Hello Garci

Seeking Closure

In seeking closure to the 2004 and 2007 elections, which type of book (history or law) should be thrown at the fraudsters first?

The truth has a funny way of coming out regardless of how it is suppressed.

After years of hiding and running from the law, former election supervisor of Maguindanao Lintang Bedol decided to surface last week and attest to what many already knew: that fraud had been committed in the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections favoring Mrs Arroyo.

The suspended regional ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan who is contemplating a life in prison for complicity in the Maguindanao massacre has also implicated Mrs Arroyo last week in a sworn statement.

When such evidence had been suppressed, some anti-GMA stalwarts sought to prod it out of complicit subalterns through a Truth Commission. Now that some of these subalterns have confessed to their involvement, they seem incoherent about the way forward.

Take Sen Chiz Escudero for instance. His proposal for a joint congressional fact-finding committee to determine the real winner of the 2004 presidential elections was echoed by his ex-partymate and vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda who suggested putting the picture of Fernando Poe, Jr her runningmate in Malacanang as a way of “correcting history” if it is proven that he won against Mrs Arroyo in 2004.

Such a move would be frivolous according to the senate president, Juan Ponce Enrile, who believes that prosecuting the case now lies with the Department of Justice whose chief says it is ready to handle it. Creating a separate body to deliberate over the issue would only impede the investigation. The point of Escudero and Legarda is to correct historically the results of the 2004 election, the point of Enrile is to determine criminal liability and prosecute the case against those found liable.

Congressman Ted Casino on the other hand wants Congress to go beyond the issue of who might have won or lost in the 2004 election and look at investigating and perhaps legislating ways to address vulnerabilities in our electoral system to protect it from manipulation in the future. A good point I might add. The problem however is how to deal with an issue that would already be under the jurisdiction of the courts.

Perhaps the best way forward is to expedite the legal proceedings first and then to use whatever evidence, insights or lessons uncovered in the process to inform future legislative proposals. While correcting the record books for posterity might be essential for the people involved, there will be ample opportunity to pursue this in the future. Right now, perhaps we need to let the proverbial wheels of justice turn.

The sooner we can get on with this, the sooner we can move on.

Marine officers ready to talk about alleged 2004 poll fraud

Marine officers ready to talk about alleged 2004 poll fraud
by Andreo Calonzo
GMANews.Tv

Several senior Marine officers are willing to come out in the open to share vital information regarding the alleged irregularities in the 2004 elections that supposedly benefited then presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

This was according to Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, who said in an exclusive GMA News interview that he got the assurance personally from these unnamed military officers.

“I talked to some senior officers who were then commanders of middle level units, and they can attest to what happened,” Sabban told GMA News reporter Susan Enriquez in the interview aired over “24 Oras” Wednesday.

He said the officers will only share the information with the soon-to-be-formed Truth Commission, the independent body that will investigate unresolved controversies under the Arroyo administration, including accusations of poll fraud.

Arroyo’s camp has repeatedly denied irregularities during the 2004 elections.

Sabban said most of these officers were assigned in Lanao del Sur, the southern Philippine province where widespread manipulation of votes allegedly took place in 2004.

“According to them, their junior officers can corroborate their statements. So, I think, if the commander comes out, then obviously, those who were there, the junior officers and enlisted personnel, they will also come out and tell what really happened,” he said.

Three now-retired generals – Hermogenes Esperon, Roy Kyamko and Gabriel Habacon – reportedly took part in the cheating to ensure Arroyo’s victory in 2004.

The names came out in the controversial “Hello, Garci” tapes — the wiretapped phone conversation between a woman believed to be Arroyo and a man believed to be then Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. [See: Hello, Garci time line.]

A military fact-finding panel had cleared Esperon, Kyamko and Habacon in a report that has been kept confidential up to the present.

Sabban appealed for the release of the report, which is dubbed as the Mayuga report in reference to the five-man panel’s head, retired Navy Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga.

Sabban also said he is confident that the Truth Commission, to be led by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide, can get to the bottom of what really happened during the 2004 elections.

President Benigno Aquino III, during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, said he would sign the executive order formalizing the creation of the Truth Commission this week. – KBK, GMANews.TV

A Philippines that Works: Economic Vision and Platform

Speech by Senator Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III delivered on January 21, 2010 before the members of the Makati Business Club at the Peninsula Manila Hotel, Makati City

Four-part video of the speech, courtesy of NoyTV on YouTube:

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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Andlyzn6f1A&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

A Philippines That Works Economic Vision and Platform

Officers and members of the Makati Business Club, Your Excellencies of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen, my friends and countrymen.

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to address you. I trust your asking me first is not based on alphabetical order, or based on age, but perhaps, based on who you think will most likely win the coming election.

As managers, you recognize that one of the necessary skills of an effective manager is time management. Is it possible that you have invited me to determine if there is still a necessity to spend time with the others?

Baka naman inuna niyo ako upang malaman kung sapat na ako at hindi na kailangang pansinin yung iba?

I think we are all aware of the problems facing our country. We share the same statistics. We probably even share the same conclusions about the need for better governance. To rehash all of these problems at this forum would be a waste of your time. But what we have now is an opportunity for you to get to know me, to find out the advocacies that I champion, the perspective and philosophies I bring to the equation and some of my proposed solutions to give an insight into my inner persona.

Levity aside, the political exercise that we will engage in this May is a crucial one. It will be, as it is for every fledgling democracy, a test of the strength of our political institutions. The peaceful transition of power has become a symbol of political maturity across the world, with many still failing to achieve the credibility that is the cornerstone of a genuine political mandate. With the electoral scandals that have stalled our democratic progress as of late, it is not a test that we can afford to fail.

We have an administration whose mandate is clouded in doubt and overshadowed by allegations of fraud because it refused every opportunity to clear the air and be held to account. Its choices have limited its decision-making to seeking ways to ensure day-to-day political survival and self-interest. We must now become a government committed to accountability. A government that works with the people in achieving long-term change.

We must make the shift from bare economic survival to robust economic growth. We must make the change from treading water to keep afloat, to reaching that promised shore where we can all stand tall as healthy, happy, educated and responsible fellow citizens.

But why does transformation seem like such an impossible dream?

Isa sa mga tema ng ating kalaban, yung “ang pagbabago, madaling sabihin yan pero mahirap gawin,” is probably echoed by a lot of Filipinos. The oft-repeated question is, why can’t we advance? Why can’t we progress? What is it in us that limits or prohibits our growth as a people and as a country?

All of you are aware that most of the contenders have had years, possibly even decades, of preparation for this electoral exercise. I had no such ambitions to run in the 2010 elections but I responded to the people’s clamor. I am but the face of what we believe is the overwhelming demand of our people to repudiate everything wrong in the current administration.

Given that I only announced my decision to seek the presidency on September 9, and I only came to that decision the day before, I have not had material time comparable to our opponents. What is perplexing is that viewing the same problems, and having access to the same data for the most part, we believe the solutions have been there all along, and necessitate only clear political will to execute. But most of our opponents seem to indicate the contrary opinion that there is very little that we can do to change the situation. One has to wonder: did they overstudy the problem, or are they committed to preserving the status quo?

If the leader is not convinced that change is not only necessary, but extremely possible, how does he lead us to the promised land?

What is it that we want to change?

We want to repair the damage that has been wrought on our democratic institutions by those who have sought to manipulate them for their own selfish ends.

We want to improve the situation of our people, who have suffered years of neglect because of a self-absorbed leadership obsessed with political survival.

They are poor. Many of them are homeless. Each year, we add some 2.5 million mouths to feed to our already hungry population. Of these new additions, one third were the result of unplanned pregnancies. We have a growing underclass that statistics tell us have given up looking for work. A permanent underclass that includes the five million of our countrymen that are illiterate, which means their opportunities in life will always be limited to living hand-to-mouth.

We want to give our young the opportunity and means to improve their lot in life.

It can only begin if our children and their parents are assured that money spent on education is money well spent. Unfortunately, students are at the mercy of our decrepit education system that allows double shifting, erroneous textbooks and substandard nursing schools to exist. No less than DepEd officials admitted that students in Grade 1 take three subjects in one class period. We have a procurement program so heedless of the need for excellence that it doesn’t care if it produces a textbook series riddled with 500 factual errors. For every hundred kids that start grade school with the hope of achieving their dreams, only fourteen will graduate from college and possess a tangible means to materially improve their lives.

To my mind, the crucial, lacking element in all these is a government committed to a transformation: from a society overwhelmingly poor to one overwhelmingly middle class. In every developed, progressive, prosperous democracy, it is the middle class that is the biggest class. Government, for one, has failed to make the conceptual leap from patronage to development. Efforts at feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing basic care to the sick, and offering a quality education aren’t only the people’s rights; they are the essential tools for individual self-improvement.

In 1998, when I first campaigned for office, one lady bluntly told me that regardless of who is elected, things would remain the same for her.

What did she mean?

That she was poor to begin with; that she would remain poor, and in fact, she would be lucky if she didn’t end up poorer, after the candidates leave office.

This brings up the question at the forefront of the minds of our countrymen still undecided on whom to vote for, and pursued by my critics. If this is a time that calls for national transformation, am I qualified to be that transformative leader? Having answered the call of duty, can I ask you or anyone to entrust me with your vote, on faith alone? Never having sought the presidency, I preferred to do my duty and not seek the limelight. Now that I have been thrust in the limelight, it is only fair to answer the question: before you tell us what we can do, what have you done?

I have always believed that the job of an effective legislator goes beyond merely proposing laws, for what are laws but written agreements entered into by members of society on how to harmonize their mutual relations? In fact, I do not believe that we suffer from the problem of too few laws. One of my proposed measures was the recodification of laws, in response to an appeal from the legal community to put some order into our laws, their amendments and those that have been repealed, because even our lawyers are at times confused.

