After EDSA II Reflections

Speech Before Rotary Club of Biak-na-bato and other Rotary Clubs of Rotary District 3780, Greenhills

Thank you very much for your very kind invitation.

Assistant Governor Danilo Espinosa and President Porfirio Belgica were considerate enough to suggest the topic that I would discuss with you. That is as it should be in every speaking opportunity.

Again, thank you very much. 

Almost every month, a Rotary club honors me with an invitation. I give it no second thought. I immediately accept, fully knowing that I am in the best company. In the company of people who have a culture of sowing the seeds of love, not lies.

There is something that I noticed, though. Unlike in previous engagements when I was Chief, PNP, it is not only one Rotary club that attends the meeting now. There are many clubs like tonight. Why? I can think of only one reason.

It might be the sign of the times. With the economy gasping for dear breath, it is now more economical, hence practical to have multi-club meetings…..

To be candid with you, I am very pleased to be here. I know you can hear me well. I know you can see me well as I do not see anyone wearing dark shades with black suits. I don’t see MIB’s, as in “Men in Black”…

Somebody said – MIB means Malacañang in Black. It is blackened by scam after scam. The latest is the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard. Or, Diyos ko po, napakamahal Boulevard. Another said MIB also means Macapagal-In-Bankruptcy. The runaway deficit confirms it.

You may have not noticed, but our electric bills for the month of August have started to increase by 16 centavos per kilowatt-hour. After frequently watching on TV an indigent family who can now afford to buy an electric fan to replace the worn out hand fan that used to put them to sleep, thanks to GMA for bringing down PPA, we are angered by the billions of pesos in profit raked in by at least nine independent power producers sucked from the blood of Filipino electric consumers. They managed to squeeze money from us to satisfy their greed and insatiability of realizing margins of profit ranging from 58.4% to 98.2% or an average of 76.1%. And thanks to us, consumers – they made it to the list of the Business World’s top 1000 corporations.

And this administration seems not to mind at all.

My message to Rotary has never changed. To be a Rotarian is one opportunity desired by many but opened only to a few. Being a Rotarian myself makes me proud I am one. Let us handle this gift of Rotary with extreme care.

And we will be given more opportunities to be of service to mankind.

Early in life I was told two secrets of success. One, work as if everything depends on human hands. Two, pray because everything done by human hands depends on God. As you all know from experience, the combination works – then and now. It will always work.

I was going over my major speeches when I was Chief, PNP. One such speech was delivered before the senior members of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association on November 30, 2000. It was entitled My Report To My Seniors.

We were then facing a historical first in the life of this democratic nation. For, President Joseph Estrada was on trial. The test to pass then was to see through its conclusion – in peace. I prepared the entire PNP for such conclusion.

Let me recall what I said on November 30.

One, as for us police officers – the President is our Commander-in-Chief.

Two, where does the Philippine National Police – under my watch – stand? What principles are there to govern a national civilian police force such as the PNP during these times?

Three, some people are trying their best to pull the rug beneath the Philippine National Police. They include a few rogue cops – the so-called ICUs, or inept, corrupt, and undisciplined officers.

Four, other people are moving hell to make us disloyal to the Commander-in-Chief They sow intrigues. They want us to join partisan political calls.

Those were the statements I made.

As history would tell us later, there were other things in store: for us on that fateful day of January 19, 2001.

I want to make some things very clear tonight.

Contrary to what some police officers claimed in order to project themselves as heroes” of EDSA II, there was no pointing of guns on anybody. There was only a consensus meeting among officers and “gentlemen” who unanimously decided to follow the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ declaration of withdrawal of support from the President and Commander-in-Chief with national interest first and foremost in our minds. I will not elaborate. The open forum can take care of the details.

You have asked about the state of peace and order after EDSA ll. You know it. We all know it. It is very bad.

What makes it bad is the propensity of this administration to concentrate the resources of its law enforcement, intelligence and prosecution services to run after an elected senator of the republic. It resurrected an ex-convict who served time for a kidnap- for-ransom case and an ex-NPA who ransacked the PMA armory when he defected to the CPP/NPA. They were ably supported by an elongated chin of a character and a gawgaw covered face of a double-agent chinawoman to fabricate poorly scripted stories of narco-politics, money-laundering, kidnapping and the kitchen sink.

