Pandemic plan, food crisis, rising prices: What senators want to hear from Marcos SONA

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2022 02:02 PM

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaks during the Change of Command Ceremony of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) at the PSG Grandstand in Malacañang Park, July 4, 2022. Office of the President/file
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaks during the Change of Command Ceremony of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) at the PSG Grandstand in Malacañang Park, July 4, 2022. Office of the President/file

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) should unveil his plans on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the looming global food crisis, and the rising prices of goods, among others, several senators said on Tuesday. 

The President's SONA on July 25 should serve as a "roadmap for the next 6 years," said Sen. Nancy Binay.

“Ano ba 'yung nakikita niyang (Marcos) plano kung papaano tayo makakaahon dahil sa epekto ng pandemic, dahil sa epekto nung pagtaas ng presyo ng gasoline,” she added. 

(What plan does he see on how we can rise from the effects f the pandemic, the spike in gasoline prices?) 

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she wanted the President's speech to focus on the looming food crisis, which she earlier warned could lead to a “catastrophe” if not immediately addressed.

“Ang mas importante ay tugunan ang babala ng ating mga ekonomista, ng ilang linggo na na meron nang food crisis sa ngayon. At kailangan nating umaksyon agad at sa tamang paraan para hindi ito maging food catastrophe,” Hontiveros said. 

“Marami na pong panukala na pending, na pwedeng gamitin ni Presidente at Agriculture Secretary para tugunan itong ating problema,” added the opposition lawmaker. 

(It is important to respond to the warning of our economists, that there is already a food crisis. And we need to take immediate action so that this will not be a food catastrophe.) 

People in the countryside, specifically farmers, fishermen, indigent families, and indigenous peoples must be given food subsidies, the senator added.

She also noted a Pulse Asia survey, which showed that the top national concerns of Filipinos included taming inflation, raising wages, curbing poverty, and creating jobs. 

“'Yan (poverty) talaga ang pinakamalawak, pinakamatagal at pinakamalalim na problema natin. At ito ay isa sa pinaka-importanteng natitirang unfinished business sa People Power Revolution,” Hontiveros said.

“Kailangan talaga yung paghahati-hati muli ng yaman ng resources… ibig sabihin hindi lang oportunidad, pero paghahati-hati ng kapital, ng lupa, ng ibang productive forces," she continued. 

(Poverty is our biggest, most enduring, and deepest problem. And this is one of the most important unfinished businesses of the People Power Revolution. Resources should be redivided, meaning not just opportunities, but capital, land, and other productive forces should be redivided.) 

Meanwhile, Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said he wanted Marcos to discuss whether government funds are enough for the year, the metrics used to measure the health of the economy, the national debt, and his recommended 2023 budget and spending priorities. 

"What is his vision for PH under his 6-year leadership? Where will he bring us? What is his plan on how to achieve this?" Pimentel also asked. 

Sen. Francis Escudero, who has been in and out of the Senate for 2 decades, said he expects that in every SONA, the President will state "with frankness and candidness" the true state of the nation, his plans and programs, and his legislative agenda. 

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