Consider the recent controversy over who gets to appoint the next Chief Justice. We maintain that there are no ifs and buts in Article 7 Section 15 of the Constitution where it states that the current President cannot appoint anybody within two months prior to a presidential election up to the end of her term. An exemption exists, but it applies only for positions in the Executive Department. Yet you have two retired justices arguing exactly the opposite. How can former justices of the Supreme Court be so seemingly confused, when the fact is that the provision regarding presidential appointments is stated clearly in the law?

Our problem is the lack of political will to faithfully implement the many world-class laws that our legislature has passed. A preference for ambiguity even when times call for clarity, leads to artificial controversies. Insecure or overly ambitious leaders need to create a climate of doubt, because it’s in the grey areas that its ambitions thrive.

It is in addressing this problem that I focused on the fiscalizing aspect of a legislator’s job – on Congress’ oversight and investigative functions.

Consider intelligence funds. In the proposed 2010 budget, a total of 1.4 billion was allocated to confidential and intelligence funds.

Woodrow Wilson once wrote that oversight is always preferable to investigation, which is like putting out a fire instead of preventing one. We proposed that if the Executive wants orderly transactions, at least a few members of Congress should be privy to all of the details to determine if they were spent properly. However, this proposal was dismissed out of hand without even a single hearing for the reason that they undermined the Executive’s privileges.

And yes, the investigations were a vital part of my functions, too. I don’t think anyone will begrudge me my efforts in this regard. From Hello Garci and the impeachments, to NBN-ZTE and the fertilizer scam, I did my duty at the forefront of these issues.

The original design of the NBN-ZTE project required a BOT agreement between government and the supplier, not a government loan. But during the NBN-ZTE hearings, we learned that the project was entered into through a government loan despite instructions to the contrary from no less than the President herself. The cost of the intended government loan was P40 billion, (in which P16 billion was for the backbone and P24 billion was for the CyberEd project.) Jun Lozada belied this when he cited P5 billion as the actual cost of the entire project. Ito yung sinasabi niyang kalakaran ng gobyerno, kung saan sa sobrang laki ng patong, bubukol na.

SCTEx took around 8 years to construct before it finally opened. Projects of this scale normally require two years to complete. Furthermore, when SCTEx finally became operational, it was found that the central hub, which was Clark, did not have an exit, excluding Clark from the Subic Clark Tarlac expressway itself. How can one justify these kinds of delays where opportunities are lost, costs have escalated and the people’s burdens, instead of being reduced, end up being compounded?

My active role in these congressional hearings has put me at odds with the administration. In 2005, it cost me my post as Deputy Speaker. It continues to put me at odds with the coalition of self-interest that currently holds power. It puts me at odds with other candidates for the presidency.

To lead transformation, you cannot be part of the problem. As I said when I accepted the people’s draft, the job of chief executive is about the efficient allocation of resources. If you have hogged those resources for yourself, if you have lied, cheated, and stolen to gain power, how can you be trusted to lead the transformation our country needs?

Going back on the issue of appointing a Chief Justice prior to the forthcoming elections. If we are to transform the country, it begins with doing what we can, now, to limit the damage and give our people a fighting chance to rebuild our damaged institutions. The Constitution imposes a blanket prohibition with few exceptions concerning midnight appointments. A candidate cannot ask for the people’s mandate, pledging to improve the situation tomorrow, if he becomes complicit in worsening the situation today.

Hindi naman mahirap gawin ang tama. Alam naman ng lahat yan eh. Wala namang magic, wala namang sikreto. Pero bakit pilit pa ring ginagawa ang mali?

There is a widespread perception that success in the business milieu can almost be directly correlated to your closeness to the powers-that-be. Because of this, some players in the industry are forced to focus their activities on maintaining relationships in order to retain the favors that they receive in exchange for cultivating that relationship. This has fostered the wrong kind of competitiveness. While it may work, locally, for now, it has not enabled these players to become competitive in the world market, where the rules of the game do not take special relationships into consideration.

We will encourage free and fair competition in a level playing field. One not need be a crony in order to succeed in the field of business. More importantly, government will not compete with business. Nor will government use its regulatory powers to extort, intimidate and harass.

We will transform our systems to foster service to the public instead of making citizens jump through hoops. We will streamline the approval process, not only for setting up new businesses but also in the regular day-to-day transactions with government, such as the payment of taxes. We will do this on a national as well as the local level.

In 2010, our next President will inherit a continually bloating deficit. As of November 2009, the deficit of the national government already reached P272.5 billion, or 4.1% of GDP.

In addressing the looming fiscal crisis, good governance and the drive against corruption are critical components in our strategy. We will refrain from imposing new taxes or increasing tax rates.

I strongly believe that we can collect more taxes at the BIR and higher duties at Customs if we become more serious in curbing and punishing tax evasion and smuggling. The BIR’s collection dropped by 5.5%, while that of Customs declined by 16.6%. This is the first time in recent history that absolute revenues have actually declined.

Our initial focus then will be to capture a good part of the revenue leaks caused by smuggling and evasion. In this effort, we will not be starting from zero. Be assured that those smugglers and evaders are not faceless and unknown entities. The ideas to improve tax administration and to control smuggling have been there for some time and some programs have been initiated in the past. One of these successful programs was the RATE or Run After Tax Evaders. In fact, some of the people at the Department of Finance and the BIR who have tried to implement reforms before are with us now, and together with reform-minded career executives, we intend to put their commitment and talents to good use under my administration.

My vision is to transform our country into one where we have lower tax rates enjoyed by all, rather than have some enjoy absolute tax exemptions while we burden the rest of the economy with very high tax rates. I believe that markets are better than government in spotting where the growth opportunities are, and, with universal low tax rates, we will encourage entrepreneurs and enterprises to invest and create jobs in any industry. We will, therefore, pursue the rationalization of fiscal incentives early in my administration.

There is a lot of room for our revenue base to grow. Our tax effort has gone down from 17% at its peak to a worrisome 13% today. If we can only bring this back even to just the 15% level, that will translate to P150 billion in additional revenues, which would make a significant dent in cutting our deficit.

My budget team estimates that for 2009 alone, around P280 billion of our national budget was lost to corruption. If we take the years 2002 to 2009 the total estimates exceed one trillion. Estimates vary, but everyone agrees that the numbers are huge.

If we agree that change is necessary, how can a Presidential aspirant, whose own financial and political ethics are questionable, be effective in leading transformation as the head of the bureaucracy? How can a leader, who is benefiting from the status quo, be able to restore a civic sense and pride in our citizenry? The leader, who has used public office for private gain, will always be the most committed enemy of change.

Rich or poor alike, we have a tangible experience of the sorry state of public infrastructure at present: traffic, which eats up time, which as the saying goes, is money. Railways are built at bloated cost; urban transport is constructed, but not enough trains are on track. Our people are the first to experience the effect of something that works and conversely, something that is badly done because bad intentions handicapped the project from the start.

It is time that our infrastructure agencies and LGUs transform into cooperative ventures with the private sector by bringing forth an agreed public infrastructure program, based on a cohesive plan that optimizes the value of the entire network. In our conversations with members of the private sector, there has been a lot of positive feedback about possibly working with government on this endeavor.

To transform infrastructure projects from sources of waste and scandal into examples of cooperation and efficiency, we will set objective criteria for different types of projects and develop a scorecard that will assess various projects against benchmarks transparent to the public.

Initially we want our infrastructure program to transform from being the means to enrich a few, to being labor-intensive and biased for employment as a means to pump-prime the economy.

When I read about countries that have invested in their agriculture sectors and succeeded, it always pains me to find that these countries – Vietnam and Thailand, to name just a couple – had started by sending their experts to be educated in the Philippines. It seems that we cannot implement among ourselves the lessons we successfully imparted to experts from elsewhere. This will have to change. We must be able to harness our homegrown talent in order to further our local industries.

When we change administrations, there must be a complete review of all the programs in the Department of Agriculture. We can do a lot for our farmers given the present budget of the Department if we eliminate the leaks and focus on the efficient use of resources. For example, we must stop eating up millions in mere administrative costs as in the case of NABCOR, which charged our government P60 million because it served as a useless conduit to regional offices. We will also support efforts such as supply chain management that minimizes losses, creates jobs, consults with stakeholders, and capitalizes on our competitive advantage.

Our core belief is that the current approach to governance and power must change. That is why our terms of reference always begin with the present government, what it has done, and how different our institutions and our nation must be six years from June 30, 2010.

In a small-scale operation it is easy for everyone involved to visualize that entity as the combination of their collective efforts. As opposed to, say, when you are a bigger firm, and there is the management side and there is the labor side. In Tagalog, it’s even more dramatic. Kayo at kami, sa halip na tayo.

We must find a unity that transcends the divisions of today, based on a shared commitment to transforming our country into one that works: One where traffic flows well, garbage is collected efficiently, crimes are solved, justice is served, and our kids are educated properly. It works in the sense that you do not have to flee the country to move up in the world, improve your lot in life, and rise to the highest level your personal merits can achieve.

We are a nation of sacrifice, of diligence, dedication and, idealism, because we are a people imbued with compassion even when we have officials who lie, cheat, and steal. Our faith teaches us that we are our brother’s keeper. Our logic should tell us that in taking care of others, their growth equals our own.

In the movie “Invictus,” Nelson Mandela says, “In order to rebuild our nation, we must exceed our own expectations.” It requires us to insist, always, that we are not a nation of crooks, of thieves, of murderers who get off scot-free and where justice is won by the highest bidder.

In May, you will be asked to make a choice. Will you choose transformation and change or will you choose to uphold the status quo?

We have already made our choice. Ours is a journey towards transformation. I ask you today to join us in this journey now.

