What I think Lacson really wanted to say
This was my column yesterday and today. It was too long so it had to run for two days.
I still haven’t been able to figure out what exactly the point of Senator Ping Lacson’s withdrawal from the presidential race last week was. I am not talking about why he withdrew, he spewed a sob story about how being virtuous can be a disadvantage in this country. What I am perplexed about is: How can someone withdraw from a race that has not officially started? The withdrawal would have made perfect sense if the period for the filing of candidacies was already upon us and he had already filed his candidacy. But the period is still several months away! And it’s not as if he was already picked by a party.
I know that by writing about his withdrawal from the race, I am raising more awareness about it. Quite frankly, there is a part of me that thinks a Lacson Presidency is not the worst thing that could happen to this country—the man does have strong traits. However, I still didn’t see the point of that withdrawal and in making that statement. Here’s what I think he wanted to say, though. Lacson’s withdrawal statement follows; my take on his statement are in italics.
Thank you for this invitation to the second ANC Leadership Forum. (Since you insist on having me despite the fact that I already stood you up at the first forum, I will use this forum for some personal agenda.)
Up until I made a decision last Sunday to retire myself from a race that would matter most in the lives of our beloved countrymen, I had every intention to share with our people my vision of what the Philippines ought to be in a Ping Lacson presidency. (Let’s cut the crap, this forum is not about leadership but presidential ambitions and I really wanted to tell you why I am the best person to become president but my enemies have been relentless in throwing all kinds of obstacles in my way.)
Marahil sa huling pagkakataon, sa isang pagpupulong na tulad nito, nais kong ipabatid sa aking mga minamahal na kababayan na ang kahirapan at kawalan ng mga serbisyong pangkalusugan, edukasyon at seguridad ng mamamayan ay hindi mabibigyang lunas ng pamumudmod ng tulong mula sa mga pulitiko tuwing papalapit ang halalan; tulong na magaan at madaling ipamigay dahil madaling kinikita sa pamamagitan ng pagsasamantala sa kaban ng bayan. (My rivals have illusions of being The Messiah who will be able to solve the country’s problems but I will tell you this: What they will be saying will all be crap— they can’t solve the country’s problems and their pre-election antics are all for show.)
My vision is clear as it is simple—the country’s problem is government, bad government. (It’s time to get that devilish woman and her minions out of the Palace.)
The solution stares us right in the face of the problem itself. I believe that we need to discipline 1.5 million members of the civilian and military bureaucracy and imbue them with the right motivation and a sense of genuine public service. (All our problems could have been solved a long time ago if only the people in government stopped supporting that woman and my brothers in the military staged a coup to topple this government and installed me in power instead.)
In short, if we hope to solve the problems of most of the 90 million Filipinos, we must set government right. This is the only way we can move forward as a country, and as a people. (Need I say it again? That blasted woman simply has to go.)
But correcting government will not come easy if it does not start with the leader himself. One cannot discipline if one is unable to discipline oneself. One cannot preach clean government if one is himself on the take, or his relatives and cronies are themselves the thieves. If a president cannot lead by the power of good example, then governance will always be bad. (As I have been insisting for the longest time now—I am the best person to lead this country. No one else has the iron resolve to do what is necessary, even what is ugly and unpopular. Without me, there cannot be good government.)
My vision for the Philippines is one where basic services are guaranteed, where health and education and public safety are prioritized, and no-nonsense government is instituted in all levels of the polity. (My program of government will be the same as everyone else's, but that woman has to go. Get her out before she succeeds in nailing me for murder.)
Sadly, what we have today is a feudal set-up foolishly labeled as democracy, where transactional politics is entrenched both in the bureaucracy and local government units; and where the poor are deluded into believing that throwing candies or giving instant noodles or occasional help in distress is the be-all and end-all of public service. In the grind for survival, the poor forget all too often that the occasional goodies they get are mere scraps from the tables of the immoderately greedy powerful who plunder public coffers, or abuse power for self-profit. (The leftists in Congress don’t have the monopoly of pro-poor rhetoric. I can also dish out seemingly profound statements that appeal to the masses but don’t really mean anything.)
