MIRIAM ON THE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
Removal or ibagsak are not options. An elementary sense of civilized conduct dictates solemnity when any president delivers the SONA, because it is a constitutionally mandated duty. People are fed up with “the nattering nabobs of negativism.”
What our country needs is constructive criticism, not a political culture of hatred. President Arroyo has only two more years to go, and she is trying to build a legacy. To achieve this, she is working like a perpetual-motion machine, beyond ordinary human endurance. She has no constitutional duty to control global commodity prices.
Politics is a constant war, and in warfare the first casualty is the truth. Do the Arroyo critics have a monopoly of the truth? Under the Rules of Court, President Arroyo is entitled to the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed. If she hasn’t, let’s hear some alternative solutions, not empty calls for destruction.
For me, the highest concern is not the spikes in oil and food prices, but the inflation rate. An Asia-Pacific economist has already warned that inflation is the largest risk to Asian growth since the 1997 financial crisis.
We have to warn the public that interest rates and credit will tighten, in order to control inflation. Unfortunately, these measures will suppress investment and consumption. Hence, there is danger that GNP growth might slow down.
We need President Arroyo, as an economist, to design economic policy that will balance rapid price increases on the one hand, with economic growth on the other hand. That is a very tricky tightrope act. Do her critics have any brilliant ideas?
On PGMA’s alleged unpopularity
Polls are deeply flawed barometers of public opinion. First, there is no guarantee that the respondents are telling the truth, or that they will vote on election day. Second, you cannot compare popularity curves among presidents, because of chronological differences in the global or regional economy, the state of foreign-assisted insurgency, and even the occurrence of natural calamities. Third, popularity is a fickle indicator of leadership. The most reliable indicator is the courage to do what is right.
Some of the greatest world leaders were unpopular during their time. Same difference.