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Morbid fascination

You know how we can never walk past an accident without craning our necks to check if we can see someone lying dead or something? That’s called a morbid fascination, and it’s what kept me refreshing the Inquirer’s SONA liveblog.

In closing out the SONA – which was applauded 102 times – the President says:

“We have our disagreements, but we are one nation with one faith. As your President, I care too much for this nation to let anyone stand in the way of the people’s well-being. I will let no one threaten our nation’s survival. We must be there for them now.”

Altho this was obviously inserted as a kind of bravura statement, all it does is ring warning bells. First of all, who decides if someone is standing in the way of the people’s well-being? Her? Her AFP? And when they decide – however they reach that decision – what are they actually gonna do about it? Spirit these counter-productives away? Kill them?

And I find it ironic that the President should talk about letting no one threaten the nation’s survival when she’s presiding over the balkanization of the Philippines by endorsing that crazy Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. Seriously. She’s not so much protecting the nation’s survival as carving it up.

Btw, it still amazes me that they actually count the number of rounds of applause considering that that only reflects how determined the suck-ups in the gallery are. And besides, which applauses were counted? Did they count the applause that greeted the introduction of the President’s poster-children? Seem to me like that shouldn’t count towards the final tally as technically, it wasn’t the speech being applauded but these individuals – and at that, not because of anything other than politeness, i would suppose.

And do they count the limp wristed applauses? And the trickles of applause that come only from the most rabid brown-nosers who need to do something whenever the President so much as pauses for breath.

In any case, I think this whole applause counting system is rigged. The president obviously pauses for applause from time to time, so the clapping isn’t always spontaneous. And if it isn’t spontaneous, then you might as well say it was staged, and really, what’s the point of making a big deal out of 50 or so canned applause?

On education, Erika Tapalla, over at the Inquirer live blog reports:

In the 10 poorest provinces in the Philippines, Arroyo says she will launch a massive schooling program. Every student will receive 10 pesos per day. In addition, Arroyo claims to have been reforming and clustering programs of DepEd to focus more on conservation and management.

A massive schooling program, I understand. But ten pesos per student per day? WTF? If she wants a massive schooling program, she ought to make sure that the parents have enough money to send their kids to school, first and foremost, so that they don’t treat the kids as economic assets to be worked to the bone for the sake of a few pesos. The, when she’s assured that the parents have money, she should make it a criminal offense for parents not to send their kids to school – up to high school. Parents who fail to send their kids to school lose their kids and go to jail or do community service or something. This will emphasize that the government’s role is to provide schooling facilities, but the responsibility for sending the kids to school in the first place (instead of making them beg) falls squarely on the parents’ shoulders.

Oh, and while on the topic, the President should do something about parents who send their kids out begging after school. Along Katipunan in Quezon City, for instance, kids as young as 10 to 12 are out begging in the late afternoons. Some of them have even learned how to turn a trick, offering handjobs and blowjobs to foreign types. They’re not humiliated by it either. For them, these are economic activities that bring maximum gain for minimum effort. It’s a great deal! And since they’re growing up in an environment where sex is considered an acceptable pastime, they’re apparently able to engage in sex without much psychological scarring. After all, they’re not being forced into it anymore; they’re the ones offering it up.

Erwin Oliva reports:

Citing Pope Benedict, Arroyo says she’s combining programs of government to fight poverty and to create a national welfare program to help people find livelihood, increase pension funds, bring food aid, help child nutrition, increase housing loans, and bring cheaper medicine to the people.

Well, there ya go. She wants government to create a national welfare program after all. Then instead of focusing on just child nutrition, she should go all the way and institute a foster home program where kids are separated from parents who fail their parental obligations and are relocated to homes that ensure their welfare.

Of course, with this kind of position on responsible parenthood:

Arroyo stresses the promotion of family planning to help decrease the country’s population growth. Campaigns of responsible parenthood and natural family planning is favored over artificial family planning or contraceptives, she says.

It’s a pretty certain bet that there’ll be more children than foster homes in a very short while.

Still, the SONA wasn’t utterly devoid of all sense. Erika Tapalla reported

President Arroyo claims that short term relief cannot be at the expense of long-term reforms which will benefit not just the next generation of the Filipinos, but the next President as well. She says that the value-added tax is the solution to the country’s foreign debts, ensures fiscal independence, is an investment in citizens and the country’s infrastructure and provides the foundation for programs for the common people.

That I agree with. Unfortunately, statements like these were definitely a minority, and – truth be told – somewhat out of place in a SONA.

All in all, this SONA was exactly what i expected – not a speech about the state of the nation at all, but a long winded talk about what she claims to have achieved. And it wasn’t even very well-writ either. Especially her closing statement where she claims that we are ‘one nation with one faith.’

One faith? Would that be Christianity or Islam? LOL.

And don’t even get me started about what she was wearing …

=======================

Read the Open Forum over at Filipino Voices.

