Rotary Club of Manila
Manila Polo Club, January 20, 2011
Allow me to thank each of you for inviting me to be the guest of honor and speaker today. It is always a pleasure to be among leaders and among fellow Rotarians.
Yes, I, too, am a member of the Rotary for those who may not know. The Rotary, with its principle of “Service above self” has always been a source of inspiration for me as a public servant.
We as Rotarians have committed ourselves to serving our communities and our people, especially the underprivileged. But let us not stop with only our immediate surroundings. We must think bigger. We must reach out farther.
Today, we are still reeling from various crises – some due to the utter mismanagement of our country by previous leaders and some due to factors of a global scale. But these crises, I believe, are surmountable and temporary. And I am glad that we have a citizenry that is optimistic and full of hope and ready to take action to improve the state of our country.
You in the private sector have a big role to play. I am certain that the Rotary Club of Manila has taken its own steps to make the country progressive through your various programs for the community. As individuals, I know that you do your share in community building and nation building.
We need these kinds of initiatives now.
The President entrusted to me the chairmanship of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). He also appointed me as Presidential Adviser for OFWS’ Concerns. These are big responsibilities and I pledge to honor these new mandates given to me by promoting good governance.
As I have said I will always support the initiatives of the Aquino administration to uplift the lives of Filipinos. And I urge you to join us in leading the Philippines to progress.
There is much work to be done in the coming years but we have already taken the important first steps in reforming the housing sector and ensuring government assistance for our OFWS.
In regular meetings with the different agencies under HUDCC, we are working on how to expand our housing programs to include the poorest of the poor. I also told the agencies that I will not tolerate corruption under my stewardship. And that any all irregularities will be investigated and resolved. in the interest of transparency and accountability, I also ordered them to make available to the public all documents on transactions and projects.
More than correcting the impression that the national government is playing favorites with some developers, we need to show the public that the government is determined to run after developers who engage in misrepresentation and duplicity and endanger the stability of government institutions.
As for our OFWS, I would always find time to meet with the Filipino communities abroad during my foreign visits. I do this in order to hear from them directly their concerns and to assure them that our government will always put priority on their welfare. Initial steps have also been put into place in the fight against illegal recruitment and human trafficking.
Our OFWS’ have sacrificed much for our country and they deserve nothing less than the full attention of the concerned government agencies.
Many have already said that the resources are readily available to us and that all that we need is the political will to implement the programs that have been set. I believe I possess this will as I believe you, too, have the will to bring change to this country.
Many of you here are businessmen, entrepreneurs and community leaders – movers and shakers of society. What you do will undoubtedly affect not only your communities but your nation as well.
As your Vice President, I want to emphasize the irreplaceable value of close cooperation and coordination between the private sector and the government in creating the prosperity we seek for our country and our people. This is what we need.
My fellow Rotarians, let us close ranks in pursuit of our commitment to “Service above self,” especially for the Filipino children of this generation.
If we Rotarians are to truly make a difference, we first have to ensure that all our efforts will be allowed to take root, flourish and bear fruit freely, uninterruptedly, for all succeeding generations to enjoy.
Eleanor Roosevelt warns us that, “so much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating effect.”
That is why for all our sakes, we have to take an active part in the nation’s affairs. Let us show our solidarity with other sectors that have bravely come forward to put an end to the various ills that have plagued our land.
Shakespeare said that: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
I believe that not one country has ever been ‘born great’, and it is wishful thinking to assume that the Philippines would be lucky enough to have ‘greatness thrust upon it’.
And so it is clear that we have no choice but to ‘achieve greatness’ as one people, one nation, one force, and one vision.
I can only hope that, with your help, we can all spread the Rotary spirit of ‘service above self’. MABUHAY ANG ROTARY! MABUHAY ANG PILIPINAS!