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Full text: Sen. Miguel Zubiri’s take on appointment of cabinet secretaries

IMPORTANT NOTE: This privilege speech of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri is a must-read. Compare this to former Bukidnon 1st District Congressman Neric Acosta’s statement which you can find HERE. After you read both statements, you can share your thoughts, opinions, reactions HERE.

The full text of this privilege speech was provided for by the Office of Senator Miguel Zubiri.

Privilege Speech

SEN. JUAN MIGUEL F. ZUBIRI

11 May 2011

“The Road Less Travelled: Ang Daang Matuwid”

There is, perhaps, no denying that the administration of His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was catapulted into office through the promise of a moral revolution in governance. It made a pact with the Filipino people that, once elected, this administration shall endeavor to bring about change by stomping out corruption in government and ultimately regaining the trust and confidence of our people.

The Aquino Administration introduced the phrase “Daang Matuwid” and made absolute good use of it as its battle-cry. “Daang Matuwid” was eventually translated into an action plan and became the underlying thrust of this administration’s governance particularly in its efforts to curb graft and corruption. This was enunciated during the President’s first State of the Nation Address when he stated: “Sa bawat sandali po ng pamamahala ay nahaharap tayo sa isang sangandaan. Sa isang banda po ay ang pagpili para sa ikabubuti ng taumbayan. Ang pagtanaw sa interes ng nakakarami; ang pagkapit sa prinsipyo; at ang pagiging tapat sa sinumpaan nating tungkulin bilang lingkod­-bayan. Ito po ang tuwid na daan. Sa kabilang banda ay ang pag-una sa pansariling interes. Ang pagpapaalipin sa pulitikal na konsiderasyon, at pagsasakripisyo ng kapakanan ng taumbayan. Ito po ang baluktot na daan. Matagal pong naligaw ang pamahalaan sa daang baluktot. Araw-araw po, lalong lumilinaw sa akin ang lawak ng problemang ating namana.” This administration’s “Daang Matuwid” evolved into a catchphrase that reverberated across the country most especially along the corridors of our government.

“Daang Matuwid,” Mr. President, is without a doubt a laudable objective. I could not agree more with the realization of this administration that it is high time that our government take the lead in opting for the right and narrow path – the road less travelled, if you please. In fact, I rally behind this administration in its efforts to institute reforms in our government and in the challenge it took on when it swore to make the fight against graft and corruption a priority. I believe no argument is forthcoming when I say that there is an imperative need to regain the trust and confidence of our people in our government institutions – and what better way than for our government to actually be at the forefront of reforms and be seen to be genuinely sincere in its efforts towards change.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, I rise however, in an honest attempt to put this administration to task and hold it to its word. In line with the underlying thrust of opting for the “Daang Matuwid” and, more importantly, in the faithful adherence thereto, I humbly beseech this administration to exercise prudence in the discharge of its appointing powers and, consequently, appoint only individuals of proven competence, unsullied integrity, and unquestionable honesty to fill vacancies in the various positions in the Executive and Judicial Branches and Constitutional Offices. I urge this administration to refrain from naming appointees who are charged with offenses punishable under the Revised Penal Code and/or Special Penal Laws, particularly those involving moral turpitude and/or graft and corruption.

I am convinced, Mr. President, that the maintenance by our government of a high standard of integrity and competence as well as honesty and fair dealing is absolutely essential to making our government an effective instrument for change. This is undoubtedly a prerequisite if this administration is truly sincere in its pursuit for the “Daang Matuwid.” If this administration intends to inspire the confidence, respect, and trust of the Filipino people, it must, at the very least, be able to subscribe to the exacting standards of moral integrity and unquestionable honesty. Always bearing in mind “Daang Matuwid” as an underlying principle and the fact that a government can only be as reputable as the people comprising it, this administration must be beyond suspicion and avoid even the slightest appearance of impropriety.

Mr. President, I am completely aware of the Constitutional guarantee that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. That is an underlying precept in all egalitarian societies, including ours. The presumption, however, does not fall squarely with what is sought to be achieved by this administration’s “Daang Matuwid.” If this administration is genuinely sincere in treading this path, stricter standards must necessarily be put in place – this I believe is the very essence of “Daang Matuwid” – a government that is at all times beyond reproach. As held in the case of Kayong vs. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859, the standard of personal and professional integrity in not satisfied by such conduct as merely enables a person to escape the penalty of criminal law. Good moral character includes at least common honesty.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, in view of the foregoing, this Representation filed P.S. Resolution 459 expressing the sense of the Senate urging the President to exercise prudence in the discharge of its appointing powers and appoint only individuals of proven competence, unsullied integrity, and unquestionable honesty to the various positions in the Executive and Judicial Branches and Constitutional Offices.

In the same breath, I implore our colleagues in the Commission on Appointments to be more circumspect in the review of the list of nominees submitted for confirmation by the President. The Commission must bear in mind, before it gives its imprimatur, that the appointees whose appointment it confirms and consequently, allows to join the ranks of government shall ultimately reflect the kind of government that we have. If the average Juan De La Cruz painstakingly lines up to procure an NBI Clearance as a requirement for employment, with all the more reason that a bureaucrat must undergo a more rigorous process as a condition for appointment.

“Ang pagtanaw sa interes ng nakakarami; ang pagkapit sa prinsipyo; at ang pagiging tapat sa sinumpaan nating tungkulin bilang linkod-bayan. Ito po ang tuwid na daan,” ayon kay Pangulong Aquino. Ako po ay sumasang-ayon. We cannot, in good conscience, allow the President to take this fight alone. This is a path that we should all take as a people ever mindful as to what “Daang Matuwid” entails as it indubitably entails something more, especially from our government.

Thank you very much!

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