Priest asks Arroyo: Make the poor feel SONA promises

Northern Luzon Bureau, Central Luzon Desk
Last updated 10:59pm (Mla time) 07/23/2007

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — A Catholic priest in Malolos town said the people, especially the poor, must benefit from the promises President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made again and again in her State of the Nation Addresses.


“Whatever she said must be felt by the poor. Marami pa rin ang mahirap at corrupt (Many are still poor and corrupt),” said Father Dennis Espejo, head of the commission on service of the Diocese of Malolos.


“She has many good projects for the country, yet it seems people could not feel its good results. Many are still jobless,” said Mark Romer Eleogo, a tourist guide and driver from Bulakan town.


In Pampanga, Noel Valencia, a development worker, found the SONA a “variation on a theme that has defined her administration: a quest for modernity that doesn’t address a deep-rooted impediment to modernization — patronage politics.”


Chat Sebastian, professor at the University of the Philippines in Pampanga, said this was the first time in any recent SONA that Filipino science and math students and other academic achievers in international competitions were “honored.”


Still, Sebastian believed that “good macroeconomic fundamentals are needed.”


Vines Amameda, public information officer of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Central Luzon, said Arroyo’s speech “covered a lot of ground this time compared to the past.”


She said she “somehow agreed that [the President] has started much of the foundations of her vision.”


“She is unshakeable. Let’s pray for her,” Amameda said.


In Nueva Ecija, lawyer Emily Padilla of San Leonardo town said Arroyo’s statements showed a strong leader, similar to the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.


“The President is a strong [leader] based on her statements… [like former] President Marcos,” she said.


But many farmers in Nueva Ecija chose to work in the farm than listen to Arroyo’s speech.


“Wala po kaming oras diyan. Nagtatanim po kami ng palay sa bukid. Sana po pagkatapos ng SONA na iyan madagdagan na ang pagkain namin at kita (We did not listen to the SONA… we do not have time for that. We are in the field planting rice. We hope that after that SONA, we will have more food and income),” said Wilfredo Bernardo, 36, a farmer from the Science City of Muñoz.


In Ilocos Norte, Laoag City Mayor Michael Fariñas said the President deserved to be applauded for her administration’s achievements.


Fariñas said Laoag was a beneficiary of the government’s infrastructure program with the completion of a Japanese-funded dam project that solved flooding in low-lying villages in the city.


In Isabela, public elementary school teacher Fortunato Bayucan said teachers were hoping that the pay increase that the President had promised would be released soon.


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