Statement Delivered at the ANC Leadership Forum, UP Diliman

Thank you for this invitation to the second ANC Leadership Forum. Up until I made a decision last Sunday to retire myself from a race that would matter most in the lives of our beloved countrymen, I had every intention to share with our people my vision of what the Philippines ought to be in a Ping Lacson presidency. 

Marahil sa huling pagkakataon, sa isang pagpupulong na tulad nito, nais kong ipabatid sa aking mga minamahal na kababayan na ang kahirapan at kawalan ng mga serbisyong pangkalusugan, edukasyon at seguridad ng mamamayan ay hindi mabibigyang lunas ng pamumudmod ng tulong mula sa mga pulitiko tuwing papalapit ang halalan; tulong na magaan at madaling ipamigay dahil madaling kinikita sa pamamagitan ng pagsasamantala sa kaban ng bayan.

My vision is clear as it is simple – the country’s problem is government, bad government. The solution stares us right in the face of the problem itself. I believe that we need to discipline 1.5 million members of the civilian and military bureaucracy and imbue them with the right motivation and a sense of genuine public service. In short, if we hope to solve the problems of most of the 90 million Filipinos, we must set government right. This is the only way we can move forward as a country, and as a people.

But correcting government will not come easy if it does not start with the leader himself. One cannot discipline if one is unable to discipline oneself. One cannot preach clean government if one is himself on the take, or his relatives and cronies are themselves the thieves. If a president cannot lead by the power of good example, then governance will always be bad.

My vision for the Philippines is one where basic services are guaranteed, where health and education and public safety are prioritized, and no-nonsense government is instituted in all levels of the polity.

Sadly, what we have today is a feudal set-up foolishly labeled as democracy, where transactional politics is entrenched both in the bureaucracy and local government units; and where the poor are deluded into believing that throwing candies or giving instant noodles or occasional help in distress is the be-all and end-all of public service. In the grind for survival, the poor forget all too often that the occasional goodies they get are mere scraps from the tables of the immoderately greedy powerful who plunder public coffers, or abuse power for self-profit.

I have always maintained that if we doggedly and purposively set government right, the rest will follow. When people respect government, they pay the correct taxes and follow even the simplest of traffic rules.
Equal opportunity. Level playing field. To each a fair, fighting chance.
Patas na laban, para sa lahat.

But reaching out to the voters, particularly those in the D and E income levels, which altogether comprise some four-fifths of the population, does not come easy. It is most expensive in a political system which has neither strong institutions nor correct procedures.

Minsan ay sumagi na rin sa aking isipan na tanggapin na ang 200 milyong pisong pork barrel bawat taon para sa isang senador upang magamit at makasabay man lang sa isang magastos na pangangampanya. Nguni’t, at mabuti na lamang, nanaig pa rin sa aking isipan na ipagpatuloy ang isang adhikain at paniniwala na higit sa ano pa mang bagay, mas mahalaga ang integridad sa isang tulad kong inihalal ng bayan upang maglingkod nang tapat at walang halong pag-iimbot.

The great Charles de Gaulle of France, who put order back in a land wracked by anarchy, once remarked that “in order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant”. Like his forebear Nostradamus, he might have foreseen the Philippine political scene of this generation.

But I refuse to lie. And I refuse to purvey make-believe storyboards and saturate the airwaves with fairy tales.

Even if I tried to communicate the truth to our people given the extremely limited resources that I could raise from well-meaning friends who have kept the faith, and believe as I do in my central advocacy of good governance and national discipline, the time has come to face the reality that the intent to lead in this land in order to do good, has become an enterprise only for those who have access to unlimited funds.

I bow to that reality, which is why I have chosen not to participate any more in this laudable forum of those who seek the presidency of the land. And I beg your favor that you read this message that springs from my heart.

To my loyal supporters and those who appreciated the kind of work ethic and purposive leadership I have demonstrated as a soldier, as the Chief of the Philippine National Police, and share the advocacies I have been fighting for as senator of the Republic — beyond expression of my undying gratitude, I now pledge that I will continue my relentless battle for good governance; lonely and difficult this may be. Rest assured that in time, we will all join together to support a leader who could best deliver our people from the bondage they now suffer. That leader must have both the competence and character that are the preconditions to purposive leadership so imperative in these crossroads of the nation’s life.

And I appeal to the learned and the highly educated in our society to share their thoughts and help guide the vulnerable 80% of the Filipino electorate to vote wisely and conscientiously, not for their day to day personal needs, but for a country that we all love and care for.

Magkaisa po tayong tumulong sa isang taong batay sa karanasan at sa ugali, ay alam nating hindi magnanakaw at hindi gagamitin ang kapangyarihang hiram para magpasasa sa sariling interes.

Maraming salamat po. Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!