I have always maintained that if we doggedly and purposively set government right, the rest will follow. When people respect government, they pay the correct taxes and follow even the simplest of traffic rules. Equal opportunity. Level playing field. To each a fair, fighting chance. Patas na laban, para sa lahat. (Again, that woman has to go. Now. And did I tell you already about my campaign messages before people started jumping the ship and taking up with the enemy? They were in my television ads, which I had no qualms airing prior to today.)
But reaching out to the voters, particularly those in the D and E income levels, which altogether comprise some four-fifths of the population, does not come easy. It is most expensive in a political system which has neither strong institutions nor correct procedures. (I wish I still have the support of my financial backers; I could have produced more ads and bought more airtime to catch up with Mar Roxas and Manny Villar in this game called “Let’s see who can fool the poorest of the poor.” Darn it, even that Gibo Teodoro seemed to have access to more resources. It’s not fair! But since I now have neither the support nor the resources and I don’t want to spend my own money, I will join the chorus of people who lambast what they do as wrong even if like them I also had my own political ads before money ran out.)Minsan ay sumagi na rin sa aking isipan na tanggapin na ang 200 milyong pisong pork barrel bawat taon para sa isang senador upang magamit at makasabay man lang sa isang magastos na pangangampanya. Nguni’t, at mabuti na lamang, nanaig pa rin sa aking isipan na ipagpatuloy ang isang adhikain at paniniwala na higit sa ano pa mang bagay, mas mahalaga ang integridad sa isang tulad kong inihalal ng bayan upang maglingkod nang tapat at walang halong pag-iimbot. (I will remind you once again that I’m the only senator who has not deigned to accept crumbs masquerading as pork barrel from Malacañang. Why hasn’t anyone commended my virtuous act? I deserve public commendation, I should be held up as the example of an ideal public servant.)
Even if I tried to communicate the truth to our people given the extremely limited resources that I could raise from well-meaning friends who have kept the faith, and believe as I do in my central advocacy of good governance and national discipline, the time has come to face the reality that the intent to lead in this land in order to do good, has become an enterprise only for those who have access to unlimited funds. (I would have wanted to continue my presidential ambitions, but my supporters and backers deserted me when it became apparent that there was no way of stopping Mancao’s return to the country).
To my loyal supporters and those who appreciated the kind of work ethic and purposive leadership I have demonstrated as a soldier, as the chief of the Philippine National Police, and share the advocacies I have been fighting for as senator of the Republic—beyond expression of my undying gratitude, I now pledge that I will continue my relentless battle for good governance; lonely and difficult this may be. (I don’t know what lies ahead of me now that Mancao is poised to testify. But I swear you haven’t heard the last of me).
Rest assured that in time, we will all join together to support a leader who could best deliver our people from the bondage they now suffer. That leader must have both the competence and character that are the preconditions to purposive leadership so imperative in these crossroads of the nation’s life. (I will now look around for someone whom I can support and who will support me in turn. Perhaps I should ask my loyal supporter Jamby to run for President? Judy Ann Santos is even more popular today, perhaps Jamby can buy her name and image again.)
And I appeal to the learned and the highly educated in our society to share their thoughts and help guide the vulnerable 80 percent of the Filipino electorate to vote wisely and conscientiously, not for their day-to-day personal needs, but for a country that we all love and care for. (Please help me convince more people that Villar is lying to them. Help me make people see that I am still the best candidate so that I can return to the political arena with a vengeance.)
Magkaisa po tayong tumulong sa isang taong batay sa karanasan at sa ugali, ay alam nating hindi magnanakaw at hindi gagamitin ang kapangyarihang hiram para magpasasa sa sariling interes. (Please kick that woman out of office now before she does more harm to me. And please do not support Manny Villar in 2010. I will look around for a more suitable candidate instead; of course I am still hoping that that candidate will be someone who looks like me, thinks like me, and is preferably me).