SONA 2023: Toxic Positivity

By: Kara Sauvina, The LANCE
July 25, 2023

Artwork by Vince Allen Atienza of The LANCE.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s second SONA on the 24th of July year 2023 has highlighted their priority measures for the future and the latest “performance report” of their administration’s first year. 

Listing their progress and achievements in key areas of economy, agriculture, social issues, justice, and foreign affairs has been their way of agenda-setting a new campaign of “Bagong Pilipinas” with an ambition to “realize the goals and aspirations of every Filipino”. 

In the grand scheme of things, it has been noted an odd parallelism to his father’s (former dictator and President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.) “Bagong Lipunan” propaganda. However, the odds may not be entirely in the favor of the dubbed aspirations of every Filipino. 

“On matters of the economy, there are many things over which we have no control, but over those where we do have control, we are doing everything we can.” 

With the unexpected threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bongbong’s presidency was welcomed by a global scale crisis affecting the economic growth of the Philippines due to its temporary shut down of businesses and institutions. 

Eventually with the help of modern and technological advancements, we were able to produce a vaccine against the deadly virus. However, another virus manifestation in the form of inflation has affected the financial stability of the Philippine economy. 

Despite these economic concerns, Marcos would rather insist that in the past few months the administration has been successful enough to claim that the cost of basic needs and agricultural products such as rice, meat, fish, vegetables, and sugar can be reduced to a reasonable and affordable price, especially with the engagement of KADIWA stores.

“Walang dagdag na gastos at patong. Maganda ang kita ng magsasaka. Nakakatipid din ang mga mamimili.” Marcos implies.

But farmers, fisherfolk, vendors and consumers agree to disagree that the so called achievement on the statement “nakita natin ang pagbaba ng presyo ng bilihin sa iba’t ibang mga sektor” remains a significant challenge, an enigma growing false hope, unsettling the reality of an ongoing financial instability among local businesses and Filipino households as the people who service us with producing agriculture and other essential products struggle to fill their own table with plates full of basic their needs.

This economic virus has amplified to a controversial “Maharlika Investment Fund” which sources from public banks such as the Landbank of the Philippines. Criticisms have pointed out that “public funds ought to be put in key sectors like agriculture and energy development – instead of a strategic investment fund”

The education sector has also suffered from such an economic backlog with underpaid teachers (like healthcare workers), lack of decent nor improved facilities and learning materials. 

Meanwhile, grown ups are very fond of numbers as typical as government administrations who instead of prioritizing local productions and supporting the growth of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk are driven by the ideal of primarily importing agricultural products. 

“Isang taon mula noong aking unang SONA, naisabatas na ang bagong Agrarian Emancipation Act. Dahil dito, ang 57 bilyong pisong utang na pinapasan ng mahigit anim na raang libong benepisyaryo ay tuluyan nang nabura. Sa ngalan ng mga magsasakang ito at ang kanilang mga pamilya, maraming salamat muli sa ating mga mambabatas.”

Justice, Peace, and Order was one of PBBM’s key points in his national state address tiptoeing over the fact that violation against human rights especially among the marginalized, red tagging press and media freedom, political deaths, terrorism, hazing, gender inequality among others have compromised the safety of Filipinos regardless of their social class and statuses.  

‘Love the Philippines’ is the current tourism slogan campaigned globally by the Philippines, but how can love prevail when our own government dwindles with toxic positivity to deliver a consistent effort and firm operation towards national security, stability, and integrity?  

Bagong Pilipinas is the nation’s President’s dream but what about the Filipino dream that is instead of leaving the country in hopes of a better future barely making it in a foreign land, we get to stay in our homeland where the odds are equitably evened in the favor of all Filipinos.