’s column yesterday, in anticipation of the afternoon SONA — a ritual borrowed from the U.S. that Filipino politicians have reinvented and trivialized.

Our local version of SONA has turned into a made for Reality TV event that looks more like a Hollywood Red carpet event where guests dress and behave like they were at a party instead of a serious political event intended to draw the true picture of country’s condition. Even media coverage of the event draws from the styles of US entertainment programs focusing on fashion, looks and social intrigue rather than “Who’s Who” in terms of being responsible for our current state of affairs.

yeah, it’s become so showbiz… all show and tight security…

The House of Representatives always spends extra to dress up the Batasan Pambansa complex. The last time Congress did this, I think they spent over several millions to spruce things up. Then the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have to deploy their respective army of security personnel to secure the President and the VIP guests. This takes months of preparation, with cops and soldiers being deployed days ahead, which requires lots of logistics such as vehicles, equipment, not to mention food and utilities, which again costs millions.

From the Palace side, an equal amount of time, work and money is poured into preparing the SONA speech with the help of “consultants”, a lot of work and fine tuning goes into preparing the agenda, guest lists, as well as the media coverage of the event, not to mention expenses for hair, make-up, and outfits of government officials and their spouses.

… and no substance.

On the average we get a 30 to 45 minute sanitized and politicized recap of events and realities that millions of Filipinos have been living in. Rich or poor, most of us don’t want to be reminded of our sorry state of affairs in terms of crimes, under employment, corruption and poverty. Even the so-called good news doesn’t matter much because most of the economic benefits remain limited to the rich and well connected who control business monopolies in the country.

Is it worth several millions of pesos just to hear a few quotable quotes that are read from the teleprompter and not from the heart? Do we need to spend millions of pesos to watch political turncoats serve out 17 to 21 blasts of applause as if they were watching a tennis match? Regardless of who delivers the speech, the sorry fact is, we the Filipino people are paying too much money for a tradition that does not change our state of affairs.

In comparison, the US model has always been crucial to Americans because US Presidents traditionally uses their State Of the Nation Address as a springboard or opportunity to make a major policy decision or announce vital information, which in turn affects investment decisions, political directions or global relations.

this time it was twice longer than average, punctuated by some 100 more blasts of sipsip applause, the longest one when he called for responsible parenthood, perceived as an endorsement of the RH bill, which was nothing of the sort.  the speech itself, if it can be called that, was self-congratulatory (parang he believes his own propaganda), and packed with trivia.  and promises.  even some defensiveness.  but nothing about palparan and human rights, or EPIRA, or FOI, or RH really.  nothing new, nothing surprising, nothing inspiring.  and that’s the state of the nation.

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