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14 Responses

  1. cvj says:

    If VAT is collected in pesos, in what way can it be a solution to the country’s foreign debts?

  2. Bencard says:

    cvj, have you ever heard of foreign exchange – peso to dollar. dollar to peso?

  3. niki says:

    Should I be happy that I was not a witness to this SONA and that our TV at the apartment only cater to pirated DVDs? LOL.

  4. rom says:

    niki: absolutely, sweetheart. I was just sneaking peeks at it and I felt drained afterward. would’ve rather been watching sweet home alabama. 😀

  5. cvj says:

    Bencard, yeah i’ve heard about it. So how does that work with respect to VAT collections?

  6. Bencard says:

    cvj, with more revenue through vat, less foreign borrowing for domestic expenditures . also, better ability to pay accrued interests, plus (perhaps) a little bit of the principal on existing debts.

  7. cvj says:

    bencard, that’s where i see the disconnect. Why do you have to borrow US dollars for domestic expenditures (which you pay in Philippine Pesos)? And when it comes to paying off foreign debt (which is denominated in US Dollars), what matters is our ability to acquire tsuch Dollars via Export earnings or inward remittances.

  8. Bencard says:

    cvj, if you have an inkling of the function of foreign exchange and fx reserves, probably there would be no “disconnect”. i’ll leave it up to the financial experts to educate you on it.

  9. cvj says:

    Bencard, thanks for offering up your attitude but that still doesn’t answer my question. To sumarize:

    1. Why pay for something that can be bought in pesos in terms of dollars?
    2. and how can collecting VAT, which is denominated in pesos, help in paying dollar denominated debts?

  10. BrianB says:

    Welfare, in a Third World country? Even if you write it down as an article in the Constitution it will just end up being so much more government hypocrisy. Just like free education. Shouldn’t she rather do something on the infrastructure side to help the poor?

  11. Bencard says:

    rom, i really don’t think pgma meant to “kill” those who stand in the way. i see it as an expression of resolve to do what is right (as she sees it) regardless of obstacles thrown at her path by her enemies. i think she is in a best position to exercise political will given that she’s not running for re-election. she will be more unpopular than she already is, but what of it?
    history will judge her good or bad, as lincoln (unpopular at death) was judged years after he died.

  12. rom says:

    Bencard: hahaha. I agree I shouldn’t have been quite so literal, uncle. The point I was trying to make was that there was an implicit threat in those words – the threat that anybody who stands in the way (as she defines “standing in the way”) of the people’s welfare (as she defines it) will be swept away using all the powers are her disposal.

    The words themselves can be treated as chest-thumping, but the fact that she gets to define all the terms – that’s what turns it into a threat.

    Kinda reminds me of Solomon and the baby. What we, as kids, have been taught was a demonstration of wisdom, was actually nothing short of a declaration of willingness to wage war.

    Think of it: Baby = Israel; the weeping mother = the true successor of David; the brazen mother = Solomon, the usurper.

    The message was simple: Solomon (the brazen mother) was willing to split Israel (the baby) in two in a bloody civil war, unless the rightful heir (the weeping mother) gave up his claim to the throne.

    It was so simple and brutal that when that story spread, the bible says, all of Israel trembled in fear.

    Gloria’s statement, while seemingly harmless, shows a similar willingness to use power to achieve her ends. Now that may be a good thing, if done judiciously; but it may also turn out to be a bad thing.

    As you said, let history be the judge.

  13. Jeg says:

    ‘Morbid fascination’ is a great way to describe the way the ‘punditocracy’ and the, (apologies) ‘bloggerocracy’ chose to cover the SONA instead of something else. It’s like Oscar night.

    A bit OT:

    That’s the first time Ive every heard of that interpretation of the Solomon judgement, rom. Where’d you get that? Wherever it is, I have to say, ‘Way to read too much into a little story there.’

    BTW, the word translated in the KJV as ‘fear’ can also mean ‘revere’ or ‘hold in awe’. The modern translations such as the ESV states, “And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.” Makes more sense since the Israeli common folk wouldnt have thought, ‘Holy crap! ‘Tis a threat of war disguised as a wise judgment! Let us therefore be afraid!’. More likely they just went, ‘Wow.’

    Back on topic, barely: “History will judge me” is one of those statements I dont get. What does it mean exactly? History is the past. Dont they mean ‘let the future generations judge me’? It’s the refuge of the politician who is judged unfavorably by both history and the present generation. GW Bush likes it a lot.

    (Sorry, I have nothing to say about the SONA. I completely ignored it. No morbid fascination here.)

  14. rom says:

    Jeg: well, there’s a first time for everything, eh? LOL! I’m skipping comment on the solomon story, coz i’m writing a post on that.

    History is writ by those who have the luxury of hindsight. So, if, in hindsight, the acts of the president turn out to have worked out for the best, then the history of her will be flattering. Hence, history judges.

    The point, I suppose, is that the acrimony people feel now – the anger and hate – won’t last forever; and future generations will be more objective.

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