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PGMA’S SONA draws mixed bishops’ reactions

MANILA, July 24, 2007—Amid the glamour and glitter that accompanied President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s delivery of her State of the Nation Address at the joint session of Congress, Monday afternoon, Catholic bishops and officials intently listened and observed the proceedings and took note of the significance of her statements.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 7th State of the Nation Address from 2001 drew mixed reactions from Catholic bishops and lay leaders. Randomly interviewed late Monday afternoon and midday Tuesday, most of the respondents said they were not surprised at all with the accomplishment report of sorts.

Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra said he partly watched the proceedings on television. Asked how he would describe this year’s SONA, he said “it was promising, sort of making people feel good and everything is ok in the country.” The prelate added “I think that remains to be seen and what I want is some teeth into what the president said.”

He said the government should be ready for some monitoring (of activities) from concerned citizens

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, a former CBCP President said this year’s SONA “is as usual, an extremely hopeful and super positive in spirit.” He added “it would be not only physically but also morally impossible for her administration to achieve those predictions.” He further said he is wary of her salvo statements that the Philippines would be some kind of a first world country in 2030.” He surmised “the implication is that she may not stop ruling in 2010 that she feels she has to go on and on and on.”

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, Jr. said he listened partly to the SONA while on his way to his annual clergy retreat outside Metro Manila and said “it sounded like looking for sympathy and praise.”

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said “at least she is telling us what she accomplished.” He however added “the picture of the Philippines is not just as good as what she told us because we (still) experience real poverty and extra-judicial killings.”

He further said he is “glad because she did not mention mining activities which is a very destructive way of earning money.”

National Secretariat of Social Action, Justice and Peace executive director, Sister Roseanne Malillin, SPC said while she share President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s dreams for a brighter future for the country, “I am still very much concerned about the present plight of our struggling poor and I would perhaps work and cooperate with her in the immediate uplift of our people’s condition from poverty.”

Asked whether she shares the same view that hunger in the countryside has been significantly reduced, Sis. Roseanne said “it is relative to the region and the sources of data” as there are still isolated cases and instances which are not quite known. (Melo Acuna)