Speech Before the Philippine Association of Local Treasurers and Assessors

I know why you have invited me today. You want my support to your proposal to amend certain provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991. I want to assure you now of my support.

I have two suggestions to make, though. One, please share with me during the open forum the details of your proposal. I will be asking some questions. Two, form a dedicated working group from PHALTRA to sit down with my staff. In the meantime, I will inform Senator Aquilino Pimentel of our discussions. He is the father of the Code. And he is committed to improve it before he bows from the Senate.

If you agree with my proposal, then lend me your ears for a few minutes. I have a very important message to deliver. I said this message to the Rotarians of Batangas yesterday. I want to share it also with you. 

The Rotarians asked me to talk about national security and the drug menace. You will recall that last year, no less than the ISAFP Intelligence Chief and his company made all kinds of derogatory report. I find it unthinkable until now why Mr. Corpus 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 clubs like yours.

There are all kinds of national security threats. What is the 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 all 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 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 threat means protection from external aggression by another nation. Not anymore. It now means protection from all threats to out 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 national security.

Two, rampant crime and violence discourages tourism.

Three, rampant fraud and corruption alienates 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 Malacañang 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.

One, all of us Filipinos must learn to trust each other more, regardless of our circumstances. The barracks mentality does not help.

Two, we must acquire a common perception of the threat. It is not all government or police. It is all community. PHALTRA must help in such energization.

Three, we must realize that there are many crime drivers. Let us get at the roots of crime. People commit them because 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.

I have another message to give. You are in government. You can not talk freely as I can. But let share with you something else.

The presidential urge for foolish experiments and announcements needs to be restrained. 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 letter 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 barbaridad!

In 1998 we elected a President. It was the People’s will to be lead and governed by their former Vice President Joseph Estrada. In January 2001, a minority of the population massed at EDSA. Both the AFP and PNP generals abandoned their commander-in-chief. 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 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 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. Worse, both AFP and PNP chose to take side with the evil minority. This incident should make the lady in black nervous aplenty.

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.

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.

I am now ready for them open forum.

Thank you very much.