National Security

Speech Before the Rotary Club of Downtown Batangas

It always feels good to be with my fellow Rotarians. Even though I have not been as active when I was in Cebu, the saying goes perpetual right: Once a Rotarian, always a Rotarian. 

The topics you have assigned me carry with them all the sense of urgency. Unfortunately for me, the ISAFP Intelligence Chief and his company made all kinds of derogatory reports. I find it unthinkable until now why he would have accused me as a drug lord; and as a money launderer. Worse, Corpus went to the bar of public opinion to put me down. He did put me down, according to him. But I am still up and very much around addressing Rotarians like you.

Drug trafficking is no doubt a national security threat. There are many kinds of such threat. Thus, today, I shall discuss these threats, keeping in mind that drug trafficking is the worst of them all.

What is most common to all these threats is the fact that our shrinking world has provided easy access to their commission. There was a time when vast geographical distances shielded us from crime. Today, when we talk of crime, we are forced to discuss the tyranny of proximity. Proximity has become dangerous.

When we talk of national threats these days, one can be almost sure that their effects are likewise suffered by other countries. The bombing in Bali, Indonesia sent shivers to al of us. So did the bombings in Zamboanga and Manila send chills to other nations and nationalities. This is true whether or not the terrorists are NPAs or natives of Aceh.

International criminal syndicates – for mundane profit or religious cause – have another thing common between them. They have become increasingly sophisticated. They have greater access to the latest technologies to conceal their crimes and motives. Also to conceal their profits.

In the international crime of terrorism, conventional strategy has reached its dead-end. Terrorists are educated and trained. They operate in small cells.

In the drug organization, the syndicates operate in many levels. We may arrest the street pushers. But the master minds are nowhere to be found. They are not even known by their pushers in the streets. Such sophistication, indeed.

Traditional thinking has it that national security means protection from external aggression by another nation. Not anymore. It now means protection from all threats to our well-being as a nation and as a people. What was once a national threat to us has become a national threat to Indonesia and to all other countries.

Consider these propositions:

One, crime here at home jeopardizes our national security.

Two, rampant crime and violence discourage tourism.

Three, rampant fraud and corruption alienate investments.

Four, rampant drug abuse damages public health.

All these four propositions produce fear among people. A country in fear remains a country on its knees. No amount of sex by the Malacanang tenant – plenty or more – can attract the pleasant reaction. Not even from the original Men In Black.

How can we fight all the threats to this nation – as well as to other nations? Let me suggest some ideas for your proper action. You have to act if you mean to sow the seeds of love. Pulpitry is now a thing of the past.

One, all of us Filipinos must learn to trust each other more, regardless of our circumstances. If you are going to sow the seeds of love, you may want to influence people to trust each other more. Barracks mentality does not help at all.

Two, we must acquire a common perception of the threat. It is not all government or police. It is all community. Energize the community to rise on its own.

Three, we must realize that there are many crime drivers. Let us get at the roots of crime. People commit them because they also breed the opportunities for them to commit their crime.

Four, we ought to understand the limitations of the bureaucracy. It is like a dinosaur with too big a stomach and with too little a head.

Five, like Rotary, we all must be world-oriented. Isolationism or parochialism is gone.

Only recently, I addressed a political party in Cavite. Let me close my remarks by sharing with you my message to the Partido Magdalo ng Kabite.

The presidential urge for foolish experiments and announcements needs to be retrained. If she can not act like a president, she should at least stop behaving like an empty celebrity.

A year ago, the slogan was May Gloria Sa Bukas Mo. When it did not catch fire, her sycophants came up with anything and everything. Today, the letters GMA are splashed everywhere. Tomorrow will have even more splashes.

This lady seems unstoppable and aplenty. This lady thinks small is beautiful. And plenty of sex. As the Spaniards would say: Que baribaridad!

In 1998 we elected a President. It was the People’s will to be led and governed by their former Vice President Joseph Estrada. In January 2001, a minority of the population massed at EDSA. And the people’s will was gone.

If this is not what one Henry Fallows once called damaged culture, I do not know what is. Since when must the minority decide the fate of the majority? And when this minority euphemistically called civil society breaks into warring factions, must the majority give in?

We have been tyrannized too long by this minority called civil society. It is time to examine ourselves again. It is time to purge this nation of this evil society.

In, 1987, the people’s will was clear when we approved a new Constitution. It was our will to respect the results of any impeachment, if any.

But in January last year, that will was subverted by the minority. They called it people power even if it was only the power of the minority.

Sometimes I ask the question: if Claro M. Recto were alive last year, would he have allowed the process of impeachment to be bypassed and trespassed by the so-called People Power II? It is a serious question. It is a food for thought.

On April 17, 1960, the University of the Philippines conferred on Senator Claro M. Recto the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa. He was never a UP student or alumnus, a fact that made the distinction even more meaningful. In his address – which was a commencement address – he delivered probably his best treatise. It was about political parties. It was his last major speech, too.

After years of independence, Recto said, it is certainly time we developed a political leadership whose sole allegiance is to the people, whose sole concern is the welfare of the people, and whose desire is an unquestioned obedience to the people’s will.

Then he added this challenge which I must quote:

And the people must be vigilant and profess loyalty only to the leadership that best expresses their will and only for so long as such leadership continues to express and obey that will.

People Power II does not express such people’s will. It only marks the constitutional insanity of a minority. And political parties – if they are to represent the people – must not be victims of such insanity.

What we have seen so far is the unmitigated empowerment of a minority. People power should mean the empowerment of the majority who are poor and without hope. It should also mean the humility of the powerful minority to see the difference.

I hope I have expressed my mind in all candor. I want to thank you for your indulgence.

Thank you very much.