"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

On Charter Change and the Impeachment

The President has issued a statement in this year's SONA on Charter Change amidst the ongoing divisiveness in our country. Naturally, people have made their comments on Charter Change, with some Congressmen in favor of initiating moves towards this process. In fact, as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, my distinguished colleagues -- Senators Frank Drilon and Joker Arroyo, whom I cannot afford as my spokespersons -- even mentioned me as among those in favor of Charter Change.

Our Constitution is far from perfect. That is why there is an Article in the Constitution dedicated to its Amendments or Revisions. I believe there are provisions in the Constitution that, if amended, would bring our country a lot of good. This is why as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, I am ready to take up Charter Change, IF AND WHEN NEEDED. At the proper time, I will be open to this great debate on Charter Change and intend to actively participate in it.

However, there are other matters of national concern that seem to be more urgent at the moment than Charter Change. We must all keep our eye on the ball and focus on the ECONOMY. We have an oil crisis and a looming energy crisis ahead of us. Our people need new jobs and opportunities. As I have said, time and again, Charter Change should not be pursued today as a reaction to the PARTISAN POLITICAL HYSTERIA.

The President has openly proposed a parliamentary-federal system ofgovernment. But the timeliness of this shift must be carefully considered. For a change as fundamental as our political system of government in our Constitution to work, our people must be ready,willing, and able to undertake such change as well. We must all be united in this process.

Our people are divided right now, as acknowledged by the President herself. A complaint for impeachment has been filed against the President in the House of Representatives and this should be acted upon at the soonest possible time. The faster we RESOLVE and bring CLOSURE to this matter, the better it will be for our country. Only then can we actively, openly and objectively debate on Charter Change, and hopefully forge a Constitution which, in the words of Henry Clay, American statesman and U.S. Congressman, is "made not merely for thegeneration that then existed, but for posterity- unlimited, undefined,endless, perpetual posterity".

27 July 2005

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

PHILCONSA Remarks, Makati Polo Club, Makati City

Let me just greet here my good friends here in PHILCONSA. Actually, this is, the return of the native. And of course, I immediately accepted to be sworn as a life member para hindi na ko makakawala and that is why, today I am happy to announce to you that I'm really glad to join and enjoy being a lifetime member and I would like to thank Joey Leviste because he is going to pay the P20,000.

Then, I greet a real friend of my parents and certainly my wife, certainly a leader in our country and not just in Pangasinan, Manong Estrella, palakpakan po natin. Let me also greet another …who together with me, some point in time, we tried to revive the Nationalista Party under Doy Laurel but fortunately it never pushed through I don't know why. I think we both know why, but I am not willing to say it here. So now we are both members of the NP (No Party) -- Syke Garcia. Palakpakan po natin si Syke. Also I want to greet Justice Pardo, Ms. Aguilar and of course Ms. Gonzales and my good friend Jun Venus. Of course, all of you here, my fellow citizens, friends, guest from Japan at lahat po ng mgakababayan sa pali-paligid, the members of the media, isang magandang hapon po sa inyo lahat.

It is a great pleasure to be here this afternoon. I am glad that Syke, right away defined what we need in this country today -- HOPE.

This is acountry that acknowledges being addicted to hope. After 350 years of staying, for we were never promised independence or membership in the Spanish Cortez by Spain, when the Americans came, we fought against them but the moment they said "we're going to give you independence", the revolution did die. When the Japanese came, hope was again offered by the Americans and what is that? "I shall return" -- by Mc Arthur and indeed we had that. And then President Marcos came in later on and he served for eight years and then the new Constitution was approved sustained by the Supreme Court and what happened afterwards? Of course, he said "Don't worry, Martial Law will only happen for seven years and by that time we will have a New Society" -- addiction to hope once again. And then, of course under the new Constitution of President Aquino, there was hope once again when she said we are now going to have "Mabuhay ang Kalayaan". Of course, I can go on and on and on and repeat and repeat all these things in our history but it remains hope.

What we need is not hope alone. Hope is important to keep us going but we also need FAITH.
Faith in ourselves and in our country. If we cannot have that, you do not have the right to criticize this country. But I took my oath kanina. I took my oath in PHILCONSA and it said "we will support, defend, protect and preserve the Constitution." When I took my oath as a senator, as chairman of SBMA, as secretary of Tourism and as mayor of Olongapo, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. So to my mind, we all sing the national anthem, we take our oath to the flag but it is all verba what we need is acta not verba—action not word. We have to live our talk, walk our talk instead of just talking. Nauuna madalas ang salita sa ating bayan bago ang gawa. And today, let me just point out to you that the most important challenge in our country today is not the crisis of President Arroyo although there is a lot of noise in terms of the partisan-political hysteria that has been going on, they must be careful to listen and be able to see. And most of these things will be very, very partisan. You know, everything is decided partisanship nowadays.

To me the greatest challenge today, number one (1) is PROCESS. This is a country that claims that they voted for the Constitution. Well I, DickGordon, did not vote for this Constitution. I campaigned against it. But the moment it was approved and the process was complete, I abided by and took several oaths to support and defend this Constitution. This Constitution says that there is a process for a removal of the President. So, if we want to handle the first battle for our country, we want to remove the President, you cannot forcibly make her resign. It is hypocritical on the part of anybody to make anybody forcibly resign. Resignation is an act of the individual. It is voluntary.

