Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Moral Dimension of People Power - Corazon C. Aquino

Delivered at the joint MBC-MAP General Membership Meeting & PinoyME 2nd Anniversary
February 26, 2008

Yesterday, we marked the anniversary of the remarkable People Power revolution that ushered in a new era of hope for our nation. Twenty-two years ago, we began the arduous task of reviving the democratic institutions that the Marcos dictatorship had destroyed.

And it is with shame and sadness that we today revisit those institutions in the same state of disrepair: an executive branch wielding tremendous power and patronage, unchecked by a largely subservient legislature; an electoral process so prone to manipulation; a military and a bureaucracy that are highly politicized; a system of governance utterly lacking in transparency and accountability.

Worst of all, we seem so hard-pressed to express a collective sense of moral outrage at the wanton abuse of power at the highest levels of government. Twenty-two years after EDSA I, how can we tolerate a president of doubtful legitimacy who can brazenly stonewall the search for truth and who can routinely intimidate dissenters, journalists, businessmen and ordinary citizens with impunity?

Has People Power passed away out of sheer weariness and frustration at the seeming futility of trying to make our democracy work? The cynics, mocking our inability to assemble the numbers which would approximate the legions that swelled our protest rallies in the mid-1980s, would like us to think just that. But perhaps they are looking in the wrong direction.

If there is anything that the past 22 years have taught us, it is the realization that People Power must start from within. The potential for greatness of every Filipino needs to be cultivated before true strength in numbers can be realized for our nation. People Power resides inside each of us, waiting to be unleashed to trigger a chain reaction that would transform the fabric of our society.

Those four memorable days in February 1986 gave us a glimpse of what that latent power can achieve. Filipinos from all walks of life abandoned all concern for personal interest and safety to gather at EDSA to pray, to care, to share, to give one another a measure of comfort and courage at a most perilous time. In the face of such solidarity, not even fully armed soldiers and tanks could turn the democratic tide.

Unfortunately this internal, moral dimension of People Power got overwhelmed by the manifold exigencies of restoring democracy. All too soon, most Filipinos began reverting to their old ways—putting the interest of self and family above that of the national community. And we are now paying the price, perhaps, for having failed to cultivate a counter-culture of giving, compassion and spirituality in a more deliberate way.

Today, we are suffering a severe moral crisis that permeates every level of our society. Mr. Jun Lozada gave us a graphic description of how low our state of governance has sunk when he talked about “permissible zones” for kickbacks on public projects and how he had been instructed “to moderate the greed” of the favored proponents of the ZTE-NBN deal.

As discomfiting as it may be to hear such words uttered during a live telecast of a Senate hearing, virtually none of us can feign shock at these revelations. That’s because many of us are inured to a culture of malfeasance and are partly to blame for allowing such depths of corruption to persist.

Like Mr. Lozada, we are all imperfect human beings with our share of weaknesses and faults, big and small. But how many of us are willing to undergo the individual transformation from which social change can begin? How many of us can muster the courage to confront ourselves, to rise above the culture that shaped us—for better or for worse—and may have warped our sense of values?

Only by willing ourselves to change can we achieve the moral clarity to tell our children: “This culture of corruption is unacceptable! You and future generations of Filipinos deserve a society far better than this.” Only at this point would our collective outrage rise like a tidal wave to wash away the rotten foundations of our society.

The cynics among us might view this as unabashed idealism. After all, Dr. Jose Rizal said practically the same thing through Padre Florentino in El Filibusterismo, and Filipinos then and now did not seem to take heed. But there is hope germinating in the most unlikely of places.

Over the last two and a half years, I have had the privilege of drawing inspiration from ordinary Filipinos, who amid the squalor in some of our poorest communities, lead far more honorable lives than the high and mighty among us. They are mostly mothers trying to carve out an honest living through micro-enterprises. They are silently working themselves out of poverty, saving up to put their children through school and slowly improving their quality of life. And they are doing so with a cheerful spirituality that puts to shame those of us who have so much more in life, yet gripe from day to day. And to each and every mother in these communities, the path of hope begins, incredibly, with a micro-loan of P5,000 or less.

This is yet another manifestation of the internal dimension of People Power: ordinary Filipinos recovering dignity in the midst of poverty by dint of hard and decent work. Servicing these extraordinary mothers is a small army of microfinance institutions (MFIs) who need external support to harness their full potential in disadvantaged communities across the country.

This was how PinoyME—short for Filipino micro-enterprise—was born two years ago. A social consortium, which brought together some of the best minds and stoutest hearts in the private sector and civil society, was convened to see how best to help MFIs broaden their reach and enhance the breadth and quality of their financial services for the poor. As explained by Mr. Manny Pangilinan earlier, the consortium zeroed in on four areas of strategic intervention—resource mobilization, capacity-building, business development services and knowledge management—that could take MFIs, along with a critical mass of their clients, to the next level.

In addition, these four areas of intervention offer avenues by which other sectors and individuals could pitch in to make the microfinance industry more vibrant and robust. These avenues could range from seasoned bankers providing financial advice to MFIs to corporations lending their marketing expertise, from universities filling the urgent need for more loan officers to IT firms or departments helping organize a rich and useful database for micro-enterprises. This highlights another facet of People Power: bridging those with talent and resources to a sector that services our most needy countrymen in a sustained and widespread spirit of sharing.

