Of Sacred Cows and Cash Cows

Speech before the Rotary Club-Hiyas ng Bacoor, Heritage Hotel, Pasay City

I would like to thank all of you for your very kind invitation. There is no second home to me other than the company of fellow Rotarians. You and I make mankind our business to serve and protect. Without fear, without favor. 

I had prepared a speech for your group as early as last Monday. It was about international terrorism. Continuing events, however, had made me drop that particular speech. Last night, I had to do a draft on a more current topic.

Thus, today, I shall deliver a follow-up of my privilege speech last Wednesday. It is to pursue the message and bring it to the ears of our people, in spite of the deafness of Malacañang and not because of it.

I said last Wednesday in the halls of the Senate that the Arroyo administration was constructed on sound moral foundation. This was the loud proclamation of Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Her speeches at EDSA and in Malacañang and other fora are there for all to see.

In fact, on many occasions, President Gloria employed both guts and gumption to preach her four-fold belief system, her eight-fold standards of good governance, and her three pillars of ruling this nation. Let me recite all of these to you.

For her belief system, she talked of four core values as follows:

One, to fight poverty. She is still fighting.

Two, to fight low moral standards and win the fight. She is now losing.

Three, to fight politics of personality and patronage and win the fight. Believe it or not.

Four, to lead by example. Or is it through the Department of the Underground?

For high standards, she has eight:

One, trustworthiness.

Two, results-orientedness.

Three, poverty alleviation.

Four, citizen empowerment.

Five, constituency feedback.

Six, continuing professionalization.

Seven, respect for others.

Eight, simple lifestyle.

And for her three pillars, she has three:

One, pillar of sound moral foundation.

Two, pillar of transparency and accountability.

And three, pillar of effective implementation.

Perhaps, we should add the new and fourth pillar – the Department of the Underground.

Against these four core values, against these eight standards, against these pillars, I can not think of any rational argument. In fact, I praised Her Excellency in my speech before the Rotarians of Cebu in July. No less than Her Excellency conveyed her pleasure about that particular speaking engagement when we met shortly thereafter.

Unfortunately for us, Her Excellency President Arroyo did not bother to look more deeply and incisively in her closet. There was a big live skeleton in that closet. That huge skeleton has been there in the last eight months. His name is JOSE MIGUEL TUASON ARROYO, who happens to be her husband.

President Gloria, no doubt, started her presidency with the best and noblest intentions which she placed in writing. Good intentions, however, can easily be disarrayed. And when these are perverted by the husband himself, the Office of the Presidency is irreparably damaged. We – as a people – are destroyed with extreme finality.

Press Secretary Rigoberto Tiglao and another spokeswoman by the name of Ms. Patricia Bunye have started talking in defense of the Honorable First Gentleman. I find these twin towers funny and amusing. Since when did Secretary of the Underground Mike Arroyo lose his voice? He is on target. He should be man enough not to conveniently disappear from the firing line. He needs no spokesperson here. He must show he is in command of himself.

The other target is the venerable Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. This is an agency to help the poor. It is not an agency to fill the pockets and satisfy the political passions of Secretary Arroyo. That PCSO has appointed a director to be its spokesman is equally funny and amusing. Are Angelo and Honey Girl afraid to come out in the defense of their agency of grease, graft, and corruption? Just asking.

The principal subject of my privilege speech was the younger, bigger Arroyo. The older, smaller Arroyo who is Senator was never the subject. He was the happy beneficiary of the maximum charity and charitableness of the bigger Arroyo. If he did not know it, that was blissful ignorance. If he knew it, that was blissful consent. Either way, he was the beneficiary.

Senator Joker Arroyo has waged a war. Against whom, I am not sure I know.

But let him do his war. After all, his only enemy is himself. He can even perpetuate that war against himself. Good for him and his soul.

In the meantime, he should take this advice from me. Jack Arroyo and Manny Estrella can speak for themselves. There is no need for a Senator to work as their spokesman.

My privilege speech was necessary to initiate the investigation of PCSO anomalies whose patron has been Secretary Mike Arroyo. If the Honorable First Gentleman believes he is innocent of the accusations, then he should come to the Senate for investigation. I promise him his day in court – the very day the Gloria Administration deprived me of.

There are many other skeletons in the Gloria closet. We shall expose all of them. For I believe that in government there should be no sacred cows. And where cash cows abound, let us have the end of them. Here and now.