Second (2), there is a cabinet that can, in fact, by majority votes say the President is incapable of performing the functions and submitted to the Congress after which if she or he says I am still fit during five days after which they need a ¾ votes in the Senate to uphold the unfitness or incapability of the President. If we are not able to utilize it there, we now go into impeachment. Impeachment process is clear. 1/3 vote and it goes to the Senate. 1/3 vote in the Lower House and it is the "process of impeachment". Afterwards the "process of trial" begins in the Senate and that is the PROCESS.

Unfortunately, in this country we do not exercise processes. When somebody goes to city hall or the town hall to apply for a business permit, he doesn't ask "What is the form I will fill up?" "What education requiremnts will I present?" He says "Sino ba ang kilala mo dyan?"

When you go to court, we are told and even in class rule it is hinted to us that "Hey, my friend it is not enough to know the law, it is also important to know the Judge." All the lawyers know that, we have heard that. That is a fact. We do not exercise process. And of course, in our elections, tapos na yung proseso, walang natatalo. Dalawang klase lang ang lumalabasyung nanalo at saka yung dinaya. We are always nadaya or whatever. But it happens in the United States. Even if you thought that Michael Jackson was a pedophile-- because if you look at all the evidence…akalain mo, ang tanda-tanda na nito ay sumisiping pa sa tabi ng bata. You think he is a pedophile but the moment the decision was made, sarado. Tapos. You are free to walk, of course you pay a lot of lawyers fees.

OJ Simpson was perceived to have committed many crimes including the murder of his wife and yet the moment the case was closed, dismissed. Tapos na. For that matter, Gore versus Bush. In the political clashes they went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, Gore won the electoral vote but Mr. Bush won the electoral college and immediately Gore says "Tapos na." He is the President. And they walk on and move on. They take part of the process that includes that they believe in the National Interest. We cannot simply define within ourselves what National Interest is all about. It is always personal interest.

I invite you to go the Bagumbayan Light and Sound Museum in Intramuros where we track the roots of the Spanish community. Because I said 350 years of Spain in this country created no longer a transformation of society but a transactional society. Kailangang dumaan ka sa pari sa lahat ng kailangan mo. Sa alkalde para sa pangangailangan kaya naging "Kumpadre System". Hindi na tayo makapunta direktamente kay Bathala, kailangan dumaan tayo, kapag nawala ang wallet, kay San Antonio. "Hanapin po ninyo ang wallet ko at pakiusapan si boss at makita sana ang wallet."

In Ateneo, in the old days, when Dave Villar took an examination and he wasn't prepared, he would lead the prayer and after the prayer he always gave an ejaculation—that time ejaculation was spiritual. And he said, "Saint Jude, patron of hopeless…pray for us!" In other words, transactional. Kaya lahat ng politiko natin, lahat ng namumuno sa atin, ultimo kayo kapag nagapakasal kayo, 30 ninong, 30 ninang para magkaroon ng network—transactional.

Pero mayroon tayong law. It is a government of laws…di ba alam natin yan, itinuturo sa Constitution, but in reality we no longer become transformational. So that is why, there is lack of inspiration by our leaders. Consider the fact that just before all these things happened there were many people who were saying "I am for the President, if you come to my city, if you come to my province -- dito welcome ka." After she spoke and apologized they said, "Ako nandito sa tabi ninyo" and then afterwards ang sabi niya "Wala na." Consider the fact that even a former President said and counseledSusan Roces "Oh dahan-dahan, wag mainit ang ulo. Mayroon tayong proseso," and then afterwards nang magkakaroon na nang pilian sa vice president ay medyo pumasok na.

I am not attacking anyone. Kung magagalit sila ay wag sanang magalit ng husto dahil sinasabi ko lang yung mga nangyari. I remember in the old days there was no political parties. There was one political party with two factions –the Liberal and the Nacionalista. Kapag nanalo si Macapagal, kukunin lahat yung Nacionalista at palilipatin saLiberal. Kapag nanalo si Marcos, kukunin lahat ang Liberal at palilipatin sa Nacionalista. In other words Partido balimbing. Katotohanan o guni-guni?

Totoo yan. So there are no clashes even in the political parties. What do we have now? This spectacle of imbedded Marcos…he would say, "Cory is not the duly elected President. I was the duly elected president." To his death, President Marcos would say, he was the duly elected president in 1986.

When Estrada was replaced in 2001, and he is now taking a vacation in Tanay, we cannot even allow the process to allow that proper penal provisions are applied, he says, "I am still the President." So kapag natalo pa ninyo si President Gloria Macapagal you have this technical problem, kung buhay pa si Marcos, three persons all claiming to be the President because we never closed the issue of process. That is the kind of system we live in today. We have to make sure that to justify our system as a respectable nation, we have the rule of law. And the rule of law is what you just swore to. Your Constitution in PHILCONSA as well as our Constitution and therefore I submit we must finish the process. Tapusin na natin ang proseso at kapag natapos iyon ituloy natin ang mga pangangailangan.

There are other challenges we face. We have to do the budget in Congress. We have to take care of the energy crisis. We have to soften the impact or at least tell our people "Hoy, tataas ang halaga ng bilihin. Tataas ang halaga ng gasoline. Wala tayong kontrol dyan then we must help each other." Wala tayong naririnig na ganoon. Wala tayong naririnig na nagsasabi ng ganoon. Ang sinasabi lang ay "Heto muna ang gulo".

