Correspondent: What can you say about the pronouncement of President Estrada last night?
OVC: A good number of people expected much. I did too. But honest, I am sorry to say that it was poor in content and questionable in form.
Correspondent: What do you mean by poor in content?
OVC: It missed much the composite key issue which is integrity, competence and credibility in the person of the highest public office holder in the country.
Correspondent: And what do you mean by questionable in form?
OVC: Let met start with an honest position which, of course, is not necessarily right. But you asked so I am answering.
First, to my mind, the Philippine economy is in trouble primarily because of the trouble of the Philippine Presidency which, sad to say, has become a big joke to a good number of well meaning and thinking people.
And then, asking others to resolve the economic woes of the country and blaming others for them, is ultimately a sad admission of incapable leadership with the added liability of renouncing its own big accountability.
Lastly, making big sounding promises, again, while simply issuing puny orders and asking for surface results, mean anything but addressing the deep socio-economic reverses of and political unrest in the country.
Correspondent: It seems that as far as you are concerned, the President can no longer do anything right at all.
OVC: By no means. Notwithstanding his perceived personal liabilities, the President has all the persons and the resources in order to help him govern the country very much better than what has been done in the past and what is being done these days.
Correspondent: So I say again, it appears that for you, the President is in effect incapable of doing anything right at all.
OVC: Sure. He can and he should. But why does he not address the issue against him directly and clearly? Why does he not respond to the accusations against him truthfully and credibly? It is not enough for him to claim that his conscience is clean. It is only the good Lord who knows whether such is the truth or a big lie—or even but a merely honest personal mistake for one who does not really know the distinction between right and wrong, between virtue and vice. Know what? We Filipinos are suckers for plain and clear admission of guilt. We seem to be very forgiving to the detriment of justice. Well, this is another matter.
Correspondent: But he promised to answer once all the accusations have all been made. He said his answers would be made before the proper forum.
OVC: The accusations as well as suspicions against him have been made and said in the public forum. There is nothing wrong answering them also openly and publicly while waiting for the legal forum. Because otherwise, the people begin to believe more and more in the cases brought against him, and to believe less and less in his veracity and sincerity.
Correspondent: Please explain.
OVC: If the provincial governor concerned accuses him before the senate blue ribbon committee, there the President can answer if he wants to. If the same governor makes his accusations before the people, the President can answer if he wants to. Not wanting to answer meantime, is not doing him any good but making the accusations and suspicions even progressively believable.
Correspondent: Would you mind if I go back to something which is not clear to me?
OVC: Of course. It’s perhaps because I did not answer clearly. The fault is mine, not yours.
Correspondent: Again, why did you say that the pronouncement of the President was questionable in form?
OVC: Oh that! Well, directly and plainly speaking, there were no less than three chiefs who made the composite pronouncement. They were the Chief of Police, the Chief of the Armed Forces plus the Commander-In-Chief.
Correspondent: What do you think was wrong with that?
OVC: It presented a wrong picture at the wrong time with the wrong subliminal message.
Correspondent: How come you saw it that way?
OVC: Imagine the President himself saying emphatically that everything was in order and everybody was safe but then, lo and behold, he had beside him two prominent figures of force and might to affirm what he said. With his highest office and with all the authority behind it, he could have said everything without those two symbols of arms and might beside him. With the remembrance of martial law still alive and well, it was not needed much less called for to project that somehow threatening message.
Correspondent: Going to another subject, what can you say about the statement of Cardinal Sin that it was all right to accept money even from Satan provided that the same would be used for the poor?
OVC: Honest, I have not heard him say that, nor do I understand why he reportedly said it and under what circumstances it was said. Personally and officially, I would rather obey the stern lesson from my father who kept hammering upon us his children that we should never receive much less ask money from dubious sources. And this he said firmly, irrespective of what the money would be used for. I got tired hearing him repeat it. But, the man was right all along.
Correspondent: But the Cardinal said that he was simply following the example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
OVC: The good Cardinal does not need my advocacy for his position. He is a very prayerful man of God. I am not.
Correspondent: You mean you do not subscribe to what the Cardinal said or what he meant?
OVC: Frankly, I firmly hold on to the ethical principle that the end does not justify the means.
Correspondent: Please explain that a little to me.
OVC: The maxim is old and simple. It merely means that we may not do wrong things for the right end. In other words, dirty money remains dirty even if it is used or applied for any clean finality.
Correspondent: Okay. I understand. The truth is that I have heard that too.
OVC: Of course. Everyone knows it. Of course, it is something else if everybody follows it. Now, may I say something more about our present critical situation?
Correspondent: Please do.
OVC: There are some truths I know and I have to say openly and candidly. This I do simply to place our national predicament into the right perspective.
One is that this is not the first time that our country is placed in a disturbing phenomenon. We managed to emerge from our quicksand, so to speak. And we will certainly do it again and hopefully become a better people for it. I mean, things may appear hapless but not helpless.
Two is that as long as there is God, people of good will shall ultimately find their way back to what is right and just, what is good and promising.
Three is that while all our intentions and efforts are good so that we can stand up once more with legitimate pride and fond hope in our hearts, there is nothing like recourse to prayer as well. It is well said that the prayer of humanity is the weakness of divinity. That was why even our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray and so we have the “Our Father”. Thank you my friend.
1 November 2000