The overall strategy also underscores the painstaking and deliberate process it would take to strengthen our democracy at the base. This serves to remind us that People Power is not about quick fixes. It is about bringing people from all walks of life together to build our nation and, by their joint effort, to cultivate shared pride in being Filipino. Ultimately, that is what PinoyME, as the Taglish idiom suggests, is all about.

Our long-term vision is to help change the shape of our socio-economic structure from a pyramid with a wide base of impoverished Filipinos to a diamond with an expanded middle class of empowered and more politically mature citizens.

As a first step toward realizing this vision, the consortium in February 2006 launched a program to raise P5 billion to empower five million Filipinos—approximating the number of families living below the poverty line—in five years.

Five billion pesos—by our financial experts’ calculations, that is the minimum amount it would take to gradually ramp up lending so that MFIs can increase their coverage to five million clients by 2011. Just think about that for a moment: five billion pesos—even less than the figure purported to represent the kickback in a single government transaction—can go a long way in empowering hundreds of thousands of our countrymen along a sustainable path out of poverty.

Given the scores, perhaps hundreds, of government transactions which have escaped public scrutiny and funneled billions in people’s money into corrupt hands, one wonders who is really sabotaging the economy and keeping millions of Filipinos poor.

Even as we take deliberate steps to empower our disenfranchised countrymen and to strengthen our institutions, therefore, we cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening at the highest levels of our government and our society. Let us heed the call for discernment and, together, act with a sense of moral purpose and urgency.

Our guiding light should not be an obsession to evict the President from Malacañang. Given our concern to protect the pillars of our democracy, the extra-constitutional removal of the President is not an ideal we would want to aspire for. But in an environment where abuse of power, in the face of weak democratic institutions, closes all doors of legitimate redress, sadly, we are too often pushed to the brink. That is why the most noble—and least disruptive—way out of the moral crisis would be for the President to resign from office.

These critical times call for strong moral leadership, which clearly she is no longer in a position to provide. She must give way to a credible government that can lead by example. Our country needs leaders who can inspire our people to work and seize opportunities, pay their taxes and together build a good society that every Filipino would feel proud to be part of.

We cannot afford to turn another generation of Filipinos into cynical folk who would eschew responsible citizenship in favor of playing the game of corruption and patronage politics and resigning themselves to the impossibility of fundamental change in government and society.

Rizal, again through Padre Florentino, said it best: “To an immoral government belongs a demoralized people.”

Let us not allow this to come to pass.

Long live People Power! Support PinoyME! Mabuhay ang Pilipino!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Two Sermons

Here are two homilies on the same subject matter. The first was delivered by Fr. Jose "Joey" Echano, father rector of the Chruch of Perpetual Help on 25 February 2008 at our Mass for Truth. The second was delivered at the La Salle Gym Mass for Truth by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ.


Una sa lahat, sa ngalan po ng Redemptorist community dito sa Baclaran malugod ko kayong tinatanggap at wini-welcome sa Pambansang Dambana ng Ina ng Laging Saklolo. Tayo ngayon ay nasa harap ng banal na larawan ng ating Mahal na Ina ng Laging Saklolo. Tunay na ang ating mahal na Ina ay saksi sa mga makasaysayang pangyayari sa ating bansa.

Noong 1986, ang mga Comelec computer encoders na nagtatabulate ng boto ng snap elections ay humingi ng kanlungan dito sa dambana ng ating mahal na ina pagkatapos na sila ay nag walk out sa kanilang mga computer consoles sa PICC sapagkat ipinapagawa sa kanila ang isang bagay na di nila kayang masikmura – ang pagdaya at pagtakip sa katotohanan. Alam naman nating lahat na ang walk out na ito para sa katotohanan ang isa sa mga naging mitsa ng people power noong EDSA 1.

Ngayon tayo muli ay lumalapit sa kanyang banal na larawan sa panahong pilit na itinatago at pinagtatakpan sa atin ang katotohanan. Tayo ay nahaharap sa isang krisis ng katotohanan at moralidad sa pamamahala na nagbabadya ng panganib at kapahamakan. Subalit ito rin ang naging mitsa upang muli ang sambayanan ay magsama-sama at mapukaw sa pagkakahimbing.

Sa paglapit natin kay Maria sa gitna ng paghahanap natin ng katotohanan, si Maria sa kanyang larawan ay itinuturo tayo sa kanyang anak na si Jesus. Lagi tayong pinapa-alalahanan ni Maria na dapat tayong naka-sentro kay Kristo. Narinig natin si Jesus sa ebanghelyo: "Kung tinutupad ninyo ang aking aral, kayo nga'y tunay na mga alagad ko; v32makikilala ninyo ang katotohanan, at ang katotohanan ang magpapalaya sa inyo." Kung tayo’y nakasentro kay Kristo malalaman natin ang katotohanan. Malalaman natin ang katotohanan kung tayo lamang ay nakasentro kay Jesus. Si Jesus ang katotohanan. Si Jesus ang tunay na laging saklolo ni Maria. Samakatuwid, si Jesus ang katotohanan, ang ating walang hanggang saklolo.

Mga kapatid, tunay na maraming kasinungalingan at pagtakip sa katotohanan sa ating bansa ngayon hindi lamang sa pinakamataas pati na rin sa pinakamababa, mula sa lipunan hanggang sa personal. Isa sa pinakamalaking sakit na yata ng ating bansa ngayon ay “Truth Decay.” Malala na masyado ang truth decay kaya hindi na kaya ng pasta at root canal na lamang, kailangan nang bunutin ito.

