Press Release
April 29, 2016

(University of Negros Occidental - Recoletos, Bacolod City, 29 April 2016)

My administration will bequeath to the next president a nation stronger than what I will inherit. By the end of my term, the Philippines will be more prosperous, its people more united, and its political institutions more stable. The first item in my order of battle is to reform the culture of corruption.

In the latest Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, the Philippines ranked 95th out of the 168 countries. We scored only 35 out of 100 points, showing that the public still believes that corruption is widespread in government.

The agencies most perceived as corrupt are at the frontlines: the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

You will notice that these agencies are the ones that are supposed to deal with the problems Filipinos complain about daily. Smuggling is rampant because Customs agents connive with illicit businessmen. Public transport is a nightmare because the DOTC is hostage to private interest. Roads and bridges are substandard because DPWH engineers pocket huge cuts. Crop productivity is low because funds for farmer support go to electoral campaigns. Criminality is high because cops run some of the syndicates.

It does not take a genius to solve corruption. Laudable remedies have time and again been proposed. In fact, several measures aimed at curbing corruption are now pending in Congress. I have authored or supported these bills, and, if elected, I vow to shepherd them into approval. These include:

The Freedom of Information Bill, which, if approved, will improve transparency and accountability in government;

The Anti-Dynasty Bill and the Anti-Premature Campaigning Bill, which seek to level the playing field during the elections;

The Anti-Epal Bill, which will help put an end to political patronage;

The Anti-Political Recommendations Bill, which aims to restore meritocracy in government and abolish the "padrino system"; and

Measures that will support the development of strong political parties, to help stabilize the shaky political arena.

Pending these reforms, we must look for other ways to fight corruption. I invite you, the young people, to join the crusade against corruption and the task of nation building. Begin by making sure that society does not condone corruption. Corruption only exists in a society that allows it. I urge you to:

Follow the money. Stealing is easy when no one is watching, so you should track government spending and always look for results.

Lobby. Collectively draft policies that will help fight corruption or improve public service delivery, and ask your legislators to adopt them.

Protest. Let those in power know that you are watching them. Show them that you are a force to reckon with.

Vote. Choose candidates with moral integrity. If possible, fund the campaign of these candidates through small contributions or fundraisers so that they will not be beholden to contributors' interests.

Protect the ballot. If we allow the rigging of election results, all our efforts to rid the country of corruption will be in vain.

Our weapons against corruption are ready. What we need is the will to win. Do not be intimidated by the fact that you are young. You are filled with boundless energy, unfathomable courage, and a sense of wonder. Use these to your advantage and for the greater good. As the poet said,

So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When duty whispers low, "Thou must,"
The youth whispers, "I can."

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