Thank you.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Transcript of BSAIII's answers during the Makati Business Club open forum

Transcript of Sen. Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino’s answers during the Makati Business Club (MBC) open forum, following his delivery of “A Philippines That Works: Economic Vision and Platform“, January 21, 2010

Four-part video of the open forum, courtesy of NoyTV on YouTube:

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Transcript of Responses at the Makati Business Club Forum

Question: In governing you will need the cooperation of Congress, what’s your strategy for getting their cooperation particularly in a situation where you do not control either or both of the houses?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Well sir I think you will agree with me that the tradition for the past congresses has been that the dominant party becomes the party to which the President belongs to. If I’m elected president, we already have our Liberal Party, we have our allies in other aggregations and party-list groups but more importantly, the vast majority will always want to be siding with the administration, whoever it is, so cooperation with congress doesn’t seem to be a problem at this point in time as we foresee.

Question: South Africa, after apartheid, formed a Truth Commission. De Klerk, Mandela, wound up winning the Nobel Prize. In South Korea, a similar search for the truth landed … in jail. Given the sustained unpopularity and perceived excesses of the present leadership, will there be priority given by your administration if you win, to ferret out truths about the GMA years? You talk about Garcillano, you talk about Pidal, Peter Wallace and his Wallace 11, ZTE and the like of transactions. What is your administration going to do in this regard?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: The job of the Chief Executive is to enforce all of the laws; recovery of ill-gotten wealth, if it exists, is not a proscribed activity, meaning there are no time limits to it but it has to be a priority. I’ve already made a public statement that I want closure on all of these issues if elected president. That means that one of the four platforms, the top four in the agenda is judicial reform. There has to be certainty of conviction and punishment if you do commit crimes in this country.

A sad fact is that all of the cases that are filed by the prosecutors, only about 18% wind up as convictions. As you know our system says that a prosecutor, before he introduces a case, should be convinced about the validity of the case, the preponderance of evidence at present. But after having undergone that process, it only results in 18% and those are official statistics. 33% are dismissed; we lose all of these cases. Therefore, adherence to the rule of law seems to be honored more in the breach. Now so, in direct answer to your question, there have never been answers to all of the issues that you have mentioned, be it Hello Garci, be it ZTE. For instance in ZTE, there was a board meeting by the NEDA, there were clear-cut instructions on sovereign guarantees on a BOT basis. This was reversed. Those were orders of the head of NEDA and also who happens concurrently to be the head of republic. Who can supersede the orders of the president of this republic? That has to be settled. What are the loopholes that were exploited so that the NBN-ZTE deal almost became the nightmare? But fortunately the people rose up to oppose.

Again, let me reiterate, it will be one of the priorities that will happen within the first 6 months; I guess within the first month we will already be tackling all of these issues under the Department of Justice and to ferret out and move the investigation, and if so warranted, to file the necessary charges.

Question: Will you or will you not form a Truth Commission?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: In the Truth Commission, was something I’ve always been studying ever since I became a congressman the first time in 1998. I thought that the model and the idea of closure for a lot of things. One question that I wasn’t able to answer then was, as you know, in South Africa, a necessary component of availing of the privileges was to reveal everything you knew about crimes that you had committed during the apartheid regime, by both sides, which included very vivid descriptions of various tortures employed. I was asking myself, in the Philippine context, if a father were to revisit a crime committed to a child, who was tortured by government forces in the martial law years, will that not in turn, foster a new cycle of violence? I’ve never really been able to answer that question. But in terms of reviewing this past decade and the lost opportunities in what are the systemic loopholes that were exploited that got us to this point, yes, but in terms of filing charges against those who are guilty of committing crimes that I think should be left to the Department of Justice, in the very capable hands of a very active and proactive Secretary of Justice, who I will not name at this point in time lest he be persecuted for that.

Question: Over the last decade or so the Philippine economy has not done well in manufacturing, it has not come out competitive in the world, and agriculture has not developed as you mentioned the way it should, and the country has moved more and more toward being a service industry, very successfully in some cases, call centers, BPO, tourism beginning to pick up, this is an area which I think there is a great potential for the Philippines. But it requires one thing that the two other sectors don’t require, education. And the educational system in the Philippines has deteriorated dramatically and alarmingly. We only have a ten-year primary/secondary school system where everywhere else in the world has 12. as you mentioned only 14% graduate from college level. We don’t have enough classrooms, books full or errors, all the things you know. What specific things will you do to correct the situation? And where and how will you get the funds?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: There are various solutions to the problem, and first of all let me agree with you Mr. Juarez with all the things you’ve said previously. What are solutions? How much will it cost to…there is an estimated twenty to forty thousand classroom need in this country. If our main focus will be to pump prime the economy and generate employment, then we will build the schools.

Our experts tell us within a year, maximum of two years we can complete the twenty to forty thousand, even at the cost of a million per classroom, although at this point in time the average is at about 500,000, and where will we get the money? As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are so much leakages in our revenue collection efforts. The 150 billion, we can allocate a portion of the 150 billion towards meeting at least part of the 40 billion necessary, if pump-priming was the necessary goal.

On the other hand we want a more effective use of the resource, we can contract private schools. I’m made to understand that middle-tier schools have a tuition in the 5,000 to 8,000 bracket. What does that mean? For a class size of 50, that translates into Php400,000 cost per classroom of 50. When we build classrooms, the shell, the basic shell lacking, the chairs, the blackboard, electricity, the books, the teachers, etc., just the basic shell is already on average nation-wide Php500,000. So if we are to send these children, there’s an existing program using a voucher system called “Gasbi.” If we send these children to private schools but in a direct contracting basis so that there are no abuses in the system, we can save about Php100,000 per classroom. That translates into, or we can utilize that resource into supplemental feeding programs, into a better book development program, into a scholarships for college, into scholarships for teachers, benefits, so on and so forth.

So, the plan is, transform it from 10 to 12, there is a bridge program, it’s already in the books, that’s why my theme is always “there are no secrets.” The plan is a good plan, it’s already there, it’s really just a question of implementing the same. Now, I think it is unfair for our students to, to expect rather, our students to be able to absorb 12 years’ worth of education in a 10-year program, further compounded by the desire to be solving the problems by saying we have no more classroom shortages, and this was done basically by shifting. Shifting is making 2 or 3 classes utilize 1 classroom. And I would just like to emphasize because that really angers me every time I think about it. You’re a Grade 1 student, which is the entry level, in our public school system, you have a class supposedly for English, to which Science and Health have been included. So, the child who probably doesn’t understand English, is tasked to understand scientific concepts taught in English and together with health. To further compound it, as if he didn’t have enough problems, he’s given a textbook that has errors known only to the teacher, who is in possession of teacher’s notes. The Grade 1 student, I think no, by the DepEd is expected to be able to discern what is right and what is wrong at Grade 1, in a language he doesn’t understand.

Therefore the investment is a guarantee of problems down the line. People who cannot be employed think, limitations as to what we can do given the talent that is there before us. So we want to get to the 12-year program, we want to have a pre-school level where they are taught or conditioned to be able to study. And of course those textbooks will really have to be corrected and people who accepted the same and contracted for the same should be liable.

Question: Could we encourage Congress to spend its pork barrel on education?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Pork barrel will be limited to national priority programs, and of course one of them will be school-building programs.

Question: Mr. Senator, there are a couple of questions that deal with governance issues, particularly corruption, and I’d like to read them and maybe you can answer them as a whole. How will you handle the Lucio Tan cases of tax evasion and the Marcos wealth? Second, you talk about how different you will be from the present administration, what exactly will you do to make GMA, FG and all pay for their crimes? What will you do with the tong of all congressmen? There’s another one that has to do with encouraging whistle-blowers. So maybe your strategy with dealing with corruption?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Can I start with how do I deal with whistle-blowers? It’s a sad fact no, I learned this close to about 3 decades ago, if you catch somebody smuggling, you’re supposed to entitled to, I’m talking about at this point in time, to a reward of 20% when you give information to catch the smugglers. If you facilitate smuggling, I was told by my informants, you get a 10% fee. So I asked this person, why will you participate in something illegal to get 10% when you can go legal? And point the authorities towards the commission of this crime and get a double reward? And the simple answer was: the 10% is kaliwaan, I get it right away, the 20% I will get when I retire and probably 5 years after that. The explanation is you go through so many processes, the seizing, the goods, for instance, of smuggling, the appeals process, auctioning, etc., I don’t think it’s that difficult point for government to advance this reward system to make it an effective reward system, point one.

Point 2, as I keep saying, the judicial reform is so essential. We cannot have a situation where a criminal is not deterred from committing a crime basically because even if he gets to trial, he doesn’t even have a 1 in 5 chance of being convicted. It seems you are the most unlucky individual to be convicted in this country. Now we have so many leads with regards to the first family, statements of assets and liabilities are there, there are dramatic changes in the statements of various members, and obviously, there are various provisions already with our laws, unexplained wealth, is presumed to be ill-gotten. And in that situation, they are tasked to answer for that.

And at the same time, my father was a very…one of my father’s most important advocacies was human rights. Therefore I will ensure that their rights are also protected. Because again, from my father, the true test of a democracy is not your ability to defend the rights of your friends, but more importantly those of your enemies. Because if you allow one group to be oppressed, you are setting up the situation for your group to be oppressed at some point in time. So they will be afforded all of the rights, they will be given all of the opportunities to answer the charges, and like any other citizen, they will be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

Now with regards to the Marcos and Lucio Tan cases, and these are subjudice, I will be entering the situation, what, at the second or third decade of litigation? One would hope that there is closure to all, even to those issues. When you go into this country, you can expect adjudication of cases to happen in a timely manner. One of the sad facts, and that’s why judicial reform, again, our stake, has to be improved, is that on average we understand that it takes 6 years to adjudicate a case. Again, it leads to, a condition where it moves everybody not to follow the laws, and that has to stop.

