Where We Are

Speech before the Rotary Club of Manila

I feel honored today. It is good to be with you again. After all, it is not every week that one is given the chance to speak before the oldest of the country’s Rotary Clubs – certainly not the kind that Spokesman Toting Bunye has insulted.  I mean that to be the truth – not the truth that Malacanan Palace speaks and expresses each time we, Filipinos seek an explanation on Garcillano, on impeachment, on Venable and what have you.I feel honored today. It is good to be with you again. After all, it is not every week that one is given the chance to speak before the oldest of the country’s Rotary Clubs – certainly not the kind that Spokesman Toting Bunye has insulted.  I mean that to be the truth – not the truth that Malacanan Palace speaks and expresses each time we, Filipinos seek an explanation on Garcillano, on impeachment, on Venable and what have you.

The invitation of President Cesar made through fellow Rtn. Art to be your guest speaker today brings back good memories. This is the group to whom I delivered my first major address when I became Chief of the Philippine National Police in November 1999. I remember that was upon the invitation of a good friend and mentor and now a Senator and a distinguished colleague, the Hon. Alfredo S. Lim.

It was easy then to deliver my speech. There was a strong clamor for reforms in our country’s police force. In that address before you, I defined my response and vision. I remember talking about the ICU’s among the police – the inept, corrupt and undisciplined. At that time, I was already thinking of my antidote against the ICU’s. It was AID – aptitude, integrity, discipline. 

Now that I am a Senator – and a member of the opposition – the task is definitely not as easy. But I like the challenge to do the difficult. Thus, I thank all of you for this opportunity – an opportunity to say the truth as I feel and know it. It is the Rotarian in me, I must say.

In November of 2003, the business community  asked  me  to speak my mind on current issues then.  There were no jueteng investigations yet that time. Boy Mayor was still collecting his daily fortune in Bicol. Sandra Cam was still baglady for Gen. Mosqueda. The Hello Garci tapes were not yet discovered. Michaelangelo Zuce was still busy with Oplan Gloria. There were no impeachment complaints, too – not so many knew there was a Congressman Marcoleta, or an Amang Magsaysay.

On this occasion let me re-state what I said to the captains of commerce and industry:
The  most  basic  ingredient  for  governance  to  be  good  is  the  courage  of the  leader  to  govern  and  lead  by  example.  When  people  see  honesty  and  integrity  in  the  leader and his family,  they  cease  to be  hostile.  Where they are not hostile, they cease to be indifferent.

We talk of moral ascendancy almost always. In  governance,  this  can only  mean  that  a leader  can  only  demand  from his  followers  what  he  demands  from  himself  first. He  can  never  expect  his  subordinates  to  be incorrupt when  he  himself  is  corrupt.
Are there corrupt subordinates where the leader is honest and upright? There are, but not for long.  First, that leader will be feared. Sooner than later, he will be emulated.

Does a leader’s capacity for moral ascendancy need sacrifice?  Not at all.

I came to realize this fact when I was Chief,  PNP.  To punish  the  kotong cops,  jueteng protectors,  hulidapers, weekday golfers, the gluttons  and  users  of  recovered stolen vehicles did  not require  extraordinary political  will.  I only did an ordinary duty as a leader. When  should  a  leader introduce  governance  by  example  and  by  what  test? On  day  one,  make  sure that  you  as  the leader  and  your  cabinet  actually  sign  a waiver  exempting  you  from  the  coverage  of  the  Bank  Secrecy  Act.  The  signed document,  to  me,  constitutes  the  best  evidence  of your commitment to be  incorrupt and  incorruptible.  That requires no pious sacrifice either.

With  such  waiver,  will  there  still  be  takers  of  sensitive  positions  in government? There will be more.  And governance will be stronger.

There  is  no  substitute  to  a  morally  ascendant and  politically-willed  government.

This  is  the  best  kind  of  government  that  can meet  head-on  the  challenges  you have identified.

This  the  kind  of  government  that  sows  fear  on the spine  of  kidnappers and drug lords. It can enforce the penalty of death as mandated by law.

This is the kind of government that is never double-faced, does not double-speak and never engages in double-standard practice. It does not have a leader who will refuse to face the people when they want the simple truth. It does not allow a leader to say “I am sorry” then lie for what he or she is sorry about.

Under  this  kind  of government,  there  would  be no  IMPSA  deal  involving  US$14M bribery;  no  Diosdado  Macapagal  Boulevard  overpriced  by  PHP700  million;  no PIATCO  extortion  totaling  $20m;  no  AFP-Lockheed  deal  overprice  of  US$6  million; no Northrail project overprice either. I can go on and on with many more anomalies that will not be allowed to happen under the kind of government that I described earlier.

And certainly no Jose Pidal, no Commissioner Garcillano, and no Norberto Gonzales… no cheating, lying and stealing.