Now, having said that, what is the next step? Ang sasabihin ng iba "Ah solution! Constitutional Change." Another quick fix. We are used to the quick fix because you cannot say change the Constitution at the draft of a half because the Cory Constitution in 1987 was a reaction to the Marcos Constitution of 1971. Everything that Marcos has brought forth before in his Constitution was taken out and so we are tied up in terms of many things from Foreign Policy. If we are attacked by China or attacked by any other nation, we can not say"Time out," we are going to have to call and have a treaty with our allies and before we can even bring them in to help, it has to be ratified by the Senate and it has to be sent to the people for plebiscite. That is in the Constitution. We have short term for Congressmen because 3 years lang ang Mayor at Congressman, ang ginagawa nila ay paramihan ng basketball court, paramihan ng tinatawag na waiting sheds. So you cannot change the Constitution just because you are reacting to this. So I submit that you cannot change this Constitution as a knee jerk reaction to what is happening it could be unfair to President Arroyo or to President Ramos, Speaker De Venecia. It will appear that we changed the Constitution for convenience sake. If you say that it is to save the President, unfair yan because I know PresidentArroyo doesn't want it to be changed. It will appear na sina-save siya not on the basis of the completion of the process but to use the Constitution, which is the basis of all procedure, to get her off thehook. And she will not get off the hook if she really is guilty. She will not be able to get off the hook in spite of a change in a Constitution. You have to complete the process.

Having said that, I stand against any change in the Constitution at this time. It does not say that I am not in favor of changing the Constitution. I campaigned against this Constitution, but I should be the first to say that it was validated by a process when people voted for it. We took an oath, we have to walk our talk. We have to follow the process. Whether you like it or not, that is the process.

Now, it is going to be changed by the congressmen and senators and you say that they have personal interests. But that is part of the process. You also knew that in the impeachment proceeding senators and congressmen will be part of the process. That is why any citizen of this country must vote correctly, to vote the right people into office in this country. It is incumbent upon the political party to make sure that they vet the candidate that they are going to present to the people not just because they are popular.

Tayo mismo ang may problema. How can you say na hindi ko nabasa eh. Nandoon sa proseso iyon eh. So now, even we have to change the Constitution and set aside yung problema ngayon kay Presidente. Guilty or not, the vice president must take over. Then if you like to amend the Constitution then do so. Pero kukuwestiyunin na naman eh di walang katapusan iyan. Sasabihin na naman na si Noli de Castro ay hindi qualified. Gulo na naman iyan. Kaya ayaw natin yung resign, resign. Saka sino ba ang mga ito? Wala namang accountability ang Makati Business Club, di ba? Ang simbahan naman, tama ang ginawa ng simbahan. I praised the Catholic Bishops because they are practicing the separation of Church and State. Tama yan. A Cardinal stand is this thing, pwede as an individual but not as the Church.

But going back to the process, if we are to amend the Constitution, I submit later on, it should be by Constituent Assembly. Why? Because it is part of the process. It is there in the Constitution. You can call a Constitutional Convention, it is also there but the realities are "awan te kwuarta Apo." Wala tayong pera. Kaya nga nag-e-EVAT tayo. That is a reality and besides the Constitution allows it. Kahit na sabihin mong ang mga Congressman ay mga bata ni ganito yan, bata ni ganoon, that is the process. That is why, it requires a ¾ vote of both houses, voting separately. That is my interpretation of the provision. Senate and Congress ¾ vote separately to approve any amendment of the Constitution and it must go to a plebiscite. That is why kung may interest dapat malalaman natin by lobbying for what particular provision that we want or we lobby against the particular provision that we don't want.

In the United States, when you go to Washington D.C, democracy is there. You can see every lobbying association or professional lobby group that will go to the Senate. "Mr. Senator we are a lobby group and we are speaking to you because we do not approve of this VAT or whatever." Nandoon yun. That, we must learn if we are to say that we are a democracy. But having said that, kung iyan ang kailangang gawin, dapat patuluyin natin ang Kongreso. Let us have the ¾ vote when we have the Constituent Assembly. Question now is this - yung mga nagpapalit ng Constitution, hindi pwedeng patago. Ang sasabihin nila ay papalitan lamang ang Constitution. They must say "Heto ang mga provision na gusto naming palitan." Ipakita ninyo ang baraha ninyo at hindi lamang basta ganoon na lamang. Katulad ng nangyari kay Cory, papalitan basta pinaboto lang tayo ng Yes or No. Ganoon din sa 1973 Constitution kay Marcos, pinaboto tayo –Yes or No.

To me, you must always include the people as part of the process of change. The processes are not respected principally because people don't know what the process is. So I submit even when you have the Constitution ready, the work of the Assembly or the Convention or whatever it is, you must now present it to the people by sequence. Hindi yung buo at the same time. Maybe one month, ito ang pag-uusapan—Presidential or Parliamentary or whatever. Then the next month - Bill of Rights and Bill of Duties and Obligations of citizens kung gusto ninyong gawin iyan and then finally hanggang matapos ang Constitution, then that is that. Lightly amend the Constitution. First amendment, second amendment, third amendment. Like the Singapore Constitution-first amendment, second amendment, third amendment. Hindi sabay-sabay. Kapag pinagsabay-sabay mo hilo ang tao at ang tao ang talo. That is always what happened kapag minadali ninyo at hindi ninyo sinunod ang proseso na nararapat.