Question: 2 quick questions, Senator. the heart of the Cory Constitution is social justice. The phrase is not anywhere in your platform, as advertised. What are the specifics of your social justice program? And related, that is the question of what will you do June 30, 2010, we do not have a president or vice president who can be proclaimed and we wake up on July 1, 2010, GMA is still the ruler of this country in one form or another?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: I take exception to the fact that social justice is not in the platform, it is actually embodied in practically all of the 16 points of the platform that we have published on the site. For instance, we want to have the provision of opportunities for everybody to improve themselves, that’s why job generation is first in the list of priorities. What does that mean? I think a father wants best, provide me the job and I’ll take care of my children’s education and health. Education is the second factor, again empowerment, again, opportunities. If you are not educated enough, there are you know, what jobs actually can, what skills do you have, and what jobs can you acquire? Therefore, to have meaningful job generation, the educational support should be there, hence our drive for the 12-year program and even the inclusion of a nursery stage prior to the formal education program.

The ecology, the platform on ecology is very, very simple. We want to translate it so that there’s no confusion among anyone. If there are no forests, there are no watersheds. No watersheds, no water. No water, no food, no food, no people. Are you aware that we have an 8% remaining primary forest cover? But what is more criminal, is up to today, we have not delineated the forestry lines. So when you talk about preserving forests, you don’t even define what the forests is obviously, we are not preserving anything, and that is there also. I’m sorry, I’m missing the second question.

Question: The second questions asks what you will do come June 30, 2010 when we have no elected president and vice president…

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Number one, the laws on succession are very clear. But can I just tell you, instead of telling all of you our plans, people, let’s not be naive, no? There are talks that certain quarters want to exploit that situation. There are talks of failure of elections or non-proclamation, no-el, so on and so forth. Now, does it behoove me to reveal publicly the plans that we are contemplating at this point in time, and to make our job of preserving this democracy harder by telling our enemies precisely what we will do. I think I will leave my plans close guarded at this point in time and we assure you we are not babes in the woods, and we are ready, as much as possible, we are getting all the necessary info, intelligence and alliances in place, to forestall the grabbing of power by people with purely vested self-interest.

Can I just add, sorry, this has to be really laid in the minds of everybody. We in the Liberal Party say that we are espousing platform-based, issue-based politics. And I am very, very confident that even if I were not in the seat, this occupation is fraught with dangers. I have in the person of my partner, Mar Roxas, somebody who is exactly of like mind, somebody who will pick up if I am unable to finish the job. Therefore, we can assure everybody that will join us, there is a continuity of expectations that are realistic. This is not person-based.

Question: That highlights a weakness in the political system in the Philippines. When we elect you, we don’t automatically elect Sen. Roxas because you’re voted for independently—so it has to be as a team. In the papers recently there was a two-page ad put in by the government claiming all kinds of things: that this president has achieved. It has numerous faults in it. One of the things is that they are very proud of the fact that this economy had been stimulated and helped by the OFWs and their remittances to the Philippines. Those OFWs are Filipinos who have had to leave their families. So society has been hurt badly by it. It’s in fact an economic failure. A failure of government to provide the jobs that they should have had here. What would you do to reverse the situation, to be able to provide the jobs here for Filipinos instead of overseas?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino:: Well, number one, I think I will be lying if I told you that we will have comparable jobs within six years. That I think is an impossibility. But there is I think an obtainable objective of having compensation for people who have skills that have been improved. We can get it to a certain level whereby the increase in wages—although not the same as working abroad—together with the family being in tact, and together with the idea of being a first-class citizen in your own country will be enough to win people away from seeking the greener pasture elsewhere. We believe that the people who have left and who are opting to leave, primarily have no choice. They are political refugees, they are being forced, not for improvement—where it was 20 years ago—but rather even just for survival. And again you’re right. The opportunities have to exist here. Now, when I go around the country, when I go around Metro Manila, the opportunities are so abundant, and all it takes is to do the right thing. For instance, in Surigao City, the table you’re using right now was about the length of this fish—I don’t know what breed of fish that was. But that particular stall in the public market in Surigao City had three of it. The next stall had five of the same size. And the Media asked me in that point in time—this was the senatorial campaign—”Can you raise it up for a photo op?” And of course I’m very macho, and I proceeded to raise it by the head. And the only thing I raised was the head. It was that heavy. And I was saying: “How much would it cost to set up a blast freezing facility here? How much would it cost to turn these things into steaks, train the people to marinate it into that, and export it to countries like Japan or elsewhere, where they’d be thanking us for sharing the bounty … ” Mar Roxas’s home province of Capiz, you go to the beach at low tide, you have a rake, you rake the sand, you get clams. In Metro Manila you get [the fry] of the clams. Why can’t we even get it from Capiz to Metro Manila?

I’m sorry, sometimes I can’t stop, because really, the absurdity, the simplicity of the solutions that are not being implemented really gets to me. The fertilizer scam: The greatest sin is 723 million pesos at least could have started a chain of improving productivity. And for those of you who are not aware, when you plant rice in irrigated lands—and that was the hybrid rice program, that was the fertilizer input program —you can double to quadruple your income for our farmers, especially if it’s irrigated. You can have five harvests in two years. But this current government made the program in 2004 and really turned it into a disaster. We had ten cropping cycles that we lost an opportunity in. But the biggest sin is that even in investigating this alleged crime took four years. That’s why I said ten harvests were lost. So, again, from Masagana ’99 we had a hundred kabans per hectare. Commercially we are already now growing 240 to 320 kabans per hectare. I am told, but I’m still validating this, that UPLB and IRRI are even working further than that. And again: a true fertilizer input program, adequate monitoring, serious credit facilities, can undoubtedly at least make us self-sufficient in rice. We teach agriculturists worldwide. At the end of the day, we import food. That has to stop also.

Question: I think you will welcome this next question. It says: do you already have enough money for the campaign?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: I will be lying if I tell you we have enough money. But, there is adequate … but of course, it makes the process that much simpler. Can I just share with you this bit of information that was given to me yesterday? I understand there was a tsinoy who went to our headquarters in EDSA the other day. He proceeds to donate a certain amount of money, I was not told how much, but he had a simple request. I’ll say it Tagalog cause it really was… I really made my day that day. He said: “Ito yung pera, bumili kayo ng commercial niyo. Naiinis na ko dito sa isang ‘to.” That by the way is not a joke. It really did happen. At some point in time we will have to report that contribution to Comelec. We’ll have all the details then. But it really made my day.

Question: Two quick questions again, Mr Senator. What will be the roles of your sister Kris and your uncle Peping if you become president? Can you give us a specifically categorical answer on your stand on the Reproductive Health Bill?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Kris I think will still be my fashion adviser, which means if she does not like what I’m wearing, she will not keep quiet. I think she even had this barong made. So if she complains I’ll tell her you’re the one who designed it. And that will be the extent. Most of my sisters, and Kris included—Kris is a very busy individual … Anything I ask her, I ask her to attend some ribbon-cutting thing if I become president, that will be an imposition on her time. The three are eagerly looking forward to regaining their anonymity. In fact I’m not even sure if I celebrate my birthday, in the period of incumbency, that they will be present, since it will be a Media event. The role of my Tito Peping: I would be foolish not to seek his wisdom, because of his experience; but at the same time, I will be the one holding the fort. The buck really has to stop with me. I am responsible ultimately for all my actions. Therefore any or all of my decisions will be based on discussion with all the stakeholders as much as possible, but in the end of the day it will be something I can live with in conscience, in what I believe is right regardless on who propounded it.

On reproductive health: Of course, somehow, the secretariat at the senate made it appear that I was an author of the Reproductive Heath Bill. Unfortunately I never authored such a bill. And I intend to interpolate the proposed version before us. The portion that I want to interpolate on is: In government when you have a budget, you don’t use it, you lose it. And there will be provisions of the reproductive health for artificial means of family control. And I want provisions that will ensure that if government hospitals—by cunning, by deceit, by misinformation, etc, are able to expend these budgetary items so that they are replenished, then there’d be penal sanctions for the same.

My position is more properly called Responsible Parenthood; and basically it says, “The state has an obligation to remind parents each child you bring into this world carries with it a certain set of responsibilities: to clothe, to shelter, to educate, etc. That is the extent of what the state should do. So there will be educational programs, campaigns, seminars, symposia, to which we will invite all of the churches to put in their two-cents worth. At the end of the day, the state, in preserving the family, mandated by the constitution has to remind everybody that they will and that they should have these set of responsibilities. The state cannot force as to size, the state cannot force as to method. Now, in fact we will oppose any attempt to do so, because a democratic state has to proceed from individual freedoms.

Question: President Arroyo has intervened in a number of industries: power, oil, cement, pharmaceuticals, food—particularly, sensitively, rice. In state of belief, it was necessary to give people relief from otherwise excessive prices. What would be your policy and action?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Mrs Arroyo when she was my professor said that there should be minimal government intervention (Questioner: “She’s got a poor memory …”), because distortions are created in the marketplace. But then again, given that … you know, it proceeds from a governance of survival there’s no logic used except “will it help me retain power or not?” Therefore every decision is faulted from the onset because of that perception. We are hoping that we will get our mandate clear: clear and clearly won, therefore we will have the confidence to embark and ask our people. At this point in time we will have to sacrifice by X amount to get to this level. We want to be transparent in all of the dealings. At the end of the day I assume, god willing we have an intervention for instance in agriculture. You had that 723 million debt really bought fertilizers that were correct. That were delivered at a timely manner at an appropriate price. And perhaps even the, as I mentioned, the purchasing aspect of it be reformed. Things will work out on themselves because we made the right decisions on every aspect. When I pass EDSA, and I guess everybody who passes … can I just a question? When was the last time you remember EDSA as being a smoothly paved road? And this is the premiere road of our National Capital Region. I think most of you will say Highway 54, those who are honest. But when we export our construction companies, our engineers, our designers elsewhere, hindi ba world class? How many of you are aware that in this recent tragedy in Haiti, there were so many Filipinos in a professional basis. And I was surprised that even in Bermuda, the same situation holds: Accountants, lawyers, etc. I always assumed that Bermuda, beneficiary of the British Civil Service System, would have a very efficient bureaucracy, and an efficient professional corps. But it turns out it is again it’s again another area for Filipino expertise to shine. So again, they can do it there, undoubtably they can do it better here, so long as the milieu is present that opportunities for everybody are extant. Nobody is excluded, hence our phrase is “Walang iwanan at walang maiiwan.”

