Her Greatest Enemy: Herself

Speech before the Philippine Councilors League (Region 2)
Cauayan City, Isabela

First of all, let me take this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Differences notwithstanding, we all will celebrate a Merry Christmas the way we used to. Doubts notwithstanding, we all will welcome the New Year of 2003 into our hearts and dreams. 

Last week, I had the opportunity to address your colleagues in Region 7. Today, I want to thank you for you very kind invitation. It is a pleasure to be with you. It is an honor, too.

Before I take my main topic, let me first dispose of the recent accusation. A little background could help.

Last year, the ISAFP chief, former NPA Victor Corpus accused me before court of the Philippine Daily Inquirer as a money launderer. I was shocked.

Mine was a cry for innocence and its presumption which I stated in a privilege speech. The tenant in Malacañang should then have announced due process, she did not. She, instead, celebrated Corpus’ kangaroo performance. I would find that she was all along the patron financier of Corpus’ travel and experiments.

Today, the shoe is on the other foot. DOJ Secretary-on-leave Hernando Perez has been accused directly by Congressman Mark Jimenez. And Malacañang presumes Nani’s innocence and calls for due process.

In the meantime, Corpus sees nothing, hears nothing, says nothing. It is unthinkable that Corpus, who is ISAFP chief, does not even know what made the Canadian and Australian embassies close shop. He does not care, either.

Here comes Madame Rosebud accusing me as a murderer of a police officer, Police Superintendent John Campos. Has Malacañang told anyone that I should be presumed innocent until proven guilty? Malacañang’s tenant is deafeningly silent.

Rosebud’s hallucinations do not disturb me. She has every right to be insane. What disturbs me no end is the selective application of the criminal justice system by the very person sworn to preserve it and protect it, the President.

Where Malacañang chooses the kangaroo court for its political enemies, what kind of strong republic is President Arroyo talking about? She is only frothing in the mouth.

There is no strong republic – to borrow the language of former Supreme Court Justice Cruz – where the Malacañang tenant appears on television commercials, and there are billboards announcing even minor public works as her priority projects, as if she were a municipal mayor claiming credit for every esquinita.

There is no strong republic – to borrow the language of the Supreme Court Justice – where the Malacañang tenant exhibits arrested suspects as if they were already convicted criminals, ignoring due process and the constitutional presumption of innocence.

There is no strong republic – to borrow the language of the vulnerable justice – where she refuses to act like a barangay huckster.

Here comes another jerk by the name of Mr. Matillano who is the Director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detective Group. He has perverted with both authority and finality the meaning of crime investigation.

Congressman Ted Failon is right to ask for the replacement of Mr. Matillano who seems incapable of doing a good police work. I think Matillano should go back to school and re-write his stupid destabilization theory. Be sure you do not get him as Regional Director of Police Regional Office 2.

The former Vice President – who is trying very hard to be president – has preached the gospel of a strong republic. Political homiletics without action is bad governance. I hope it does not get any worse.

Today, national survival is the ultimate test of the Arroyo government. Today, the nation has gone to the dogs. It will soon go to the wolves. Unless we care enough to be bothered.

The test of national survival as regards public safety has not been passed. No need for statistics. Just go out at night and find if you feel safe.

And look at where the economy is heading to. The Gross National Product does not mean anything. One million jobs have been created? Whoever said is now Secretary of Agriculture.

There are no new investments. Even privatization has become an endangered policy by the current administration. No wonder, it seems to find its adrenalin in takeovers.

What we feel is a quiet and raging despair among the people. But the people do not want another insane people power. They want only an election – honest, orderly, peaceful election.

The biggest challenge now is to get an entire society to pursue its own progress and prosperity. For only the people themselves can do it.

We are a Third World country – or a developing country. This means that majority of our people are poor by international standards. In fact, 30 million Filipinos do not only live a life of poverty, they also live blighted lives. Poverty is bad enough. Blight is very much worse.

The experience of developed countries when they were developing points to a three-pronged combination. One, job creation. Two, education. Three, reasonable population growth.

Who create jobs? Only businessmen, local and foreign, ca creates jobs best. They are the engine of growth. Without growth, poverty remains to stalk the biggest number of people.

If entrepreneurs are the engine of growth, then by all means their requirements must first be met by government. And what are these requirements? They are:

One, a safe environment. We can never be safe where the Malacañang tenant breeds opportunities for breaking the chain of command in the Philippine National Police.

Incidentally, we are not sure anymore who is the real Chief PNP. Mrs. Arroyo apparently has learned the devil’s art of dividing the PNP in order for her to rule it as she wishes.

PNP has finally become hopeless. No thanks to her. Only the criminals are grateful.

Two, stability, consistency, continuity. Regardless of the succession of governments and administration, the playing fields must remain leveled and the rules of investments honored. Businessmen are never afraid of changes. They are, however, afraid of instability and unpredictability.

Three, efficient infrastructure. There are enough funds from BOT projects without need to drain the treasury that can be used for solely infrastructure projects. Official Development Assistance has yet to be fully tapped.

Four, simple bureaucracy. It has been said that bureaucracy is the art of the impossible and complicated. It ought not to be. On the contrary, it should be the art of the simple and possible.

Job creation is but one of two wheels of poverty reduction. Our 2.4% annual population growth eats up any GNP growth in our economy. This is simple to understand.

In the past 25 years, the Gross Domestic product Growth rate averaged 3.1%. The population growth rate was 2.5% on the average. This means an improvement in the lives of only 0.6% on average per year.

Foreign investors and even donors take the hard view that economic development can never take off without a lower and more manageable population growth. The Catholic Church does not like me for my bold review of existing population growth policies. I can understand. But I ask the Church to be more understanding.

We all are under siege. Leaders do not care more than before and people do not hope as much as before. We must act now with new ideas. Or at least, with better ways of doing the old.

The long road to prosperity begins with the education and enlightenment of the people. This is the challenge of the hour. The community is where this development begins. And this is where your turf begins.

Our young must be given the best education so after graduation they can find gainful employment. They must be educated early enough to plan their families.

Let me now go back to where Mr. Matillano is leading to – destabilization. Let me say it for the umpteenth time. It is not in my blood to plot against any government. Not during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. Not during the time of President Corazon Aquino. Not during the time of President Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada.

Certainly not against the Arroyo administration. This administration has nothing to fear except its own lapdogs like Singson, Corpus, Berroya, Matillano, Wycoco, and Mary the Ong.

Mrs. Arroyo’s greatest enemy is not us. It is herself and her helplessness.

Something has gone wrong. To criticize the President is a duty. This is only to keep what is right and to set rights what is wrong.

If I have to be framed up for doing both, so be it. I know you and your people will understand.

Thank you very much.