His Excellency David Hurley, governor-general of Australia, and first lady Linda Hurley,
Their Excellencies, special envoys and heads of delegations
His Excellency most reverend Charles John Brown and the esteemed members of the diplomatic corps,
Vice President Sara Duterte,
President Fidel Ramos,
President Joseph Ejercito Estrada,
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and the honorable members of the Philippine Senate,
House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco and the honorable members of the House of Representatives,
Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and the honorable justices of the Supreme Court,
First Lady Liza Araneta, and my children, Alexander “Sandro”, Simon, and Vincent,
I could not proceed without a special greeting of course to the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos,
Other distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
My beloved countrymen,
A good afternoon to all!
This is a historic moment for us all. I feel it deep within me. You, the people have spoken and it is resounding. When my call for unity started to resonate with you, it did so because it echoed your yearning, mirrored your sentiments, and expressed your hopes for family, for country and for a better future. That is why it reverberated and amplified as it did, to deliver the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.
By your vote, you rejected the politics of division. I offended none of my rivals in this campaign. I listened instead to what they were saying and I saw little incompatibility with my own ideas about jobs, fair wages, personal safety and national strength and ending want in a land of plenty.
I believe that if we focus on the work at hand, and the work that will come to hand, we will go very far under my watch. You believe that too. And I listened to your voices who are calling for unity, unity and unity. We will go further together than against each other, pushing forward not pulling each other back out of fear, out of a misplaced sense of weakness. But we are the furthest from weak. The Filipino diaspora flourishes even in the most inhospitable climes, where they are valued for their quality. The changes we shape will benefit all and will shortchange no one. I was not the instrument of change, you were that. You made it happen. I am now.
You picked me to be your servant to enable changes to benefit all. I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility that you’ve put on my shoulders. I do not take it lightly but I’m ready for the task. I will need your help. I want to rely on it but rest assured I do not predicate success on the wide cooperation that’s needed. I will get it done.
I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence in a land filled with people with the greatest potential for achievement, and yet they were poor. But he got it done. Sometimes, with the needed support. Sometimes, without. So, will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me.
I am here not to talk about the past. I am here to tell you about our future. A future of sufficiency, even plenty of readily available ways and means to get done what needs doing – by you, by me. We do not look back, but ahead. Up the road that we must take to a place better than the one we lost in the pandemic. Gains made and lost. Opportunities missed. Well-laid plans superseded by the pandemic. Indeed, ours was the fastest growing economy in the ASEAN byways now outdated. We shall be again, by radical change in the way the world must now work to recover what we lost in that fire, and move on from there.
We face prospects of the war abroad of which we are totally blameless. We seek friendship with all. But countries like ours will bear the brunt of it. And if the great powers draw the wrong lessons from the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, the same dark prospect of conflict will spread to our part of the world.
Yet there is more out there. Like going forward by new ways of doing, that the pandemic forces to adopt, a stronger resilience, quicker adaptability. They are our best prevention, they are our best protection. Quiet reflection in a rough and tumbled campaign of a breadth and intensity never experienced reveal some of them. Such as the willingness to listen despite the noise, the hesitation to quarrel over differences and to never ever give up hope of reconciliation. These gave me the piece to ponder deeper. There are hints of a road not taken that could get us out of here quicker, to something better, something less fragile. There is also what you the people did to cope but this time empowered by new techniques and more resources. You got by, getting some of what you needed with a massive government help. And for this I thank my predecessor for the courage of his hard decisions. But there is a way to put more means and choices in your hands. I trust the Filipino.
Imagine how much more you’d achieve, if the government backstops instead of dictating your decisions. Always there to pick you up when you fall. Giving what you need to get past a problem. Imagine if it invested in your self empowerment to bring it closer to taking on whatever challenges come. Imagine, a country that in almost every sense is you. Now imagine what you and the government can achieve together. We did it in the pandemic and we will do it again.
