Speech before the Fraternity/Sorority Grand Night Epsilon Sigma Lambda Phi, Rembrant Hotel
First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me to this gathering. Just a bit of a warning, though.
Yesterday, I was in Lucena City to address the two thousand graduates of Quezon National High School. I was told I almost did not make it to be their commencement speaker. A week before yesterday, a representative of Mrs. Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo threw her weight around and harassed the school officials to change their speaker.
This has become an ugly pattern. In many places where I was invited, either the President herself or her known representatives intimidated or showed disgust over my presence.
In Cagayan de Oro City, over a month ago, a few minutes before my plane touched down, Mrs. Arroyo herself was warning the city mayor against meeting with me. The good mayor himself told me so over dinner.
My own governor in Cavite received an overseas call from the same Malacanang tenant after we inducted the new officers of the Association of Cavitenos in Southern California in Los Angeles some three months ago, only to ask if I was with him on that trip.
In a district conference of Rotary Clubs in Tacloban City, she had to cancel her appearance as well as her P300,000 contribution to the affair at the last minute, when she found out I was likewise invited as a speaker.
There were other instances too redundant to mention.
Of course, there is Victor Corpus with his kangaroo court and Malacanang’s gang of mudslingers – Berroya, Wycoco, Ador Mawanay, Mary “Rosebud” Ong and a few others. They helped each other to create the myth that I am a criminal – a drug trafficker, money launderer, kidnapper, murderer and what have you. This myth they sold to the public. Finding nothing, they turned around and said there is such a public perception that I a criminal. Cutely, they say through their friends in media that perception is also a reality.
I say there must be an end to dirty politicking. Otherwise, we lose sense of what is good. Otherwise, we lose substance of what is true. Otherwise, we lose the soul of what is beautiful. Civility must not be victim to garbage politics.
Perhaps, there is no Senator in our memory more bothered, broken, battered and burdened than me. I have been demonized before our countrymen, using the power and resources of this government. Sometimes, I feel governance is a poor second priority to my destruction. I also wonder how the devil has organized so well a syndicate to do me in. He must really be virulent beyond compare. Even that is an understatement.
Their latest assault, unfortunately, has victimized our country’s judicial system. In an unprecedented ruling, the time-honored principle in criminal law of applying a new statute retroactively when favorable to the accused has been unabashedly disregarded. Since when did the Supreme Court become a trier of facts? Even assuming, for the sake of argument that it decides on a question of fact and not of law, the facts presented in the ponencia are bereft of truth. Why? The minutes of the oral argument clearly tell us so.
The ponente, while unilaterally inhibiting himself from participating in the rendition of the decision while the same case was in the Court of Appeals where he was yet a decent and principled member, suddenly turned obstinate and insisted to pen the ponencia. This, in spite of two successive motions for his inhibition that were filed by my lawyer, attaching his own personal letter to the raffle committee of the appellate court stating therein his reason for inhibiting himself.
If there is no legal basis for the decision to re-open the Kuratong Baleleng case, there can only be an illegal basis.
As lawyers would adamantly say: Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.
From a credible government witness, to an incredible, congenital liar – and, I would like to take this opportunity to re-introduce him to you – Angelo “Ador” Mawanay, inventor, fabricator par excelance.
Remember the $700M that I supposedly stashed away to some foreign banks? Remember the tons of narcotics substance that he alleged to have transported and delivered upon my orders and instructions? Civil society, the Jesuits, ad Malacanang and their friends in media went to town on that.
All of a sudden, they turned deaf and dumb when he retracted all his allegations against me. All of a sudden, Malacanang’s spin masters are calling him names.
I can still remember.
They swore to high heavens that he was credible when he was lying through his teeth during the six months or so that he was the top government witness in destroying my honor and reputation in the Senate hearings. And if they are swearing to the same high heavens that he is the most incredible person there is, please help me describe civil society. Please help me find a word to describe Fr. Tito Caluag. Please help me describe Mike Arroyo and his ilk. Please help me describe Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
They say Filipinos have a short memory. So, if you will allow me, please let me refresh your memory.
I am not the devil incarnate that my detractors have tried to project to the people.
I am not a bad person that you have read or heard about through media and in the coffee shops in Makati.
