July 25, 2011
Aquino: Doing What is Right is Personal
State of the Nation Address
of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines
[English translation of the speech delivered
at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa
Complex, Quezon City on July 25, 2011]
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte
Jr.; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez
Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Chief Justice Renato Corona
and the honorable Justices of the Supreme Court; honorable members
of the diplomatic corps; members of the House of Representatives
and the Senate; Local Government Officials; members of our Cabinet;
members of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police;
to my fellow servants of the Filipino people;
And to my beloved countrymen, my Bosses:
stood before you during my inauguration and promised: we would
do away with the use of the wang-wang. This one gesture has become
the symbol of change, not just in our streets, but even in our
Over the years, the wang-wang had come to symbolize abuse of
authority. It was routinely used by public officials to violate
traffic laws, inconveniencing ordinary motorists—as if only
the time of the powerful few, and no one else’s, mattered.
Instead of behaving like public servants, they acted like kings.
This privilege was extended to their cronies and patrons, who
moved along the streets as if they were aristocracy, indifferent
to those who were forced to give way and were left behind. Abusing
privilege despite promising to serve—this is the wang-wang
mindset; this is the mindset of entitlement.
They had no right to do this. The law authorizes only the President,
the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker, the Chief
Justice, and police vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances to use
sirens in the fulfillment of their official duties—no one
else. Yet the flagrant abuse we bore witness to prompts us to
ask: if they felt it their privilege to flout the simplest traffic
laws, how could we expect them not to help themselves to a share
of projects funded by the Filipino people?
Do you want the corrupt held accountable? So do I. Do you want
to see the end of wang-wang, both on the streets and in the sense
of entitlement that has led to the abuse that we have lived with
for so long? So do I. Do you want to give everyone a fair chance
to improve their lot in life? So do I.
We have fought against the wang-wang, and our efforts have yielded
results. Just this year, the number of Filipinos who experienced
hunger has come down. Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5%
in March to 15.1% this June—equivalent to a million Filipino
families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly
As for business, who would have thought that the stock market
would reach seven record highs in the past year? At one time,
we thought that for the PSE Index to reach 4,000 points would
be, at best, a fluke. We now routinely exceed this threshold.
Our once low credit ratings have now been upgraded by Moody’s,
Standard and Poors, Fitch, and Japan Credit Ratings Agency—in
recognition of our prudent use of funds and creative financial
management. These improved credit ratings mean lower interest
on our debts. Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers
23 billion pesos in the first four months of this year. This is
enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries
for the entire year.
Let me remind you: in the nine and a half years before we were
elected into office, our credit ratings were upgraded once, and
downgraded six times by the different credit ratings agencies.
Compare this to the four upgrades we have achieved in the single
year we have been in office. This was no small feat, considering
that the upgrades came after ratings agencies have grown considerably
more conservative in their assessments, especially in the wake
of criticism they received after the recent American financial
crisis. But while they have downgraded the ratings of other countries,
they have upgraded ours, so that we are now just one notch below
investment grade. Our economic team is hard at work to sustain
And allow me to share more good news from the Department of Energy:
having rid the DOE of wang-wang, we have revived the confidence
of investors in our energy sector. 140 companies, all ready to
participate in the exploration and strengthening of our oil and
natural gas resources, can attest to this. Compare this to the
last energy contracting round in 2006, which saw the participation
of only 35 companies. Just last Friday, a new contract was signed
for a power plant to be constructed in the Luzon grid, so that
by 2014, our country will have a cheaper, more reliable source
There is confidence and there is hope; the government is now
fulfilling its promises. And I cannot help but remember a woman
I spoke with during one of my first house-to-house campaigns.
She lamented: “It won’t matter who wins these elections.
Nothing will change. I was poor when our leaders campaigned, I
am poor now that they are in office, and I will still be poor
when they step down.” This is a grievance echoed by many:
“Our leaders didn’t care about us then, our leaders
don’t care about us now, and our leaders will not care about
Given the persistence of the wang-wang attitude, wasn’t
their sentiment justified? This was the attitude that allowed
helicopters to be bought as if they were brand new, but had in
fact already been extensively used. This was the attitude that
allowed GOCC officials, like those in the Philippine National
Construction Corporation, to pay themselves millions of pesos
in bonuses, even as they failed to render decent service and plunged
their respective agencies deeper into debt. Before they stepped
down from their positions, the former heads of the PNCC gifted
themselves with two hundred and thirty-two million pesos. Their
franchise had lapsed in 2007; their collections should have been
remitted to the national government. They did not do this, and
in fact even took advantage of their positions: the bonuses they
allotted to themselves in the first 6 months of 2010 was double
the amount of their bonuses from 2005-2009. Yet they had the audacity
to award themselves midnight bonuses, when they had already drowned
their agencies in debt.