But again, I will not predicate my promise to you on your cooperation. You have your own lives to live. Your work to do and there too I will help. Government will get as much done alone without requiring more from you. That is what government and public officials are for. No excuses. Just deliver. It was like that, once upon a time.
I did not talk much in this campaign. I did not bother to think of rebutting my rivals. Instead, I searched for promising approaches better than the usual solutions. I listened to you. I did not lecture you who has the biggest stake in our success and the forthcoming State of the Nation will tell you exactly how we shall get this done.
In this fresh chapter of our history, I extend my hand to all Filipinos. Come, let us put our shoulders to the wheel and give that wheel a faster turn to repair and to rebuild and to address challenges in new ways to provide what all Filipinos need to be all that we can. We are here to repair a house divided, to make it whole and to stand strong again in the bayanihan way, expressive of our nature as Filipinos. We shall seek, not scorn dialogue, listen respectfully to contrary views, be open to suggestions coming from hard thinking and unsparing judgment but always from us, Filipinos. We can trust no one else when it comes to what is best for us. Past history has often proven that.
Solutions from outside divided us, none deepened our understanding. They were always at our expense. Never forget, we are Filipinos, one nation, one republic indivisible. We resisted and never failed to defeat foreign attempts to break our country in my father’s watch. His strongest critics have conceded that. So let us all be part of the solution that we choose. In that lies the power to get it done, always be open to differing views but ever united in our chosen goal. Never hesitating to change it should it prove one thing. That is how agile and resilient republics are made. Our future we decide today, yesterday cannot make that decision anymore, nor can tomorrow delay it. The sooner we start, the surer and quicker the prospect of achieving our future.
These are troubling times, what’s happening to others can happen to us but it will not. We see what is happening. We are witness to how it is being stopped and we have seen the glory that crowns struggle against all odds. Giving up is not an option. We’ve been through times of bitter division but united. We came through to this when it shall begin again but better.
The campaigns have run, and have taken me here where I stand today. I listened to you and this is what I have heard. We all want peace in our land. You and your children want a good chance of a better life, in a safer, more prosperous country. All that is within reach of a hard working, warm and giving race. Your dreams are mine. Your hopes are my hopes. How can we make them come true? How can we do it together? But I will take it as far as anyone with the same faith and commitment can as if it depended entirely on himself. In our hope to make our country peaceful, your hope is my hope. In your hope of making our country successful, your hope is my hope. And in our hope for our brighter future and the futures of our children, your hope is my hope.
We are presently drawing up a comprehensive all-inclusive plan for economic transformation. We will build back better by doing things in the light of the experiences that we have had. Both good and bad. It doesn’t matter. No looking back in anger or nostalgia. In the road ahead, the immediate months will be rough but I will walk that road with you. The pandemic ravaged bigger economies than ours. The virus is not the only thing to blame. What had been well-built was torn down. We will build it back better.
The role of agriculture cries for urgent attention that its neglect and misdirection now demands. Food self-sufficiency is the key promise of every administration. None but one delivered. There were inherent defects in the old ways and in recent ways too. The trade policy of competitive advantage made the case that when it comes to food sufficiency a country should not produce, but import what other countries make more of and sell cheapest. Then came Ukraine, the most vulnerable when it comes to food are the countries farthest away from the conflict. Those bearing no blame for provoking. Yet they face the biggest risk of starvation. If financial aid is poured into them, though it never is, there is nothing to buy. Food is not just a trade commodity. Without it, people weaken and die, societies come apart. It is more than a livelihood, it is an existential imperative, and a moral one. An agriculture damage diminished by unfair competition will have a harder time or will have no prospects at all of recovering. Food sufficiency must get the preferential treatment. The richest free trade countries always gave their agricultural sectors. Their policy boils down to don’t do as we do. Do what we tell you to. I am giving that policy the most serious thought if that doesn’t change or make more allowances for emergencies with long-term effects.