Ang sinasabi nila: “Huwag na nating pag-usapan ang katotohanan. Mag move on na lang tayo.” Oo masakit ang katotohanan, pero kailangan natin ang katotohanan upang tayo ay umunlad. Sinasabi nila na tayo daw ay nag-iingay at nanggugulo lamang. Bakit di na lang tayo sumabay sa pag-unlad ng ekonomiya?

Ang sinasabi natin ay walang tunay na kaunlaran kung walang katotohanan. Ang ating bansa ay di makakamove-on kung nababalot ng kasinungalingan at kaplastikan. Mas mabuti pang gobyerno na may mababang pag-unlad subalit ang nakikinabang ay ang mga mahihirap, pero isang gobyernong na totoo naman keysa isang gobyerno na may mataas na pag-unlad kuno subalit ang nakikinabang naman ay ang mga makapangyarihan at mayayaman, pero isang gobyernong sinungaling naman.

Marami tayong gustong malaman na katotohanan, maliban sa nakakagimbal na NBN-ZTE deal, gusto natin malaman ang katotohanan sa likod ng extra-judicial killing – humigit kumulang 800 na ang pinaslang ng walang pangkatarungang proseso, at 100 na ang sapilitang nawawala, sa fertilizer scam, sa Hello Garci scam, sa north rail at south rail.

Ngayon tuloy lang ba tayo sa pag-unlad samantalang maraming dumi na itinatago sa ilalim ng carpet? Hindi sapat laman na malaman natin ang katotohanan. Ang katotohanan ay may kaalinsunod na pananagutan. Kailangang panagutin ang may sala at palayain ang walang sala. Hindi kalimutan na lang natin at magkasundo na tayo. Ang mahirap sa ating mga Pilipino, maikli ang ating memorya. Kay dali nating makalimot at mabagal tayong matuto.

“Makikilala ninyo ang katotohanan, at ang katotohanan ang magpapalaya sa inyo." Sa ating pagtuklas sa katotohanan, tayo ay nagiging malaya. Dahil sa katotohanan muli ang buong bansa ngayon ay nagising at nagsasama-sama at nilalanghap ang matamis na simoy ng kalayaan.

Ipinagdiriwang natin ngayon ang ika 22 taon ng people power. Marami sa atin ay nagsesentimento. Nasaan na ba ang mga pangunahing personalidad ng EDSA 1? Maraming nagsabi sa akin, Fr. Nami-miss namin si Cardinal Sin. Tanong ng iba: Bakit ang ating mga Obispo ngayon ay di mag-ala Cardinal Sin?

Si FVR at Enrile ay may kanya-kanya nang landas. Pero si Tita Cory ay nandito pa rin, hindi ka nag-iisa. At mayroon naman tayong mga bagong bayani – nandyan si Jun Lozada ang uragon kong kababayan. Jun, ngayon ikaw ang Philippine idol – lalong-lalo na sa mga nagtitiktik sayo. Si Juan de la Cruz ay nakatagpo ng kanyang kapuso at kapamilya kay Jun Lozada. Si Juan de la Cruz ay malayo sa pagiging perfecto, katulad ni Jun Lozada. Subalit si Jun Lozada ay pilit na di bumibitiw sa natitirang dangal ng kanyang gula-gulanit na kalooban at pangalan. Kaya’t hindi nakapagtataka na kay Jun Lozada si Juan de la Cruz ay nais maging bayani sa kabila ng kanyang pangkaraniwang pagkatao at maraming sablay sa daan ng kanyang paglalakbay.

Kung kaya’t, higit sa lahat ay nandyan kayo, ang taumbayan. Mayroong bayani kung titingin lamang kayo sa loob ng inyong sarili. Ang pagiging bayani sa loob ng inyong sarili ay umuugnay sa bayani na nasa loob ng inyong kapwa Pilipino. Ang pagpapalabas at pagbabahaginan ng ating pagiging bayani ay ang simula ng people power. Ang bayanihan – ito ang people power. Ang people power ay tayo. Tayo ang people power. Ang pagbabago ay tayo, tayo ang pagbabago.

Ngayon pagkatapos ng 22 taon, nasaan na tayo? Nakakalungkot isipin na kaunti ang pagbabago lalo na sa pamamaraan ng pagpapatakbo ng ating bansa. Ang mga family dynasties ang siya pa ring naghahari sa ating politika samantalang ang corruption at ganid ay malalim nang nakabaon sa ating sistema ng politika.

Kung kaya’t sabi nila di na pahihintulutan muli ng mundo ang panibagong “People Power”. Sabi naman ng iba bigo ang people power sapagkat malinaw na hindi ito nakapagdulot ng pangmatagalang pagbabago sa ating sistema political.

Patay na ba ang People Power? Noong nanawagan ang mga obispo ng isang “communal action” bilang tugon sa mga nagaganap sa ating bansa parang mabagal at mababaw ang ating pagtugon. Bagama’t mayroong nagaganap na maliliit na mga pagkilos sa iba’t ibang lugar, hindi ito katulad ng mga nakaraang pagkilos na puno ng ingay, sigla sa gitna ng pagkabalisa at diskuntento bago mag-EDSA 1 o EDSA 2.

