Speech before the General Assembly of the Philippine Printing Technical Foundation Inc.

Manila Peninsula Hotel, Makati City

These are tough times we are living in. Every effort towards progress counts. And we must hurry as competition is kind only to the victor but cruel to the vanquished. Let us not be at the end of the line.

The print industry is a vital segment of the social structure and it can play an even greater role in the advancement of the nation. In the last 3 or 4 decades the Philippine print industry has turned into a shadow of its former glory. This may have been brought about by various extraneous factors but it also includes an amount of the complacency that gripped our nation after being one of the most advanced nations in the aftermath of the Great War.

We allowed other nations such as Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and now Malaysia to overtake us in virtually all spheres of life. Vietnam is steadily catching up with us and may overtake us sooner than we think. The only way for us to go now is forward and up. 

What can the print industry do to contribute to nation building according to the ideas, principles and program of economic progress?

First, maintain competitiveness through quality and make it consistent. We had quality before but it lapsed. We were a major rising player in the 1950s but we slacked off. Our nation has much to contribute to the world aside from domestic helpers and workers in the field of construction.

Our intelligentsia, literati and illuminati can give the international academe and corporate world a run for their money. But we must present the message upon a medium of high quality. The industry must make the world come to us to answer its needs.

Again we cannot lag behind the major players. If Malaysia can do it, why can’t we? If China can do it, why can’t we?

The second point for contributing to progress is by evolving the necessary technology either through research and development or through technology exchange with other countries. Computerization, miniaturization, electronics, these and other developments should all permeate the industry in all parts of the country. A writing project should not have to be brought to Manila just to have it produced for commercially viable distribution.

Thirdly we must act hand in hand with the academic field and work out a system whereby our scholars and academicians can present their endeavors to a wider national and international audience, beyond the confines of their educational institutions.

If our experts can be published widely, this can evolve into a self-sustaining market and demand for their work. If the world demands the work of Indian authors, why can’t there be the same market for Filipinos? Let us think big, think wide and look beyond the self confines of our borders. Remove the national complacency of a people whose land has no common border with another country. We need a sense of fear, so to speak, the same that drove other nations to proactive, competitive and unrelenting progress.

In all these, government and its leaders and policy makers must do its part to help the printing industry prosper and regain its lost glory in Asia.

Perhaps it is time to set aside politics in favor of public service, the genuine public service that every Filipino deserves. Politics has shown to us by politicians as the art of compromise and commerce. Candidates buy votes, cheat, promise the moon, the sun and the stars when campaigning.

When elected, they are the first to make bad on those promises. Worse, after being proclaimed and given the title Honorable, they lose no time to recoup through graft and corruption their losses and resources used during the campaign.

Six years ago I announced my candidacy for the Senate of the 12th and 13th Congresses. Many skeptics then wondered long and hard why I aspired for a political seat in government when not too long ago before then, when I was CPNP, I declared my dislike, hateful attitude if you will, towards politics. My answer then and now has not changed. I love public service more than I hate politics.

It has never been my intention to become a politician. I only aspire to become a statesman and a public servant. Between a politician and a public servant is a whale of difference. In the language of the late French President Georges Pompidou, a statesman places himself at the service of the nation. A politician places the nation at his service.

I have been serving and protecting the public since I graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1971. First as a soldier, second as a police officer, and third as a Senator of the Republic.

And when I became Chief of the PNP in November 1999, the first statement I would make was something like this: Place privilege above principle and you lose both.

Subsequently, I imposed the principle: What is right must be kept right, what is wrong must be set right.

So as not to be viewed as a pure motherhood statement, the next thing I did was to live and lead by good example. I then challenged the entire police organization to show our people that they could live by what is right, and that they could right what is wrong. And together we did.

First, I ordered all police officers to surrender all recovered carnapped motor vehicles in their possession and in two weeks they did.

Second, I ordered that all police officers must refrain from playing golf during office hours. And they did refrain.

Third, I ordered the elimination of the kotong culture among our cops. After several skirmishes and many arrests and dismissals from the service, the kotong cop slowly but surely disappeared from the streets and highways.

Fourth, I ordered a no-take policy in every area of police work. And they followed.

Fifth, I ordered a clear physical regimen among our cops. Bring down your waistlines to no more than 34 inches. Walang tawad. They did, several of them miraculously from 44 inches to 34 inches in 2 months’ time. Everything worked well and people began to show respect and confidence on their police. We regained the old glory of the policeman in record time.

What made me succeed? It was principle – What is right must be kept right, what is wrong must be set right.

And what made the police think I meant business? Another principle – Live and lead by good example. I was not stealing anything from the Filipino people and my policemen knew it. I was jogging with them, leading them in physical exercises and the physical fitness tests.

In my second year as a senator, I became the laughingstock when I abandoned my P200-million annual pork barrel. All summed up, there are P22 billion of that for all congressmen and senators, all waiting to the river of corruption. The river just does not dry!

Where leaders do not lead by example, do we expect this country to prosper? Businessmen like you say no.

I think I have said enough of what I have to say. Again, congratulations, mabuhay tayong lahat!