There is a parallel problem in our energy supply. Sufficient fossil fuel-free technology for whole economies has yet to be invented and it is not seriously tried by rich countries. Again, consider the response of the richest countries to the war in Ukraine. But surely, a free world awashed with oil can assure supplies or we will find a way. We are not far from oil and gas reserves that have already been developed.
What we teach in our schools, the materials used, must be retaught. I am not talking about history, I am talking about the basics, the sciences, sharpening theoretical aptitude and imparting vocational skills such as in the German example. Alongside, the national language, with equal emphasis and facility in a global language, which we had and lost.
Let us give OFWs all the advantages we can to survive and to thrive. Our teachers, from elementary, are heroes fighting ignorance with poor paper weapons. We are condemning the future of our race to menial occupations abroad. Then, they are exploited by traffickers. Once, we had an education system that prepared coming generations for more and better jobs. There is hope for a comeback. Vice President and soon Secretary of Education Sara Duterte-Carpio will fit that mission to a tee.
We won’t be caught unprepared, underequipped, and understaffed to fight the next pandemic. To start with, we never got over the pandemic of poor, if any, free public health. The last major upgrade of a public health system exemplified by the resources poured into the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) predates the current shambles by three generations.
Our nurses are the best in the world. They acquitted themselves with the highest distinction abroad, having suffered even the highest casualties. With the same exemplary dedication at home, they just got by. They are out there because we cannot pay them for the same risk and workload that we have back here. There will be changes starting tomorrow. I am confident because I have an Ople in my cabinet.
There were shortcomings in the COVID response. We will fix them. Out in the open, no more secrets in public health. Remember, I speak from experience. I was among the first to get COVID. It was not a walk in the park.
My father built more and better roads. Produced more rice than all administrations before his. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte built more and better than all the succeeding administrations succeeding my father’s. Much has been built and so well that the economic dogma of dispersing industry to develop the least likely places has been upturned. Development was brought to them. Investors are now setting up industries along the promising routes built. And yet, the potential of this country is not exhausted.
Following these giants’ steps, we will continue to build, I will complete on schedule the projects that have been started. I am not interested in taking credit. I want to build on the success that’s already happening. We will be presenting the public with a comprehensive infrastructure plan, six years could be just about enough time. No part of our country will be neglected. Progress will be made wherever there are Filipinos so, no investment is wasted.
The recovery of Philippine tourism with its emphasis on accessing nature’s beauty, I am sure it will exceed expectations.
And bigger is not always better but there’s something to be said for economies of scale. And yet the country invites investments in fast rising industries with quick returns and inflicts irreparable damage for future generations.
We have yet to see large scale practical solutions to pollution. Though some are beginning to emerge, there are tried and proven new ways of mitigation. Blades have been turning over the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte. Harnessing a power all around but unseen long before this day. I built them.
The rich world talks a great deal but does a lot less about it than those with much less but who suffer more death and destruction from climate change and lack of adaptation. We will look to our partners and friends to help the Philippines who despite having a very small carbon footprint is at the highest risk. First spare victims and help them recover, and move on to lessen the harmful impact of climate change. We too have our part to play. We are the third biggest plastics polluter in the world, but we won’t shirk from that responsibility. We will clean up.
You will not be disappointed. So do not be afraid.
With every difficult decision that I must make, I will keep foremost in my heart and in my mind the debt of gratitude I owe you for the honor and responsibility that you have conferred on me. Whatever is in a person to make changes for the better of others, I lay before you now in my commitment, I will try to spare you. You have other responsibilities to carry but I will not spare myself from shedding the last bead of sweat or giving the last ounce of courage and sacrifice.
And if you ask me why I am so confident of the future, I will answer you simply that I have 110 million reasons to start with. Such is my faith in the Filipino.
Believe, have hope. The sun also rises like it did today and as it will tomorrow. And as surely as that, we will achieve the country, all Filipinos deserve.
God bless the Philippines, God bless our work.
Thank you very much to all of you. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!