Stand up, Filipinos, Stand up (English translation of Sen. Bongbong's speech at his declaration of candidacy for Vice President)

10 October 2015

Read the Filipino version here.

Thank you very much, Councilor Kring for your very nice introduction. Thank you to our President/Mayor Joseph Estrada for his kind words. I would like to thank my Uncle Johnny for making it to this occasion. Of course, Congresswoman Imelda who is here to join us all. And to all that came here to this gathering, many many thanks for your presence. A good afternoon to all of you.

People have asked me why this occasion was not held in Ilocos, Leyte, or Bulacan, where my grandmother was born. Why General Luna Street in Intramuros, Manila? I must say that I was moved by the film Heneral Luna. It reminded me of our heroes when they were fighting the Spanish forces for our independence.

I also remembered that just like Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio, General Luna was felled by a fellow Filipino. This is no different from what we see in our country today, with many corrupt Filipinos in and out the government killing our economy and causing our difficulties. Sad to say, despite the declaration of our independence on June 12, 1898, 117 years ago, the Philippines is far from being free.

We are still chained by poverty. We continue to be dictated upon by rich countries, big business, and our own government that initiates the anomalies, which have become the reason for why, until to today, many of our countrymen are still suffering.

I want to remind you and our countrymen that the revolution started by Dr. Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, General Antonio Luna, Diego Silang, and many other heroes, is far from over. We are not yet fully free. I want to point out that the next election in May is part of our continuing battle for freedom from want.

In the May 2016 election, let us remember the sacrifices of our heroes. Let us fight for our convictions. Let us not be swayed by the sweet words of politicians. Let us judge those in government based on their character, experience, and platform. In our hands lie the fulfillment of the dreams that our heroes have pursued towards a free and prosperous country. Let us not be afraid to do what is right. There is danger ahead of us.

The Philippines today is a haven of criminal syndicates such as drug lords, gambling lords, and smugglers. They control government authorities. Some corrupt policemen protect them. In fact, in some cases, policemen are themselves the drug lords.

Because of this, illegal drugs have become a big problem. According to statistics, 93% of barangays in Metro Manila are havens for illegal drugs. Why has this happened? We hear about homicide, robberies, and kidnapping. So many lives and dreams have been shattered by drugs, which have also devastated thousands of lives and families.

As we deal with the damage caused by drugs, we also have to face the neglected education sector. There are not enough classrooms. The quality of books in our schools is substandard. There is inadequate government support for our teachers, who lack benefits and training so that they can have better teaching skills.

Have we forgotten that the youth is the hope of the motherland and that we depend on our teachers to mold the minds of the youth for a bright tomorrow? Have we forgotten that among the services the government should bring to the people, education is of prime importance? It is unfortunate that it has been neglected.

Today, our fellowmen continue to leave their homes to find work in other countries. Every day, 5,000 Filipinos leave the country. They endure being far away from their families so that they can provide food and education to their loved ones.

More than 6 million Filipinos are unemployed. Yet those who are employed are contractual employees who often find themselves in an unfair situation, jobless after 5 months at the end of their contract. What is the government doing for our people? Why can’t it protect Filipino workers?

Many parents hardly see or meaningfully speak to their children. They leave their homes for work at dawn and return home late at night, when their children are already asleep, because of the terrible traffic jams that keep them on the road. While we do have the MRT, it is always broken. Our mass transportation is managed by incompetent and corrupt authorities who cause untold suffering on commuters, who are forced to endure long queues under the heat of the sun or strong rains. Once they board the trains, they are cramped like sardines, but they persevere through this torture in the absence of any other alternative. They ignore safety and comfort because they are helpless.

Our trains which used to travel from Tutuban to Damortis in the north and Bicol in the south are close to breaking point, again because of the lack of competence of authorities. Today, these formerly long-range trains do not go beyond Alabang and Tutuban.

Indeed, our infrastructure needs are massive. We need roads, airports, ports, and power plants. We need to upgrade our communication systems. Telephone and internet speeds have to be reliable, faster and better.

Where are the official funds of our government held by our esteemed public officials? Where have the taxes collected from the people gone? Where are these going?

Graft and corruption continues to be a big problem, inside and outside the government. It is no longer surprising when we get a direct request from government officials. It is the new normal. Take the issue of smuggling as an example. According to statistics from the World Bank, P4 trillion has been lost to smuggling in the past four years. We know who are behind the smuggling activities yet these thieves are not apprehended and jailed. Why is our government pretending to be blind?

How much is the reason?

Garbage continues to be a big problem. Not only do we have trash uncollected in our streets, we allow other countries to make us their dumping ground. Why did we allow this to happen? Who is behind the importation of the trash from Canada? Can’t the Bureau of Customs identify him and file a criminal case against him? Instead of shipping the trash back to Canada, we now allow it to be dumped in Clark, Pampanga. We are fortunate that the residents protested and prevented further dumping to take place.

How much is the reason?

Where are the notorious rice smugglers? What has happened to their investigation? Why have no cases been filed? The DOJ recently returned the case to the NBI for lack of evidence. What sort of miracle happened there?

Again, how much is the reason?