Napagod na ba tayo sa people power? O Natuto tayo sa mga nakaraan nating kamalian?

Kung naghahanap tayo ng dating ekspresyon ng people power, wala na ito. Ang mga naglalakihang rali at demonstrasyon, ang mga slogang puno ng paghihikayat at pagsisiwalat, ang pagsasanib ng iba’t ibang sektor sa isang tukoy na panawagang pulitikal ay wala na.

Subalit huwag tayong magpalinlang na ang people power ay wala na, katulad ng nais ipaniwala sa atin ng mga may kapangyarihan. Ang pagkabalisa, pagkabigo, ang matinding pagnanais ng pagbabago, ang paghahangad ng pagkakaisa ay buhay na buhay. Datapawat, ang lahat ng ito ay naghahanap ng bagong ekspresyon ng pagpapahayag, ng bagong pamamaraan, ng bagong simbolo.

Isang aral na napulot natin sa nakaraan ay ang samasamang pagkilos o communal action ay hindi nakabatay sa malalaking personalidad at mga politiko. Gayundin naman ang mga kaparian at Obispo ay hindi taga-likha ng direksyon para sa mga tao. Sila ay moral na gabay sa mga tao at tagapagbigay sigla’t lakas sa mga laykong kasapi ng simbahan na siyang pangunahing responsable sa paghuhubog ng pulitikal at pang-ekonomiyang larangan ng ating lipunan. Ang samasamang pagkilos ay dapat talagang isang proseso ng samasamang pagninilay at pagtugon ng bawat kasapi ng komunidad.

Hindi patay ang people power. Ito ay sisibol sa tamang panahon na may malakas na kapangyarihan at mas mayamang kahulugan. Ang people power ay hindi nagtatapos sa pagtanggal sa luklukan ng mga may kapangyarihan at wala ng moralidad na umupo. Ang people power ay ang pagbabago ng buong sistema sa ating lipunan at sarili.

Mga kapatid, isang dakilang biyaya ang nagaganap sa ating bansa. Huwag lamang tayong maging usisero. Wag tayong tagapagkutya lamang sa mga nangyayari. Sabi nga ng makatang si Dante Alighieri: “Ang pinakamainit na apoy sa impyerno ay nakalaan doon sa mga taong nagsawalang kibo sa panahon ng krisis ng moralidad.” Tama na, sobra na, kumilos na!

Mahal na Ina ng Laging Saklolo, ipanalangin mo kami sa aming pagsunod kay Kristo ang katotohanan at aming laging saklolo patungo sa landas ng pagbabago ng aming sarili at aming bayan.

17 FEBRUARY 2008

On this Second Sunday of Lent, during which we are asked to reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, I wish to touch on three themes that have to do with our moral transformation as a people: first, Ascertaining Credibility; second, Rediscovering our Humanity; and third, Witnessing to the Truth. In so doing, I hope to invite all of you to reflect more deeply on how we, as a nation, might respond to the present political crisis in which our identity and ethos, our convictions and integrity, in fact, who we are as a people, are at stake.


Jun, as Sen. Miriam Santiago has grilled you to ascertain your credibility (or was it to undermine your credibility?), allow me to raise some important questions to consider in the very process of discerning your credibility. Allow me to do so by drawing on my own counseling experience.

Very often, a young rape victim initially suppresses his or her awful and painful story, indeed wills to forget it, in the hope that by forgetting, he or she can pretend it never happened. But very often, too, there comes a point when concealing the truth becomes unbearable, and the desperate attempts to supposedly preserve life and sanity become increasingly untenable.

At this point the victim of abuse decides to seek help. But even after having taken this step, the victim, devastated and confused, will tell his or her story with much hesitation and trepidation. It should be easy to imagine why. In telling the truth, one risks casting shame on himself or herself, subjecting oneself to intense scrutiny and skepticism, and jeopardizing one’s safety and those of his or her loved ones, especially when one dares to go up against an older or more powerful person.

Similarly, it is easy to imagine why Jun would initially refuse to challenge the might of Malacanang. Who in his or her right mind would accuse Malacanang of crimes against our people and implicate the First Family in a sordid tale of greed and corruption, knowing that by doing so, one endangers one’s life and the lives of his or her loved ones? We are, after all, living in dangerous times, where the government has not hesitated to use everything in its power to keep itself in power, where it has yet to explain and solve the numerous cases of extra-judicial killings.

But Jun is in his right mind. His story rings true especially in the face of the perils that he has had to face. And by his courage, Jun has also shown that it is not only that he is in his right mind; his heart is also in the right place.

Hence, my personal verdict: Jun, I believe that you are a credible witness. And if hundreds have gathered here this morning, it is probably because they also believe in you. Mga kapatid, naniniwala ba kayo kay Jun Lozada? Naniniwala ba kayo sa kanyang testimonya? Kung gayon, palakpakan po natin ang Probinsyanong Intsik, si Mr. Jun Lozada.

Jun, we hope that by our presence here, you may find some consolation. Pope Benedict XVI writes that “con-solatio” or consolation means “being with the other in his or her solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude.” Jun, be assured that your solitude is no longer isolation as we profess our solidarity with you. Hindi ka nag-iisa. We are committed to stay the course and to do our best to protect you and your family and the truth you have proclaimed.


What makes Jun a credible witness to us?