To end the wang-wang culture in government, we employed zero-based
budgeting to review programs. For this year and the last, zero-based
budgeting has allowed us to end many wasteful programs.
For example, we uncovered and stopped an ill-advised plan to
dredge Laguna Lake. We would have borrowed 18.7 billion pesos
to remove 12 million cubic meters of silt—which would have
re-accumulated within three years, even before the debt could
be fully paid. We also uncovered a food-for-school program with
no proper targeting of beneficiaries, and other initiatives that
were funded without apparent results. All of these were discontinued,
and the funds rechanneled to more effective programs.
The budget is the clearest manifestation of the straight path
upon which we tread. I say to those who would lead us astray:
if you will further disadvantage the poor, do not even think about
it. If all you would do is to fill your own pockets, do not even
think about it. If it is not for the benefit of the Filipino people,
do not even think about it.
I wish we could say that we had completely eliminated the wang-wang
attitude, but in some parts of our consciousness, it still persists.
It still exists in the private sector. According to the BIR,
we have around 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers:
lawyers, doctors, businessmen who paid a total of 9.8 billion
pesos in 2010. This means that each of them paid only an average
of 5,783 pesos in income tax—and if this is true, then they
each must have earned only 8,500 pesos a month, which is below
the minimum wage. I find this hard to believe.
Today we can see that our taxes are going where they should,
and therefore there is no reason not to pay the proper taxes.
I say to you: it’s not just the government, but our fellow
citizens, who are cheated out of the benefits that these taxes
would have provided.
We are holding accountable—and we will continue to hold
accountable—those who practice this culture of entitlement
in all government offices, as there are still some who think they
can get away with it. A district in Region 4B, for example, began
a project worth 300 million pesos, well beyond the 50 million
pesos that district engineers can sign off on their own. But they
could not leave such a potentially large payday alone.
So they cut the project up into components that would not breach
the 50 million peso limit that would have required them to seek
clearance from the regional and central offices. They tried to
keep this system going. And often, since lump-sum funding was
being used for the projects, no questions were asked about the
plans or project details. They could have been spinning webs and
they would have still been given the funds, so long as they knew
someone in power.
Secretary Babes Singson did not let them get away with this.
He removed the district engineer from his post, and suspended
the awarding of the project in an effort to uncover other anomalies
that may have happened. A thorough investigation of all those
involved in the case is underway; we will blacklist all contractors
proven to have engaged in foul play.
Because the project had to be delayed, Filipinos who would have
otherwise benefited from them are still made to face unnecessary
These anomalies are not limited to Region 4B. We are putting
an end to them. We are eliminating the patronage politics that
had been prevalent in DPWH, and replacing it with a culture in
which merit prevails. All projects must have work programs; we
will require those involved in projects to submit well thought
out plans for consideration, so that each project complements
the other. We have also instituted an honest and transparent bidding
process to provide equal opportunity to interested contractors.
Because of this, we have already saved 2.5 billion pesos, and
expect to save 6 to 7 billion by the end of this year. The most
important thing, however, is that now, we can count on well-paved
roads—as opposed to the fragile pothole-ridden paths that
our people had grown used to. Once, we believed that the system
in the DPWH was impossible to fix; but look—it’s possible,
and we’re fixing it.
Even in agriculture, the culture of wang-wang once persisted.
Before we came into office in 2010, the Philippines imported 2.3
million metric tons of rice, which was already a million metric
tons more than the 1.3 million that we needed. We even had to
pay extra for warehouses to store the rice acquired through excessive
How many years have we been over-importing rice? Many Filipinos
thought that there was nothing we could do about it.
We proved them wrong in the span of a year. What was once an
estimated yearly shortage of 1.3 million metric tons is down to
660,000—that’s almost half of the original amount.
Even with our buffer of 200,000 metric tons as contingency against
natural calamities, it is still significantly less than what was
once the norm.
Our success in this sector was not brought about by mere luck.
This is simply the result of doing things right: using the most
effective types of seedlings, and careful and efficient spending
on irrigation. In the past year, we irrigated an additional 11,611
hectares of fields, not to mention the near 212,000 hectares of
land we were able to rehabilitate. The result: a 15.6 percent
increase in rice production.
