• The Pasig Review

The Genuine State of Our Nation

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

by Joaquin Villareal

Editor’s Note: Joaquin Villareal is a student whose outspoken views are due to his social awareness. As a campus journalist, he makes it a point to be aware of what is happening around him because writing is not just a hobby but a means to an end. His opinions are his and any similarity to another’s opinion is mere coincidence or is due to similar principles embraced.

What is the state of our nation? What is it really? Take a moment and set aside what was said by our ‘dear’ president today. Ignore the self-gratification we witnessed today and take a look at the real, unfiltered state of our nation. What do you see? Because I see a police-state run by a man with no seemingly remorse, desperate to consolidate his legacy with the blood of innocents and the fall of the oligarchies who he alleges are against him.

A bold claim on my part, but it has to be said. If the obvious isn’t said, then no one would dare say it. ‘It’ being my own personal opinion on the matter, and that opinion matters greatly. As a member of the youth of this nation, I am one of the millions who will inherit this sacred land and nurture it into something greater than it is today. That is the responsibility of the youth, and that is why our opinion must be heard.

The State of the Nation Address, more commonly known as SONA, a momentous event for government passed on to us by our American brothers. An occasion where the president of our nation submits his report on how the nation was managed during the last year. Here, the president is meant to highlight their administration’s successes, shortcomings, and its future. This year is our president’s fifth SONA, delivered at the Batasang Pambansa.

SONA this year did address the administration’s successes and shortcomings, but it failed to address the present state of our nation, as well as its path against the violent storm we are currently in. That violent storm being the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the new normal we live in now.

He began his speech the way he usually does, and that is by attacking others, with today’s target being Senator Franklin Drilon for allegedly “defending the Lopezes” and “targeting my son and daughter”. This is a shameless act for the president, as the “State of the Nation” is not the time for his attacks against those who oppose him. It is to hold him accountable for what he had promised to do for this country.

We asked our president for a guiding hand in these tough times, and yet the president sung the same tune of pleading with a communist leader who insults our sovereignty, preaching about his self-proclaimed drug war, the dismantlement of corruption, and the biggest lie of all, his claims of our country being “okay”.

He once again went on a tirade against drugs, and how he has single-handedly wiped out drugs in the Philippines, yet the people have no concern on this “Drug War.” We have other equally urgent concerns, such as putting food on the table and money in our pockets, not to mention surviving through this pandemic.

Other highlights from his 80-minute speech was his attempt to bring back death by lethal injection to those who commit crimes under the Comprehensive Drug Act to a forced applause after he had complained the lack of it. He spoke of human rights, and his administrations promise to fight for it, despite the rights of our people being questioned everyday. With the signing of the Anti-Terror Bill, our rights must be assured to be concrete and untouchable.

He claimed that we had no right to complain regarding the Pag-asa Islands which are under Chinese rule. He claims the only way we could gain them is to wage war against China, a war which he cannot afford. He admits that he himself can’t do anything about it, and I applaud him for belittling himself as an “inutile”. It is true, that we cannot wage war against China. From his words, our marines would die before they even get to the shores of the shoal from a cruise missile. Despite this, the president must not think that war is the only way to gain back our rightful islands. The president must know that in order for us to be respected by the “Goliaths”, we must stand our ground as the little “David’s”. Carlos Romulo said it better. The Filipinos are willing to fight for our islands, through peaceful means, and let us not forget that diplomacy is always on the table.

What disappoints most people in regards to this SONA is the lack of an actual direction for our nation in its current state. Our president claims that his work from the past three years has allowed the country to continue to stand during this pandemic, and that he promotes “Buhay muna bago lahat”.

The irony is, we are 100+ days into quarantine with an average of one thousand cases a day. The government is sending thousands of Filipinos out of their houses to work, opening public establishments such as malls and schools despite the fact that we are not in the all clear. The fact that they’re pushing for the start of work shows that our economy is on bended knees. His promotion of “Buhay muna bago lahat,” contradicts the reality.

This SONA failed to address the fear of the Anti-Terror Bill, with a vague definition of terrorism and the potential to be abused by the police, especially now. The abuse of police power is more prevalent in today’s times than any other. The fact that the law written in our constitution itself does not seem to apply to public officials who claim to enforce social distancing, despite they themselves huddled together in sweat as they take down defenceless protestors.

The restriction of not only the freedom of the press, but freedom of speech itself. Arrests are being made on school campuses, despite it being a violation of the law. Arrests made to peaceful protestors waving signs of reform, who are trampled and beat if they try to flee. They claim that they broke social distancing laws, but take a look at Rizal Stadium and tell me what you see. It’s as if they’re piling dead bodies already, sentencing everyone in that stadium to death from Covid.

Subpoenas sent out by sensitive politicians who claim everything negative about them is “fake news”. The honourable thing to do would to ignore or deny the news, rather than drag it into a court case that will only result in the little guy being stomped by the giant politician.

The man quoted the great President Ramon Magsaysay. The quote, summarized, dictates what our country needs to grow. Men of integrity, faith, action, and inflexible patriotism. Men committed to the common cause of building our nation. It, however, baffles me that our president had the guts to speak of such great men. This administration has no integrity with its constant attacks toward the opposition. It is all talk and no action, and its actions are the usually the exact opposite of what the people want. Isn’t that why the government exists? To serve the needs of the people?

The president did not address the real state of the nation. He presented a fairy tale land that we supposedly live in, where the government is always right and all those who oppose are traitors to the nation. He said our credit rating was higher than before. He claimed our government and all its agencies are doing well, despite the exact opposite being shown. The fact that he had the audacity to congratulate himself and his government rather than the millions of Filipinos who work themselves to death to help this country run.

Others might say that SONA is meant to be a report of the previous year’s actions, but as our president himself said, “We live in a troubled time.”. Troubled times need drastic actions, and what the people need is a plan to help our nation weather the storm. It would not have been out of the ordinary if the president had introduced his plan to combat Covid-19, as it dictated the future of our country for both its people and its economy. It would have boosted morale, but instead left people scratching their heads, asking “Where is our nation headed?”

A clear future for our beloved nation is nowhere in sight. Our rights are slowly being stripped away, our lives are at risk everyday, and our republic is on the verge of a collapse of epic proportions. We can only hope that in 2022, we can vote for a real government, and not the circus that we have now.

To my fellow Filipinos, stay alive and survive. If we cannot depend on our government, we must stand together in unity. Despite the future of our nation being as blurry as the shade, we will one day prosper and live freely without worry, following the ideals that our republic was founded on. We will one day wake up to a brighter tomorrow.

To quote the president himself, “Pag tinawag ka ng kamatayan, sabihin mo #$@%$@ ka umalis ka dyan...hindi ko pa panahong mamatay.

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