Rotary Club of Makati Dasmariñas

20 January 2016

I. Philippine Vice-President: a very meaningful and worthwhile job

Perhaps you are aware that I filed my candidacy for the Vice-Presidency of the Republic in the 2016 elections. All my prayers and all my discernment have led me to this major decision, and helped me realize that this is precisely the right call of my conscience and the right call of public service, and which I must listen to and heed.

I have always believed that the road to the Philippine presidency is a “question of destiny”.
For now, destiny has other plans for me and for the Filipino people.

In the United States, the Vice-President has invariably been called "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived" (according to John Adams, the first Vice President of the United States); "a fifth wheel to the coach" (said Theodore Roosevelt); "as useful as a cow's fifth teat" (as Harry Truman joked); and lastly, a “spare tire” and “not even worth a pitcher of warm spit" (as John Nance Garner pointed out grudgingly and almost self-deprecatingly).

Dito sa Pilipinas, tila parang ganun din ang tingin ng ilan sa ating mga kababayan. Ang tingin sa Bise-Presidente ay parang “reserbang gulong” na ginagamit lamang kung ma-flat ang isang gulong ng sasakyan. Kesyo naghihintay lamang siya na “mag-disappear” o ‘di kaya’y gumawa ng kalokohan ang Pangulo, nang sa ganoon siya ay umangat at pumalit sa Pangulo ng bansa.

Sa Amerika, ang Bise-Presidente, sa kanyang paghihintay, ay tumatayo bilang ex officio Senate President. Dito naman sa Pilipinas, iba. Walang anumang ex officio functions. The active and extra role that is to be played by the Vice¬-President depends on the pleasure, discretion and appointing power of the President. Indeed, our Constitution provides that the Philippine Vice-President “may be appointed as Member of the Cabinet” by the President. (Sec. III, Art. VII, Constitution).

And herein lies the greatest and maximum potential of the Philippine Vice-President to make the most of his tenure as a national official and public servant of the Filipino people. The measure of his public service will be defined by the extent that he will be trusted, and by the active government roles with which he will be entrusted by the President.

I believe that the key here is the Vice-President’s openness and willingness to work for, and work with, the President and his or her vision and program of government. Most important of all, a willingness to unify and unite, and transcend dirty partisanship and politicking—and a personal character with which to possibly accomplish the same. By the time they swear by their respective oaths and assume their respective offices, every bit and vestige of dirty politics should have already ceased, as they buckle up for Day 1 of their public service to the entire nation.

Throughout our history, we have witnessed the spectacle of Vice-President having been integrated and inducted into the President’s official family. Recently, we have seen the likes of Vice-President Doy Laurel as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Vice-President Erap as head of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), Vice-President GMA as Social Welfare secretary, and, of late, VP Kabayan Noli and VP Binay as consecutive HUDCC Chairmen.

Our past Vice-Presidents have shown and proven that the Vice-Presidency, as intended and envisioned by the Constitution, could truly be a noble, meaningful and worthwhile function and leadership position that could directly and significantly serve the Filipino people in such a concrete and tangible manner.

If—(when)—I become Vice-President, my platform of public service will be defined not by a “hopeful patience” or “wishful thinking”, but rather, of UNITY, TRUST, and CO-OPERATION. I will be a trustworthy team player and a competent role player.

The President will be assured of my cooperation and my support for the envisioned programs of his government, and to help in uniting our nation and rallying them behind the President, and in promoting and spreading the message of hope to the entire Filipino people and the glad tidings of goodwill and comity to the international community.

Lalo na ngayon, na marami at malala ang problema sa ating bansa. The President definitely needs all the help HE or SHE can get from able, willing, trustworthy and competent individuals around HIM or HER!

On the other hand, however, I shall also act as a “fiscalizer”, and will freely yet tactfully and diplomatically speak my mind about important public issues, as well as about the shortcomings and weak points of the government—but not so much for the sake of criticism or fault-finding, as with a view to improving public service and in the name of the public welfare and the common good.

II. The vision that will shape my brand of leadership

In simple terms, my vision of our country is one that can overcome its economic and social challenges by drawing on our own strengths and drawing upon our unity. It is a vision of the Philippines that is prosperous, rich in opportunity, and home to happy, morally upright, and productive citizens whose lives are meaningful because theirs is a just society, because theirs is a nation that has become great again.

However, this will be a very daunting task, a task so daunting that it has continually remained a puzzling mystery and has challenged even the great leaders of our history. 26% of the Filipino people are poor, while 11% of Filipinos live in extreme poverty. And further compounding our problem is the grave inequality that pervades in our society now.

Presently, our unemployment rate is at 6.6% (7.2% here in Metro Manila), a figure that translates to 3 million able-bodied Filipinos who are without jobs. Whereas, 17% consider themselves under-employed. Hence, this perceived lack of sufficient local opportunities precisely and singularly explains the phenomenon of why more than 5,000 Filipinos leave the country EVERY SINGLE DAY to become OFWs.

Considering the poverty, and the social inequality and injustice that pervade in our society, it seems that we as a collective people are the ones responsible for driving out our very own kababayans to work in other countries, simply because we cannot seem to offer them decent economic opportunities here at home.

III. Playing cards right: Recognizing the strengths of people’s organizations

It is in the face and on the weight of these social ills and obvious government inadequacies and failures that I re-echo a continuing call to our civil society, and enlist their continuing commitment and tap into their natural spirit of compassionate and selfless voluntarism.

True to the mandate of the Constitution, we recognize the indispensable role of people’s organizations, like the Rotary Clubs, in the higher ideal of nation-building and in the rudimentary task of diagnosing and then alleviating the ills of our society and the pitiable conditions of our less fortunate brethren.