Now, assuming that we have done and followed the process, what is my position? Kung halimbawa, gusto nating palitan ang Constitution. Kailangang pag-usapan natin kung ano ang kailangang characteristic ng Constitution bago ka basta magpalit. Di ba? Ano ba ang kailangan natin? Ano ba ang hinihingi ng taumbayan? Ang gusto nila, we want FAST government para yung reforms ay mabilis. We want a FRIENDLY Constitution. Something that we can all understand. Friendly to all. We want it FAIR. Parehas. We want it FLEXIBLE para yung Kongreso ay pwedeng palitan kung nagkamali tayo sa mga mungkahi ng Presidente.

We live under a time of speed. Speed is the name of the game. Nahuhuli tayo dahil hindi tayo maka-react. We now have email and text, real time, on time, all the time. We have this overnight express cargo that a can deliver overnight your mail and like internet, we can even talk live. We can talk with each other. Real time, on time, all the time. So kailangang may FORWARD-LOOKING aspect yung Constitution at may flexibility.

So now, kung ang sinasabi natin ay masama ang sistema natin, then my first proposal is this. Do not go from presidential to parliament because hindi pa naiintindihan ng tao. A parliamentary-presidential system requires strong political parties. There are no strong political parties here. There are parties that had control by personalities who either are rich, powerful but no idea sharing, no national interest consideration ang naiisip nila. Kung ano ang ihip ng hangin doon tatalon. So it is important na magpakilala ang mga partido—strong political parties. Therefore there should be no partyswitching. In the 1973 Constitution there was no party switching. Kung mag-switch ka ng party ay hindi ka pwedeng tumakbo. Mag-resign ka. So, I submit that we should shift from the multi-party system from the politics of patronage to the politics of platform. From the politics of Transactional government to the politics of Transformational government. So, prohibit party switching. You make the party vet the candidates. Kailangan bago ka pumasok sa partido, you are familiar with the goals of the party.

When I was mayor of Olongapo, bago ako mag-commend ng pulis, pupuntasa akin ang pulis at itatanong ko sa kanya "Bakit gusto mong magpulis? Gusto mo bang magsilbi?" Parang politiko, "Gusto mo bang magsilbi? Okey alam mo ba kung ano ang rights of the accused? Alam mo ba kung saan ang kalyeng ito?" "Hindi ko alam sir,"sagot nya."Mag-aral ka at bumalik ka dito,"sabi ko. He will come back until he knows his job. Until he knows that he has to respect the citizen, that is the only time I will recommend him. That is a fact. So you have to vet. You must vet in the party, those whom you are going select to represent you. Then there must be accountability on the part of the party to say"Heto sagot namin iyan." Hindi dahil "Malakas, iyan ang uso ngayon."Let's say, with all due respect to Susan Roces, I like her… pero gagamitin siya. Malakas ito kaya dito tayong lahat. Sinasabi sa akin, umayon ka na kay Susan Roces at malakas iyan. Ganoon ang nangyayari. It is always the personal interest not the national interest that prevails. You cannot owe your allegiance to that big Manila's 400, yung nagbibigay ng pera sa mga personalities, otherwise walang change sa bayan. Nasubukan na ninyo lahat iyan. Pare-pareho. Yung mga pumupunta sa Malacanang ay pare-pareho. I am sure. Mrs. Marcos is here with us today. Yung pumupunta sa kanila noong araw, ngayon pumupunta pa rin sa mga bagong presidente. Totoo ho o hindi? I am sure, your answer is yes.

Finally, you look forward a strong Two-party system. There would be other parties or party-list but they have to be part of the dominant party -- the two parties will get the financial support of the government.

Okay next step. Block voting. Gusto nating mabilis di ba? Bakit pa natin patatagalin. Kung gusto mo ng Liberal, Nacionalista, LDP, Lakas, Wakas, Bagumbayan, Partido ni Eddie, si Edi-Ako. Edi ilagay ninyo iyan. Kase lahat na iyan paglabas ng bagong isyu ngayon laban sa presidente, lahat si Eddie ang pangalan. Sabi ni Gen. Abat" E di ako". Sabi ni Ping Lacson "E di Ako." Sabi ni Eddie Villanueva,"E di Ako." Lahat ganoon. So dapat malinaw. If they do not block vote they can go individually. That is their prerogative. You are not removing that, they can vote individually. A vote for the President is a vote for the Vice President who becomes Senate President and also the Speaker para wala ng transaction doon sa Lower House. So isang boto tatlo kaagad ang pasok. Isang boto sa Governor, pasok ang ViceGovernor. Isang boto sa Mayor, pasok ang vice mayor. No more Bokal. The Mayor represents his municipality. They meet once a week. The Governor moves from municipality to municipality para makapag-usap sila kung ano ang kailangan ng munisipyo and their first act should be, "What is the master plan for the province? "Ano ang kailangan mo d'yan para mapag-usapan para pag-submit ng budget ay kasama ka. Ganoon din sa Barangay. May barangay sa isang kalye, may barangay captain sa kabila. We should limit it to 30 or 40 at the most and they automatically, they can become the municipal or the city councilor. Yun ang parliament di ba? Executive-legislative hybrid. Mabilis ang aksiyon. Isa lang ang kakausapin at may accountability. Hindi magtuturuan ang magkalaban. Congressman, Governor magkalaban. Yung Mayor at saka ang Councilor magkalaban. Ikaw ngayon ang in-charge dyan. You have to be accountable.

