Leadership Excellence and Dedicated Service

Speech Before Davao Jaycees, Davao City

I cannot but begin to say how grateful I am for your very kind invitation. Any invitation from the Jaycees is one I long for. I feel honored and inspired. After the Philippine Jaycees recognized me with a “Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines” award in 1998, I have always felt like a Jaycee myself. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. 

This is an induction of officers. It is an inauguration of new leadership. To all of you, please accept my heartfelt congratulations.

More than any time in our country’s history, this is a time when people are taking a harder look at what the government is doing or not doing. People are looking for leadership to allay their fears. If they find none, disillusionment looms and desperation lurks. Then, they feel lost without leadership. And, the nation suffers.

It is in this light that I wish to tackle this year’s theme of the Philippine Jaycees – “Leadership, Excellence and Dedicated Service.”

It is often said that leaders are not born made. If I may add, leaders are made… in Jaycees. Your commitment to leadership and development has not only become your trademark, more so it has become a valuable asset of nation building. Jaycees has become a breeding ground of our nation’s leaders.

Let me share with you my thoughts on the issue of leadership and in the context of how our country stands today. There must be relevance for our quest for leadership excellence and our people’s desire for a more dedicated service.

The better question is, leadership excellence for what and for whom?

This was the question that struck deep in my mind and even deeper in my heart when I assumed the post of Chief of the Philippine National Police.

When I entered the Philippine Military Academy more than 30 years ago, it gave me the opportunity to learn by heart the value of leadership in accomplishing the mission of public service. While in the PMA, we were made fully aware that we were being trained not only as future leaders in military uniform but leading members of society as well.

It was not until I became the top law enforcer in the PNP that I started reflecting hard on my role as a leader. I knew then that I was being closely watched by our people especially those who were wondering if I deserved the appointment.

Applying a cardinal rule on leadership that I learned the moment I stepped on the PMA grounds which says, “He who has not learned to obey is not fit to command,” I did not wait a minute longer to instill in the minds of our policemen that I was their leader, that henceforth, I would consistently lead them by example and everybody must follow.

I ordered that street cops stop mulcting or extorting money from helpless drivers of public utility vehicles and vegetable dealers. They followed. The kotong cops vanished at least during my stint as Chief PNP.

I stopped the malpractice of police officers of misappropriating for their official and personal use recovered car napped motor vehicles and other forms of evidence. Two weeks after I took over the reins of PNP leadership, Camp Crame was filled with turned over motor vehicles previously being used by errant police officers.

So, I knew they followed.

I stopped the bad practice of officers of accepting much less demanding rebates or commissions from suppliers and contractors doing business with the police organization. They followed.

I had consistently refused to accept bribe money in very tempting amounts from illegal gambling operators and other illegal activities. Instead, they attended to their office duties and were closely supervising their subordinates in rendering police service to our people.

I made sure that police resources would go down to the lowest field operating units, never to the pockets of unscrupulous police officials. I downloaded 85% of the PNP budget and other material resources.

I disciplined the police to a point that their performance vastly improved. In due time, we managed to removed the tag of the Philippines as the kidnap capital of Asia.

Even their waistlines were reduced to a point that they became proud of wearing their police uniform.

The police organization has no place for ICUs – the inept, corrupt and undisciplined police officers, I told them. And they followed.

People until now asked how I did it. I tell them my style of leadership is no nonsense, it was and still is plodding work, not the hail-fellow-well-met-type. I tell them there is no way you can impose on others what you cannot practice yourself – leadership by example is the key.

There could be other way.

I tell them I have always maintained a personal credo – “What is right must be kept right, what is wrong must be set right.”

This is the time of crisis that will try or will and determination as people, as a nation – the more that we should not go wrong.

Peace and order is right. Lawlessness is wrong.

Good governance is right. Corruption is wrong.

Justice is right. Poverty and injustice is wrong.

First things first.

We cannot have progress and development if we don not have peace and order, if we do not follow the law and if we cannot discipline ourselves because our leaders are themselves transgressing it. Lip service will not work. Double speak is even worse.

Definitely, what you do in the Philippine Jaycees is right. It is always right to pursue leadership excellence for dedicated service to society in our common quest for peace and order and progress for our country and our people.

It is through this common effort that we will all become relevant leaders ourselves worthy of the respect of our friends and foes as well.

I would like to end my speech with a story close to my heart.

Once upon a time, there was a poor couple deeply obsessed with sending all their eight children to school, all the way to getting college degrees.

Their philosophy was, since they did not have the material things to leave to their children when they perish from this earth, good education was the only thing they could provide them. After all, they believed that nobody in this world can take away that precious inheritance that they thought of bequeathing to their children. They themselves did not have decent education, which explains why they were poor.

Amazingly, they were very honest human beings. They would work extra hours everyday of the week but were never tempted to earn extra money from less honest means. They did not mind having decent meals or not even enjoying the normal three-meals-a-day reward for back breaking hard work just to save a little for their children’s education.

They were likewise very religious. Never a Sunday would pass that they would skip mass in the town’s parish church.

They never quarreled, or at least they would not show their children even their most minor misunderstandings.

With the help of God, or as they used to say, “May awa ang Diyos, makakaraos din tayo, mga anak.”, the children finished their schooling. They have become professionals in their fields of interest.

One thing though remains to the children. They cannot forget the good leadership principles displayed and taught by their parents. The honesty, integrity and hard work will forever occupy a special place in their hearts and to instill the same values to their own children would be a fitting tribute to their aging parents.

Even when they have their own respective families to attend to, the children never forget to reunite with their parents in their old modest home to seek advice and prayers and find solace during their trying and difficult times.

The fourth child has since become a public servant.

While he promised himself never to allow his own children to suffer the same poverty that he saw in their midst many, many years ago, he likewise vowed never to lose sight of the honesty and other simple virtues that he saw in his parents as he grew up in his hometown. They made him grow up, along with the other children by their principles and he vowed to die with those principles.

Beloved Jaycees, my friends – the poor couple in my story were once my best teachers on leadership by example. They are my parents. I am the fourth child who is now a public servant.

Maraming salamat po at magandang gabi sa inyong lahat.