For example, cognizant of the inherent social responsibility and ground-level operations of NGOs and people’s organizations, our government has installed mechanisms by which they were tapped as agents of government in making sure that public funds are pumped and cascaded down to the thinnest capillaries of our society.

However, in recent years, we have heard the appalling reports of the infiltration of fly-by-night NGOs and ones that were calculatedly fraudulent from their very inception, conniving with scheming government agencies. In the process, billions of public funds had been cornered and spirited away to illegal and greedy personal purposes.

If government had the will and resolve to entrust billions of public funds for social alleviation programs, why were iffy and fraudulent NGOs handpicked while genuine and established private organizations were overlooked? Why not Rotary Clubs, for example? Why weren’t they approached and deemed qualified to be accredited as worthy and accountable recipients of public funds for the implementation of community projects?

I firmly believe that genuine, established and tried-and-tested people’s organizations, like Rotary Clubs, are most qualified and worthy to be entrusted with more active, accountable and more large-scale roles that are in partnership with the government. They should not merely be given passive much less token roles, nor just be left to their own devices, in the hope that at some serendipitous point somewhere along the way, their programs and priorities are able to meet and align for the good of the public. Government’s clarion call to legit organizations should not just be sounded off in times of need, and God forbid, only during times of national emergencies or calamities.

These legit organizations—by whatever name they are called, NGOs, people’s organizations, and the now in vogue “civil society groups”—are there on the sidelines all along. Like our image of the Vice-President, they have been patiently waiting in the wings, making their presence felt in the countryside—where it matters most! Nakapalibot (at NAGLILIBOT) na sa buong bansa, nang hindi man lang natin nalalaman!

But kidding aside, for almost a century, Rotary Clubs have regularly proven themselves, and have stamped in the psyche of Filipinos their trademark concrete and reliable public service to the community. Rotary clubs have proven themselves to be able and willing, and ever ready to be trustworthy, competent and accountable partners of government, not only for coordinate action and assistance, but also for the needed additional social and financial mobilization.

III. Karanasan sa Pamahalaan Lokal: aking pambato at “alas”

You can rest assured that if (and when) elected Vice-President, my leadership will be characterized by drawing upon the collective strength of a united nation, and recognizing and tapping into the individual strengths and capabilities of all our LGUs, our diverse communities and the multifarious sectors of our society.

Isa sa aking pinanghahawakang pambato at “alas” sa aking kandidatura bilang Bise-Presidente ay ang aking pinagsamang karanasan hindi lamang sa Kongreso, kundi sa lokal na pamahalaan, bilang local executive noon sa aming lalawigan ng Ilocos Norte.

BIlang miyembro ng Kongreso, sa Kamara de Representante at sa Senado, nakita ko ang paghubog sa ating pambansang patakaran at polisiya at mga mahahalagang batas.

Ngunit bilang dating pinuno ng lokal na pamahalaan, alam ko kung paano pinatatakbo ang isang LGU, at kung ano ang mga problemang hinaharap ng komunidad. Personal kong nakita at naranasan kung ano ang nangyayari sa baba, on the ground, ika nga, at kung ano ang mga pangangailangan ng taumbayan. Alam ko kung talagang umaabot ang serbisyo ng mga ahensiya ng national government sa mga mamamayan at sa mga LGUs, at kung tunay ba talagang natutugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng taumbayan.

Sa aking palagay, magandang karanasan ito para maihanda ako sa mga responsibilidad ng isang Vice-President. Sa aking palagay, mahalagang bagay kung naging babad ka at nakiisa ka sa taumbayan. Malaking bagay kung damang-dama mo ang tunay na hinaing at pangangailangan, at ang mga hirap na patuloy na dinaranas at pinagdaraanan ng taumbayan sa kanila mismong pamayanan.

So with much pride and appreciation, I can claim that I can rely and count on my dual and extensive experience both in Congress and in local government as an edge over the other candidates for the Vice-Presidency.

Kaya ang akin pong dalangin at ang akin pong hiling ay ang inyong buo at taos-pusong pagtitiwala at pagsuporta para sa aking kandidatura. Sa aking pong paninilbihan sa bayan, tayo po ay magsasanib-puwersa at magtutulungan—ang pamahalaan AT ang pribadong sektor, sa pamamagitan ng mga Rotary Clubs sa buong Pilipinas.

Tayo ay magkakaisa upang ayusin ang ating lipunan, paangatin ang ating ekonomiya, at pagandahin ang buhay at kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga mas nangangailangan.

Again, I call on the Rotary Clubs to continue to the work that you do, especially the ones you do best and the ones with the greatest impact and most beneficial effect in our communities. Also, in your private and individual capacities and professional lives, always chose to live by the Rotary ideals and ethics. More importantly, in the years ahead, be prepared and be ready to participate in much more active roles in our community improvement and our nation-building, in partnership with the government!

Pero ‘ika nga po: SA TAMANG PANAHON! Marami pa po tayong dapat gawin at trabahuhin. Sa ganitong panahon talaga, kailangang doblehin pa ang pagod at hirap, lalo na kung ang nais natin ay makuhang muli ang tiwala at suporta ng buong sambayanang Pilipino!

Hanggang sa ating muling pagkikita, lalo na sa susunod na buwan kung saan tayo na ay totodo na at mag-iikot sa buong bansa. Sana po ay ako ay inyong samahan at ako ay inyong suportahan! Kayo na po ang bahala sa akin!

Mabuhay ang Rotary Club ng Makati Dasmariñas! Mabuhay ang lahat ng Rotary Clubs sa buong Pilipinas!

Maraming salamat po at magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat! Pagpalain tayong lahat ng Maykapal!