EON Sphere: The Wang-Wang as a Measure of PNoy’s Performance

In his 2nd State of the Nation Address President Aquino started off by saying that his promise of doing away with the use of the “wang-wang” is one gesture that has become the symbol of change for his administration, not only in the streets but more so in the collective attitude of the people.  


Certainly the President has been consistent in sticking to his anti-corruption platform which has been the cornerstone of his administration – his “Daang Matuwid” or “Righteous Path”. He reported that efforts of his administration to clean house, so to speak, has yielded positive results for the country: lowered nationwide hunger statistics from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June; the unprecedented growth of the Philippine Stock market; a marked improvement in the country’s credit ratings; an increase in investor confidence; savings in the overall budget; lower rice importations and the implementation of housing programs for members of the Armed Forces and PNP among others.  


We laud the administration for being true and consistent to the mandate that was given it by the vast majority. When President Aquino ran for the presidency, his platform of governance was rooted in change specifically in getting rid of corruption perceived as widely prevalent in government.  


Targeting the Masa  

This year’s SONA, although once again delivered in Filipino, went one step further with the President’s more relaxed, casual stance that made him appear as if he was conversing with the regular man on the street. Compared to past speeches, this year’s SONA was even more effective in reaching out to the masa audience even without employing the usual Mang Pandoy or Bankang Papel (paper boats) gimmickry. The fact that the President employed street jargon and carefully picked the items on which to report were assurances that his audience were not those in their formal Filipiniana attire in the blue-carpeted session hall but those who were somewhere outside riding in jeepneys, listening through the radio or watching from the neighborhood karinderia (public eateries). He made sure that they clearly received the message that the country is doing fine.  


The President freely and proudly reported on advances in providing employment, modifying curricula to better improve the chances of new graduates to gainful employment. He touched on most of the Filipinos’ hearts when he mentioned that dreams now can be about earning enough for one’s family without having to leave their side. He extensively discussed the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer Program (CCT) which he described as an investment towards the country’s greatest resource- its people. He also assured the country’s poorest of the poor that nobody will be left behind in the country’s development not only in terms of providing assistance in education, nutrition and housing but also in providing access to healthcare under the Universal HealthCare Program.  


But again, the part where the President seemed very passionate to report on was his success in uncovering and curbing corruption. Similar to last year, he zeroed in on a few state agencies--the Philippine National Construction Company (PNCC) and the PAGCOR as examples of how much abuse has been wielded by corrupt officials running these agencies and how his administration will continue to run after these abusers and ensure transparency and good governance for all. Last year, he cited obscene bonuses, this year, it’s the same but now it’s all about drowning in P1billion worth of coffee. PNoy’s warning to the corrupt- “I say to those who would lead us astray: if you will further disadvantage the poor, do not even think about it. If all you would do is to fill your own pockets, do not even think about it. If it is not for the benefit of the Filipino people, do not even think about it.“  


Hanging questions  

Most if not all of the things mentioned in the SONA revolved around the major anti-corruption policies of the current administration and how this contributes to the concept of Social Change that President Aquino’s administration is trying to espouse. It is, using his own language, to stop the “wang-wang mentality”. In keeping true to the mandate that was given to the current administration, PNoy has focused his efforts for the first year on laying the foundation for a government that is corruption-free. Since the SONA had the masa as its target, this explains the specially selected proof points. This also explains why a specific road map for the next five years was touched upon but never really explained in detail.  

The President was successful in not mentioning former President Gloria Arroyo’s name in his SONA. But it was still very clear that the former President and now Pampanga Representative was still alluded to not once but in many instances. Granted that the whole basis for the administration’s focus for its first year was getting rid of corruption, more time and effort should have dwelt also on the moving forward part.

Curiously enough, the President did not mention anything about the controversial Reproductive Health Bill yet he devoted a line to praise the new leadership of the CBCP. Is this making amends for the PCSO gaffe? Or a sign that RH supporters should be ready to take on opponents sans the administration’s support?

Several important details were also sorely missing in the 2nd SONA of President Aquino but were considered as important elements of his 1st SONA. Foremost among these is the government’s program on Public-Private Partnership or PPP. What happened to the program and does it really have a future?

Another important issue that was not discussed in the SONA is the Mindanao Conflict and the Peace Process in general. For several years, Presidents have taken advantage of the SONA to detail their plans for the Peace Process specifically in Mindanao. Even more ironic is that less than a week before the SONA, the PAMANA program which is the administration’s peace and development framework was launched in the controversial province of Maguindanao. The cursory mention of the country’s Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan or MTPDP also shows how this year’s SONA was targeted for a specific audience with specific priorities. The MTPDP forms the template or road map of the current government for the next five years, in terms of policies towards national development.

But even more glaring is President Aquino’s non-mention of a comprehensive, over-arching branding initiative that would truly support his strong declaration- “Ang Pilipinas ay sa Pilipinas,” or what is ours is ours. Although it may be clear in nautical miles or maritime doctrines on what belongs to the Philippines, what may also be wanting is a clear manifestation of a Philippine brand – who we are and what we stand for. Surely, defending territory, promoting harmony among neighbors, encouraging tourism and achieving peace can be worked on with ease and clarity if some importance were attributed to creating the Philippine brand.

And so the country continues to tread on PNoy’s “Daang Matuwid”--without much fanfare and of course, no “wang wangs”NAMAN!


Junie Del Mundo is the CEO of EON The Stakeholder Relations Firm. Under his leadership, EON is regarded as the pioneering stakeholder relations firm that puts TRUST at the heart of its collaborations and dialogues with different stakeholders of its clients. He is a prolific speaker in business discussions hosted by various business chambers and clubs, such as the ECCP, ANZCHAM, AMCHAM, MBC, and MAP where he shares insights on reputation management, CSR Communications and other vital topics. In 2010, he was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of Year Awards. For 2011, he chairs the MAP CSR Committee; he is also the chairperson of the 18th National PR Congress of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines.

Prior to establishing EON, Junie was a career diplomat for 13 years and served at the Philippine Embassies in Paris, France; Dakar, Senegal; and at the Philippine Mission for UNESCO in Paris. He represented the Philippines in multinational fora such as UNESCO, ASEAN, APEC, and Asia-Europe Business Forum.

EON is the Philippines’ premier stakeholder relations firm with expertise in public affairs and government relations, consumer PR, and CSR communications. With expertise that cuts across industries and communications practices, EON empowers its clients and partners by building trust-based relationships with their various publics. EON is the Philippine affiliate of Edelman, the world’s largest independent PR firm.