FULL TEXT: PNoy speech during PNPA Graduation of Lakandula Class 2015

Inihayag sa Silang, Cavite, noong ika-26 ng Marso 2015

Magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat.

Ngayong araw po, minamarkahan natin ang pagtawid ng 246 miyembro ng PNPA “LAKANDULA” Class of 2015 patungo sa pagiging miyembro ng ating unipormadong hanay. Kasama ang inyong mga magulang at kaanak, pati na ang inyong mga guro at pinuno sa PNP, BJMP, at BFP binabati ko kayong lahat. [Palakpakan]

Lalong nagiging makabuluhan ang pinili n’yong ipangalan sa inyong sarili, ngayong naging bahagi na ng ating pambansang kamalayan ang ginawang kabayanihan ng 44 na magigiting na miyembro ng Special Action Force. Hindi matatawaran ang ipinakita nilang halimbawa bilang “Lahing kayumanggi na handang ialay sa bayan ang dugo at lakas.” Sigurado akong kasama ang kanilang sakripisyo sa mga nasa isip n’yo ngayong pumapasok kayo sa bagong yugto ng inyong pagiging lingkod-bayan. Bilang mga pulis, malalagay kayo sa sitwasyon kung saan nakasalalay sa inyong pagkilos at pagpapasya ang buhay ng ating mga kababayan, pati na ang sarili n’yong buhay at ng inyong kasamahan. Inaasahan ko na gagamitin n’yo ang inyong pagsasanay at lahat ng natutunan dito sa PNPA, hindi lang upang magtagumpay ang inyong mga misyon, kundi upang mapangalagaan ang kapakanan ng bawat isa.

Tiyak ko po na sinusundan ninyo ang mga balita at komentaryo tungkol sa Oplan Exodus. Ang iba sa mga ito ay nagsilbing inspirasyon para sa mga batang pulis na katulad ninyo, at nagpataas ng pagtingin ng mga Pilipino po sa buong kapulisan. Pero sa kasamaang palad, marami rin sa mga ito ang nagdulot ng kalituhan, kung hindi man ng galit, sa ating mga kababayan.

Ngayon po, may dalawang ulat na mapapagkunan ng impormasyon hinggil sa mga naganap sa Mamasapano: Ang Board of Inquiry Report, at ang Senate Report na nabuo matapos ang ginawa nilang imbestigasyon. Maraming tanong sa isip ng ating mamamayan ang masasagot ng mga ulat na ito. Sumasang-ayon po ang dalawang ulat sa mga nauna na nating pahayag tungkol sa mga detalye ng operasyon. Sa katunayan po, pinagtitibay ng dalawang report ang ating posisyon sa simula pa lang na malaking pagkakamali ang kawalan ng koordinasyon sa AFP. Ang ikinalulungkot ko, imbis na magtanong sa akin ay naglagay ng ispekulasyon ang mga gumawa ng ulat. Maitatanong nga po natin: Paano naman makakatulong sa paglilinaw ng isyu kung hula ang gagamitin imbis na facts?

Maliban na lang kung may kailanganin pang paglilinaw mula sa akin ang kinauukulan, ito na ang huling pagkakataon na magsasalita ako tungkol sa isyung ito. Siguro naman po, hindi kalabisan kung ipapahayag ko rin ang aking punto de bista, upang linawin sa inyo ang pinanggalingan ng mga desisyong ginawa ko kaugnay ng mga nangyari sa Mamasapano. Karapatan ninyong malaman ang buong katotohanan. Madalas ngang nasasabi: The truth shall set us all free. Marahil po, ang pinakamahalagang kailangan kong sagutin ay ang tanong sa akin ng ama ng isa sa nasawing SAF Commandos. Tanong po niya, “Bakit n’yo pinapunta doon ang anak ko? Bakit n’yo siya pinabayaang mamatay?”

