[Last of two parts]
Immediate proclamation of President Duterte proposed
As all other Presidential candidates have conceded and no questions surround the votes he has received, I propose the immediate proclamation of our presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte, being the clear and uncontested winner in the presidential elections. Again, I offer him my sincere congratulations and my hand in partnership for the future. Mr. President, the Philippines now looks to you for your leadership and vision!
However, I humbly but firmly reiterate, my strong reservations in the canvassing of the results of the Vice-Presidential elections, on the basis of electoral irregularities on the two fronts that I mentioned.
I raise all these for the millions of Filipinos who voted for me and all the other voters whose votes were “lost” and remain uncounted. Your votes genuinely and properly reflect your will and your trust in me. I will be forever grateful. I vow to fight for the disenfranchised, whose votes were either prevented, diverted or declared invalid and thrown away, that their true choice be counted and included.
My fellow Filipinos, today, I speak not about myself or about my candidacy. I speak about our nation and our country’s future.
What is at stake today is the sanctity of suffrage, which great leaders teach us must be guarded at every turn. Many attribute the phrase: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” to Thomas Jefferson.
This is so very true: “Eternal vigilance IS the price of liberty.”
Today, amidst controversy, cross-accusation, and confusion, our nation needs more eternal vigilance. We need leaders who are less interested in promoting their own interest, and their own party, and more interested in leaving behind the enduring example of free and fair elections.
A nation able to self-correct and move forward
In this chamber, I stand second to no one in understanding we here in the Philippines have not always achieved this. But I remind even my most ardent critics: Ours is a nation and a history that proves able to learn, to adjust, to self-correct, to move forward.
But moving forward demands that we each pay the sacred price of eternal vigilance. And as we review these threats to free and fair elections, no amount of politics, or carelessness, or outright deceit, will ultimately ever be excused by the people.
This odious legacy of this government and the allegations surrounding it cannot be left uninvestigated. Evidence cannot be left un-reviewed. And truth cannot be left unspoken …. Because truth is the life-blood of eternal vigilance.
Fellow senators, we cannot hold false confidence that we had free and fair elections if we did not.
Our colleague, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago warns us now of a “garrison state where the authoritarian government feels free to manufacture numbers as they are needed.”
No less an authority than Abraham Lincoln reminds us: “Elections belong to the people.”
We should listen to these words. No one, no president, no party, no backroom, no machine, no operative, has the right to thwart the will of the Filipino people. Elections belong to the people.
No one has the right to use political advantage to influence or manipulate an election. And we never—ever—can let that happen…. because what’s at stake is our future.
In this chamber, our job is to fight those who want to keep taking us backwards.
Two days before the May 9th election, I said this:
“We must—all of us—guard against coming intimidation, manipulation, and even fraud by forces of the political status quo.”
This is truer today than it was two weeks ago. In fact, if anything, we now need more eternal vigilance today than we did last May 9th.
Again, this is not about one candidate against another, or one family versus another, or one party versus another. This is not about a foreign technology vendor scandal.
This is about eternal vigilance.
Even if you are satisfied with the results of the May 9th election, it remains our job to rise above politics—and protect the sanctity of each and every single vote.
In closing, we might all ask ourselves a question that will endure beyond each of our time here: “What can we learn from this?”
In fact, we are too good a people, and too great a nation, with too great an ability to adjust and to take our democratic process forward, to NOT learn from this.
We are simply too great a nation to not learn once more the awesome power and the sacred responsibility of eternal vigilance.
Today, as tomorrow, this will require real change. This will require real courage…. And, again and again, this will require eternal vigilance.
Fellow Filipinos, join me in calling for more eternal vigilance.
At stake is our country’s future.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!