Good Governance 2001, When Excuses Must End

Speech Before the Rotary Club of Metro Cebu

This is my first public address as Senator. It is done not in the halls of the Senate but right here in my second home – Cebu City. And I am delivering it before my constituents and brethren- the Rotarians.

I feel at home. I really do. 

I feel at home in spite of my losing the promised Cebu votes last May 14. I still can not believe I lost in Cebu. And because that is my belief, no amount of explanation is necessary.

But I came here more to listen to you and less to lull you to sleep. Let me, however, dispose of certain things.

It is as if the May 14 election has not come to an end. The virulence of the campaign against me before and immediately after May 14 is not only continuing, it is also getting uglier. It is getting to be a mind-numbling everyday experience.

But do not despair. For I am facing all my accusers head-on with my feet strong and firm on the ground. We shall soon see that my accusers’ feet are made of soft thin clay.

The charge sheet of my accusers contains crimes they imagine I committed. One, the Kuratong Baleleng. Two, the crimes imputed to me by a certain Mary Ong. Three, the Dacer-Corbito double murder. Four, the May 1 rebellion. Five, assassination of the Vice President and others. Five, recent kidnap-for-ransom crimes. And six, destabilization of government, present and future.

Let me deal first on the last charge.

In every democracy, the government exists to serve and protect the People. Support to that government is effectively withdrawn only and only by the People who can do so either directly or indirectly. Without the people’s support, no group or groups can ever destabilize a democratic government.

Our history from 1986 to date proves that point. Armed adventurism – by the right, the left, or center – cannot succeed without popular support. It can only succeed as a good plot for a movie.

Let me bring the home the point that adventurists – past, present, and future – know that to be a fact. That this present government cannot seem to realize this point, is beyond me.

This government has scared and scarred itself too soon and too much. If it plans to destabilized itself, it has every right to do so. But please spare those like me who have not developed the bad habit of shooting one’s foot.

I have one unsolicited advice to President Macapagal:

Beware of your own people. You may yet become their hostage. Rubbish information from people who can not be trusted can only lead you to great peril.

I am not into this game of destabilization. I did not rebel against Marcos; not against Aquino; not against Ramos; not against Estrada. And certainly not against a petite, cute, and harmless President Gloria. But I want to warn her against those who do nothing but deliver garbage information to her. They are not your protectors, Madame President. They are your predators.

President Gloria tries her best – and she should – to look stern and strong against the enemies of the State. She should try harder and become stronger and sterner against those serpents in her administration.

Why be soft on those whose duty it is to prevent kidnapping? Until today, the kidnap-for-ransom done at the UP campus in Diliman has not been solved.

Worse, someone whose duty it is to deliver to justice the kidnappers is now laughing all the way to the bank. Why? He will soon be promoted to a Police Chief Superintendent! For what? For drinking and playing golf during office hours? Something must be eating up this administration.

I have been charged with a litany of major crimes – Kuratong Baleleng, kidnap-for-ransom, murder, and what have you. Strangely, I have been charged not under our criminal justice system but before the bar of public opinion. Somebody did not only charge me of assassination, he also wanted me to undergo a polygraph test? I am beginning to wonder when Ador would ask former President Ramos – whom he has implicated in the Dacer-Corbito murders – to take the test.

Let me tell you something. Until the implication of former President Ramos by Ador, the PNP accepted Ador’s yarn as credible. Today, the PNP is looking at Ador’s story as a sting operation. My accuser’s slip is showing. Perhaps, too quickly.

It is the eternal credit of Senator Pong Biazon to have realized that certain people have discovered a new lust in their lives. This the lust of linking me to all possible major crimes in the Philippines. The good Senator wants an investigation. I am supporting the Biazon initiative. You must support it, too.

The web of lies against me is not really hard to fathom. My detractors know that our criminal justice system will operate towards my innocence. This they can never accept.

Thus, they have created the myth that I am a criminal. This myth they sold to the public. And when the public refused to buy it, they turned around and said that there is such a public perception that I am a criminal. Cutely they say through their friends in media that perception is also a reality.

But what, my friends, is the public perception on Lacson? The best answer to this question is found in the scientific surveys done in the recent past by the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia. The reports are there, still there. As the lawyers would adamantly say: Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.

Now that I have disposed of my detractors and their accusations, let me revert to a speech I made here in Cebu City last March 9. I said then- and I say it again:

There must be a limit to dirty politicking. Otherwise, we lose sense of what is good. Otherwise, we lose substance of what is true. Otherwise, we lose the soul of what is beautiful. Civility must not be victim to garbage politics.

When I was Chief, PNP, I imposed the principle as follows: What is right must be kept right, what is wrong must be set right. And I led the PNP by my own example. Let me refresh your memory.

First, I ordered all police officers to surrender all carnapped vehicles in their possession and they did. The few who disobeyed would find to their permanent regrets that I meant business. They were placed out of business.

I have reports today that should disturb President Macapagal if she cares enough to listen. Recovered vehicles are now again used by police units in the PNP.

Second, I ordered that all police officers must refrain from playing golf during office hours. And they did. For the business of the police is to run after criminals and not after golf balls.

I have report today that should disturb President Macapagal if she cares enough to listen. Go to the golf courses. You may yet find your generals there.

Third, I ordered the elimination of the kotong culture among cops. The order was resisted by some incorrigibles. They even killed one of our own. But I meant business and the culture of kotong was gone.

I need to tell you what you already know. And if President Macapagal cares enough to listen, she should start asking the jeepney, bus, and taxi drivers. Include the viajeros, Madame President.

Fourth, I ordered a no-take policy in every area of police work. This worked very well. And People began to show respect and confidence on the police. By the time I resigned on the evening of January 20, nine out ten people already trusted the Philippine National Police all over the country.

Tell me that jueteng has been terminated as promised by this administration. Show me that police officers are not on the take. If this administration can tell and show me, I would gladly eat humble pie. Or grovel, if you please.

Another principle – Live and lead by good example. I was not stealing anything from the Filipino People and the police officers knew it. I could easily investigate the ICUs in the PNP. They do not use that acronym anymore. Reason: The ICUs can no longer be distinguished from the rest.

I campaigned on two major issues. One, peace and order. Two, graft and corruption. As Senator, to these twin issues will I dedicate my time and talent.

Let us face it. In the recent survey by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, respondents feel that crime – or the absence of a safe place – is to them the biggest problem. Can we ever have that safe place? We can and we will.

We all know the huge sums of money that graft and corruption take away from government coffers. I have proven that opportunities for graft and corruption can be denied would-be grafter. I will put my entire soul on this scourge of our nation.

All my public life has been devoted to enforce the laws against the criminal and the violent. In the Senate, it will be devoted to add more teeth to existing laws by innovating on them. Soft laws make for soft societies which are no match to hard and hardened criminals. It is time we have new laws such as would deter and punish money laundering activities.

It is true I belong to the opposition. But when I see the good the Arroyo administration does, you can be sure I will not be the last to recognize it.

For example, this administration has built its house of governance on three pillars. First, on the pillar of high moral standards. Second, on the pillar of accountable transparency. And third, on the pillar of effective implementation.

These are good pillars on which to build the house of good governance. As Senator, I shall personally add life to these pillars.

The time for excuses is up. Let us work together. Let us respect our institutions. I am afraid there no other options left.