Rice smuggling continues and the volume of rice we need to import keeps on growing while our farmers do not receive any support from the government—no new irrigation, no financing, no affordable fertilizer, no training, and access to new agricultural technologies. The government turns it back on the importance of the agriculture sector. It has no sympathy for our farmers.

Almost 2 years have passed since Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Philippines, yet only 10,000 houses have been erected out of the 130,000 homes needed to shelter the survivors. Where are the billions in donations from our countrymen and other countries? Where did this go? Why can’t our officials account for this?

In Zamboanga, many of our fellowmen continue to live in temporary shelters up to now. They are the ones who lost their homes during the encounter between the MNLF and the AFP in 2013.

Recently, 44 members of the Special Action Force died in service, offering their lives at the altar of love for country. Sadly, justice continues to elude them and the ones they left behind. No cases have been filed against those who massacred them. To their widows and orphans, I am one with you and the country in your crusade for justice to honor the heroism of your departed loved ones.

I started my service to country as governor of Ilocos Norte, after which I became governor of the province, congressman of the second district of Ilocos Norte, and now, Senator of the Republic.

In my 30 years of service, I have personally witnessed the difficulties of our countrymen, the cross that they have to carry to save their loved ones from a life of difficulty and hunger. Many of our countrymen pawn their possessions such as farmlands, carabaos and other personal items so that they can send their loved ones to school. What has happened? Why are we in the depths of despair and hardship?

Filipinos are competent, intelligent, hardworking, compassionate and determined. We are not afraid to face the challenges of life. Many of our countrymen work for prestigious companies abroad—in the United States, Europe, and all over the world.

In the Middle East, almost all big engineering and architectural firms have Filipino architects and engineers. Our people are known to be competent and good. The world is impressed with us.

Yet why do we remain a poor country? Why do our fellow Filipinos have to go hungry? Why does anyone have to sleep on the streets or under bridges? Why do people have to die because they could not afford to buy medicine or could not find a doctor to treat them? Why is it that despite the glaring difficulties of our fellowmen, we don’t we see solutions from our government? Why aren’t doing anything?

In my view, all these things are happening because our past administrations have not done anything and have not done their role to help and support the Filipino nation. Our government officials have to work for the welfare of our countrymen, for the good of the nation. We did not elect them so that they can uphold their own interests, or help their interest groups or parties.

We did not elect them so that they could bully or trounce their political opponents while ignoring the continued abuses of party mates. We cannot cause division and quarrels among Filipinos because of politics. Yet this is what happened. This has been the policy of some previous governments. Ultimately, it is the Filipino people who suffer. We suffer because of politicking. If you are with them, you will be okay. If not, prepare for the consequences.

We will not be successful unless we change our attitude. We will only progress in life if we unite as one race. Let us remember in our minds and in our hearts that we are all Filipinos. Remember that no one will love us as much as another Filipino. No one will help us except another Filipino. This is why we should work towards the unity of all Filipinos—one country, one spirit, one action.

Let us show our leaders that we will not be cowed down by their threats. We know that there are threats from those in government whose chosen candidates we do not support. But I know that our countrymen’s bravery and love for country will shine through.

Let us lock arms to face the imminent dangers to our country coming from our government or elsewhere. Let us shout that we Filipinos are ready to sacrifice for the sake of unity in our country.

Discipline has been lost in our country. Instead of becoming more prosperous, many of our countrymen have sunk further into difficulty. The ranks of the poor continue to swell. Many of our countrymen have lost hope. The dreams of the youth become increasingly vague. Our country has lost direction.

It has been more 117 years since General Emilio Aguinaldo declared our independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite, yet we still have not truly realized the freedom that our forefathers have fought for.

To this day, our countrymen are still waiting for our leaders do something to alleviate their hardships and the dangers they face. We have not heard any answers - just noise coming from officials jockeying for positions, and noise coming from a society divided by polarizing politics. We hear the noise of those who continue to abuse us and steal from our national coffers. There are no answers to the calls for help of our countrymen. We hear nothing but meaningless words. Just noise. It’s nothing but noise.

These times call for true unity. Unity among Filipinos among all of us in the country.

Filipinos helping fellow Filipinos. Helping each other. Loving each other. Proud because we are Filipinos. That is the challenge of the times. That is the challenge of the new generation who yearn for a prosperous and bright future.

Together, let us face the challenge of the times. Let us lock arms and shout to the whole country that we will not allow ruinous politics and incompetent politicians to cause division among Filipinos. Let us lock arms and shout to the whole nation that Filipinos are united in working towards a free and vibrant Philippines.

With your help and our countrymen’s support, I will lead a revolution of the heart, mind, and action towards true and meaningful change. I will lead a campaign to achieve our dreams in our lifetime. I will not allow us to lose our country’s territory. I will fight for integrity of our beloved land.

Let us bring back the respect of the world for the Filipino. We will, with your help, bring back the acknowledgement of the world that the Filipino is an intelligent and excellent race. Let us bring back our dignity. Let us bring back our cultural traits of humility, fear of God, and respect for our parents, elders and fellowmen.

With your help and that of the nation, I will lead a revolution in thinking and action to reach our cherished dream of a peaceful, prosperous nation and healthy, happy people.

Because of this, I wholeheartedly accept the challenge of the times, the challenge of the new generation. With great humility, I accept the challenge of my country.

I will run for the position of Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 2016 election.