Now, the Local Governments dapat parang Third House ito. The country to go slowly into the community, into forging a common good. The mayors of towns within a province converge to talk about the common good of the province. Now, the mayors of highly urbanized cities and component cities as well as the Governor, they will link with their Congressman 50 days before the session of Congress and then will say, "This is the master plan for region 3. This is what we want to do for region 3." For the next 6 years that they are in power, "Ito ang hahabulin namin." So they now have a chance to contribute to budget making for the entire country. That means, the people are part of the process of change to their duly elected representative and there is accountability.

The National Economic Development and all the other ministers will now be part of that regional directorate para tutulungan siya kung saan pupunta ang presidente. For example, in region 3, we have 3 airports here within region 3 –Subic, Clark and Manila and 2 seaports Subic and Manila. So gumagawa ng bagong kalsada sa pagitan ng Clark at Subic, we can say, we are going to build industrial parks sa dadaanan nito in Bulacan and Pampanga. We can have tourism itself in Zambales and we can now invite business to come here becausewe can provide them with tax incentives within the region and if they need new taxes…kung gusto nila ng mag-tax, dagdagan ng special assessment then let them tax, after all, they will be responsible. Now after that, the Congressman now is elected of course. He now goes to the Lower House. Pareho iyan. Power of the purse is still in the LowerHouse. The senate provides the national prospective to the regional presentation of the local and regional leaders of the country. And it is only done within 100 days. Dapat may deadline. Hindi katulad ngayon ang sesyon. "Tapusin ninyo ang budget, tapusin ninyo lahat ito within 100 days."

The President can appoint members of the Cabinet from the Congress and from whatever sources she wants to do so. That way, the President has connection with the Congress at all times. That is Parliamentary or semi-parliamentary if you will. But if you do not like the president anymore, nagkagulo kayo. You can call for a vote of confidence, a challenge vote of confidence. In other words, we don't have to go to "people power" anymore. All we have to do is prepare that within certain limitation. In fact, you can ask for an active vote of confidence. I come from the local government, iyan ang napag-aralan ko sa sistema at saka galing din ako sa ConstitutionalConvention, that is why I think ang kailangan ay itong mga sinasabi kong ito. Yung sinasabi kong vote of confidence. They have an active vote of confidence. It could be 2/3 votes of Congress and ¾ votes of the Senate para maiharap iyan sa taumbayan, para pumasok iyan. Can you imagine, yung iba sinasabi, "Bagsak ang popularity ni President Gloria Macapagal –Arroyo," therefore we must change her. That is baloney. Eh di wag na tayong mag-eleksiyon. Kunin na lang natin ang survey ng SWS kung sino ang pinakapopular. Okay ikaw na atkung hindi ka na popular palitan na naman natin. Survey na naman. Wag na tayong mag-eleksiyon. If it is really ridiculous the way some of our people are acting because they are acting in the interest that is purely personal.

Now, as you are going to this, you will see later on that you are going to have longer terms, 6 year terms with re-election for the president plus recall or active vote of confidence. Senator and Congressman, local officials 6 year and unlimited re-election. When you have somebody apply for a job, tinatanong mo "Anong experience mo?" The more experience you have like the Dioknos in the past, they were good senators because it takes time to learn in the Senate and Lower House. Kaya kailangan mayroon tayong mga ganyan pati governors and mayors para malayo ang pananaw. Hindi yung quick fix, hindi short term. So lalabas ngayon, ilan ang balota. Ang balota ninyo: President, 12 senators, governor, congressman, mayor, barangay councilor, konsehal ng bayan – 17. So sa isang araw lamang pwedeng tapusin ang bilangan. Ibato mo kaagad yung national sa munisipyo, ibabato niya sa Comelec kaagad. Bilang kaagad yung national. Yung lower house lalong mabilis.Yung sa bayan mas mabilis. So you have a very short vote. Especially if everybody says we will block vote. They check party A or party B.Mas mabilis ang proseso . Wala nang gulo especially if we can computerize this. Mas mura ang computerization because mas simpleang botohan.

Now, if you want to change it later on, you can find channels for the way it should be done hindi yung bago tayo nang bago. What I am proposing is, you now have a process that everybody understands because they study it as presented and therefore you can now move on to the other amendments. For example what are the other amendments I am talking about? Yung pulis, yung 100 days session. Iyan ang mangyayari. Winners could be proclaimed quickly. Regional COMELEC can proclaim all local winners. National mabilis din. Now what happens to this now is simply this - kapag natapos yan we now go on other amendments. I would like to see, not just one national police force, I opposed that in the Constitutional convention of 1971. Dapat may local police, may national police. It is like a 747. When one engine goes out, mayroon ka pang isang engine na mahihiram. And there is accountability. The mayor will now be pointed as the source of disorder in a particular locality. Hindi katulad ngayon, nilalahat natinand buong kapulisan sa ksamaan ng iilan.

