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SONA 2022 Promise Tracker

In his inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA) a year ago, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ended his speech with a declaration that “the state of the nation is sound,” even as the country was still grappling with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jul 17, 2023

VERA Files

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In his inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA) a year ago, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ended his speech with a declaration that “the state of the nation is sound,” even as the country was still grappling with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have assembled the best Filipino minds to help navigate us through this global crisis that we are facing. We will endure. Let our Filipino spirit ever remain undimmed,”

Marcos said after giving his marching orders to different government agencies and enumerating his plans to revitalize the economy amid rapidly rising inflation rates and fuel prices.

He asked Congress to prioritize 19 bills to support his road map to economic recovery. These include a “rightsizing” program of the national government, a budget modernization bill to institutionalize a cash-based system; a tax package that will establish real property values; creation of a national disease prevention management authority and an institution to provide financial assistance to small businesses; an enabling law for the natural gas industry; and government financial institutions unified initiatives to distressed enterprises for economic recovery, which had all been identified as priority measures by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

One year after, none of these bills has been enacted into law. Most of the measures are being discussed at the committee level in Congress, where Marcos has the support of “supermajority” blocs both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

On July 18, a week before delivering his second SONA, the president is set to sign into law the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, considered by the Marcos government as crucial for economic development but seen by critics as flawed and unnecessary. The MIF, hurriedly crafted by Congress, was not in the list of legislative priorities in Marcos’ inaugural SONA.

Marcos’ first year as Agriculture secretary has been mired in controversies of illegal sugar imports, shortages and rising prices of agricultural products. His promise to find ways, such as reviving Kadiwa Centers, to bring down food prices has yet to be fulfilled.

While he had launched the Kadiwa ng Pasko caravan in November 2022 to control the high cost of agricultural commodities during the holiday season, retail prices of onion skyrocketed in the last week of December and while rice is sold at P25 per kilo in Kadiwa stores, the staple is still sold from P35 to P50 per kilo in public markets.

He has, however, delivered on his promise to agrarian reform beneficiaries for a one-year moratorium on their land amortization and interest payments for agricultural lands distributed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Marcos struggled to meet the medium-term targets for inflation, foreign exchange rate and national government debt.

Inflation hit 8.7% in January, the highest recorded since November 2008, and slowed down to 5.4% in June. The average peso-dollar exchange rate in 2022 was P54.47, depreciating by 9.59%, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. As of May, government debt has climbed to P14.10 trillion, which is about 62.1% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

In his first year in office, Marcos has visited 10 countries to “reintroduce the Philippines” to the world as a business destination and to reinvigorate cooperation with neighboring states and allies.

When he speaks on July 24 before a joint session of the 19th Congress for the convening of its second regular session, the president is expected to give an update on what happened to the plans and projects he had enumerated in his previous SONA and pitch for more pieces of legislation he wants Congress to prioritize.

At the top of these new measures will be the proposed budget for 2024. Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said in June that the president and his Cabinet had approved a National Expenditure Program of P5.77 trillion, which is 9.5% higher than this year’s P5.27 trillion outlay.

VERA Files tracked the progress in 74 promises Marcos made in his 2022 SONA and came up with this scorecard: fulfilled – 7; in progress – 63; stalled- 3; failed – 1.

Find out what he has achieved — and what he did not—in our 2022 SONA Promise Tracker: https://verafiles.org/specials/sona-promise-tracker

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