Nauunawaan ko po ang pinanggagalingan ng ganitong mga pahayag. Paulit-ulit kong binabalikan ang mga alam ko tungkol sa nangyari, at iniisip kung nagkulang ba ako, at kung may iba pa akong dapat nagawa. Bibigyan ko po ng diin: Hindi ko hahayaang pumunta sa isang tinaguriang suicide mission ang sinuman sa ating unipormadong hanay. Kapag nakita kong lubhang peligroso ang isang operasyon, ako ang pinakaunang magsasabing huwag na itong ituloy. Pero sa ipinakita sa aking bersiyon ng plano, nakumbinsi ako na talagang pinaghandaan ito, at magiging maayos ang pagpapatupad nito. Ipinagpalagay din nating masusunod ang lahat ng inutos natin, lalo pa’t mga propesyonal ang ating nakakausap hinggil dito.

Ang sa akin lang po, subukan rin sana ninyong ilagay ang sarili ninyo sa sitwasyon ko. Kung sa umaga pa lang na una akong pinadalhan ng mensahe, tinapat na ako at sinabing, “Sir, nagigipit na kami, hindi po namin nasunod ang sinabi ninyong koordinasyon kaya mabagal ang usad ng Armed Forces. Puwede po ba ninyo kaming tulungang mapabilis ang responde?” Kung nalaman ko ito agad, sa tingin n’yo ba, hindi ako gagawa ng paraan para tulungan ang ating hanay? Pero alam n’yo naman po ang nangyari. Noong umaga ng ika-25 ng Enero, wala pong masasabing urgency ang ipinadala nilang mga text sa akin. Ang dating nga po sa akin, tapos na o patapos na ang nangyayari sa Mamasapano dahil sumasaklolo na raw ang ating mga mechanized units at artillery.

Kaya naman po itinuloy ko ang plano kong pumunta sa Zamboanga. Hayaan ninyo ring ipaliwanag ko ang mga nangyari noong nagpunta ako doon. Dahil sa mga naunang pag-atake ng rogue MNLF, inutos natin, at itinuturing nang “hardened site” ang Zamboanga City. Ibig sabihin po nito, pinagtibay ang mga polisiya sa seguridad para mapigilan ang mga terorista sa kanilang mga masasamang balak. Pagdating ko po doon, pinakitaan ako ng mga litrato ng kotse na ginamit sa pambobomba, pati na ang bahay na pinanggagalingan ng kotseng ito. May surveillance hanggang doon sa lugar kung saan pinasabog ang bomba. Ang tanong nga po natin, kung nasundan na itong sasakyan na ito, bakit hindi pa napigilan ang pag-atake? Alam po n’yo, wala pong makasagot sa akin noong araw na ‘yon. At sa mga sumunod na araw, doon po naipaliwanag sa atin na walang pong nakita ‘yung ating intelligence operatives na tinatawag na overt acts na magsisilbi sanang probable cause o dahilan para sitahin ang mga nakasakay. Bukod pa rito, magdadalawang taon na ang nakalipas mula nang mangyari ang Zamboanga siege. Ngunit hindi pa rin naisasaayos ang mga dapat isaayos dahil sa mga lokal na isyu. Kaya nga po gusto kong gamitin ang pagkakataon upang kausapin nang masinsinan si Mayor Beng Climaco nang mapabilis ang rehabilitasyon ng mga apektadong komunidad.

Habang inaasikaso ko po ang mga ito, naisip ko na tapos na o patapos na ang nangyari sa Mamasapano. Ipapaalala ko lang po, pagabi na nang inabisuhan ako sa tunay na kalagayan, hindi po ng 55th, pero ng ating 84th na tinaguriang Seaborne Company.  Ang sabi sa akin, mahirap na raw pong mag-link-up dahil padilim na, at may panganib ng friendly fire. Hindi po tayo pumayag na kinabukasan pa makukumpleto ang pagli-link up. Sabi ko po sa kanila, “Hindi ba natin brothers ang mga nagigipit? Hindi ba dapat gumawa tayo ng paraan?” Inutos ko nga po na gumawa ng plano para maka-link up sa lalong madaling panahon at maisalba ang 84th. Ang pinaka-minimum na papayagan ko ay dapat mabigyan sila ng ayuda tulad ng gamot at re-supply ng bala kung talagang imposibleng makapag-link up. Sa mata po ng Diyos, totoo po ang sinasabi ko sa inyo. Pero batid ko na may ilang sarado na ang isip at hindi na makikinig kahit ano pa ang aking sabihin.