You can go also on have a Bill of Duties and Obligations of citizens. Bakit tayo panay kabit, panay Bill of Rights. Nasaan ang duty mo? You have to pay your taxes. You have to contribute to the development and welfare of the state. You must have volunteerism in this country. Wala tayo niyan. Tinanggal iyan doon sa 1973 Constitution.

Open economic provisions. Give Congress the flexibility to regulate. Bakit, yung lupa maibubulsa ba iyan? Alam ninyo naman ang argument dyan. Hindi mo nga madadala yung lupa mo d'yan sa California o doon sa China. Yung exploration, development on natural resources, pupunta pa tayo sa Korte Suprema. Everytime there is a question in the Supreme Court we delayed justice for those who are awaiting the death penalty of those who have other cases but because the Constitution is very stringent, the Supreme Court is forced to make the decision based on very rigid provisions of the Constitution. Dapat mabilis ang takbo ng ating gobyerno because that is the nature of communications and the time today. Operation of public utility, 60 percent, practice of profession, my gosh how much have we lost here? We used to have reciprocal agreement with New York when you pass the bar in thePhilippines, lawyer na lawyer ka na because dito sa ating bansa kailangang pumasa ka ng bar. In my days in Subic, I had a graduate of Harvard and she could not take the bar because she has to take law school all over again. That's ridiculous because yung natutuhan niya aboard hindi niya madala sa ating bayan. That is a fact. Yung duktor, now mahal ang duktor sa ibang bansa. Di kunin natin yung ibang duktor doon para ma-expose yung duktor dito tapos i-training natin yung mga tao natin para maging beneficial ang pagiging duktor mo. So now we can have good doctors here that the people abroad can come in to secure their services here too .

Mass Media, 100 percent to go. Mahirap iyan. Especially now, media is always the one that is telling us what we will see, what we will hear. Yun ang nangyayari ngayon. Let it or not, our civil society protect media. Democracy is choice. You become poor if there is an absence of choice.

Educational institution early 60 percent. Sa Singapore they haveHarvard there, University of Australia. Now if I go through all these, marami, each one is as good as the other but I am saying take it several sections, present it to the public so they will understand it and then say yes or no. Hindi yung sabay-sabay. That way, hindi lang sila ginamit para ma-ratify yung Constitution.

Let me tell you now what happened to our country. This is a country that once upon a time used to be Asia's number one, next only to Japan if you take in Asia. In Southeast Asia we used to be number one. We have the first airline, ngayon yung airline natin hindi lumilipad sa Europe. We have the first telephone system –PLDT, ngayon naunahan na tayo mabuti na lang number one pa tayo sa text. Pinaka-talkative tayo sa text sa boung mundo. I don't know if we should be proud ofthat. Ngayon bagsak na tayo. Consistently going down, down, down.

We have made three revision of our Constitution. First amendment was in 1940, and then we had a revision in 1973 and then another revision in 1987 and now are going to have another revision. Napag-iwanan tayo in Asia because we are always focusing on the wrong things. In th emeantime, while we are arguing, prices of oil are going up, while we are arguing, E-VAT is still in the Supreme Court and we have to rally our people on matters like the budget and other things. That is why, sabi ko nga kanina "Come my friend it is not too late to seek another world. For my purpose holds beyond the sunset and though we may not have that heart we should always move earth and heaven that is what we are. What we call temple of heroic heart made weak by time of faith but still strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not yield."

Let me tell you this as well, if you are talking about hope, sinabi ko naman sa inyo, "What this country really needs, is not just a change OF men but a change IN men", that is what I said, when I became mayor ofOlongapo on March 3, 1980. "Kung hindi kayo magbabago at akala ninyona ako ang magdadala ng pagbabago, sinusuwerte kayo" because if you put your faith in an individual and not yourselves wala nang mangyayari sa ating bansa. They will always really bring it down. Put your faith in God, in yourself and in the community and I am sure if you Aim High, if you Aim for the sky, you will reach the tree-tops and if you aim for the tree-tops, you will hit the ground. So, importante na magkaroon tayo back to the values system of Transformational Leadership. A leadership that demands that people take battles within their own hand.