Question: I was told that we have to wind this up after two final questions, that I’d like to read. One is: “How will you handle the issue of pagbabago the Filipino people dreamt and longed for” and “as a transformational president, what key qualities would you bring to this task?”

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Well, number one, you will have to lead by example. I think in fairness to my mother, at the onset of her term she inherited a government that was corrupt top to bottom, for the most part because the top set the example. Something as cop on the street who was being bribed for a minor traffic violation: he used to demand for his bribe. At the onset of my mom’s term, the phrase was, “Teka, hindi ko hinihingi yan a. Binibigay mo yan, pinipilit mo.” There was a recognition that that was wrong. And after that, something as simple as … I complain about traffic, and Mar in I already have an agreement. If we win, and if traffic isn’t solved, we’ll participate in the traffic. We will not ask of anybody that which we are not ready to do ourselves first. Hopefully we will not talk as much, because we are trying to put a spin on something that is indefensible. And siguro the biggest ambition is in the fourth year, it will just be Mar and I talking because everything is working and it’s boring.

Sana po ay hindi na naming kailangan tutukan minut-minuto, dahil nga maayos na ang systema. E ngayon palang ho nagiipon na kami ng mga kwento just in case magkatotoo po yan. Diba? Lahat naman ng magulo sa mundo nating to ay dahil nga yung systema, hinayaan na kung saan interes ng isang tao, isang grupo lang ang importante. Yun ang gusto naming baguhin.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Transcript of BSAIII's answers at Youth 2010: Bumoto Para sa Pagbabago

Transcript of Sen. Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino’s answers at Youth 2010: Bumoto Para sa Pagbabago, ANC Presidential Youth Forum, January 29, 2010, De La Salle University-Manila

Transcript of Answers at the DLSU Youth Forum

Question from Ingga Bianca Sobreikerri of St. Scholastica’s College

Ingga Bianca Sobreikerri: Senator, kayo po ba ay sang-ayon sa Reproductive Health Bill at paano po ninyo ilulunsad at ipaliliwanag sa ating mga kababayan ang ganitong batas gayong ang inyong pamilya ay kilala bilang maka-Diyos?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Ang posisyon po namin ay tinatawag na responsible parenthood, ang statistics po namin ay ganito, ang sabi po kanina ng isa nating katunggali wala po tayong population problem. I think we will all agree that if you at one parameter for instance education, there is a problem in classrooms anywhere from 20 to 40 thousand, we are not already able to meet the needs of the people who are already here and that responsible parenthood basically says each parent should be reminded, ipaalala natin sa bawat magulang may dinala kayong anak sa mundong ito, mayroon kayong obligasyon na paaralin, pakainin, may tirahan na maayos, damitan at iba pa.

Hindi po puwdeng bahala na kung ano ang mangyari dun sa anak, yun lang po ang minumungkahi namin. Ngayon po, ano ang solusyon po diyan? Mayroon po tayong educational campaign na ipapaalala po itong mga responsibilidad na ito, yung paghuhubog ng konsensiya at yung values po, iniimbitahan po natin ang bawat isang simbahan na maki-lahok at ibahagi yung kanilang mga pagtu-turo para maliwanagan yung paghuhubog ng konsensiya, nasa atin pong Saligang Batas na mayroon pong separation of Church and State, tayo ay isang demokratikong bansa, hindi po marapat na ang gobyerno po natin ay magdi-dikta sa sinoman kung ilan ang anak na dapat nilang dalhin sa mundo, kung paano nila pa-planuhin ang kanilang pamilya, pero mayroon pong obligasyon nandiyan po sa Saligang Batas na ang gobyerno, ipaalala sa bawat isa na mayroon po tayong tungkulin sa pamilya na nagiging “nuclear family” o susi sa lahat ng pagre-resolba sa lahat ng ating problema.

Huling paalala lang po, noong EDSA po, mayroon tayong humigit kumulang 50 milyon katao,ngayon po ay nasa 93 hanggang 97 ang tinatayang mga mamamayang Pilipino. Geometric ang progression sa population at kung tayo ay parang walang nakikita, walang sasabihin at walang naririnig, siguro po yung mga bata na hindi na nagkakaroon pagkakatong matunghayan ay lalong hindi magkakaroon ng pagkakataon kung tayo’y patuloy na mananahimik.

Questions from a panel of De La Salle University-Manila students

Panel member: Sa pagpasa ng batas ukol sa contractual employment sa mga kumpanya, paano po ninyo ire-resolba ang mga issue ng security of tenure o employment sa ating bansa?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Yun nga po ang problema, contractualization does not have security of tenure that there will be mutually exclusive, ang tanong nga po dito, mayroong kontrang isyu po dun yung comparative advantage natin versus other countries, labor lang po for the most part ang ating dear value added, tapos we’re pricing ourselves out of the market, yung aming plataporma, stresses education and education enhances the skills, the skills and job potentials that will open up because of an enhance and more skill full labor force hopefully will ensure the tenure and potentials for having meaningfull and dignified jobs here in the country and as well as abroad.

Gusto kong sugpuin ang “contractualization” at the same time ayoko namang patayin yung mga negosyo na kakaunti na lamang nandiyan na ang dami na nga pong lumikas sa ating bansa, wala naman ho talagang makikita sa solution sa extreme positions, saan ba yung happy compromise dito? Natutugunan yung kapakanan ng mga manggagawa, natutugunan din naman yung pangangailangan ng mga negosyo para maka-compete sa global market, huwag po nating kalimutan malapit na po tayong ma-obliga under various treaties na magbukas ng ating mga pinto sa dayuhang mga kalakal at mga produkto, so kailangan na po tayong maka-laban sa ating domestic market at mangyayari po yan, kung talagang naka-focus, yung isa po saking mga panukalang batas yung kung paano ibalik yung konspeto ng bawat kompanya na ang pananawa dapat ay hindi kayo o kami kapag nagtutugunan at nag-uusap ang management at labor pero bumalik tayo dun sa tayo, kompanya natin ito, paano natin palalaguin ito? Ang mga minungkahi natin dito ay yung productivity incentive.

Panel member: Sinabi po ninyo sa inyong palatastas na hindi po kayo magnanakaw, pero paano naman po ang ibang opisyal? Ang taong ko po, mayroon na po kayong nagawang kongkretong mga paraan bilang isang mambabatas para siguraduhing mahuli at mapanagutan ng mga ahensiya o mga opisyal na napatunayang nagnakaw sa kaban ng bayan o naging kasama sa katiwalian?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Salamat sa tanong mo, palagay ko naman hindi ka absent nung nandoon tayo sa mga ZTE hearing, nandoon tayo kasama sa impeachment, nagtatanong tama ba yung paratang dun sa hello Garci, among other things, kasama ako sa impeachment for that matter, sinubukan narin nating iwasto yung sistema, doon sa AFP, DND budget, pagka-tagal tagal, 1974 pa po, hindi po subject to public bidding yung kanilang paggugol ng budget na yun, isang taon po ay umabot ng P1.8 billion ang tinatayang savings is between 5 to 10 percent, we could have saved a hundred and 80 million and devoted it to something else. Pero ang dulo po nun, I think I have proposed an amendment accepted to GAA for something like 9 or 10 budget seasons already kaya lang pinapalusutan at ginagawaan ng paraan para magkaroon ng failure of bidding, ang dami pa po nating ginawa, na hindi lang tayo naging interesadong itaas yung sarili nating bangko dahil tumutugon lang po ako sa ipangako ko na paglilikungkuran ang taong bayan, hindi ko na kailangan pang ipagmalakihan pa kung ano iyong ating nagawa.

Questions from Ted Failon, host of the forum

Ted Failon: Mayroon bang nagawa si Pangulong Arroyo na dapat niyang panagutan pagkatapos ng kanyang term?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Sa akin po pananaw, YES. Ang problema po dito….

Ted Failon: Kung YES sa paano pong paraan?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Dapat po magkaroon tayo ng closure sa lahat ng issues, ang issue nga po dito yung kulang ng transparency, mayroon po tayo for instance yung fertilizer scam na kalian naimbestigahan, 4 years after the crime was committed, kailangang may katiyakan sa kaparusahan, kung tao po ay hindi mamamansin dito sa mga issues na walang closure, para narin nating sinabi na ituloy natin itong sistema na mali sa atin pong palagay. Paano natin hahabulin yan? Nandiyan po ang ating mga korte, nandiyan po yung ating mga investigative arms, pero may obligasyon din naman tayo na protektahan ang karapatan ng lahat, dahil sabi nga po ng aking ama, yung pagtatanggol sa karapatan lalo ng kalaban mo ang talagang batayan kung talagang may demokrasya o wala, yun po ang hahabulin natin. Pangako ko po ay closure on all of the issues, kailangan pong magkaroon ng resolution kung sino ang may kasalanan ay kailangang may tiyak na kaparusahan.