I think Jun is credible not simply by virtue of his being an eyewitness to the unmitigated greed of some of our public officials. Perhaps more importantly, Jun is credible because he has witnessed to us what it means to be truly human.
Which leads me to my second theme: What does it mean to be human? How might we rediscover our humanity?

Allow me to quote Pope Benedict XVI, who in his latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, has written: “the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth reign supreme. Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life becomes a lie... For this … we need witnesses—martyrs …. We need them if we are to prefer goodness to comfort, even in the little choices we face each day.”

Our Holy Father concludes, “the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity.”

Isn’t this the reason we emulate our martyrs: Jose Rizal, Gomburza, Evelio Javier, Macli-ing Dulag, Cesar Climaco and Ninoy Aquino? They have borne witness for us what it means to be truly human—to be able to suffer for the sake of others and for the sake of the truth.

I remember Cory recalling a conversation she had with Ninoy while they were in exile in Boston. Cory asked Ninoy what he thought might happen to him once he set foot in Manila. Ninoy said there were three possibilities: one, that he would be rearrested and detained once more in Fort Bonifacio; two, that he would be held under house arrest; and three, that he would be assassinated.

“Then why go home?” Cory asked.

To which Ninoy answered: “Because I cannot allow myself to die a senseless death, such as being run over by a taxi cab in New York. I have to go home and convince Ferdinand Marcos to set our people free.”

Witnessing to one’s deepest convictions, notwithstanding the consequences, is the measure of our humanity. Proclaiming the truth to others, whatever the cost, is the mark of authentic humanity.
Jun, we know you have feared for your life and continue to do so. But in transcending your fears for yourself and your family, you have reclaimed your humanity. And your courage and humility, despite harassment and calumniation by government forces, embolden us to retrieve and reclaim our humanity tarnished by our cowardice and complicity with sin in the world. You have inspired us to be true to ourselves and to submit to and serve the truth that transcends all of us.


This leads us to our third and last theme: witnessing to the truth. In his encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII exhorts that it is the fundamental duty of the government to uphold the truth: “A political society is to be considered well-ordered, beneficial and in keeping with human dignity if it grounded on truth.” Moreover, the encyclical explains that unless a society is anchored on the truth, there can be no authentic justice, charity and freedom.
Every government is therefore obliged to serve the truth if it is to truly serve the people. Its moral credibility and authority over a people is based on the extent of its defense of and submission to the truth. Insofar as a government is remiss in upholding the truth, insofar as a government actively suppresses the truth, it loses its authority vested upon it by the people.

At this juncture, allow me to raise a delicate question: At what point does an administration lose its moral authority over its constituents?
First, a clear tipping point is the surfacing of hard evidence signifying undeniable complicity of certain government officials in corruption and injustice, evidence that can be substantiated in court.
Hence, during the Marcos Regime, the manipulation of Snap Election results as attested to by the tabulators who walked out of the PICC was clear evidence of the administration’s disregard for and manipulation of the collective will of the people in order to remain in power..
During the Erap Administration, the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo, claiming that Pres. Erap had falsified Equitable Bank documents by signing as Jose Velarde, was the smoking gun that triggered the rage of our people.
Allow me to respond to the same question by pursue an alternative track of argument: an administration loses it moral authority over its people when it fails in its fundamental duty to uphold the truth, when it is constituted by an ethos of falsehood. When a pattern of negligence in investigating the truth, suppressing the truth and harassing those who proclaim the truth is reasonably established, then a government, in principle, loses its right to rule over and represent the people.

Regarding negligence: Do the unresolved cases, such as the the failed automation of the national elections, the fertilizer scam, the extra-judicial killings, and the “Hello, Garci” scandal, constitute negligence on the part of the GMA Administartion to probe and ferret out the truth?
Regarding covering-up the truth: Does the abduction of Jun Lozada and the twisting and manipulation of his narrative by Malacanang’s minions constitute concealment of the truth? Was the padlocking of the office of Asst. Gov’t Counsel Gonzales who testified before the Senate regarding the North Rail project anomaly an instance of covering-up the truth?
Regarding the suppression of the truth: Does the issuance and implementation of E.O. 464, which prevents government officals from testifying in Senate hearings without Malacanang’s permission, constitute suppression of the truth? Was the prevention of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Senga and six other officers from testifying before the Senate with regard the “Hello, Garci” scandal tantamount to a suppression of the truth? Was disallowing Brig. Gen. Quevedo, Lt. Col Capuyan and Lt. Col. Sumayo from appearing before the Lower House an instance of hindering the truth from surfacing?
And regarding harassment of those who proclaim the truth: Are the abduction of Jun Lozada and the decision to court-marshall Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan for disregarding Malacanang’s order not to testify before the Senate examples of punishing those who come forth to tell the truth?

By conflating one’s responses to all these questions does one arrive not at hard evidence showing culpapility on the part of some government officials, but a ghestalt, an image which nonetheless demands our assessment and judgment. I invite all of you then to consider these two methods of evaluating and judging the moral credibility of any government, the moral credibility of our present government.

Allow me to end with a few words about an Ignatian virtue, familiaritas cum Deo. To become familiar with God involves the illumination of the intellect, coming to know who God is and what God wills. But it also involves the conversion of the affect, the reconfiguration of the heart. Becoming familiar with God entails trasforming and conforming my thinking, my feeling and my doing in accordance to the Lord’s, which can only be the work of grace.