I will prove it can be done. We did not complain. If there is anybody who should complain about the process, my father was assassinated. Before that, there were three attempts on his life. Pinardonan pa yung dalawa from death to life. Dapat mag-complain ako. Here is my father. He chose to be a Filipino rather than be anAmerican. His brothers just simply went abroad. He stayed behind and he chose to be a Filipino because his grandfather was the first Filipino who won a battle against Spain in 1896 and he believed in this country. Kung may magagalit sa bansang ito, kami. Bakit? Inayos namin ang Olongapo pagpalit ng oposisyon, tanggal kami noong 1986. Ibinalik kaming muli ng tao pagkatapos inayos namin pagkatapos ngPinatubo ng 1991. Inayos namin ang Olongapo and then inalis yung Bases noong 1992. I campaigned against it. You never hear or Gordon as a balimbing. I said, you cannot have this Constitution saying "Teka muna papayagan na yan" that is why I campaigned against it but did you hear me complain against Sen. Salonga? No. I respected him. We live in a civil society. We respect Mr. Estrada, Sen. Enrile. I salute them "Sir okey, tulungan na lang ninyo kami, we will take over Subic." Local governance will take over Subic in fact, I volunteered to be the first Chairman. Bumagsak tayo sa Sangley, bumagsak tayo sa Clark,hindi tayo babagsak sa Subic dahil tao ang mag-aayos niyan. We got people to volunteer. Young people are the ones I told you. You know double suma cum laude from University of Pensyvania, Standford, UP, LaSalle, Ateneo, FEU, UST volunteers lahat yan. Mahihirap na tao,volunteers lahat iyan. They protected and preserved to prosper and they did. We got APEC, we got Fedex, we got all the companies. We were no longer getting a budget in our third year. Wala kaming budget. Then anong nangyari? At sa kanyang yumi at ganda ang halimaw ay nahalina. So tinanggal tayo. I fought with Mr. Estrada and told him, "You go to court because I am going to court but if you hit me I will hit you back." Lumaban ako because lumabas siya sa proseso, lumabas ako sa proseso. Kung babalik ka sa proseso, papayag tayo sa proseso. Nang manalo sila sa Korte Suprema I made a courtesy call to the new chairman. I congratulated Mr. Estrada. Wala kayong narinig na nanggulo ako sa Subic. Ako pa pag-alis ko ang dinimanda pa, 28 harassment cases, dismissed naman lahat. But that is a process. I accepted it pero ngayon anong nangyari sa Subic? Pinabayaan natin, wala na ang Fedex. I am shocked that this country lost Fedex. When we got that I cried because we got recognized as a hub of Asia and then UPS followed. Both are leaving now. Nobody says "Oh bakit, nagkaganoon? Ayusin natin para maging more productive ang Subic para mas maganda." Pero wala kayong narinig. Pero kapag pinag-usapan ang labanan sa poder, kung sino ang papalit kay Gloria kung tatanggalin si Gloria nabubulag at nabibingi ang tao at pinag-uusapan alis na d'yan bahala nakami. But nobody talks about what is good for this country anymore.

Can we not be civil? If you have anything against the President, go to court, go to the Ombudsman, go to Impeachment. Pag-usapan natin doon. Then shake hands afterwards, kung matapos ka sarahan mo. Tapos na eh. Let us move on. We cannot see until we move on. Up to now, Bonifacio and Aguinaldo, hindi natin alam kung sino ang tunay na bayani. Pinag-aawayan pa natin. Hindi natin mailibing-libing. Yun mga collaborators hindi tinapos, walang trial. I forgive you. Paano si Wencislao Vinzons, pinugutan ng ulo sa Camarines Norte? Paano si Abad Santos? We cannot do closure on the Marcoses, we cannot do closure on Estrada. We cannot do closure here, we want to go back to the street. Ano ang sasabihin sa ating ng tao? You do not have the rule of law no wonder you are like that. Nakakasakit kapag sinabi na here is a country who wants to burn the whole house just to catch the mouse. Now do not just shake your head. You have to take part in this process. You are the Philippine Constitutional Association. You are the one that will say "We go to the Constitution. Disagree with me. If you want to change the Constitution now but prove your point and let us be civil about it. Let us not call each other names. Let us think of the national interest and let us remember that this is the only country we have and with God we are the ones who will be responsible for its success."

Robert Kennedy said, "A revolution is coming. It will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate, if we care enough; successful, if we are fortunate. We can affect its character but we cannot alter its inevitability." We are going on that point where we have to make a decision to reinvent ourselves otherwise we will be consumed unstable early. But what is most important today is FOCUS. Focus on who we are. We must define who we are. Then and there, we can truly be worthyof being Filipino. I close by giving my favorite quotation "Not gold but only men can make a nation great and strong. Men for truth and honor stay steadfast -- hindi bumabalimbing-- and suffer long. Brave men work while other sleep. Men who dare, while other shy. They build a nations pillar deep and lift them up to the skies." Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. Mabuhay ang PHILCONSA.

Friday, July 15, 2005

FedEx Must Stay

It PERSONALLY saddens AND PAINS me no end to have learned DIRECTLY from Federal Express officials that when their contract in Subic expires in 2007, they will move their operations to China. The loss of FedEx's investment and presence in the Philippines is another blow to our efforts to attract and keep investments in the country.

Why the personal sadness and pain? As everybody is aware of (perhaps not so much the younger generation), Subic was a major source of employment and business for Central Luzon. In 1991 the U.S. NavalBase had an employment force of 46,000 people, generating Php 350 Mil annually in taxes with a very high pass on effect on business enterprises in the region.

All this was lost when 12 senators decided not to renew the U.S. Bases agreement without really giving any alternative to the people in terms of employment and income – a case of an air force with all air. The U.S. armed forces left the country – the U.S. Navy from Subic and theU.S. Air Force from Clark. Clark was not protected and was shamefully looted for which I will not go into details.

However, in the case of Subic, I immediately asked for volunteers toprotect and maintain the facilities. Despite the problems of the Pinatubo eruption, the spirit of volunteerism and honor among the Filipino people came to the fore – the facilities in Subic were protected and the assets were maintained.

My next problem was how to use the facility in a proper, employment and income-generating manner? Clearly, the infrastructure was there –particularly, the hangars, the port and the storage facilities. It just needed investors. Thus, with the support at the time of former president Fidel V. Ramos, I promoted Subic as an ideal investment/export zone that also required air and sea capability to support locator factories in delivering their products to markets in a just in time basis.