Now  you may  want  to  ask  –  will  there  still be  pork  barrel  under that kind  of  governance?  There will be neither pork nor barrel and certainly not under another name such as Priority Development Assistance Fund or Countrywide Development Fund. There will only be the best of laws. There will only be conclusive and definitive investigations.

Now, just a few questions –

What  could  possibly happen  if  all  the  pork  barrel  funds  were  to be given up by us, your  lawmakers? What could it mean to the eighty million Filipinos if graft and corruption in government were to be reduced to the minimum, or eliminated? Will the government’s budget deficit be wiped out? Will there be budget surplus instead? Will poverty be substantially alleviated? Will education be drastically improved? Will population be meaningfully managed?  Will basic infrastructures – yes, basic only – be built?  Will   our  country  be  a  safer  place  in  which  to live,  work,  do  business, and  even  die? Will the value added tax law still need to be expanded?

My fellow Rotarians, the answers are not difficult to know. You all know them.

Ours is a country in a heavy mess. Who has failed to be in charge?  Who is responsible?
Business knows this to be true. In fairness to the captains of commerce  and industry, I remember  they  had  prepared  a  roadmap  for economic  recovery.  There,  the  challenges  are  clearly  defined  on poverty  alleviation, education, infrastructure, peace and order, population management, and good  governance  in  the  public  sector.

What happened? Government simply failed to make it happen.  It simply failed to respond. It simply failed to help.

Good governance in public sector is the gut issue today.  Let us do good governance and everything will fall into place. We are today in bad shape because of bad and poor governance.

I may sound too pessimistic but this beloved country once proud to be known as the Pearl of the Orient can never re-shape under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She needs credibility to be able to carry out her programs of government. She needs the people’s trust to get their support and cooperation. She needs respect from the governed to get things done. Unfortunately, she has lost all three.

She is the biggest problem this benighted land has to tackle. She is likewise the solution. The only way for her to go is GO!

What  is  right  must  be  kept  right  and  what  is  wrong must  be  set  right.  What  are the  things  that  are  right  and  need  to  be  done  right?

One,  good  governance  that  makes  graft  and  corruption  the  enemy  of  the  people.

Two,   peace  and  order  that  makes  violence  and  crime  the  enemy  of  the  people.

Three, consumer  protection  that  makes  deception  the  enemy  of  the  people.

And  four,  fiscal  and  economic  reform  that  makes  government  excessive  spending and  wastage  the  enemy  of  the  people.

These  objectives  are  what  politicians  should take if  they  are  to  mature into public servants  and  statesmen. A politician places the nation at his service; a statesman places himself at the service of the nation.

Where do we start? Where must a leader start? I believe it must be with government. A leader must scorch the earth beneath government officials and employees, from the highest official to the lowest clerk to exact adherence to good and effective public service. No ifs, no buts. Government must be the exemplar of honesty and dedication, of discipline and integrity, of aptitude and competence. Those who do not live up to the standards set for them must have no place in public service. Many more will be willing to take their place. Incentives must wait. Rewards must be earned, not dangled.

It should be a leader’s vision to create good governance  against  graft  and  corruption by  means  of  the  creation  of  an  independent  Citizens’  Commission  Against Graft and Corruption patterned after Hongkong and Singapore. In  addition, new  laws  must  be passed  against  racketeering,  useless  holidays,  and  unreasonable  use  of  land  and similar  resources  of  the  country.

A leader must have a vision  to  formulate  a  national  peace  policy  that  makes territorial  integrity  non-negotiable  and  freedom  of  religion  universal,  without  fear, without  favor.  If  it  is  a  safe  place  we  all  want,  our  criminal  laws  must  be  given more  teeth;  and  our  police  and  military,  more  resources  and  benefits.

The leader’s  vision must be  to  ensure  the  safety  of  food  and  the  efficacy  of  drugs and  medicines.  Those  who  have  less  in  life,  have  every  right  to  have  more  in  safe food,  medicine,  and  drugs.  They  have  every  right  to  have  better  public  service utilities  and  communications,  too.

And finally, a vision to make foreign investments a partner, not a bystander; medium-scale business stronger, not weaker; domestic enterprise a  first  priority, not last; and human  resources development global,  not parochial.

Without a  vision,  according  to  the  Bible,  the  people  perish.  I  presented  this  Vision in  2001  and  also  last  year.  Perhaps,  it  is  time  to  present it  again…

Once  upon  a  time,  we  were  the  apple  in the  eyes  of Asia.  Now is the time to relive that splendor.  We did it before, we can do it again.  But  we  can  do  it  only  with  a government  that  leads by  example.  This  is the only kind  of government  I know  that can  claim  moral  ascendancy and  exercise  political will.  If there is any government we need least, it is a  motherhood  government.

I hope I was able to speak my mind.

I am now ready for your questions.

Thank you very much.

*****

Leave a Reply