Familiarity with God thus entail rejoicing in what God delights—the truth; abhoring what God detests—falsehood; being pained by what breaks the heart of God—the persecution of truth-seekers. Familiary with God means sharing the passion of God for the truth and the pathos of God whenever the truth and the bearers of truth are overcome by the forces of the lie.

On this Second Sunday of Lent, as we contemplate the transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Horeb, we pray that our hearts and minds be so transfigured and so conformed to the mind, heart and will of the Jesus, our way, our life, and our truth.

May the Lord bless and protect you, Jun, and your family. May the Lord bless and guide us all into the way of truth. Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2008


There is a story going around about how Secretary Ermita was fuming mad at Mike Defensor. The budgeted hush money for a scandal of this scale was P5.0M. And so, the story goes, the envelop was passed from Ed to Mike. But as the money exchanged hands through the bureaucracy, only P50,000 reached the intended recipient – Jun Lozada.

This would be a rather amusing story were it not reflective of the pervasive culture of corruption that Lozada has vividly detailed. It is more than just dysfunctional. It is naked greed abetted by grave abuse of power.

Another facet of this regime’s evil persona is its human rights record, with hundreds of unresolved killings and disappearances. The public couldn’t care less. In their minds, the disappeared are just “communists”. But then, Lozada’s kidnapping drama brought to life an otherwise staid statistic of the disappearances and killings. The whole nation saw how the full force of the state’s resources was mobilized, first – to prevent Lozada from testifying, and later – to cover-up its criminal acts. Brazen and shameless, the snatching of Jun Lozada was carried out with Mafia-like impunity.

I will not belabor the point. By now, GMA apologists will find it untenable to claim that she is the lesser evil. Lozada’s kidnapping and revelation have shattered that myth.

As for the economy, what does it profit the ordinary citizen when the supposed economic gains being trumpeted by this regime are simply lining the pockets of the First Gentleman and his cronies in BILLIONS of pesos? No wonder people are complaining that they can hardly feel the 7% growth.

The Makati Business Club sees the writing on the wall, “this is the beginning of the end” for the Arroyo regime. The Catholic bishops are making a moral call, “this is a time for communal action.” Many other organizations, big and small, are coming out with statements – from support for Lozada, to calls for resignation, and organizing protest actions – from simple candle lighting to full-blown street actions. The momentum is irreversible.

We have suffered long enough from the consequences of our silence. The clarion call for our times is for every citizen to express his outrage in whatever form at every opportunity.

The Black and White Movement gives you three opportunities to register your protest:

1. Log on to our website – and register your name to declare your support for Jun Lozada.

2. Send this text “Sa Totoo Tayo” to +63915-3296830 to be counted. Please text this message to all of your friends and relatives:

Kung naniniwala kayo sa sinasabi ni Jun Lozada, text “Sa Totoo Tayo” to +63915-3296830. Visit for latest count and activities.

3. If you’re in Metro Manila, join us on Sunday, February 17, 2008, 10 AM at La Salle Greenhills for a Mass organized by President Cory Aquino and the La Salle brothers in support of Jun Lozada and his family.

The time to act is now. Sa Totoo Tayo. Now na!

God bless,




The worst form of corruption is the corruption of the best.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

A vicious pattern is becoming evident. First, a brazen act. Then blatant and shameless lies to cover up a criminal act.

It started with the Garci tapes and Bunye’s infamous “I have 2 CDs”. More recently, prior to the Lozada revelations, there was the Palace payola payoff scandal – the scam was to have Ulap and Kampi own up to giving out the money, thereby testing the limits of people’s credulity.

And now this – Palace officials suddenly fabricating a web of lies, in yet another attempt to suppress the truth and pervert justice.

It should be clear by now – the whole executive branch, as well as the Lower House, are determined to protect the interests of one family, and not of the Filipino people as they were sworn to do. Jun Lozada’s reminder is timely: “Ang Pilipino ay hindi iisang pamilya lang. Ang Pilipino ay isang bansa.”

But how have we, as a nation, come to this pass? It is because, we, the Filipino people, have tolerated it for so long with our silence. This has emboldened this administration to inflict upon us the same vicious cycle again and again, with each new round with more impunity.

One can argue that there are valid concerns – the impoverished are too busy putting food on the table, the middle class are busy applying for work abroad, the business sector worries about rocking an upbeat economy, the alternatives are not clear, etc. And so we settle for what we think is the lesser evil. But look at where this choice has brought us.

We call on our people. If you still cannot find it in your heart to declare your outrage publicly, can you at least join in praying for Jun Lozada and his family. President Cory Aquino and the La Salle Brothers will be celebrating mass at the La Salle Greenhills grounds on Sunday, Feb. 17, 10 am for that purpose – pray for Jun and his family?

Let us proclaim as one, “Sa Totoo Tayo!”


We salute Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada Jr. for overcoming his personal fear of the consequences of revealing what he knows about the scandal-ridden National Broadband Network project. He claims that his life was threatened, that he was enticed with assurances of his personal safety and promises of other considerations, and that he was abducted by persons belonging to the state security apparatus. Mr. Lozada chose to walk away from the "dark side"—the lies and cover-up regarding the NBN project being peddled by persons connected to this Administration.
If he had been a lesser person, he could have continued to acquiesce and cower in the dark. But having come into the light, he has become a credible witness to the truth. Now that he is being unjustly maligned by government officials and by senators identified with the Administration in their continuing effort to suppress the truth, we express our support for Mr. Lozada and let him know, "Hindi ka nag-iisa!"

