THE speech President Benigno S. Cojuangco Aquino gave at the Rizal Room, in Malacañang, on Independence Day was a pretty good one.
The first part is a touching narration of how his father’s career, potentially as a great Filipino President, was demolished by assassins, how the family, including the boy who became our President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, suffered the ordeals of martial law, and then how his mother and, later, he became our Presidents.
Here are some parts of the speech, and our comments, where we found it necessary to do so.
“It is true: Through People Power, we took back our democracy. People Power became a bridge to people empowerment. People Power brought back government’s true mandate: to take care of and empower the people.
“I emphasize that this has happened. Once, a fellow Filipino stole our freedom. This means that if we are not vigilant, it could happen again.
“As we enter a new chapter in our history, let us never forget: Freedom must be defended and protected. Everything that is of value must be worked for and fought for. As the writer Edmund Burke said: All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
“When we began our time in office, I made a promise: By the time I step down, I will leave behind a country that is better than we found it; under our governance, the Philippines will be an honorable and respectable member of the global community. On my last meeting with you—both my bosses and those in the diplomatic corps—as President, I can proudly say that I fulfilled all my promises. [But, Sir, before you became President our country was already an honorable and respectable member of the global community.]
“Those who have been assisted by PhilHealth, the scholars who graduated from TESDA, and the children who are now going to school in decent classrooms—they all know this.
The graduates who can choose from a selection of jobs, as opposed to having to go through so much hardship looking for one, know this. Those in the provinces, who are benefiting from the roads, bridges, ports, airports, and other infrastructure projects we have built, know this. Our countrymen who were once caught in the crossfire, who are now benefiting because peace is within reach, know this. All those who are enjoying new opportunities due to the growth of our economy—and who have seen our transformation from the Sick Man of Asia to the Darling of Asia—know this. The entire world, which has grown to admire the resolve, the integrity, and the fortitude of the Filipino, knows this. [Except, Sir, that it was not your doing that the Philippines ceased to be called “The Sick Man of Asia.”
During the years of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, our country was no longer being called that because it was enjoying impressive growth every quarter. Your administration benefited from the good work of President Arroyo and the wisdom of Bangko Sentral’s Gov. Amando Tetangco, Jr.]
“We have proven our capacity to fight for democracy. We have shown that we can take back democracy when it is stolen from us. Now, let us prove that we can continue making democracy work for the benefit of our people.
“We have achieved everything we are enjoying today while respecting the process, the law, as well as the rights of each person. We did this without silencing anyone, and while valuing the freedom that those before us fought for.
[Except, Sir, that your military and police silenced and killed many a Lumad leader and made thousands of Lumad families homeless. And you have unjustly jailed, humiliated and ruined the health of your enemies—like the late ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.]
“We firmly believe in this principle: that there can be no true progress if we surrender our dignity and our rights.”