Many, of course, are waiting with both anticipation and greater anxiousness for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) tomorrow, July 27.
This is (hoped to be) the last SONA of La Gloria, whose term is ending in 2010 — unless a) the administration finally succeeds at amending the charter; or b) she wins as representative of Pampanga’s second district, and becomes Prime Minister once the charter is amended.
More than the accomplishments, promises, visuals, and gimmicks that accompany each Arroyo SONA, what is anticipated of this upcoming SONA is the of direction the country will be headed for in 2010. This will largely be dependent on whether or not PGMA declares that she will indeed step down.
If we look at PGMA’s SONA in 2007, she did indicate her intention to step down by saying that she will not obstruct the ambitions of those who wish to take her place in 2010.
PGMA should take the cue from former President Corazon Aquino. Many believe that Cory’s greatest legacy was the restoration of democracy following the ouster of Marcos. Let us not forget that part of this great legacy was ensuring that the restored democracy is strengthened through the peaceful transition of power. This is very much reflected in the last sentences of Cory’s last SONA on July 22, 1991:
On June 30, 1992 the traditional ceremony of political succession will unfold at the Luneta. The last time it was done that way was in 1965. I shall be there with you to proudly witness the event. This is the glory of democracy, that its most solemn moment should be the peaceful transfer of power.
Maraming Salamat sa inyong lahat at paalam.
President Fidel Ramos, despite his own moves to amend the charter, made clear about his stepping down when he delivered his last SONA in 1997.
The problem is, even if PGMA does make a declaration to step down, who would believe her? Can one blame Pinoys for not trusting a president who, in 2002, said she was not running for reelection?
Do consider that PGMA’s recent actions do not point to her wanting or planning to step down next year. Aside from her frequent trips to her home district and the efforts of allies to still pursue charter change, consider the alleged moves of Arroyo to form a revolutionary government.
Stretching it further, one may as well add to the list of considerations, PGMA’s upcoming trip to Washington where she will meet with President Barack Obama. There is speculation that the transfer of the Guantanamo detention camp to the Philippines is on the agenda. There is pressure on Obama to fulfill his campaign promise to close it down within a year. It may be possible then that Washington would back the extension of Arroyo, provided that she is able to do it legally. It has been said that Arroyo had approached Washington in the past to get support for a declaration of emergency rule in 2005, when the political situation here had been very unstable. What can Arroyo lose by asking again, especially when the US needs something from the country?
It is now up to Arroyo to clear things up. But as always, it is up to a vigilant citizenry to make sure that the path to 2010 and beyond will be good for the national interest.