Speech at the 4th Pahinis Festival in Laua-an, Antique

You know, on the way here, I was talking to several people. Nagtanung-tanong din ako about Laua-an, and I came to a conclusion, if only Laua-an is the Republic of the Philippines, siguro masaya ang mga Pilipino.

One reason – I learned na walang utang ang munisipyo pero mayroon pang surplus na P13 million for this year, kaya sinabi ko, kung itong Laua-an ay Republika ng Pilipinas, sana wala tayong binabayaran na trilyon taun-taon sa WB, sa IMF, sa mga creditor banks kung saan-saan, year after year. We’re suffering a budget deficit of at least P200 billion, ang ibig sabihin nito, not only us but our children, our grandchildren will have to pay for the deficit, for the debt that wala naman silang kinalaman, na wala tayong kinalaman, ito’ y hiniram ng ating mga iba’t ibang administrasyon, tayo ngayon ang nagbabayad, tayo ang nagsa-suffer. 

Whenever I’m asked by foreign media, by local media, foreigners, anyone, ‘Mr. Senator what is the number one problem of this country?’ I have consistently replied, ‘The number one problem of this country is government, but it is also government that is the solution.’

A government that is badly governed, badly led, ang magsa-suffer yung mga taong bayan. You know, kade-deliberate lang namin sa budget for 2009, it is worth P1.415 trillion, of course minus P200 million that I have consistently given up year after year, my pork barrel allocation.

Sa kaalaman ng mga hindi pa nakakaalam, ang pork barrel, ito po ang ibinibigay, ina-appropriate sa bawat senador, sa bawat kongresista para ipagpagawa ng mga kalsada sa kanilang mga distrito, para ipagpagawa ng mga tulay, ipagpagawa ng mga eskuwelahan.

Ito rin ang ginagamit, o bahagi nito ay ginagamit para pantulong sa mga mahihirap para bigyan ng gamot, bigyan ng serbisyo ng duktor ang ating mga kababayang mahihirap pero what is really happening with the pork barrel system?

We hear about 20-percent commission, 35-percent commission, 40-percent commission, and to those greed is beyond imagination, yung iba 100 percent ang kinakaltas sa kanilang pork barrel allocation, ghost delivery na ang umaabot sa kanilang constituents, and people seem not to mind anymore, kasi they see it on a day-to-day basis, parang pangkaraniwan na lamang ninanakaw ang kaban ng bayan.

I was telling the good governor, may provision, special provision in the 2009 budget that we are fighting against, ang sinasabi doon, if a local government unit is capable of building their own schoolbuildings or classrooms at ‘yung budget manggagaling doon sa 2009 GAA as provided, kailangan pa raw ng concern ng congressman, why? And who put it there? Naturally, the congressmen.

They are fighting progress in that manner, kaya na nga ng munisipyo ng Laua-an for example, to build a schoolbuilding, kaya na ng probinsiya ng Antique to build a schoolbuilding or schoolbuildings in the entire province using government funds, using the national budget, pero hindi sila makakagalaw without the concurrence of their congressman or congressmen. Is that fair? No! And we are fighting against it, I filed a resolution calling for an investigation as to why that particular provision or special provision was inserted in the GAA bill, which is now enrolled bill to be submitted to the president for her veto or approval.

I was telling the good governor, labanan ninyo!

If you can talk to the other governors, if you can talk to the other mayors, tell them be united, stand as one and fight that particular provisions and many other provisions because there are so many insertions in the budget na hindi natin nakikita.

They deducted P50.1 billion from the debt service interest payment.

On the surface, that’s good. Babawasan ‘yung pambayad utang, but where would the P50.1 billion go? That is the bigger question, pupunta ito sa mga additional pork barrel allocations ng mga congressmen, ng mga senador.

Mabuti na lang sana kung ‘yung pork barrel allocations, the entire amount minus the profit of the contractor, minus VAT and minus the incidental expenses lamang ang mababawas, but the reality, kakapiraso lang ‘yung umabot sa ating mga kababayan.

That is why in this country, unlike in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, and the US, dito pag may kaunti kang naipon pag nagkasakit ka o any member of your family gets sick, ubos ang inipon mo, and kung wala kang perang naipon at ikaw ay nagkasakit o maski na sinong miyembro ng iyong pamilya ay magkasakit, patay ka! You will never have the opportunity to even see a doctor! To even take a tablet of medicine. Why? It’s not because the Philippines is poor. We are rich in resources, we are rich even in human resources, kapag nagpupunta ang ating mga kababayan sa abroad, they excel in their own field, but why are we poor until now?

