The Constitution and the State of the Nation Address
The State of the Nation Address is a constitutional duty. No less than Section 23, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution states that “The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.”
Pay attention to the wording of that provision. The President does not direct Congress. And he does not command Congress either. This shows a key political reality in Presidential systems. He may wield control in the Executive Branch and command the Armed forces. But when it comes to Congress, his only power is to persuade and bargain.
This is precisely what Richard Neustadt says in his book, Presidential Power. He writes:
“A President’s power is the product of his vantage points in government, together with his reputation in the Washington community and his prestige outside.”
The Budget and the State of the Nation Address
What exactly is the President supposed to say in his State of the Nation Address?
The Constitution gives us a hint. Section 23, Article 7 directs the President to submit, within thirty days from the opening of every regular session, a budget of expenditures and sources of financing, including receipts from existing and proposed revenue measures.
In other words, the President is supposed to submit his proposal for the national budget. Therefore, the State of the Nation Address is supposed to lay the predicate. The President is the prime mover in the process of deciding who gets what, when, and how.
July 25 will mark President Marcos Jr.’ first State of the Nation Address. It is impossible to predict what he will say. But we can try to trace the factors that will affect how it will be framed and perceived.
First, a recent Pulse Asia survey showed that inflation was the foremost concern of Filipinos. Inflation is at its highest since December 2018.
However, consumer expectations are still optimistic. A survey by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas found that consumer outlook improved across all indicators and income classes.
At the same time, a SWS survey indicates that Filipinos are still anxious about catching COVID-19. The same survey also found that Filipinos believe the worst is over.
All of these findings show that Filipinos are anxious to move forward. They will want to see and hear a decisive President.