Ted Failon: Ginoong Aquino, ano po kaya ang pinakamabigat na isyu na dapat nyang panagutan?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Napakahaba po ng listahan, baka kulangin po tayo.

Ted Failon: Isa lang po.

Senator Noynoy Aquino: I think she has destroyed a lot of institutions that we have replied upon to have a vibrant and functional democracy. Ang dami na hong nagkwestiyon. Pati simbahan kinukwestyon. Pati ang ating mga korte nakukwestiyon. Dulo po nito, may gagawing kasalanan, sasabihing sagot pulitika lamang at parati hong nabibinbin na malaman natin ang katotohanan. Tuloy yung dapat mali ay tila sa ating pananaw ay naging sistema na. Naging syang palakad at kalakal po sa ating bansa na talagang nagpapahirap sa ating mga kababayan.

Closing statement

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Magandang hapon ho sa lahat. Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa pagkakataong ito. Palagay ko po ang pinuno, klaro ang mga posisyon sa lahat po ng isyu. Mahirap po sundan kung pabago-bago o naliligaw paminsan-minsan at bumabaliktad ang kanyang mga desisyon. Sa katanungang mayroon bang kasalanan si G. Arroyo, dapat mayroon tayong paninindigan. Tama o mali ikaw ang mag didikta sa buong gobyerno kung uusigin o hindi. Pag tayo po ay sasagot na nakakakaba ng konti, bakit ang unang papasok sa ating kaisipan ay hindi ko idedepensa ang sagot ng isang katunggali. Bakit ho depensa kaagad kung gayong nasa oposisyon sya? Kailangan ho suriin natin kung ano ang pinanggalingan natin, dahil sinasabi ng lahat, marami ang mali sa kasalukuyang sistema. Tayo ho ba ay nagpanatili sa sistemang yun o tinututulan natin yung mali? Pakitingnan po ang aming mga record. Maraming salamat sa lahat.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

BSAIII speech at the celebration of the 24th anniversary of the People Power Revolution

BSAIII speech at the celebration of the 24th anniversary of the People Power Revolution, February 25, 2010, at the Araneta Center

Speech at the EDSA-People Power Celebration at Araneta

Mga minamahal kong kasama, kapatid at kababayan:

Noong madaling araw ng Setyembre 23, 1972, dumating ang mga sundalo at dinakip ang aking ama. Kami naman ay ginising ng aming ina, at sinabi sa amin kung ano ang nangyari.

Labing- dalawang taong gulang lamang po ako noon. Kinulong ang aming ama kahit na siya ay walang sala. At doon nagsimula ang aming kalbaryo.

Marami ang naniniwala noon na siya ang magiging susunod na Pangulo. Ngunit sa araw na iyon, bigla siyang itinuring na pangunahing kaaway ng estado bagama’t wala siyang kasalanan.

Bumaliktad ang aming mundo. Itinakwil kami ng mga taong nangako na hindi kami iiwan.

Mula sa inaasahang magandang kinabukasan, nag-umpisa ang bangungot ng martial law.

Mula grade one hanggang grade six, ako po ay nasa top ten ng aking klase. Naghahanda para sa isang magandang kinabukasan.Ngunit ng dumating ang martial law, parang naging imposible ang magkaroon ng isang kinabukasan.

Dahil doon, mahirap magsumikap na mag-aral nang mabuti para sa isang kinabukasang walang taglay na pag-asa.

Ang aming nanay ang tumayong ama at ina ng aming pamilya.

Para makapiling ang aming ama, kailangan pa naming humingi ng permiso sa mga namamahala ng martial law.

Ako’y isang batang musmos na walang magawa habang niyuyurakan ang dangal ng aking ina at mga kapatid nang sumailalim sila sa strip search tuwing dadalaw sa aming ama.

Pinahuhubad halos ang buong kasuotan ng aking ina at mga batang kapatid na babae.

Isang taon bago nag-martial law, inakusahan ni Ginoong Marcos ang aking ama ng kung anu-anong krimen. Sagot ng aking ama: Ginoong Marcos, tungkulin mong isakdal ako sa korte.

Ang nag-akusa sa aking ama ay si Ginoong Marcos. Nagtatag siya ng isang Military Commission para litisin ang aking amang isang sibilyan, at para tiyak na malutong Makoy.

Ang humatol sa aking ama ay mga galamay ni Ginoong Marcos. Ang desisyon nila ay ihahain muli kay Ginoong Marcos para suriin niyang muli.

1977, at 17 years old na ako. Dumating ang panahon ng paghatol sa aking ama ng isang military commission.

Yaman din lamang tapos na ang desisyon bago pa nag-umpisa ang paglilitis, nagpasiya ang aking ama na mag-hunger strike bilang pagprotesta sa kawalan ng katarungan.

Araw-araw, nakikita kong unti-unting nauupos at nauubos ang buhay ng aking ama. Bakit humantong dito ang kanyang buhay? Bakit kailangan na ang taong walang sala ang dumaan sa ganitong paghihirap?

Sa apatnapung araw, patindi ng patindi ang poot at galit na nabubuo sa aking kalooban. Mauunawaan ninyo siguro kung bakit ganoon na lamang ang aking naramdaman.

Ilan kaya sa atin ang kayang magtiis at magtimpi sa ganoong sitwasyon?

Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pagsubok at panganib na hinarap namin, na hinarap nating lahat.

Nasubukan na po ba ninyo na makulong ng Pasko at Bagong Taon para lang makapiling ang inyong mahal sa buhay na wala namang sala?

Nakaranas na ba kayong mag-iyakan ang inyong buong pamilya pagsapit ng Bagong Taon sa loob ng maliit na selda, samantalang nagdiriwang at nagsasaya sa labas ang buong daigdig?

Nakaranas na ba kayong maging Kuya at Tatay sa mga kapatid na babae sa murang edad ng inyong pagbi-binata?

Sa daloy ng panahon, napilitan po akong tanggapin na lamang—kagaya ng milyung milyong Pilipino—ang kawalan ng karapatan sa lahat ng larangan.

Ang lahat ng naranasan kong ito ay bahagi ng isang bangungot na hindi dapat nangyari at hindi na dapat maulit pa.

Ang hirap na aming dinanas, ang sakit ng kalooban, ang kawalan ng katarungan sa amang minamahal—iyan po ang siyang nagpanday ng aking ugali at pagkatao.

Sakripisyo—para sa bayan. Sakripisyo—para sa paninindigan. Sakripisyong may halong dalangin at pag-asa na may Panginoong Diyos na sa takdang oras ay iwawasto ang mali.

Kaya sa mga nanlalait hindi lang sa akin kundi sa panawagan ng panahon, simple lang ang sagot dito: ito ang ating tadhana.

Ang nais nila ay talikuran ko—at talikuran natin—ang ehemplo at prinsipyo ng aking mga magulang at ang magandang halimbawa na ibinigay hindi lang sa kanilang mga anak, kundi sa buong sambayanan.

Totoo naman na hindi mahirap ang angkan ng aking ama. Pwede siyang sumuko at tumanggap ng pataas na pataas na alok ng kapangyarihan at salapi. Ngunit pinili niya ang landas ng pagpapatotoo sa pangakong paglingkuran ang sambayanan.

Naaalala ko po ang liham na sinulat ng aking ama noong siya ay nasa bilangguan.

Limampung taong gulang ang aking ama noong siya ay pinaslang. Ngayon ay 50 taong gulang na rin po ako.

Ang sabi sa akin ng aking ama:

“The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience. There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength. Son, the ball is now in your hands.”

Totoo naman na hindi namulat sa hirap ang aking ina, ngunit ang pinili niyang pamumuhay ay ang paglingkuran ang bayan at iangat ang mga mahihirap—at hindi ang sarili niyang kaginhawaan.

Binigay nila sa ating bayan ang mga bagay na hindi kayang bilhin ng sinuman: ang kanilang sakripisyo. Ang kanilang paninindigan. Kung may inaapi, kung may pinagsasamantalahan, matatag ang kanilang paninindigan: ipadama at patunayang hindi sila nag-iisa.

Ang lahat ng hirap na aming dinanas ay tinumbasan ng sambayanang Pilipino ng pagmamahal.

Pagmamahal sa aking amang si Ninoy na pinaslang nang walang habag, at milyun-milyon ang nakiramay. Pagmamahal sa aking inang si Cory na ipinagdasal ng sambayanan nuong nakaratay sa sakit, at pakikiramay nang siya ay mahimlay.

Sa lahat ng aming sakripisyo, sa lahat ng aming trahedya, hindi ninyo kami pinabayaan. Hindi ninyo kami nilisan. Ipinadama ninyo sa amin na hindi kami nag-iisa.

Sa aking pananaw, hindi lang ito dahil sa halimbawa nila Ninoy at Cory.

Nakita lamang nila ang ayaw kilalanin ng mga sugapa sa kapangyarihan at pangungurakot: na ang Pilipino ay disente, may dangal, may malasakit at may paninindigan. Mahaba ang ating pasensya, ngunit habang tayo’y nagtitiis, naroon ang kaalaman na may araw din ng pagtutuos, may araw din para sa tunay na katarungan.

Dumating nga ang araw na iyon nung Pebrero beynte-singko, 1986: ito na ang kabaligtaran ng lagim na pinagdaanan ng ating lipunan.

Dahil sa People Power, nanumbalik ang demokrasya. Dahil sa People Power, nanumbalik ang ating karapatang pumili at maghalal ng ating mga pinuno. Dahil sa People Power, nanumbalik ang mga karapatang pantao.

Dahil sa People Power, taas-noo tayong lahat. Inawit pa natin na ito ang handog ng Pilipino sa mundo. Naging inspirasyon tayo ng marami pang bansa sa Asya at sa Europa na nag-People Power din upang itanghal ang demokrasya.

