We need a hero

President Benigno Aquino III’s swan song that was the State-of-the-Nation Address polarized the nation not only by what was said but also by what was not said.

Much was made of Aquino’s mention of 86 people including Cabinet secretaries and his hairdresser, whom he thanked for various personal and professional contributions to his life. His omission of Vice President Jejomar Binay from that roster was seen as a rebuke of the latter’s criticism of and continued attacks on the administration.

Aquino also remained silent on issues such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program funds, justice for the Special Action Force 44, and the alleged un-uprootable corruption in several government agencies.

Once again, he took potshots at the previous administration, a running theme in all his SONAs and many other speeches.

VP Binay left the SONA “stage left, pursued by bears,” media people intent on getting his reaction, which was merely that he would in time deliver his own version of a SONA.

This he did at Cavite State University a week after the President’s SONA. Binay called it a “True SONA”, and took the opportunity to scald Aquino and his government for their alleged failures related to the MRT, BBL, DAP, and mouthfuls of other acronyms related to issues ranging from transport, peace and order, misuse of government funds, failure of economic growth to trickle down, and more.

He scored Aquino for omitting to mention the SAF 44 in his speech, and proceeded to accord them honor, a gesture that seemed more theatrical than sincere, provoking some of the fallen soldiers’ widows – and many netizens – to tag it as manipulative.

From a PR point of view, this was not a good idea, because it was only recently that Binay insulted a police colonel during the matter of the suspension of his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.

As often with anything Binay, there is that sense of being disconnected from reality, of a song being played out of tune.

For a citizenry weary of excuses and blame games, both speeches were letdowns. Aquino’s at least had the grace of being delivered with sincerity. Binay’s was a diatribe, a j’accuse, a litany of sins sans the redemption of solutions or hope for the immediate future.

We need a hero for the next time around.  And who do we have to choose from?

Aquino, as expected, has anointed DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, who resigned to pursue his candidacy. Roxas has publicly and privately invited Senator Grace Poe, currently the frontrunner in the presidential polls, to join him as his vice-president.

Together they would be a formidable team – Poe has the bankability, the hatak at the takilya, and an untainted reputation made even sweeter by the esteemed memory of her father, the late actor and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. Roxas would carry on, and hopefully improve, the programs of the Daang Matuwid.

But why would Poe agree to riding shotgun when she can very well take the wheel herself? Sure enough, last Tuesday, the Nationalist People’s Coalition announced that a proclamation will be made next month for Poe to run for president with Senator Francis Escudero as her running mate.

This will make for an interesting race – Binay versus Poe versus Roxas versus – maybe Duterte? Marcos? There’s still time for the undecided to make up their minds.

Meanwhile, we the Filipino people must choose a leader who will deliver SONAs of good news and not finger-pointing, of solutions and not scoldings, of feasible and effective programs for economic growth, poverty alleviation, and national development, and not petty ad hominem attacks that reveal small minds and smaller souls.

May the next SONA we hear be better than what we got this year.


Facebook: Jenny Ortuoste,

Twitter: @jennyortuoste,

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