We envision two things: first, an end to over-importation that
only serves to benefit the selfish few. Second: we want rice self-sufficiency—that
the rice served on every Filipino’s dinner table is planted
here, harvested here, and purchased here.
Let us look back on the situations of many of our policemen a
year ago. The average salary of a common PO1 in Metro Manila is
around 13,000 pesos. Around 4,000 pesos or abour a third of their
salaries goes directly to paying the rent. Another third goes
to food, and the final third is all that is left for electricity
and water bills, commuting, tuition fees, medicine, and everything
else. Ideally, their salaries match their expenses—but this
is not always the case. Those whose salaries are not enough would
probably resort to taking out some loans. What happens when the
interest piles up and they end up having to spend even more of
their salaries? Will they still be able to do the right thing
when tempted with an opportunity to make a quick buck?
This is why, this July, we have followed through on the housing
promise we made in February. We were able to award 4,000 Certificates
of Entitlement to Lot Allocation. This is only the first batch
of the 21,800 houses we will have constructed by the end of the
year. Awarding our men in uniform these houses will turn their
4,000 peso rent expense into an initial 200 peso per month payment
for a house that is all theirs. The cash they once paid for rent
can now be used for other needs.
I hear that there are still more than a thousand houses left,
so for our policemen and our soldiers who have not yet submitted
their papers, this is the last call for this batch of houses.
But do not worry, because this housing program will continue next
year, covering even more people and more regions. The NHA is already
preparing the sites for housing projects in Visayas and Mindanao,
with an expanded list of beneficiaries that will also include
employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and of
the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Speaking of security, does enhanced security not also enhance
our national pride? There was a time when we couldn’t appropriately
respond to threats in our own backyard. Now, our message to the
world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank
is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue.
At times I wonder if the stories about some of our past stand-offs
are true—that when cannons were aimed at our marines, they
could only reciprocate by cutting down a coconut tree, painting
it black, and aiming it back. True or not, that time is over.
Soon, we will be seeing capability upgrades and the modernization
of the equipment of our armed forces. At this very moment, our
very first Hamilton Class Cutter is on its way to our shores.
We may acquire more vessels in the future—these, in addition
to helicopters and patrol crafts, and the weapons that the AFP,
PNP, and DOJ will buy in bulk to get a significant discount. This
goes to show how far we can go with good governance; we can buy
equipment at good prices, without having to place envelopes in
We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must
let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours.
We are also studying the possibility of elevating the case on
the West Philippine Sea to the International Tribunal for the
Law of the Sea, to make certain that all involved nations approach
the dispute with calm and forbearance.
Our efforts to enhance the capabilities of our men and women
in uniform are already succeeding. In the first six months of
2010, we had 1,010 cases of car and motorcycle theft. Compare
that to the 460 cases in the first six months of 2011. Unfortunately,
it is the one or two high-profile cases that make the headlines,
and not the bigger picture—the fact that there is a large
drop in car and motorcycle thefts, and that we have returned a
higher percentage of stolen cars to their rightful owners.
And here is another example of positive change in law enforcement.
The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was signed in 2003. Unfortunately,
because the government did not properly implement it, only 29
individuals were convicted in a period of seven years. In just
one year, we have breached that amount, convicting 31 human traffickers.
Perhaps, this is the “sea change” that US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton was referring to; and because of this
change, the Philippines has been taken off the Tier 2 Watchlist
of their Trafficking in Persons Report. If we had not been removed
from this watchlist, the assistance we have been receiving from
the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others, would have
Allow me to talk about jobs now. Our foremost pledge to the Filipino
people was to create more jobs, and we have delivered. In April
2010, the unemployment rate was at 8%; in April 2011, it was at
To put things into perspective: We must all remember that the
ranks of the unemployed represent a moving target. Every year,
thousands of fresh graduates join the ranks of job hunters. Last
year, the number of unemployed Filipinos in our labor force grew
after many of our countrymen who earned a temporary living from
election-related jobs—the people assigned to hanging buntings,
the people tasked with clearing a path for politicians in crowds
of people, the drivers, and other campaign staff—were laid
off. But, despite all this, our results make our success evident:
one million and four hundred thousand jobs were created last year.
Before, our foremost ambition was to work in another country.
Now, the Filipino can take his pick. As long as he pursues his
dreams with determination and diligence, he can realize them.