Kaya nang nagtagumpay ang People Power sinabi natin, ayon sa kanta,

Ating kalayaan kay tagal nating mithi. ‘Di na papayagang mabawi muli.

Ngunit ano ang naganap mula noon?

Noong 2000, nanaig muli ang korapsyon sa pamahalaan.

  • Nanindigan tayong muli at nagkaroon ng pangalawang People Power, ngunit ano ang ginawa ng ating niluklok na Pangulo?
  • Bakit hanggang ngayon ay saksi pa rin tayo sa pagpapasasa at pangungurakot ng iilan habang nagpapahirap sa milyun-milyong Pilipino?
  • Bakit hanggang ngayon ay pilit na ayaw pa ring harapin ang usapin ng ‘Hello Garci’? Di ba ang walang sala, nagmamadali pang patunayang mali ang mga paratang? Limang taon na ang nakalipas, kulang pa ba?
  • Bakit pinayagan ang mga kaalyado na magtatag ng mga sari-sariling kaharian? Bakit sukdulan na ang paggamit ng karahasan hindi lamang ng baril at armas, kundi maging chainsaw at backhoe? Bakit kailangang maganap ang karumal-dumal na massacre sa Maguindanao?

Talaga bang ang mga mandaraya, manlilinlang at magnanakaw ay palagi na lamang mamamayani?

Palalim ng palalim ang ugat ng kanilang kasakiman habang lalong naghihirap ang taumbayan.

Noon, si Marcos ang tanging batas. Ngayon, sa maraming pagkakataon, ay tila hindi na ginagalang ang batas, pati na ang ating Saligang Batas.

Noon, ang eleksiyon ay Lutong Makoy; ngayon, ang eleksyon ay Lutong Gloria at Garci.

Noong araw, na- momorsiyento sa proyekto ang mga tiwali. Ngayon, ang naiiwan sa proyekto ay iilang porsiyento na lamang.

Pilit tayong pinapaniwala na wala tayong magagawa.

Kailangan tayong magbalik-tanaw sa nakalipas.

Mayroong isang Ninoy Aquino. Hinarap ang maliwanag na panganib sa buhay niya. Para magkaroon tayo ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng mapayapang pagbabago.

Pinatay siya ng walang pakundangan ng mga gahaman sa kapangyarihan. At sa kanyang pagyao, nabuhay ang ating demokrasya.

Mayroong isang Cory Aquino. Ipinagpatuloy niya ang laban—hanggang naibalik natin ang demokrasya.

At kahit tapos na ang panunungkulan, hindi ni minsang tumangging manindigan para ipagtanggol ang demokrasya sa bawat panganib.

May mga tao at puwersang gustong isantabi ang kapakanan ng karamihan alang-alang sa kanilang makasariling interes.

Habang nangingibaw ang ganitong palakad, palubog nang palubog ang buhay ng nakararaming dukha at kapus-palad.

Minsan may isang diktador na nangahas na umapi ng isang bansa. Sambayanang Pilipino, sumunod sa halimbawa ni Ninoy at ni Cory. Gumising at nanindigan, at itinaboy ang mapangahas.

Ngayon, naghahari na naman ang mga sumunod sa yapak ng nangahas.

Kayong mga nandito, naninindigan at nagbibigay- babala sa mga mapangahas:

Humanda na kayo sa araw ng pananagutan. Gumising na kayo sa katotohanan. Mulat na ang sambayanan.

Noong panahon ng kadiliman, ang katanungan ay:

Sino ang kikilos upang ibalik tayo sa liwanag?

Sa inyong pakikiisa, sinagot niyo na ito.

Ngayon, kumikilos na ang sambayanang nangangarap muli, at natatanaw na natin ang maliwanag at maaliwalas na kinabukasan kung saan ang pangarap ay magkakatotoo din.

Minsan, may isang Ninoy Aquino, nag-iisa sa kanyang bartolina. Nangahas siyang mangarap. At nang lumaon, tumugon sa kanyang hamon ang milyun-milyong Pilipino—at nakamit natin ang kalayaan.

Ngayon, wala na tayong dapat pang ikatakot. Tayo ay gising na. Tayo ay mulat na. Tayo ay kikilos na upang makamit ang tagumpay. Taas-noo muli ang Pilipino sa mundo.

Maraming salamat at magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

‘Hello, Garci’ boys well entrenched for May 10 polls

‘Hello, Garci’ boys well entrenched for May 10 polls
By Aries Rufo
abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak

MANILA, Philippines—The men who worked closely with disgraced former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano as he rigged the 2004 presidential elections are still well entrenched for the May 10 polls this year.

Together, the so-called “Hello, Garci” Boys control Mindanao, which is home to more than 10 million registered voters.

“Hello, Garci” became a popular phrase to refer to how President Arroyo addressed the commissioner when she was caught on tape asking Garcillano to ensure her a lead of at least 1 million votes over her rival, Fernando Poe Jr.

Except for the high-profile Lintang Bedol, who is in hiding, the Garci Boys are positioned either as regional election directors (RED) or provincial election supervisors (PES).

Easily identifiable is Ray Sumalipao, who has been transferred as RED of Davao Region (Region 11) from his previous post as RED of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Replacing Sumalipao in ARMM is RED Remlane Tambuang.

The influence of the infamous group is intact in ARMM, however, as Renault Macarambon retains his positions as assistant RED (ARED) of ARMM.

Transfers
Sumalipao and Macarambon were Garcillano’s errand boys at the height of the canvassing of the May 2004 of the votes for national positions. At that time, Sumalipao was the chair of the provincial board of canvassers in Lanao del Sur when a Namfrel official there threatened to make an exposé poll fraud.

Arroyo, learning of the threat, called up Garcillano to defuse the tension. “We will try to make him say something. I will tell him to talk without letting the people know that I am the one who will address it,” Garcillano assured the President.

Macarambon, then the vice chair of the Lanao del Sur provicial board of canvassers, was mentioned by Garcillano as the one who was supposed to ensure the victory of a senatorial candidate allied with the administration who was in a neck-and-neck race for the last spot with an opposition candidate.

The cheating attempt, however, was foiled when the opposition candidate went to the area to protect his votes.

A source from the Commission on Elections said that Macarambon might be assigned to Maguindanao as acting PES. The Comelec, however, has yet to release the resolution.

An election lawyer observed that Sumalipao’s transfer from ARMM to Davao Region might have done more damage than good “since this means he has control over a new territory. His men are already in place in ARMM, so removing him from there does not do any good.”

More of them
Another Garci man, Henry Magbutay, is RED of Northern Mindanao (Region 10).

Magbutay’s subordinates include Cirilo Nala Jr., who Comelec sources say is also a Garci follower. Nala is PES of Misamis Occidental.

Magbutay’s voice was caught on tape as the “Boy” who told Garcillano that an election official who knew about the irregularities was in hiding. “Boy” even suggested that they kidnap the concerned Comelec official, but Garcillano rejected the idea.

Another RED who was caught on the Garci tape is Francisco Pobe, who is in command of the CARAGA Region. Pobe, whose nickname is Danny, had called Garcillano asking for results in Cotabato City. Pobe, who was then the PES of Agusan del Sur, was acting on behalf of a senatorial candidate.

Although he was not on tape, Michael Abbas, the current RED of SOCCSKSARGEN (Region 12), is also known as Garcillano protégé who tampered with the votes of Arroyo’s rival, the late Fernando Poe Jr., in Tawi-Tawi during the 2004 race. Abbas was the PES of the province.

Now his coverage includes North Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

More authority
The ARMM has about 1.88 million registered voters; Northern Mindanao, 2.4 million; Davao Region, 2.55 million; SOCCSKSARGEN, 1.98 million and Caraga, 1.37 million.

Garcillano’s men, in effect, collectively have control over more than 10 million votes.

Separately, they are power brokers in their own right. They are not accountable to any Comelec commissioner at the head office, as the en banc decided that there will be no more commissioners-in-charge (CIC) of regions in the elections this year. In past elections, each commissioner was made in charge of a certain number of regions, exercising control over the regional directors.

A commissioner told abs-cbnnews.com/Newbsreak that Comelec chair Jose Melo “did not like the idea of the commissioner having their own fiefdoms during the elections.”

The CIC system, as practiced in previous elections, allowed the poll official concerned to call the shots and make decisions without consulting the en banc, as an initial remedy to problems that required immediate attention.

However, the CIC system, while it decentralized decision-making, allowed the types of Garcillano to manipulate the elections with ease.

A Comelec source, who is privy to the assignments of poll officials, said that the Garcillano Boys were spared from the disgrace brought by the “Hello, Garci” tape because no one came forward to file a complaint against them.

The Comelec faced a blank wall when it initiated an investigation since there were no complainants and that the evidence—the wiretapped conversations between President Arroyo and Garcillano—linking them to irregularities could not be used as evidence in the first place.

Of the Garci Boys, Bedol was not as lucky after their 2004 adventure. Charges have been filed against him for his participation in the 2007 rigging of Maguindanao votes. (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak)

Villar: I will spare no one for graft

Villar: I will spare no one for graft
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Defending himself from the “Villarroyo” tag, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. vowed to spare no one, including President Arroyo, in charging people guilty of graft and corruption.

Villar said that if ever he becomes the new president, he would even “encourage” the prosecution of Mrs. Arroyo after she steps down on June 30 because of the numerous anomalies that have been linked to her during her administration.

The issue of Villar having links with Mrs. Arroyo as well the allegation that he is the real candidate of the administration continue to be among the issues raised against him by his opponents.

He has repeatedly denied these and reiterated that it was he and his NP colleagues who had spearheaded numerous probes against Mrs. Arroyo over the course of her administration.

“I have criticized the President on numerous occasions,” Villar said.

In fact, he said that he would give the President a rating of 4 out of 10 in terms of honesty.

