Mar and Joey

No it’s not Mel and Joey, it’s Mar and Joey: Mr. Palengke and Mr. Negosyo. Funny how people call me up these days and think I am running in the upcoming elections. It has never crossed my mind and while it has been offered to me now and again, I politely refused on the basis of my belief that what the country needs today are more negosyantes. People must become more excited to become a negosyante than to be a candidate. Mar sent me one of his speeches and asked me what I thought. Let me summarize his speech and my reaction which I got his permission to make public.

* * * * *

The way forward
(Keynote speech of Senator MAR Roxas during the 61st Anniversary of the Liberal Party, Club Filipino, San Juan)
Sixty-one years ago today, the Liberal Party was founded as an instrument for renewal, leadership, and hope. Back then, as the Second World War ended, our people rolled up their sleeves for the hard work of establishing our freedom and rebuilding our nation…

Sixty-one years ago, the country emerged from the horrors of a second world war… Yet although physically broken, our countrymen were strong in spirit, powerful in terms of dedication, brave in the face of adversity. They believed they could make a difference and they did.

The way forward for them was to conquer their fear, grit their teeth, put shoulder to the grindstone and do the necessary hard work of rebuilding our nation. Together, they went on to build our country to become the strongest economy of Asia. That was then.

Today, the Philippines is divided into the haves, the have-nots, and the will never-haves: a nation in conflict politically, but also gutted from within…

How do we get our people to set aside their cynicism, re-engage in civic life and come on-board our platform? I believe our way forward is not to make the political debate be about us, the politicians… I believe our way forward is to lead this debate, and make this campaign a battle of ideas, and not just personalities. I believe our way forward is to present, run on, and make our mark based on the 2 pillars that prop up our country today: our people themselves and the sacrifice they made on the EVAT…let all EVAT revenues be set aside and conferred a status reflecting what it really is – an internal rehabilitation fund. It should be used for investment type activities and not for consumption type undertakings.

But the monies collected from the expanded VAT must go over and above what would regularly have been spent in priority areas. This is in order to jump start important sectors of our country like education, health and infrastructure towards modernity and world-class standards.

Let this be our advocacy – to recognize that upon our people rests our future, to recognize the sacrifice they made and to apply good governance thereupon, making each peso of sacrifice count by treating it as a special account of the people, for the people, and by the people.

* * * * *

Thank you, Mar, for giving me a copy of your speech. I would also like to thank you for dropping by last February 5 and supporting Go Negosyo for the past 15 months.

From the time I first became an entrepreneur, which was when I was in high school, my views towards the Philippines have somehow changed. As we look back at how our country has progressed, one could see a cycle of misery. The 20 plus years of martial law and the socio-political turmoil that followed led to the Philippines becoming a laggard in Asia.

From my point of view, it is because of our political immaturity, coming from a political system that does not seem to work. If you look at the country as Philippines Inc., we basically have a set of Board of Directors that consists of two often disparate bodies, the House and the Senate. Imagine having 2 sets of directors in a private corporation or a family corporation, you will never get to do anything and the company will move very slowly.

My personal views on Philippine politics can go on and on, but that has never been my advocacy. This is not to say, however, that we cannot continue to progress with what we have today under the bicameral system. What is important is for all political parties to come together and build on the momentum we have today. We must strive for greater optimism, and translate this to greater hope for the countless Filipinos out there who seem to have lost hope. We must teach them to take control of their own destiny, and not rely on government to do it for them. I know we have an imperfect system, and there are those who criticize the President for this, but we now have this unique opportunity to stop this cycle of misery that has plagued this country for so many years. It’s time to end it and move forward. This is what entrepreneurs and investors know best and do best, entrepreneurs have that gift of finding good business models, and people who see this will also come in and invest. This is why we must continue to create a favorable business climate, as entrepreneurs will do the rest in finding what the country needs and finding a way to fill those needs.

Mar, you are a great leader and will have a big influence in our country’s future. Your recommendation on EVAT and the use of it especially on education is good. Good governance is part of the process of developing political maturity, especially among the electorate who must learn to choose the right people to lead this country. For as long as we keep electing the wrong people, we will never break the cycle of misery and poverty. Good governance should be the standard in selecting future leaders so that we correct our problem from the source. Let us choose leaders who will not just give people fish for the day, but teach them how to fish for a lifetime. As the nation once more moves towards elections, this is what Go Negosyo hopes to advocate.