We call on DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza and CHED Chairman Romulo Neri to save themselves from further shame by resigning from their positions in government for their respective roles in the attempt to prevent Mr. Lozada from testifying on the ZTE deal at the Senate. Their protection at any cost of the interests of those in power render them unworthy of the people’s trust.

We support the Senate’s continued pursuit of the truth behind the NBN project. We must see to it that those who are revealed to have broken the law, no matter how high up, must be made to account for their transgressions. The long-term political stability and economic prosperity of our country will only be possible if we have leaders with integrity, and institutions that protect and uphold the public trust.

As business people, we cannot console ourselves in the strength of the peso and the mirage of inequitable growth. These are ephemeral gains that have not translated into a better life for most Filipinos. What is being compromised is the moral fabric of our society. It is not a question of legal guilt; instead, it is a matter of good old-fashioned delicadeza and personal morality.
We call on all Filipinos to proclaim,
"Tama na ang kasinungalingan! Sobra na ang kasakiman! Manindigan na, Bayan!"


The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) stands for good governance in all sectors of society, particularly in the government and the business sector. MAP has chosen “Country Above Self” for its theme for the past three consecutive years to emphasize the importance of patriotism in all our actions.

We are now compelled to speak out in the face of the frequency of corruption cases and scandals that have been growing in scope and intensity, to wit: the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam, the General Garcia case, the Jose Pidal scandal, the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, the North and South Rail projects, the Hello Garci tape, the reported shameless distribution of cash gifts in Malacanang Palace, the questionable procurement of DepEd textbooks, DND helicopters and BOC x-ray machines, the COMELEC MegaPacific computer deal, and now the scandalously overpriced NBN ZTE deal.

That these cases can happen in a bureaucracy that is supposedly protected and sometimes immobilized by an elaborate set of checks and balances indicates a serious breakdown in public governance, marked by either inability to execute or the outright unwillingness to perform what is expected of leaders and managers. The obvious consequences of this breakdown are the wide-scale wastage of scarce resources, the deterioration in the quality of public service, and the creeping apathy among public servants who initially try to do well but are eventually demoralized by the glaring contradictions in their leaders’ behavior.

Corruption in public service is anti-poor. The public money that goes to private pockets could have otherwise been used to build schoolhouses, buy textbooks, and train the teachers of our public schools. They could have built hospitals and bought much needed medicines for the indigent patients. They could have upgraded the salaries and built homes for our soldiers, policemen, teachers, and government employees.

If corruption cases happened under our watch in our corporations, what would we do? As business leaders and managers, we would immediately order an impartial and thorough investigation, fire all those involved, and offer to resign for having failed in our duty to protect our company’s assets and reputation.

Are we to tolerate a lesser standard for those who manage the affairs of government? Should the ethics of governance be less for government executives? Should not the same culture of compliance, transparency and accountability be embraced by our leaders in government? If there are no differences at all in the yardsticks by which government and private managers are measured, should not the leaders under whose watch all these shameless scandals occur offer to resign now?

If the President’s men involved in abuse of authority and alleged anomalies refuse to heed the call for their resignation, should they not be removed from office by the President herself? If the President fails to act, can we conclude that she is either tolerating grave wrongdoings or is not in control? In either case, under the principle of command responsibility, would it be time for all of us to join in asking the President to step down?

We fully support Jun Lozada in his fight against corruption and trust that the Administration will provide him the protection he deserves and will command the government forces to cease the acts of harassment which he is currently experiencing.

We call on the Administration to rise above their personal self-interests and put “Country Above Self” by encouraging Secretary Romy Neri and providing him with the appropriate protection to appear before the Senate and to reveal all he knows to fully shed light on the ZTE issue.

We call on the military and the police to support the people and the Constitution, and not allow themselves to be used by those who continually violate the oath of public office and betray the people’s trust for their personal aggrandizement.

We call on all religious leaders to finally speak out in thunderous language and condemn the moral degradation of our government bureaucracy, and we unequivocally join the Catholic bishops' call for “communal action” to regain our moral compass and, with it, our nation's dignity and self-respect.

The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men and women to do nothing.


He was on good terms with the authorities, agile, flexible, and even audacious when it came to speculating with other people's property. He was the only rival, and a frightening one at that, of a man named Pérez when it came to rents and auctions of merchandise or jobs that the Philippine Government entrusts to private individuals.” - Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere, Chapter 6: Captain Tiago (Harold Augenbraum Translation)

Criminal justice will come, but now is the time to take political action. The testimony of Rodolfo Lozada, Jr., made under oath before the Senate, gives us the moral certainty to condemn the massive corruption in the ZTE-NBN deal. With the suggestion that a similar anomaly most likely attended the South Rail project, along with other previous scandals, the ZTE-NBN is not an isolated case of unbridled corruption.

And at what scale! For the ordinary Filipino families, 50% of whom earn a meager income of less than Php 300 per day, the kickback amounting to US$130 million-which Lozada said "Commission" Chairman Benjamin Abalos asked him to protect-is mind boggling.

Very revolting, too, was the abduction of Mr. Lozada abduction, upon the order of Malacañang. Here is an instance in which the Palace micromanaged, and mangled, a kidnapping to silence a whistleblower.