The number of jobs generated in our country can only grow from
here. According to the Philjobnet website, every month there are
50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills
of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies. We will
not allow this opportunity to go to waste; at this very moment,
DOLE, CHED, TESDA, and DepEd are working together to address this
issue. Curricula will be reviewed and analyzed to better direct
them to industries that are in need of workers, and students will
be guided so that they may choose courses that will arm them with
the skills apt for vacant jobs.
Despite the demand for these jobs, there are still people who
are being left behind. What do we do with them? First, we identified
the poorest of the poor, and invested in them, because people
are our greatest resource. Of the two million families registered
with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 1.6 million are
already receiving their conditional cash transfers. Through the
initiative and leadership of Secretary Dinky Soliman, we have
been able to give much needed assistance to an average of more
than 100,000 families per month. I am optimistic that we will
reach our target of 1.3 million additional beneficiaries this
year. With a compliance rate of 92%, millions of mothers are already
getting regular check-ups at public health centers, millions of
babies are being vaccinated against common diseases, and millions
of school-aged children are now attending classes.
With these significant early results, I am counting on the support
of the Filipino people and Congress to expand our Pantawid Pamilyang
Pilipino Program. Before the end of 2012, we want to invest in
the future of 3 million poor families.
We are giving these poor families a chance to improve their lives,
because their progress will be the country’s progress. How
can they buy products and services from businesses if they do
not have a proper income? When a poor father turns to crime in
order to feed his family, who would he victimize, if not us? When
people cannot properly take care of themselves and fall ill, do
we not run the risk of getting sick as well?
We are laying down the foundations for a brighter future for
the poor. For example, in the health sector: PhilHealth beneficiaries
increased during elections, as the agency was used as a tool for
dispensing political patronage. Today, we identify beneficiaries
through the National Household Targeting System, to make sure
that the 5.2 million Filipino families who benefit from PhilHealth
are those who really need it.
Let us turn our attention to the Autonomous Region of Muslim
Mindanao. The politics there have been dominated by horse-trading
and transactional politics. During national elections, whoever
is in power in ARMM is free to manipulate the electoral machinery
in his region, ensuring that non-allies do not get votes. That
Mayor or Governor then demands payment for his services come the
ARMM election, and it is the administration’s turn to manipulate
the electoral machinery to secure the win of their candidate.
According to the Commission on Audit, in the office of the regional
governor of ARMM, eighty percent of the funds disbursed were for
cash advances that cannot be justified. If those funds had not
gone to waste, a child could have gone to school. Instead, we
built ghost bridges to reach ghost schools where only ghost teachers
went to work.
We want ARMM to experience the benefits of good governance. And
so, the solution: Synchronization—candidates in ARMM will
run at the same time as candidates in other parts of the country.
There would be less opportunity for them to employ command votes
for political patrons. The result would be fairer elections. Thank
you to Congress for passing the law synchronizing ARMM with the
And why do we need to postpone the elections? Because, in their
desire to return to or retain power, many are prepared to engage
in corrupt practices just to win again. Imagine if we had listened
to the critics, and allowed the election to proceed under these
circumstances. We would have perpetuated the endless cycle of
electoral fraud and official abuse that has led ARMM to become
one of the poorest regions in the country.
I do not doubt that the reforms we are putting in place will
yield concrete results. When we talk about the straight and righteous
path, we talk about that new road that was built in Barangay Bagumbayan
in Sta. Maria, Laguna. When we say clean government, we are talking
about the clean water that residents in Barangay Poblacion in
Ferrol, Romblon now enjoy. When we refer to the light of change,
we also refer to the electricity that now powers light bulbs in
Barangay San Marcos in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. This is happening
in many other places, and we will make it happen everywhere in
Government agencies are now focused on realizing this; they are
working together to creatively solve the problems that have long
plagued our country.
Have we not had flooding problems, which we know are caused by
the incessant and illegal cutting down of trees? The old solution:
A tree-planting photo opportunity, whose sole beneficiaries are
politicians who want to look good. They plant trees, but they
do not ensure that the trees would remain standing after they
One of the possible solutions we are studying is to make the
stewardship of these trees beneficial to communities. They will
be given coffee and cacao seeds to plant. While they wait for
harvest, they will receive stipends for safeguarding the trees
planted to mitigate flooding. We are looking at informal settlers,
who are currently crammed into our cities, as possible beneficiaries
of this program. We will be investing in the people, even as we
invest in the environment.
