For Truth and Justice
September 30, 2005
First of all, let me thank the Administration, the Faculty, the students and the community of Miriam College for inviting me here to pray with you today.
Two weeks ago, I spoke before a similar gathering at the Ateneo to send a personal message, clearly and unequivocally. And I want to reiterate—and build upon—that message here today.
Of late, I-along with other protesters of various persuasions—have been depicted by my critics and some government spokespersons as a nuisance, standing in the way of political stability and economic growth. They scoff at my supposed inability to muster significant numbers on the streets—a la EDSA 1 and 2—to oust the President. They say that Cory has lost her magic.
My, have they got their signals crossed! But I suppose some of them just refuse to understand what I am saying, while others want to confuse the issue so that people will not get my message.
So, again, let me state it plainly.
First, allow me to re-introduce myself. I speak before you as Cory Aquino, private Filipino citizen. I am not a magician nor a Pied Piper—and, believe me, at 72 years of age, I have no intention of embarking on a new career. As a citizen, I have the right to speak my mind, and the opinions I express are mine alone. You are free to agree or disagree with me for as long as we live under a democracy.
Second, I wish to make it clear that am not demanding the President’s resignation. Since July, my plea has been for the President to make the supreme sacrifice of resigning from office as the least painful constitutional path out of our present crisis. By that, I do not mean to prejudge whether or not the President cheated in the 2004 elections.
It is unfortunate that the impeachment process, the only legitimate avenue by which to evaluate various forms of evidence of electoral fraud allegedly committed by or in behalf of the President, has been voted down. Consequently, the President has lost the opportunity to disprove the evidence and to vindicate herself. This has mortally injured her credibility and trapped her in a web of “transactional politics”—making it virtually impossible for her to unite and govern the country effectively.
In the last few days several senate inquiries regarding questionable transactions entered into by government and national security concerns have also faced blank walls. The most recent of which is the Venable contract signed by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and the matter of the wiretapping on the President. The non-disclosure position taken by Sec. Gonzales regarding the Venable contract and the supposed instructions to Gen. Gudani not to testify in the investigation of the alleged wiretapping of the President makes us wonder why people offering information that could lead to the truth is continuously being blocked by this government.
To state my position in simplistic terms, I am not anti-GMA—I am pro-truth.
This brings me to my third point. What we face today as a nation is not so much a political or economic crisis but a moral one. Hurdling such a crisis does not call for strength in numbers on the streets. It calls for a resurgent moral force, a re-affirmation of our fundamental convictions.
As I said at the Ateneo, only moral clarity can lift us from our present state of uncertainty. Let us clarify what we believe before we try to discern whom to believe. Before demanding anything of our leaders, let us first demand it of ourselves. Let us re-examine our concepts of right or wrong. These days, many of us tend to rationalize our moral choices. Is it all right to settle for the “lesser of many evils”? Or to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing simply because everybody else is doing it? Or to use whatever means to achieve what we think are noble ends? Strong core values are our most important legacy for the next generation of Filipinos. They are more vital than the promise of political stability or material prosperity. As Rizal said over a hundred years ago, any society built on weak moral foundations will not endure.
How do we achieve moral clarity? Gatherings like this are a good start. It gives us the opportunity to come together in prayer, introspection and discernment. We are all human beings with our share of weaknesses. No one among us can claim to have all the answers. With divine guidance, I am sure that we will find the right path forward.
Correct moral values are expressed not just in thoughts and words but in deeds as well. In this light, I urge you to act with greater compassion toward the poor in these difficult times. Protracted political and economic uncertainty will affect poor communities most of all. Hence, I enjoin all of you to help us in mobilizing multi-sectoral support and resources toward microfinance projects and other initiatives to empower the poor. Such efforts on the part of thousands of selfless Filipinos, I believe, is the new dimension of People Power that we need to nurture.
At the same time, let us guard against insidious designs to undermine our democracy.
Lately, the idea of imposing martial law to quell “disruptive” protest actions has been floated. When that trial balloon began crashing, as expected, the government announced that it is adopting a “calibrated preemptive response” to street demonstrations. PNP Director General Arturo Lomibao even saw fit to give me and Susan Roces fair warning that we were not exempt from such a policy.
To underscore the point that Cory Aquino should start behaving in a politically correct manner, the Hacienda Luisita issue was resurrected—a familiar refrain from the years of the Marcos dictatorship.
Just five days ago, I was “ninang” at a wedding and one of the “ninongs” told me: “Don’t you think you should start answering some of the criticisms against you?” “Like what”, I said. “Like the accusation that you only wanted to ask for the resignation of PGMA because of Luisita.” I countered: “But if Luisita were the reason, then shouldn’t I just have made “sipsip” or at the very least kept quiet?” I imagine the motives of the Hyatt 10 have also been questioned. And the same goes for Senate President Drilon and some of the Liberal Party members who also asked for the resignation of the President.
More than ever, it is important for all of us to pray during these difficult times. One of my favorite quotations from the Holy Bible is from Isaiah 65:1
“The Lord said, “I was ready to answer my people’s prayers, but they did not pray. I was ready for them to find Me, but they did not even try. The nation did not pray to Me, even though I was always ready to answer, ‘Here I am; I will help you.’”
At least, now that we have prayed and will continue to pray, then Our Lord will be there to help us.
And, so, my fellow Filipinos, I urge you to stand up not for Cory Aquino or for anybody else, but for yourselves and for your families, for our democracy and for the country that we love. And if possible, let us all pray the rosary every day. Ninoy prayed the rosary every day and he told me that sometimes he would pray as many as 50 rosaries a day. You have to remember that in prison there was nothing much for him to do and so he would pray one rosary after another. I believe that all those rosaries made him a better person specially during the most difficult times and gave him the courage to live and die for our country.
Thank you very much for the privilege of praying with you. May God bless us all!