Veteran journo tags Hontiveros as "Bitter"

Veteran journo tags Hontiveros as "Bitter"


ANTI-Marcos netizens cheered the only surviving Senate candidate in the opposition line-up as she stood there, refusing to applaud as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. was introduced to deliver his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). Sen. Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros is entitled to that, but still, the image spoke about her lack of professionalism, only amplified by the accolades her anti-Marcos base heaped on her. However, while she did not clap while the President was being introduced, she actually lauded some of the President's measures, such as renewable energy and social support for vulnerable sectors like solo parents. This is a fact that will not sink in the bitter minds of those who cannot move on from their electoral loss.


Senator Hontiveros found the SONA of the President as lacking in terms of addressing corruption. This was echoed by many in the anti-Marcos camp, including some of my colleagues in academe. I am not sure what kind of measure they are looking for since it wouldn't definitely be in support of imposing capital punishment for corrupt officials. But certainly, a more structural-minded and analytical person, which I was expecting academics to be, would have known that corruption is both rooted and embodied in organizational structures and processes. I cannot understand why they failed to appreciate that rightsizing the bureaucracy, cleaning up and rationalizing the system of taxation, and promoting the digitalization of government operations would address the issue.


This is actually one of the problems of the political opposition. It is expressed in terms of their inconsistency. During the campaign, they kept on hammering then candidate Marcos for not showing any specifics and focusing instead on generalized platitudes and symbolic messages. They were looking for detail. And now that Marcos, now the elected president, delivered a SONA full of specifics, zeroing on the gut issues that are relevant to people, they attack him for not touching on symbolic issues and concerns.

(photo credit to owner)


I read some people even faulting him for not saying anything about historical revisionism, without reflecting on the implications of a state, no less than the President, coming up with a policy statement that would in effect intrude into the academic freedom of scholars. It really begs the question of how a policy on historical revisionism can be stated in a SONA without infringing on the constitutional guarantee of academic freedom. It defies logic that people who are fiercely protective of their freedoms would expect the state to come up with a policy pronouncement about one issue that they would argue is best left for scholars to settle.


Besides, it is fairly obvious that while the issue of historical revisionism populated social media chatter for it to even be at the top of the internet metrics, the real voices from the people, those that were measured not by Google Trends which was proven to be woefully unscientific in capturing people sentiments, but by scientific surveys, pointed to the primacy of economic issues as the main concerns of people. Historical revisionism did not figure prominently in the top issues identified by these surveys.


President Marcos' SONA was also lambasted for not touching on human rights. Again, the political opposition was perhaps expecting the President to express human rights in the context of parenthood platitudes, or if not, a specific statement about considering releasing jailed former senator Leila de Lima. They took note of the silence of his speech on these, yet they missed ruminating on the silence of the President on the issue of the war on drugs, something which took center stage during the term of his predecessor. Perhaps, they wanted the President to openly evince what was typical of some presidents before him, which is to take on a discourse of fault-finding and of vengefulness aimed at his predecessor.


It is in having this demeanor that they easily ignored that many salient points the President raised are actually deeply steeped in and are essentially about human rights. He vowed to protect the rights of our migrant workers, our landless farmers and other vulnerable sectors. And he did this not just with empty generalizations, but with concrete proposals such as actual reforms in processes for migrant workers and a more systematic repatriation system when they are distressed, a moratorium on loan payments of agrarian reform beneficiaries, and things which even Senator Hontiveros supports such as social support systems for solo parents and other vulnerable sectors. The President spoke not in abstractions about respecting human rights as a symbolic ideal, but concretely embodied in the vision of a people free from the hazards of climate change, energy insecurity and from lack of access to specialty health care, to enjoy life at its fullest. The President focused on disaster resilience and climate adaptation, renewable energy and in building regional specialty hospitals.


But the bitterness of an electoral defeat remains a bane that consumes the critics of the President. They want him to toe their usual ways. They wanted him to dwell on highly divisive and toxic platitudes that may not resonate with the people who expect him to lead the country as we move forward. They want him to keep on going back to the past, contrary to the mandate that he obtained from the people. They would be happy to see the President issue statements that would sit well with them, but divide the country. In fact, they would have been happier if he had boldly contradicted, even vowed to prosecute, his predecessor for his alleged human rights violations. But we all know this is a trap. Nothing can prevent them from looking for other holes, flaws and deficiencies.


Quoted fully from Daily Tribune’s Opinion

By Antonio Contreras

July 28, 2022







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Report from Manila Times


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