In the Senate, I started a crusade to do away with the pork barrel system because I thought and still believe that it is the most corrupt and corrupting system in our political institutions.
There is nothing in the pork barrel that can make our legislators proud; there is only everything that can make us hide in shame. With the pork barrel, only less than half of the fund goes to the projects. The rest goes to the many deep pockets of corruption.
Some people say I am stupid that I am foregoing a fortune when I yielded my P200M pork barrel allocation. I told them I want to continue looking at myself in the mirror every morning without shame in my heart or guilt in my conscience.
Some detractors dared me to prove that I am not politicking when I surrendered my “pork”. I told them the “pork” is the best tool to practice politics in this country. Therefore, they don’t make sense.
It was not later but soon that I realized that I might as well have talked to a concrete wall instead of imparting the message to my colleagues by way of a privilege speech. They did not care to listen. Worse, they increased the Priority Development Fund a.k.a. pork barrel by P3.755B. Using the magic of numbers, they reduced the budget for some basic services like education, health and agriculture to satisfy their insatiability.
It is indeed, a lonely crusade.
Regardless, I vow adherence to a principle: What is right must be kept right. What is wrong must be set right.
When I was Chief of the Philippine National Police, I led the police organization by my own example. Again, let me refresh your memory.
First, I ordered a No-Take policy in every area of police work. This worked very well for the people and the police organization. No-take means no to kotong, no to bribe money from jueteng operators and other illegal activities, no to demanding or taking bribes from suppliers and contractors doing business with the PNP. Sooner or later, they complied.
I need not tell you what you already know. In case you don’t, please start asking the jeepney, bus and taxi drivers. Include viajeros and vegetable and rice traders.
Tell me that jueteng has been terminated as promised by this administration. Show me that police officers are not on the take. If this administration can tell and show me, I would gladly eat my humble pie. Or grovel, if you please.
Second, I ordered that 85% of the financial and logistical resources of the police organization must go down to the stations and other operating units and only 15% must remain in HQ’s. The result was efficiency and motivation in the performance of duty and the delivery of dedicated police service to the community. It did not take long for us to remove the tag of our country as the kidnap capital of Asia.
Now, we are back to where we were. Tell me of any investor who does not think o the Philippines as a high-risk country in the area of peace and order and I would swallow back my words right now.
Third, I ordered all police officers to surrender all carnapped vehicles in their possession and they did. The very few who disobeyed would find their regrets that I meant business. They were placed out of business. But not for long. Under this new administration, they were reinstated and given some “juicy” assignments.
I have reports today that should disturb you. Recovered carnapped vehicles are now again being used by police officers and police units in the PNP.
Fourth, I ordered that all police officers must refrain from playing golf during weekdays and office hours. And they did. For the business of the police is to run after criminals and not after golf balls.
Now, go to the gold courses any day of the week and any time of the day. You may yet find the police generals and colonels there.
Another principle that I choose to go by – Live and lead by good example. I was not stealing anything from the Filipino people and the police officers knew it. I could easily investigate the inept, the corrupt and the undisciplined among the police officers. I referred to them as the ICU’s of the police organization. They could not shoot back and say, “What about you, chief?”
They have stopped using the acronym after I left the organization. Their reason must be that they cannot distinguish anymore the ICU’s from the rest.
During the 2001 senatorial election, I campaigned on two major issues. One, peace and order. Two, graft and corruption. Even now that I am a Senator, I dedicate my time and talent to these twin issues.
If there is anything that a nation has yearned since time immemorial, it is real leadership. This is not the kind of leadership that leaves a president alone to enjoy the fine sand of Boracay dancing while the Sasa wharf was being bombed and the country is mired in an uncontrollable public sector deficit that could hit P300B by yearend. Real leadership compels the leader to make sacrifices so others may live abundantly and safely. Or at least, feel new hopes of living better.
Leadership is at its best where the leader is the first to take each and every turbulence. Not the turbulence of the waves during surfing, or dancing on the beach.
Community is at its highest where the citizens do not feel sorry for themselves because of a story tenant of Malacanang.
Best leadership, however has never been easy to come by. Those of us who have seen the weaknesses of our leaders, have had to suffer a lot. We have to stop suffering much more – here and now. Enough is enough!
I think I have spoken enough.
Thank you very much for being here and for listening.