Who could have thought that little over a year ago, we could
accomplish this? Today, we dream; one day soon, these dreams will
be a reality.
This same creativity is in display with the innovations that
are already being implemented. We have developed low-cost traps
that kill mosquito larvae, probably contributing to the nearly
fourteen percent decrease in dengue incidents; coconut coir fibers
that are normally just disposed of have been used as a cost-effective
way to strengthen our roads; we have landslide sensors that warn
when soil erosion has reached dangerous levels; we have developed
early flood warning systems for riverside communities. All of
these are products of Filipino creativity.
DOST and UP have even teamed up to develop a prototype monorail
system, which could potentially provide a home grown mass transport
solution that would cost us as little as 100 million pesos per
kilometer, much cheaper than the current cost of similar mass
transit systems. The potential savings could result in more kilometers
of cheap transport, decongesting our urban centers and allowing
rural communities easier access to centers of commerce and industry.
Let me reiterate: These proposals were developed by Filipinos
for Filipinos. Do you remember the time when we were unable to
even dream of these kinds of projects? I am telling you now: We
can dream about them, we are capable of achieving them, and we
will achieve them. Isn’t it great to be a Filipino living
in these times?
All of these things we are doing will be wasted if we do not
do something to end the culture of corruption.
To my colleagues in public service, from those at the top and
to every corner of the bureaucracy: Do we not feel the pride that
working in government now brings? That, now, we are proud to be
identified as workers in government? Will we waste this honor?
I call on our Local Government Units: Those of you who are in
the best position to understand the needs of your constituents
can expect greater freedom and empowerment. But we trust that
in providing for your communities, you will remain committed to
the straight path, and will not lose sight of the interest of
the whole nation.
For instance, there are some municipalities that want to tax
the electricity transmission lines that run through their jurisdictions.
Although this will augment local coffers, the rest of the Filipino
people will have to deal with higher electricity rates. Let us
try to balance the interests of our constituencies with that of
the nation as a whole.
It is imperative that our programs remain in sync, because the
progress of the entire country will also redound to progress for
your communities. Let us do away with forward planning that only
looks as far as the next election, and think of the long-term
Ultimately, we have to unite and work together towards this progress.
I thank the Congress for passing laws regarding GOCC Governance,
ARMM Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint
Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’
Mandatory Immunization, and Women Night Workers.
Last year, Congress demonstrated their support by approving the
budget even before the year ended. The timely passage of the budget
allowed projects to be implemented more quickly. Tomorrow we will
deliver to Congress our budget proposal for 2012. I look forward
once again to its early passage so that we can build on our current
We have already made progress, but we must remember: This is
only the beginning, and there is much left for us to do. Allow
me to present to Congress some of the measures that will bring
us closer to the fulfillment of our pledge to the nation.
We aim to give due compensation to the victims of Martial Law;
to grant our house help the salaries and benefits that they deserve;
and to improve the system that awards pensions to our retired
soldiers. We likewise support the expansion of the scope of scholarships
granted by DOST to outstanding yet underprivileged students; the
advancement of universal quality healthcare; the responsible management
of the environment; and the formation of facilities that will
ensure the safety of our citizens during times of great need and
Our agenda also includes the development of BuCor, NBI, NEA,
and PTV 4, so that, instead of lagging behind the times, they
will better fulfill their mandate of public service.
Not everything we want to do will be explained today, but I invite
you to read the budget message, which contains a more comprehensive
plan for the coming year.
Some of my critics say that I take this campaign against corruption
personally. It’s true: doing what’s right is personal.
Making people accountable—whoever they may be—is personal.
It should be personal for all of us, because we have all been
victimized by corruption.
What is wrong remains wrong, regardless of how long it has been
allowed to persist. We cannot simply let it pass. If we ignore
the crimes of the past, they will continue to haunt us. And if
we do not hold people accountable, then they will do it again
The truth is, we have uncovered so many anomalies. In PAGCOR,
the previous management apparently spent one billion pesos on
coffee alone. At one hundred pesos per cup, that would be ten
million cups of coffee over the last several years. Where did
all that coffee go? Who drank it? Perhaps we can find the people
who consumed all that coffee and ask if they have been able to
sleep in the last few years.
When the new Ombudsman, former Supreme Court Justice Conchita
Carpio-Morales, takes office, we will have an honest-to-goodness
anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and
abuses in government. I expect that this year, we will have filed
our first major case against the corrupt and their accomplices.
And these will be real cases, with strong evidence and clear testimonies,
which will lead to the punishment of the guilty.