What was plunder by a colonial government in Rizal's time is now plunder by a Mafia occupying Malacañang. The first family is the capo di tutti capi, the boss of all bosses. The Macapagal-Arroyo family has turned the Philippine government into a mafia family, with Cabinet men, congressmen, and other functionaries as their mob lieutenants. We have state capture not by the elite but by a Filipino mafia headed by the first family.

The Philippines is not lacking in laws and institutions against corruption and plunder. The 1987 Constitution devotes an entire article of 18 sections (Article XI) to provisions on accountability of public officers. The Revised Penal Code punishes malfeasance and misfeasance in office of public officers, including bribery, frauds against the public treasury, and malversation of public funds. The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, expands the punishable corrupt practices even further. Republic Act 7080 defines and penalizes the crime of plunder. We have a powerful Office of the Ombudsman, with the duty to investigate and prosecute illegal acts or omissions by public officers and employees. We also have a special court, the Sandiganbayan, with jurisdiction to try high-ranking public officials for graft and corruption. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) has created the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission to investigate and hear administrative cases and complaints against erring Presidential Appointees, and to assist the President in the campaign against graft and corruption.

Much effort has been undertaken to address chronic corruption. Multilateral and bilateral donors, economists and policy analysts, and non-government organizations have studied the problem and proposed anti-corruption strategies and programs. The measures adopted have been comprehensive and deep. These include regulatory reforms, agency-level reforms and capacity building, judicial reforms, changes in the procurement law, strengthening of the anti-corruption lead agencies, and introduction of various anti-corruption activities such as lifestyle checks and values formation.

Despite all this, what is missing is the simplest answer to the problem: Fighting corruption is a question of leadership.

Since the leadership itself is brazenly engaged in plunder, corruption remains unabated. Under the leadership of a non-corrupt president, anti-corruption programs and institutions will be effective. Under a corrupt presidency, the same programs and institutions only become a protective veil for corruption itself. GMA's public reaction to the testimony of Lozada is instructive. She was reported to have ordered the Department of Justice to investigate Lozada's testimony. The Justice Secretary was quick to dismiss Lozada's testimony as part of a "drama."

The plunder exemplified by the ZTE-NBN deal goes all the way up to GMA. In the testimony of Joey de Venecia, GMA's husband, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, was a central figure in securing the kickback. The candid, credible and detailed testimony of Jun Lozada, in relation to his abduction and the overpricing of the ZTE-NBN contract points to Malacañang as the culprit. It is crystal clear that the buck does not stop at Mike Arroyo. His influence is crucial not because of his own accord, but of whom he represents: the exercise of the power and prerogatives of the highest executive of the land.

GMA is using her vast powers and resources of the State to scuttle the Senate investigation: The issuance of the unconstitutional Executive Order 464 that prevents Cabinet officials from appearing in Senate inquiries, the invocation of executive privilege in the testimony of former NEDA Director General Romulo Neri on the question of GMA's approval of the corrupt ZTE-NBN deal, and the abduction of Lozada to prevent him from testifying.

With GMA's repeated betrayal of the public trust, she has no right to sit as President a minute longer. All other officials involved in the ZTE-NBN deal, including Secretary Romy Neri, DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and members of the NEDA-ICC must step down from their government posts. The officials involved in the abduction of Jun Lozada and its cover-up in the media, such as PNP Chief Avelino Razon, Secretary Lito Atienza and DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno, must likewise step down.

We must expunge the Philippine Mafia.


Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk/danger, uncertainty, or intimidation in the face of physical pain, hardship, or threat of death (physical courage); or in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement (moral courage).

In recent days the country has been witness to a refreshing demonstration of courage from Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada, Jr. and the religious who are providing him safe haven and comfort. Despite the grave risks before him, and with an army of guardian angels by his side, Lozada forthrightly admitted to wrongdoing while recounting the perfidies of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos and their minions.

Truth has, for a long time now, been in short supply from the government. Yet, amidst the daily diet of lies that the people have been subjected to by its governors, truth shone like a bright ray of hope that could not be bent by even the most devious political characters the country has had to endure. The real truth, despite the Herculean efforts to hide or mask it, broke through for the Filipino to see.

Courage is sometimes frail as hope is frail, striving and faith is the only strength it knows. But as Aristotle said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” It is the virtue that makes all other virtues possible. Lozada, who has had an epiphany, is showing us the way to break free.

Kilosbayan is advocating that courage and truth become the standard by which all Filipinos live. It is the passport to freedom – from apathy, backwardness, betrayal, corruption, greed, hopelessness, ignorance, inequality, injustice, insincerity, lies, plunder, poverty, repression and selfishness.

If we are to be a strong and upright nation, we should first be the change we want our country to be. Struggling for true change starts with self despite the risks to life, limb and livelihood. We must live the truth and do whatever is right to justify our existence and honor the sacrifices of our heroes and martyrs.

We must rectify our shortcomings in our great battle for national renewal in order to have a country worth living for.

Specifically, we urge the prompt prosecution of persons, in and out of government, who are culpable or who may have committed illegal acts based on the relevant documentary evidence and on the transcripts we have obtained from the Senate.

On account of her perceived partiality in favor of President GMA and her subordinates or appointees, the present Ombudsman, Merceditas Gutierrez, should inhibit herself for the sake of credibility and the institution she represents.

Bantay Katarungan is willing and able to give free legal assistance to Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada, Jr. should he desire to avail of such assistance.