Thirty, forty, fifty years ago, the Philippines was number one in all of Asia, or number 2 next to Japan, but now we’re number one but not in progress, not in the economy, we’re number one in corruption.

And that is why we remain poor, that is why our countrymen are suffering. But a good government, a government that is properly led, that is the solution for problems, for all our problems!

And the number one problem in our government is corruption, that is why I and some of my colleagues, we fight corruption no matter what the cause, kapag mayroong anomalya, we really don’t care kung sino ang tatamaan sa aming expose, I for one, I’ve been at the receiving end of a massive negative campaign because of my stand against corruption and the only way they can fight it is to destroy the character of the person, of the messenger. But I will go on and continue bringing to the attention of our countrymen the shenanigans in government, this bad governance that we have. I will not tire informing our people kung mayroon talagang corruption at anomalies na nangyayari.

That is the only we can serve our people, that is the only way we can render the necessary social services – health, education – ito ‘yung nade-deny sa ating mga kababayan. You know, I was born to poor parents. That’s why it’s a great feeling to go to the countryside like Laua-an.

The moment I set foot in Laua-an, bumalik ‘yung alaala ko when I was a child, mahirap din ang buhay noon, you know. But the public school system, ‘yung pampublikong edukasyon could very well compete with the most popular universities and schools in Metro Manila dahil ‘yung pondo para sa education bumababa para mag-provide ng libreng public education sa ating mga kabataan. When you get sick, when you need your tooth to be pulled, nariyan mayroong dentista, mayroong doctor, kung hindi man doctor, paramedic. But they rendered the social services that need to be rendered to our people. Over time lahat nawala, everything has deteriorated.

Noong araw, patas ang laban. Even if you’re poor, maski you’re born poor, you are accorded the equal or equal opportunities na ibinibigay doon sa mga anak mayaman, you can compete, and that can only be the result of a good governance, a good government, but a bad government cannot provide the social services and the opportunities na kailangang ibiga sa ating mga kababayan.

Noong araw, patas na patas ang laban, equal ang opurtunidad, kung mayroon kang talento, kung mayroon kang talino, you will excel and you will reach what you are aspiring for. Kung mayroon kang pangarap, matutupad. Ngayon, napakahirap mag-compete because the opportunities are unequal.

Pag mahirap ka parang wala nang pag-asang makabangon sa kahirapan, parang wala nang pag-asang makaasenso. That can only be changed, if we the Filipino people will get united and stand at once in bringing to the attention of our leaders the wrongdoings in our government and Laua-an is a very good role model.

I was talking to the good mayor, pati ‘yung mga isda na siguro naging extinct na sa ibang mga lugar, they continue to swim in your rivers, because of citizens’ participation. Pati ‘yung kagubatan, ‘yung bantay gubat, naandiyan ‘yung mga kababayan, they are one in reporting kung mayroong nagsusunog sa inyong kabundukan. Kung mayroong nagpo-poaching, hinuhuli pinangungunahan mismo ni mayor at hindi sila makakapag-ulit pang manghuli within the municipal waters, and that is the kind of governance that this municipality, that our country needs.

There’s no other way. Ang tawag namin doon when I was still studying in the PMA, leadership by example. There can be no other way, there’s no substitute to leadership by example, and leaders cannot impose on his subordinates, on his subalterns what he himself cannot practice, hindi puwedeng preach ka lang ng preach, sabihin mo ‘wag niyong gawin ito, masama ito pero nakikita nila ‘yung lider nila kabaligtaran ang ginagawa. It won’t work, you will be found out, the leader will be discovered in sooner or later.

Kanina nabanggit ni Sangguniang Bayan Sarmiento, when I was Chief PNP, I was not stealing from the PNP funds, I was downloading, binababa ko ‘yung resources down to the front units, yung mga stations, the result was nag-triple ‘yung pondo or even nagdoble. Nag-quadruple even the gasoline allocation, but if the leader of the country is stealing from the government coffers, ano ‘yung bababa doon sa mga LGUs, wala, aasa sila sa sarili nilang income.

Again, I’d like to express my appreciation for the privilege given to me by the honorable mayor for being a part of the 4th Pahinis festival and the 94th foundation of the municipality of Laua-an.

Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!

*****

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