According to Villar, it was the NP that initiated the congressional probes into the “Hello, Garci” issue, the NBN-ZTE deal and the jueteng controversy against the President.

He said the investigations on these issues were done under his term as Senate President and so he gave the go-signal for these to take place.

“I’m not seen as a critic of anybody. That’s my style. I would rather do things than say them,” he said.

“But when I was asked if I agree with the President, maybe a hundred times, I’ve said, I disagree with her,” he added.

The allegations against Villar coming from the Liberal Party and its standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III has been a thorn in his side and has contributed to the drop in his survey ratings.

The LP camp coined the term “Villarroyo” or Villar-Arroyo to describe the alleged alliance between the President and Villar and has stuck with it throughout the campaign period.

Villar and the NP have responded in kind by coming up with the “Aquinorroyo” and “Gloriaquino” tags for Aquino.

The party has alleged that the LP camp has various connections with the Arroyo administration, including Aquino’s relatives in the current government and the presence of former Cabinet members and officials of Mrs. Arroyo in the LP.

Villar also vowed not to support the supposed bid of Mrs. Arroyo for the speakership of the House of Representatives if and when he and the President succeed in their respective bids.

Mrs. Arroyo is running for congresswoman of Pampanga, prompting her critics to suspect that she intends to reclaim power by going after the speakership.

Villar reiterated that the NP would put up its own candidate in order to thwart the alleged bid of Mrs. Arroyo.

Villar: I’m prepared to lose

Although he is determined to win the presidency, Villar also said he is psychologically prepared for the worst in case he loses.

Villar said he has prepared himself for two possibilities, which are winning and losing the presidency.

“You will be surprised, I am prepared to win but I am also prepared to lose. I have had my ups and downs but I have faced them all,” Villar said over the ANC show “Headstart” last Friday.

“If I win, I am ready to run the country on day one. If I lose then I am also prepared. I know that psychologically, I must be prepared,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) yesterday told Villar to “prepare well – for losing.”

“Judging by how his numbers have been sliding consistently, I would say that Sen. Villar is beginning to realize that his millions, and even billions, will not prevent the inevitable,” said PMP spokesman Ralph Calinisan.

Northern Alliance picks Villar

The Northern Alliance in the House of Representatives has chosen to support Villar.

At least 15 of the 21 congressmen present during Friday’s meeting in Baguio City agreed to back Villar, according to Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, deputy speaker for Northern Luzon of the Lower House.

He said they chose Villar because he promised to help develop Northern Luzon and take care of Ilocanos.

Villar also vowed to develop the industrial and agriculture industries of the North like tobacco and the export processing zones and the extension of the North Luzon Expressway.

In another development, the NP said yesterday that consumers would most likely see an increase in the value added tax (VAT) if Aquino wins in the May elections.

In a statement, the NP noted that the presence of a “VAT block” in the LP is now more evident with the addition of Mrs. Arroyo’s economic adviser, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, to its camp.

“Noynoy is surrounded by the most passionate apostles of increasing the VAT pain. This early it is fair to equate a Noynoy victory with a 15-percent VAT rate,” the NP said. – With Christina Mendez, Sandy Araneta, Artemio Dumlao and Andy Zapata

Binay warns of 'automated Garci'

Binay warns of ‘automated Garci’
By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino-United Opposition (PMP-UNO) vice presidential candidate Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay warned against what he called “automated Garci” in the May 10 elections.

Binay revealed before The STAR that the PMP-UNO will join forces with the Liberal Party (LP) of presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to avert possible cheating on election day.

Binay noted the revelations made by Aquino of “special operations” being planned by certain groups to manipulate the election results in Mindanao.

Binay said they received information that as early as 3 p.m. on May 10, the people behind “automated Garci” will deploy 100 voters in precincts all over the country.

“Automation is intended only to hasten the counting. It cannot stop vote buying. They will put ink on their (voters) fingers even if they have not voted yet. There will be various ways of cheating, like the excessive number of ballots printed,” Binay said.

Binay also expressed concern over preparations of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the May 10 automated elections.

He said the Comelec has dropped the ultraviolet security markings and has printed ballots in excess numbers.

“The automated Garci is true. This will be the worst elections,” Binay said, referring to the “Hello, Garci” wiretap recordings controversy involving President Arroyo supposedly calling former election commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano over the results of the presidential elections in 2004.

Binay said he has made representations with some LP leaders, including his rival in the LP, vice presidential candidate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, to fight the “automated Garci” scheme.

“I told them let’s join together to man the votes. UNO and LP will join forces to fight cheating on May 10 and ensure that the votes cast by voters are properly counted,” he said.

Binay said the tactical alliance with LP against “automated Garci” would mobilize all their watchers to monitor developments during election day.

Villar takes tougher stance vs Arroyo

Villar takes tougher stance vs Arroyo
abs-cbnNEWS.com

Aquino camp says Villar ‘too late the hero’

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. has taken taken a stronger stance against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Villar told ABS-CBN News Channel’s (ANC) Headstart that he will prosecute all corrupt government officials, including President Arroyo.

“Yes. Lahat ng naging corrupt dapat habulin (Yes. We should go after all corrupt officials),” the NP standard-bearer said when asked by Headstart’s host Karen Davila if he will prosecute Mrs. Arroyo for her alleged corrupt activities.

During an ANC presidential forum last January, Villar had a softer stand against Mrs. Arroyo.

He said he would not lift a finger to influence possible cases that may be filed against President Arroyo after her term ends in June.

‘Villar too late the hero’

In response to Villar’s interview over ANC, Edwin Lacierda, Sen. Benigno Aquino III’s presidential campaign spokesperson, said the NP standard-bearer’s move to take a tougher stance against Arroyo was a “last-ditch effort” at reversing his survey ratings slide.

“Only a few months ago, he regarded investigating corrupt officials a non-issue. Now that Arroyo’s satisfaction rating is at an all-time low, and Noynoy Aquino’s message of fighting corruption has gained the overwhelming support of the Filipino people, Villar, belatedly, is joining the bandwagon, not out of a sense of public duty, but as a means to desperately claw back and regain his numbers,” Lacierda said.

(Read: Villar falls 4 points; Aquino, Erap, Gibo steady)

“When Manny Villar said Friday morning that he will prosecute all government officials including Gloria Arroyo, the question is not whether he will do it—the answer is too obvious.  He now feigns an understanding of the true cause of our country’s poverty—a culture of corruption and impunity—and is now slithering his way into the anti-Arroyo club,” Lacierda said. “The tragic thing is the people have seen him for what he is, and the bandwagon has long left him behind.

Villar gives GMA failing grade

During the ANC interview on Friday, Villar also gave Mrs. Arroyo a failing grade when asked to rate her overall performance for the last 9 years.

He said Mrs. Arroyo deserves a failing grade of 4 for bringing too many problems during her term.

“Sa akin statistically, hindi rin maganda ang performance natin sa economy… if you compare her performance to other leaders,” Villar said.

He also said that Mrs. Arroyo was never a good leader.

“I disagree that she had experience. I disagree that she had a leadership position. I disagree that she was able to show that she can manage anything successfully,” Villar added.

The senator also denied that he has not openly criticized Mrs. Arroyo for her alleged involvement in several corruption controversies.

He said he has made “maybe a hundred times” of criticisms against her during media interviews.

He also reiterated that during his stint as Senate president, he led the NP in investigating several controversies involving the Arroyos, including the “Hello, Garci” scandal, NBN-ZTE scandal and jueteng.

Villar added that it was Aquino who had taken a softer stand. He said Aquino was among those who voted against the playing of the so-called “Hello, Garci” tapes when he was still in the House of Representatives.

Noynoy has GMA’s economic team

Villar has admitted that the LP’s “Villaroyo” tag on him has hurt his ratings in recent presidential surveys. (Click here for story).

He said that if voters would really study the party defections and political affiliations of all the presidential candidates, except for Gilbert Teodoro, LP standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III would stand out as the one who has close ties with the Arroyo administration.

“Marami siyang kamag-anak na kasama ni GMA. Marami silang hininging favor na hiningi kay GMA (He has many relatives connected to GMA. They asked so many favors from GMA),” Villar said, referring to Aquino, his relatives and members of the Liberal Party, which was formerly a member of the administration’s rainbow coalition.

He added that with Albay Gov. Joey Salceda’s defection to the LP, Aquino now has President Arroyo’s former economic team. (Click here for story.)

Villar said members of the Arroyo economic team in Aquino camp are former Arroyo trade secretaries Mar Roxas and Johnny Santos, former finance secretary Cesar Purisima, and former Socio-economic Planning secretary Ralph Recto.

“Ibobo mo lang si Noynoy, babalik na si GMA (You just have to vote for Noynoy to bring back GMA),” he added.

Spending own money for country’s future

Villar also urged his critics to also ask Aquino to divulge his campaign distributors, whom he said are most likely businessmen.

He said that he is certain these businessmen-contributors would take back their money by asking favors from Aquino if he wins the May 10 presidential election.

As for himself, Villar said he is investing his own money for the presidency.

He and his wife have set aside billions of pesos for charity, which he has been spending on scholarships, on overseas Filipino workers and on livelihood for poor Filipinos.

Villar said the money came from his company Vista Land’s IPO (initial public offering) earnings, which amounted to about P23 billion, P8 billion of which went to his family.

He said that from the P8 billion, he gave his children their own money, paid his debts and the rest have been set aside for charity.

Villar assured that he will not use the presidency to take back all the money that he has been spending for his campaign.

He said that he saw the presidency as a “chance to turn the economy around.”

“If I can stop poverty, reduce it significantly, I will be helping millions. Mas malayo ang mamaring ng pera na ito kaysa iyong parang ipamimigay mo lang na mahirap pa rin sila,” he said.