Thus, one of the first groups I met was FedEx and Fred Smith, its President/CEO and major shareholder. I convinced Fred that thePhilippines, in general, and Subic, in particular, was a good place to invest due to its strategic location, the infrastructure, but most importantly, Fred realized that there was a government (both at the national and local levels) that was supportive of his investment. Fred also had good memories of his stay in Subic as a young U.S. marine during the Vietnam war. Even at the time, Fred was aware ofChina and I recall his asking me if China had expansionary ambitions.

I told him that China always thought of itself as being the center of the universe. When you look at its history, it does not invade or conquer but only expects recognition and respect for its culture, traditions and territory. I was delighted when Fred advised me that FedEx would locate its Asian hub in Subic. Together with my young lawyers, we faced the grizzled veterans of the New York law firms and, in less than 8 months (even shorter than the gestation period for a baby), President Ramos and I signed FedEx's investment license. Having FedEx in Subic helped in the subsequent investment drives – Subic became interesting to locators like Acer since FedEx was present to allow them to deliver their products to clients on an immediate basis. Fred was also delighted because the more locators I was able to bring into the zone, the more business for FedEx. Thus, zone management and FedEx had mutually beneficial relationship that was good for FedEx, good for thelocators and, more important, good for the country not so much in terms of investments but in terms of employment and income generation. Thus, barely two years after FedEx set shop, Subic had a total employment of 70,000, even more than during the time of the US Bases. This success was a continuous inspiration to my young volunteers.

I believe that the contributory cause to the loss of FedEx was the lack of continuity after my forced departure as administrator – my successor did not provide the continuity in supporting the locators. There was no active promotion in bringing in more investments. Even of more importance, while the Asian crisis was ongoing, there was no caring for the investors such as maintaining basic infrastructure (ex. simple painting and maintaining of buildings) including peace and order – a visit to Subic would prove my case. Thus, Thompson, BICC Cables and a lot more left and half of Acer went to China. In the meantime, my successor looked inward and focused on domestic concerns which many people are aware of.

From a business perspective, the loss of FedEx reduces the country's promotional clout while also resulting a loss of rental income and landing fees.

Again, it pains me and slices my hear to the core to remember all the efforts of the volunteers, the people who watched the houses, maintained and protected the grounds and facilities, who negotiated with veteran investors and financial wizards and protected the interests of the country while also being supportive of the investors. All this is slowly trickling away with FedEx being the best example.

However, we must move on – as senator, I shall continue to promote our country and attract other investments in place of FedEx (if we cannot convince it to stay). Even more importantly, we must continue to support the current locators – one approach I suggest is that Philippine Airlines and the government work together to provide the current locators with a capability similar to that being provided byFedEx and UPS.

While I recognize the significantly larger market of China and her and hervast potentials, we could have exerted extra efforts to convince FedExto stay in the Philippines with our inherent strategic location and hardworking highly-skilled English speaking work force --- at the very least move to the Clark Special Economic Zone --- after their lease contract expired in Subic and in consideration of the larger airfield facilities that Clark utilized by the U. S. Air Force has over Subic to accommodate and handle FedEx's growing requirements.

IN SUMMARY, We have two (2) years to convince FedEx to stay. I was told by my source that it's almost impossible to reverse their decision. But we must remain hopeful and the challenge is now on theSBMA. The administration thereat must entail the similar vigor, spirit and dynamism of the volunteers and pioneers in attracting foreign investors. Freeport incentives, infrastructure enhancement and maintenance, strict enforcement of rules and procedures that we laid out and established in the beginning must be maintained.Furthermore, corruption, smuggling and the constant changing of the rules over the past 6 years must be stopped.

15 July 2004

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Keeping Focus on the Economy

The Congressional hearings or investigations in both houses of Congress on jueteng and the tapes are political exercises in accordance with the functions of the Legislative Department under theConstitution. While difficult, and at times painful, these are necessary processes in the quest for truth and improved legislation that may not be immediately apparent to the public and to our people.

However, we must keep our eye on the ball and must not forget the fundamentals - namely the development of a strong national economy and the promotion of a just and dynamic social order that will free our people from poverty.Thus, I am pleased that the Department of Finance assured today that economic reforms that have been successful shall be actively pursued. I am also pleased to note the nomination of former Congressman and Land Bank President Margarito Teves as the new Secretary of Finance -I am sure that he will continue to provide effective leadership based on his experience in both the private and public sectors. The issue we must immediately address – is the downgrading of thePhilippines sovereign ratings by international credit agencies due to two key factors:

1. the perception of political instability due to the manner in which some people have turned the present events into political hysteria; and

2. the suspension of the E-VAT implementation.

I will say nothing further on this second point as it is currently under review by the Supreme Court. These factors have made it more difficult for us to compete in the international arena, not only for tourism and investments, but also for business and employment opportunities as reliable suppliers in the global market. Such will negatively impact locally on our job creation capability with negative consequences on employment and poverty alleviation - not only in the cities but also in the rural areas around our country.

Thus, in spite of any political fray, I shall continue to support the institutionalization of reforms in our economic and financial sectors to help us address the issues of globalization and competition.

13 July 2005