Unlike her previous State of the Nation Addresses, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s fifth one will be delivered before a nation that is largely no longer interested in what she will have to say, and is now mostly engaged in actions to push for her removal from office.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
On July 25, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will deliver her fifth State of the Nation Address (SoNA) since assuming power through a popular uprising in 2001, and her second since the 2004 presidential elections.
In content, it is not expected to be much different from her previous SoNAs. The President will probably present the latest data on her administration’s economic accomplishments.
However, unlike her previous SoNAs, her fifth one will be delivered before a nation that is largely no longer interested in what she will have to say, and is now mostly engaged in actions to push for her removal from office. She will be delivering her fourth SoNA amid calls by even many of her political allies – including 13 former cabinet officials and presidential advisers – for her exit from office.
On July 24, several artists are expected to come together in a big cultural night at the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines (UP). The cultural night will carry a theme calling for the removal of Macapagal-Arroyo from Malacañang.
The July 24 event will be the second anti-Arroyo concert at UP Diliman in less than a week, the first being a July 21 concert sponsored by Youth Demanding Arroyo’s Removal or Youth DARE.
As of press time, the White Ribbon Movement has just been launched at the La Salle Greenhills School. The White Ribbon Movement is an alliance of persons from the so-called middle forces, united on the call for Macapagal-Arroyo to step down from office.
It describes itself as a movement of concerned Filipinos calling for the resignation of Macapagal-Arroyo to pave the way for meaningful and substantial reforms in the country. “The color white symbolizes our stand for truth, integrity, renewal, peace and hope – the very values and principles that the President has tainted and apparently forsaken,” reads a statement by the new middle-force alliance.
The White Ribbon Movement counts among its members Mo. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, former president of St. Scholastica’s College; La Sallian Brother Edmundo Fernandez; Dr. Menguita Padilla of Rx Emergency: Resign Gloria Now; former human rights commissioner Nasser Marohomsalic; and student leaders Marco de los Reyes and Mike Pante of the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University, respectively.
The day before, lawyers from the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) went on a motorcade that was supposed to go to the foot of the Chino Roces Bridge in Manila, which leads to Malacañang Palace, from the Quezon Memorial Circle to symbolically serve Macapagal-Arroyo an eviction notice. However, the motorcade only got as far as the Welcome Rotunda, the boundary between Quezon City and Manila, as the protesting lawyers were blocked by a truckload of police.
Last July 20, the World Council of Churches (WCC) held a forum at the St. Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, University of Santo Tomas. The forum assailed the human rights record of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
After the forum, the delegates held a short candle-lighting ceremony to demand justice for human rights victims and the removal of Macapagal-Arroyo from office. The delegates would then join an anti-Arroyo noise barrage held that same day at the Welcome Rotunda.