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Home Sections MiscellaNEWS A Friendly Senator’s State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA)
A Friendly Senator’s State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Angel Y. Dayan   
Monday, 27 July 2009 11:36

A good friend of the media, it was time to see again an acquaintance of old who would call me by my first name. He greeted me with a firm handshake and a tap with a question of how long have I lived in the United States. My fellow guardian angel (pun intended) of the Philippines, Senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel, Jr., was in town on July 22, 2009.

 

I first met Mr. Pimentel many years ago when he was a private citizen. At that time, he had no rank, no position, and no office in government after having served in politics for the most part of his life. For he lost his senate bid, he having been cheated in an election fiasco dubbed “Operation Dagdag-Bawas.” But he ran for the same seat again and won in 1998 and reelected in 2004. Now, an arch-rival of Senate President Ponce Enrile, he is the Minority Floor Leader in the Senate hall but still an able legislator on his way to a forgettable retirement. He gave a report; even a homily in the rush and tumble of the unprofitable Los Angeles Filipino-American media reporting. The venue was the “clumsily-polished” Social Hall of the Filipino-American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA Hall) on Temple Avenue. About 60 Filipino-American community pundits, semi-employed retirees and people of the “Fourth Estate” were in the audience.

 

It commenced five minutes ahead of the schedule although it was a little bit disorganized (and there were the tardy arrivals interrupting the program) and sketchy with pre-and-post session photo-ops. It went on smoothly under the control of a good emcee of the enduring Media Breakfast Club.

 

S enator Pimentel in his trademark soft-gentle voice delivered his own personal SONA (State of the Nation Address), or at least a response address of its delivery by the Philippine President. Mr. Pimentel started his speech by giving a few straight-cut opening lines that caught our attention: “There is so much corruption” in our country he reports and “I am not an admirer of Gloria (Macapagal Arroyo),” the Philippine President. “I went to prison four (4) times” he emphasized (during the Marcos regime), if only to prove his courage. Displaying frustration, he would say, “The situation today is the same” as in the previous regimes. As if wanting in specifics and unwilling to point a finger, he would generalize his report to us: The Northrail Contract (to rehabilitate the railroad train tracks from Metro-Manila to the Ilocos Region in the North) has been awarded to more local contractors of sorts, i.e., piece by piece, province by province, “per kilometer measure,” which apparently is the corrupt selection process. He continued to report, “The LIBEN Dam Project” did not have any public bidding, but a privately pre-selected contractor(s). He did not elaborate what the company was as he followed the corruption trail.

 

Speaking of politics, Senator Pimentel foresees the potential “cleansing power” of the Overseas Votes in the future, if the Overseas Filipinos could muster votes by the millions. (Later at the question-and-answer portion, Deputy Consul General Daniel R. Espiritu reminded the audience of how and where to register to vote.) That means Filipinos across the world, especially in the entire United States, should be able to monitor and report the election results to the candidates and make their votes cast relevant to the outcome of the elections. We should all register, vote and boot the “trapos” out. Some nine-million of us by choice—and for lack of a better economic option—left our country to work abroad. We are not part of the usual election equation. The senator believes if we could all register and vote in 2010, then we could elect a President who could change the nation. He reports that the present problem is the five-million or more voters in the Comelec list whose names have been replicated. Because of their relocation to new precincts and a new registration system, impostors have been able to vote for them and in effect, voting twice. “We need to purge out some 2-million more voters in the corrupted list that are able to vote in two precincts.”

 

When asked why he would not run for President, Senator Pimentel’s response was clear, honest and realistic unlike President Arroyo. “I am too old now for that. I believe the President must have three 'Cs,' namely, Competence, Character, and Courage.” Having followed his political career, he is a person with no reported taint of corruption yet. But as if talking about the quality of courage, I thought he just did not have enough courage to run for President. The big question in my mind was, why would a person with the required three Cs to his name, would simply end up a Minority Leader in the Philippine Senate? We should note that he was President of the Philippine Senate at one time. I believe he is the most qualified, especially since he is a successful family man. All his six children are success stories in their own right and they have their own professional careers. And then even as his tolerance did not show, Mr. Pimentel must be a righteous Senator. The likes of him, like former Senator Jovito Salonga, (once a preacher of his time) did not also become President. We Filipinos do not choose Godly people to lead our nation and, therefore, it should not surprise us where we are now.

 

See you again soon, Mr. Senator, as we continue to follow your political career. When you lie in estate someday, our people will bring you inside our Libingan ng mga Bayani and in your tombstone, they will write, “The Man who would have been a good President, but be was a righteous politician.” You will leave this lasting legacy to your six children, and their children’s children and to the Filipino people you loved and whom you served with honor. God bless you even more. # # #

 

* Editor’s Note: Mr. Dayan, a Filipino CPA, heads the Angel Dayan and Associates in Burbank, California. It is engaged in corporate and individual income-tax preparation and online filing. His telephone number is (213)-365-1040 and e-mail address, angelda@earthlink.net  

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Last Updated on Monday, 27 July 2009 12:00
 

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