At one point, the ex-NPA even asked me to take a polygraph test to determine if he was lying or not! I thought I had seen enough cretins in uniform.

All these, while kidnappers were having a field day running and laughing their way to the bank, carnappers were stealing seven to eight motor vehicles per day, street policemen were back to their old ways of mulcting hard-earned money from drivers and vegetable dealers and petty snatchers were snatching our children’s cell phones.

What makes it worse is the bad habit of the nation’s madame-in-black to engage in political gimmickry over corpses in rigor mortis. Before that, she did not care a whit to welcome to Malacañang criminal suspects and tag a whistleblower as a suspect. No wonder, Malacañang is in black. And the nation too…

I am beginning to think Malacañang is poised to take the entire Filipino nation for a ride. I thought we have had enough of it in the last 19 months. I was wrong. For Malacañang now appears to be pleased with its roller-coaster experiment of public service. As they say, only in the Philippines.

Go to any country in the world and you will see the respect given to the office of the presidency. We can not seem to find the same respect here. Worse, the President herself has created a new culture – the culture of poor taste.

The real seat of effective and efficient public service is the Office of the President. It is the central bank of our people’s ‘dreams and hopes. It is not a Hollywood of make-ups and make-believes.

But pessimism must not be our lot. I hope the present leadership of the PNP remains focused on its task and not swayed and influenced by the political leadership to inject politics into their mission and mandate. I hope the reforms that I initiated and adhered to sustain will be reconsidered.

All quarters today keep expecting the police to do more. I strongly suggest that you back your expectations with what you should be doing more. I have a suggestion for you to make. In fact, this suggestion comes from an editorial in the newspaper “Malaya.”

You want more crimes to be deterred? Maximize your power of persuasion to make every policeman and policewoman pound the pavements. With such pounding presence, those intending to commit crimes will have second thoughts. Criminals have enough reason not to do their thing in a place pounded by the police.

You want more crimes to be solved? Maximize your power of persuasion to make every policeman and policewoman to pound the pavements in the collection of evidence and interview of witnesses. Criminals have enough reason not to do their thing if they are certain to be arrested, prosecuted, and convicted.

I was already into this kind of anti-crime strategy when I was Chief, PNP. I was then prepared to make every police officer show his wares in the streets and not in their comfortable desks and certainly not in the golf courses.

I was downloading meager resources of the organization to the tune of 15% for headquarters and 85% to field units. Our policemen then were motivated to do their job.

I was leading by good example because I believed then as I still believe now there is no other way to do it if you are the leader. I was not accepting bribes from gambling lords and other illegal activities. I was consistently declining offers of reward from kidnap victims that we rescued from kidnappers. The PNP resources went to where they should go. Police officers stopped using recovered carnapped motor vehicles and instead surrendered them to their evidence custodians prior to being returned to their rightful owners. I trimmed our policemen’s belly to 34″. The “no-take” policy became the mother of all my policies.

I lost no time in punishing the inept, corrupt and undisciplined police officers in their guts. The scorched-earth policy that I enforced worked wonders for us. I was determined to turn my obsession into reality – that is, to relive the old glory of the policeman.

We were almost there. When I took over in November 1999, the organization was suffering from a net negative 13% trust rating from the Filipino people. When I’ resigned in January 2001, we were at net positive 58%. In fact, only one out of ten Filipinos distrusted their police. What is the basis for the statement? The distrust rating was at a low 11%. Eighteen months after EDSA II, the trust rating plunged to net negative 51%.

As far as the PNP, EDSA II was the culprit.

It is right to expect the police to do more. And they would do more if you rise up as one to make them what they should be doing more.

The police are your servants and protectors. You only need to help them. You have the seeds. Sow those seeds in every police officer’s heart.

And if you ask me what needs to be done to the present state of political leadership in our country, if you ask me what to do to the present occupant of Malacañang who continues to mangle the economy and thinks crimes can be solved by photo- opportunism, I can only give you one simple suggestion – be patient, there’s 2004.

Thank you very much.