Between Right and Wrong
Kongreso ng Mamamayang Pilipino KOMPIL II, Ateneo de Manila University
October 29, 2000
My friends and fellow Filipinos:
More than sixteen years ago, on January 8, 1984, many of us here today convened for the first time as the Kongreso ng Mamamayang Pilipino, or Kompil, on a matter of utmost importance. We met to confront a dictatorship – and for that dictatorship, our unity meant the beginning of its inevitable end.
Nang una po tayong magsama-sama sa Kompil, labing-anim na taon na ang nakalipas, nagkaisa tayo upang harapin ang isang diktadura – at doon nagsimula ang pagkabuwag ng rehimen ni Marcos.
Today we are assembled once again, from all corners of the archipelago, representing a broad spectrum of persuasions and concerns.
Once again we are united as the conscience of our race. Differ as we may in some of our views and ideas about change, there is no one here who will not agree with the need for urgent and deep-seated change.
Magkaiba man ang ating mga pinanggalingan at ang ating mga pala-palagay, nagkakaisa tayo sa pangangailangan ng kagyat at malalimang pagbabago sa ating pamahalaan.
And by this we mean a change at the very heart and core of government. Or perhaps I should say "at its very head."
You and I would not be here were it not for the crisis to which we have been brought – ironically enough, not simply by outside forces nor by an act of God, but by our own President and his ill-chosen friends.
We face, in fact, not one but three crises: a crisis of leadership, a crisis in our economy, and perhaps most pernicious of all, a moral crisis that leaves our people begging for someone to remind them of the difference between right and wrong.
If we speak today in a louder voice than usual, it is because we do not know if the person sitting in Malacañang can still hear his people.
Naririnig kaya tayo ni Pangulong Erap, sa kabila ng mga bulong at sulsol ng kaniyang mga kabarkada at alipores? Dinggin mo kami, Ginoong Pangulo – kami ang iyang konsyensya.
Mr. President, we are the people. Please do not choose to see us as your personal enemies – because this is not between you and me, but between you and your people. Please do not choose to see us as the destroyers of the nation – because we built the very edifice on which your authority to govern rests.
Our people are in pain, because they feel betrayed by their own leader. They have endured the worst that nature and the vagaries of the global economy have had to offer. On top of all these problems our people have had to deal with, the President has delivered us to the brink of economic disaster.
Walang hihigit pa sa Pilipino sa pagkamatiisin. Handa tayang dumanas ng anumang uri ng kahirapan, guminhawa lamang ang ating mga mahal sa buhay. Subalit may sakripisyong magiting, at may parusa rin namang hindi makatuwiran.
Sa bawat sandali ay may nadadagdag sa bilang ng mga negasyang nalulugi at mga mangagawang nawawalan ng trabaho, mga pamilyang walang makain – sapagkat ayaw tanggapin at panagutan ng ating Pangulo ang kaniyang pagkakamali.
For every day that he holds on to office, the peso drops in value, more investments retreat, more factories and businesses shut down, more workers lose their jobs, and more families go hungry.
If this keeps up, this President will have nothing more to preside over but untold misery for everyone.
Mr. President, you have lost your people's confidence because you seem to have lost any sense of accountability to them.
You have tried to misrepresent this struggle as a class war. You may have been badly served by some who have led you to believe that this situation is a trick being played upon you by the elite.
But this is hot a war between rich and poor. It is a fight between right and wrong. There is a moral dimension to this crisis that goes to the very core of who and what we are, and what we want our children to be. This is not a question of numbers, but of values.
Hindi ito tunggalian ng mayaman laban sa mahirap, kundi ng tama laban sa mali, ng kabutihan laban sa kasamaan.
We cannot allow evil and wrongdoing to go unpunished and unrepented. Responsible citizenship brings with it not only a right but also a duty to protest wrongdoing; and responsible government is also duty-bound to listen.
The people have a right to hold their President to the highest standards of personal conduct. The President, after all, is no ordinary citizen. He governs by example, and both his virtues and vices are magnified in the public eye. Wrong doing at the top gives the lowliest civil servant an excuse to do the same, and corrupts the moral fabric of society like an insidious virus.
As for ourselves, the best we can do for one another and for the future is to unite in this struggle, and to expand and strengthen the ground for our common cause. We must continue on the road to peaceful change, and resist all efforts to divide us. All the power we need is within ourselves.
Nasa atin na pong lahat ang kapangyarihang magbunsod ng mapayapa at makabuluhang pagbabago.
Let us cultivate faith in ourselves and in one another, reminding ourselves that it is only in trusting each other that we can in fact harness our collective strength.
Ipaalala natin muli sa isa't-isa na hindi ka nag-iisa, hindi ako nag-iisa at sana magpakailanman hindi tayo nag-iisa.
The problem is not just President Estrada; it is what we want to be as a people and as a nation after President Estrada.
This fight will not be won by any single strategy or by the singular wisdom of any particular leader of the opposition. It will be won, if at all, only by all of us having the necessary degree of commitment to the cause and the courage to fight for it, come what may.
In the meanwhile, once again I ask this of President Estrada: On behalf of our suffering people, please find it in your heart to go with grace and wisdom. All is not lost. Redemption can yet be had, if you listen to your conscience, and admit your human failings. And then do your people the finest service you can perform at this crucial moment of our history.
Let our people remember you as having made the supreme self-sacrifice of resignation.