We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end
in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals. I
have utmost confidence that the DOJ is fulfilling its crucial
role in jailing offenders, especially in cases regarding tax evasion,
drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption,
and extrajudicial killings.
We are not leaving anything to chance; good governance yields
positive results. Think about it: We have realized our promise
of providing the public with the services that it needs and implementing
programs to help the poor without having to raise our taxes.
This has always been the plan: to level the playing field; to
stop the abuse of authority; and to ensure that the benefits of
growth are available to the greatest number.
We have put an end to the culture of entitlement, to wang-wang:
along our roads, in government, in our society as a whole. This
will bring confidence that will attract business; this will also
ensure that the people’s money is put in its rightful place:
Funding for infrastructure that will secure the sustained growth
of the economy, which will then give rise to jobs, and public
service that guarantees that no one will be left behind. More
opportunities for livelihood will be opened by tourism; the strengthening
of our agriculture sector will ensure that every Filipino will
have food on his table. We will invest on those who were once
neglected. All this will create a cycle wherein all available
jobs are filled, and where businesses flourish through the empowerment
of their consumers.
I am aware that, until now, there are still a few who complain
about our style of governance. But you have seen our style, and
its ensuing results. You have seen their style, and, especially,
where that took us. Anyone with their eyes open can clearly see
which is right.
We are steering our government in a clear direction. A country
where opportunity is available; where those in need are helped;
where everyone’s sacrifices are rewarded; and where those
who do wrong are held accountable.
I remember a woman warning me during the campaign: “Noy,
be careful, you will be stepping on many toes.”
Sometimes, I do worry about what I am doing. But I am heartened
because you are with me, and we stand on the side of what is right.
I thank the priests and bishops who have continued to dialogue
with us, like Cardinals Rosales and Vidal. Cardinal Rosales and
I may not be the closest of friends, but I believe that he did
all that he could to reduce the tensions between the church and
the government. The election of Archbishop Palma, defender of
human rights and of the environment, as head of the CBCP only
bolsters my confidence that the state and the clergy will be able
to engage each other in a positive manner. I likewise thank my
Cabinet, who have sacrificed their personal comfort to fulfill
the national agenda. I give special mention to PAGASA, who now
truly delivers reliable advice and warnings during times of calamity.
And to those who may resist the change we are trying to bring
about, this I say to you: I know what I must do, and my personal
interests are nothing when compared to the interests of the nation.
There are many of us who want what is right for this country;
and there are more of us than you. To those of you who would turn
back the tide of reform: you will not succeed.
To those who have chosen to tread the straight and righteous
path alongside us: it is you who created this change, and it is
you who will bequeath our success to your children. To the jeepney
driver plying his route; to the teachers and students coming home
from class; to the artists whose work inspires our sense of nationhood;
to our policemen, our soldiers, our street sweepers, and our firemen;
to you who work with honor, in the Philippines, in the oceans,
or in other countries; our colleagues in government who stand
steadfast with us, whatever province you come from, whatever party
you belong to; every Filipino listening to me now—you made
You created a government that truly works for you. We still have
five years left to ensure that we will not return to what once
was. We will not be derailed, especially now that what we have
begun has yielded so many positive results.
If you see a loophole in the system, do not take advantage of
it. Let us not acquire through patronage what we can acquire through
hard work. No more cheating, no more taking advantage of others,
no more one-upmanship—because in the end we will all realize
our shared aspirations.
Let us end the culture of negativism; let us uplift our fellow
Filipinos at every opportunity. Why are there people who enjoy
finding fault in our country, who find it so hard—as though
it were a sin—to say something nice? Can we even remember
the last time we praised a fellow Filipino?
Let us stop pulling our fellow man down. Let us put an end to
our crab mentality. Let us make the effort to recognize the good
that is being done.
If you see something right, do not think twice—praise it.
If you see a policeman directing traffic, coatless beneath the
rain—go to him and say, “Thank you.”
If you fall sick, and you see your nurse caring for you, when
she could easily be treating foreigners for a higher salary—say,
Before you leave school for home, approach your teacher who chose
to invest in your future—say, “Thank you.”
If you chance upon your local leader on a road that was once
riddled with holes, but is now smooth and sturdy—go to him
and say, “Thank you, for the change you have brought.”
And so, to the Filipino nation, my Bosses who have steered us
toward this day: Thank you very much for the change that is now
The Philippines and the Filipino people are, finally, truly alive.
Philippine Daily Inquirer