Saturday, 11 July 2009

Arroyo’s Sona tackles 2010 polls, reforms

By Joyce Pangco Pañares
Manila Standard

President Arroyo will reiterate her assurance that the 2010 elections will push through during her last State-of-the-Nation Address, as well as spell out her vision for the country, which she hopes her successor will continue.

But the President’s Sona will leave out the controversial issue of constituent assembly, a scheme which the political opposition says will ensure that she and her allies will keep their hold on power.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said the President’s Sona will delve on her vision for political reforms, strengthening political institutions, and making democracy work at the grassroots level. “She will mention something on political reforms, but I don’t know how detailed it will be. But definitely there will be no mention of constituent assembly,” Olivar said.

Mrs. Arroyo practiced her Sona speech, which Olivar described as “short and well-applauded,” in Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

“This will be her farewell Sona speech, what she has accomplished for the past eight years, and what she wants to pass on to the next leadership,” Olivar said.

An internal Palace survey done in May showed the respondents wanting to hear the President’s Sona that should be “forward-looking,” which means it should tackle programs and projects that could be carried out by the next administration.

The survey, commissioned by the Palace and conducted by a private firm, also suggested that the speech should focus more on the economy and less on politics.

In her 2008 Sona, Mrs. Arroyo outlined her administration’s efforts to address challenges such as high oil prices, a balanced budget, as well as pro-poor programs and critical infrastructure projects to improve the country’s competitiveness.

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