Speech at the Naga College Foundation

Some 45 years ago, I was very much like any one of you. Maybe in a far worse situation. For what would you expect from poor parents having eight children, wanting to send each and everyone of them to school and finish college?

But those were good times. Those were times of good governance. Noong araw patas ang laban ng bawa’t mamamayan sa ating bansa. Equal opportunities, rich or poor, provided you have the talent, you have the intelligence, you have the capacity, you have the capability, puwede kang umangat sa iyong kinalalagyan.

Over time, that good governance deteriorated. Even during the time when tri-media was not as efficient as today, people seem to appreciate the transparency in government. 

Maybe a few of us will still remember ‘yung panahon nang ang presidente eh si President Quirino, nagkaroon lamang ng isyu about a P5,000 bed in Malacanang, that was a big, big issue of corruption.

Nagkaroon ng isyu about a golden arinola, I wonder if it was really a golden arinola but it was such a big, big issue.

And government was sensitive to respond to the needs of the people. Forty-five years after, what we see is a government that is not transparent, that is insensitive to the needs of the people, a government that does not deliver the necessary social services to our people, a government that steals, a government that abuses. You can describe our present government any way you want, anything but good.

We hear about issues of corruption but nothing much has happened. Yung binanggit kanina na P728-million fertilizer fund scam, we investigated that in the Senate. Maybe some of you were able to see or watch on television and hear over the radio kung ano yung nagtranspire during the investigation.

P728 million in government funds wasted by a few people, P645 million of which went to the deep pockets of corruption and only a less than a hundred went to the farmers needing to fertilize their soil to have better harvest.

P728 million, nilagay sa bote na tig-P150 per bottle, sold at P1,500 at a grossly overpriced amount and then diluted nine parts water, one part fertilizer.

And do you think something will happen?

It’s still lingering with the Ombudsman, the case has not been filed up to now with the Sandiganbayan. And yet, the case was filed or referred by the Senate that investigated during the chairmanship of Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. with the Ombudsman way, way back in 2005.

Now we hear about the World Bank blacklisting issue, there are four foreign firms and three Filipino firms now blacklisted to participate in biddings where it involved World Bank funds.

But, yung DPWH, ang sabi nila, we have our sets of rules, we cannot blacklist these firms simply because our rules say na pag World Bank ang nagblacklist hindi apektado ‘yung bidding ng DPWH. That is insensitivity at its highest.

So how can we correct the ills of corruption kung ang gobyerno mismo is deeply involved in it?

That is why the citizens of this country suffer and suffer much. We see infrastructure projects very quickly deteriorating even with a slight fall of rain. Bakit?

Dahil yung pondo na nakalaan para sa proyekto ninanakaw ng ilang mapagsamntalang opisyales ng gobyerno, ng ilang pulitiko, at bakit ang ating mga pagamutan ay kulang sa doktor, kulang sa gamot, kapag ang mahirap ang nagpunta sa pagamutan, nagkakautang-utang, hindi malaman kung saan pupunta dahil walang perang panggamot at walang maibigay na enough service ang ating gobyerno dahil sa korapsyon.

It is corruption that is killing our country, it is corruption that will continue to kill us unless you and I, students, members of the faculty, citizens of this country join hands in fighting, get united, stop the moral decadence, borrowing the words of Chief Justice Puno, in our society.

Hanggang hindi tayo nagkakaisa, hanggang nakapikit ang ating mga mata at nakatakip ang ating mga tenga sa nangyayaring katiwalian sa ating bansa, I don’t see any solution inside.

In my own little way as a legislator, as an elected senator of this republic, I do my own expose, but that is only one voice. If you can join me, citizens of this country, students of this country in exposing corruption big or small, no matter how petty, sana malayo ang mararating ng ating bansa, kung ang ating mga leaders ay magiging conscious and aware of what they’re doing na hindi nakakaligtas sa pagpansin ng ating mga kababayan, tulad ng ating mga mag-aaral at mga guro dito sa Naga College Foundation.

Marami pang isyu ng corruption na maari nating pag-usapan, subali’t ang isyu rito ay kung paano natin ititigil, papaano natin maiiwasan na muling maulit ang mga ito sa mga darating na panahon.

Kapag hindi tayo kumilos bilang mga mamamayan, we will continue to have a government that we deserve, we will have to continue to have the kind of leadership that we deserve.

And so, that is my simple call to all the students, to all who are present here today na sana magsama-sama po tayo in protecting our taxpayers’ money against the corrupt practices of some of our leaders.

I’d like to thank the student council for giving me this opportunity to interact with the students of the Naga College Foundation and share my thoughts about what’s in on the national scene, sa Metro Manila. And I will go on and on interacting with people, exposing anomalies, informing our people, because only an informed public, an informed citizenry can act accordingly to stop this scourge that’s happening in our country, which is corruption.

Again, thank you very much and good afternoon to everyone.