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Why Bongbong Marcos' First SONA Matters

First of six reports to the Filipino people.
by Arianne Merez
Just now
Photo/s: Echo Antonio

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is set to deliver his first State of the Nation Address, a speech that analysts say should detail the road ahead as the economic fallout of the pandemic unravels.

Expectations are high for Marcos Jr. after a historic majority mandate of 31 million votes in the May elections that also restored his family in Malacañang, three decades after the 1986 People Power Revolt forced them into exile.

"He should substantiate what 'unity' means. Now that he's the president, what does it mean in the context of his administration? Does it mean appointing members of the opposition to his Cabinet? His first SONA is an opportunity for him to expound on that," University of Santo Tomas Department of Political Science Chair Dennis Coronacion told reportr.

The SONA, as the name implies, is the President's constitutional obligation to report on the state of the nation and share the government's plans for the upcoming year.

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The speech is delivered annually every fourth Monday of July and is also an opportunity for the President to propose legislative measures to Congress that are deemed necessary to the success of the current administration.

READ: SONA 2022: Quotes, Moments That Matter, From Marcos Sr. to Duterte

For Marcos Jr.'s first SONA, some 1,300 invitations were sent out for the event, which will be the first fully face-to-face presidential report to the public since 2019.

It's a chance to go into specifics

Marcos Jr. had said in his inaugural address that his first SONA "will tell you exactly how we shall get this done" when it comes to the specifics of his plans on how to address the country's pressing issues.

"It's very important for him to talk concretely about how exactly he wants to improve agriculture or streamline the bureaucracy," political analyst Coronacion said.

Filipinos are struggling with soaring prices of oil and basic goods as the world faces the biggest health and economic crisis so far in the 21st century due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Nearly three million Filipinos were jobless in May while inflation quickened to 6.1% in June, faster than market expectations and pushing the full-year average estimate to be at around 5%.

Finance Sec. Benjamin Diokno had warned that prices of goods and other basic commodities are expected to continue increasing as the government estimates inflation to remain "elevated" for the succeeding months.

"At this point, it's important for him to provide the specifics of his plans for the economy and the pandemic. Like if he says there will be more jobs, how does that happen?" Coronacion said.


First SONA: Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., Jan. 24, 1966

First SONA: Corazon Aquino, July 27, 1987

First SONA: Fidel V. Ramos, July 27, 1992

First SONA: Joseph Estrada, July 27, 1998

First SONA: Gloria Arroyo and the 'Bangkang Papel' Boys, July 23, 2001

First SONA: Rodrigo Duterte, July 25, 2016

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It's an opportunity for clarity

More than outlining his plans for the government, Marcos Jr.'s first SONA is an opportunity for "clarity given his campaign pitch of "unity" and anxieties that his rule could mirror his father's dictatorship according to UST Political Science Asst. Prof. Ronald Castillo.

"The SONA clarifies things because there are so many muddy components during the campaign, not only muddy components but also anxieties, particularly for academicians in the realm of history," Castillo told reportr.

Marcos Jr.'s first message to the public after his election victory became clear was: "Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions".

In his inaugural address, Marcos Jr. alluded to his father's leadership, promising to get things done, just like what the late strongman did.

"I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence, in a land of people with the greatest potential for achievement, and yet they were poor. But he got it done. Sometimes, with the needed support, sometimes without," Marcos Jr. said.

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"So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me," he added.

ALSO READ: 'Your Hopes are My Hopes': Marcos Inauguration Speech Highlights

In carving his own leadership path, Castillo said it would be "ideal" for Marcos Jr. to give people an assurance that his government will uphold human rights given that the Marcos name has been linked to corruption and abuses.

"I would say delicadeza always demands that we honor truth and we atone for the ills we have committed against other people and we assure the people that such an atrocity will not be repeated," Castillo said.

Filipinos should also expect a continuing effort during the Marcos Jr. presidency to "tout" the legacy of Marcos Sr., according to analyst Coronacion.

"Clearing the family name and turning things around for the family will be very much part of the agenda for the next six years," Coronacion said.

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"Throughout his term, redeeming the image of the Marcos family will be a very big part of his presidency," he added.


Imee Marcos Says Bongbong Win a 'Restoration of Faith' in Their Family

Imee Marcos on History: We Will Not Revise, Just Telling Our Side of the Story

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