The one-and-a-half hour SONA of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. (PBBM) was broad and comprehensive, but it avoided mentioning the two elephants in the room. The names of the two most powerful countries in today’s world, the United States of American (USA) and the People’s Republic of China (PROC) were not mentioned though everyone knew it was there lurking in particularly important paragraphs. We can say they were the ghost elephants in the room.
This feature of PBBM’s SONA really defines his politics and geopolitics: avoiding head-on confrontation on issues. It’s a strategy that may really bode well for PBBM’s success in navigating the delicate politics of the Philippines where polarization has become the bane of every administration past and had been the cause of their failures. In a sense PBBM is using the principle of the “politics of addition” to the hilt while leaving the “politics of division” in dust -hence his constant calls for “unity”.
Shunning disunity does not erase disunity, it just papers over it. For in the 1st SONA of PBBM the very real clash of the classes in society are papered over still with the advantage to the traditional ruling classes that continue to get richer and more powerful in society while the poor working class continue to get poorer but assuaged by added facilities for health care programs and edifices as highlighted in the SONA, and the reform of the EPIRA was raised to some delight of our socialist heart but short on details.
In keeping with being positive and unifying, the 1st SONA is also silent on the intractable issues of persistent illegal drugs (highlighted by the Yumul case), inflation, corruption, charter change (as proponents clamor for “rightsizing” the government’s top echelons like the abolition of the Senate that cost billions annually doing what competent opinion-leaders do for free being not only redundant to the Congress but also the cause of paralysis of government in “investigations-in-aid-of-elections”.)
Much of what was silent in the 1st SONA of PBBM can anyway be gleaned from the walk even if the talk did not bring them up. The US-China issue was subtly mentioned but it take some expertise in the issue to read between the lines and the real-world, out-of-the-SONA actions being taken. While the US-China situation was not mentioned it is already clear that PBBM in real life will continue the “pivot to China” as he accepted first and only China’s invitation for a presidential visit.
The closest mention in the SONA of the China Sea dispute was PBBM saying he will “not preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of territory” which I am sure warmed the cockles of ex-Justice Carpio but, if examined closely, means “not one inch of the 12 nautical miles territorial sea of the country” for even the “West Philippine Sea” is not recognized by their much vaunted Arbitral ruling as “territory” but only as EEZ – but it’s a safe PBBM amphiboly that quiets the wolves.
PBBM’s 1-hour-and-a-half 1st SONA was longer that President Biden’s 1 hour and 1 minute 1st State of the Union Address made February 2022 and half the length of President Xi Jinping’s 3-hour 19th National Congress speech in 2017 (the 20TH National Congress will be in November this year where President Xi is expected to make a highlight speech again and likely be elected to a third term). Overall PBBM’s SONA was well-crafted and smoothly read from teleprompter, and no surprises unlike what we got used to with President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Meanwhile, on the global front, the desperate situation of the US puppet in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky, is going from terrible to critically worse. Some analysts are already using this to describe Zelensky, “He is cracking up”. The reason for this assessment if the recent firing of his top intelligence man and head of the SBU Ivan Bakanov and top prosecutor Iryna Venediktova plus 651 others accused of collaborating with Russia.
It’s hard to tell if Zelensky is rally cracking up or he has legitimate reasons for cracking down on his suspected Russian collaborators, but if his closest confidants are indeed as he suspects then he is rally incompetent and never deserved to rule a country. His top spy chief, head of the SBU is as he said above a childhood friend and his comedy show director, how can he be so wrong about one whom he has known over half his life and work colleague for decades.
It looks more like Zelensky is scapegoating for his continuing failure in the battlefield and feeling the noose tighten around his neck as more signs of the US and the Western European allies abandoning him. At the same time Russia has now openly said that, in the words of Foreign Minister Lavrov before an Arab League summit in Cairo where Lavrov is making diplomatic rounds Moscow will help Ukrainians “liberate themselves from the burden of this absolutely unacceptable regime.”
Moscow was not always this openly hostile to Zelensky personally, in fact it has always been accepted that Moscow prefers Zelensky in power so they can have a legitimately elected party to sign a ceasefire with and negotiate towards normalization. It seems that many Ukrainians are indeed tired of the war and tired of being used by the U.S. and ready to talk peace with Russia, a position that got Ukrainian peace negotiator Denis Kireev killed by Ukrainian militants in March.
Talk is now rife that Zelensky may be assassinated by the U.S. to be blamed on Russia. That was the main topic of discussion in the former British MP George Galloway interview of Chilean-American commentator on the Ukraine war and resident of Ukraine Gonzalo Lira on July 25, 2022, which I monitored. The discussion reminded me of the U.S. assassination of its own Vietnamese puppet Ngo Dinh Diem in November 2, 1963 in a coup to replace him with another puppet Nguyen Van Thieu. Alas, the most unfortunate fate of U.S. puppets!