Ngayon po, puwede akong magbigay ng mahabang paliwanag tungkol sa peligrong dinadala nina Marwan at Usman sa ating mga kababayan. Puwede ko ring idetalye ang mga naging problema at pagkakamali sa isinagawang operasyon. Ngayon nga pong nailahad ko na ang lahat ng pinagdaanan ko, at ang mga hawak kong impormasyon noong araw na iyon, meron po kayang makakapagsabi nang totoo na kaya niyang higitan ang mga nagawa natin sa impormasyong tangan natin noong mga araw na iyon upang tugunan ang sitwasyong hindi man niya batid?

Pero batid ko po: Walang salitang sasapat upang maipaliwanag ang pagkamatay ng ating magigiting na pulis. Hindi maipagkakasya sa anumang ulat o talumpati ang lungkot na nararamdaman ng isang magulang na nawalan ng isang mabuting anak. Ang magagawa ko na lamang matapos masabi ang lahat ng dapat sabihin at magawa ang lahat ng dapat gawin: Humingi po ng pang-unawa.

Gaano man katindi ang galit ko sa ginawang pagsuway sa ibinigay kong utos, gaano man ang pagsisisi ko sa pagtitiwala sa mga taong itinago sa akin ang totoo, hindi ko mabubura ang katotohanan: Patay na ang 44 na miyembro ng ating kapulisan. At nangyari ito sa panahon ng aking panunungkulan. Dadalhin ko—at uulitin ko po—dadalhin ko ang katotohanang ito hanggang sa aking mismong libingan.

Uulitin ko po sa inyo: Bilang Pangulo, pasan ko ang responsibilidad para sa anumang resulta, sa anumang tagumpay, pasakit, o trahedya, na maaari nating matamasa sa paghahangad ng pangmatagalang seguridad at kapayapaan. Ikinalulungkot kong may mga pamilyang nawalan ng asawa, ama, kapatid, anak, dahil sa nangyari sa Mamasapano. Ikinalulungkot kong sa pagnanais kong bigyan ng espasyong magluksa ang mga makakakita, sa unang pagkakataon, ng nasawi nilang kaanak, ay may mga nag-isip na ako’y manhid at walang pakikiramay. Ang intensiyon ko noon ay makatulong sa paghilom. Ang gusto ko po sana, kapag may nagtanong ng “Ano ang nangyari? Bakit sila namatay? Ano na po ang mangyayari sa amin?” ay may dala na akong malinaw na sagot. Kung ang naging tugon ko sa mga katanungan ay “Hindi ko po alam,” paano ako makakatulong sa kanilang paghilom? Ikinalulungkot ko ring nadadamay ang ating usaping pangkapayapaan dahil sa sentimyentong naikakabit sa naging resulta ng Oplan Exodus. Sa bawat Pilipinong nabigo at nasaktan dahil sa mga pangyayaring kaugnay ng operasyong ito: Buong pagpapakumbaba kong hinihiling ang inyong pang-unawa.

Bilang Pangulo, napakaraming usapin ang kailangan kong tutukan nang sabay-sabay, na kailangan ng agarang tugon at pagdedesisyon. Responsibilidad ko ang 100 milyong Pilipino sa loob at labas ng ating bansa. Opo, ako ang Pangulo, pero tao rin ako. Hindi ko kayang basahin ang iniisip ng bawat kausap ko, at hindi ko kayang mabantayan ang lahat sa lahat ng panahon. Pero gaya po ng aking panata, patuloy kong gagawin ang tama at makatwiran. Patuloy kong gagawin ang lahat ng aking makakaya upang paglingkuran ang lahat, at maging totoo sa aking sinumpaang tungkulin. Hindi ko naman po sinabi na kagaya ako ng Diyos na alam ang lahat, pero responsibilidad ko na itama ang mali kapag nadiskubre ang mga ito. Kaya sinisiguro ko po sa inyo: Nirerespeto natin ang tamang proseso. Mananagot ang dapat managot.

Nauunawaan ko kung bakit napakataas ng hinihingi ng mga Pilipino sa kanilang pinuno. Matagal silang napagnakawan ng buwis na kanilang pinaghirapan. Binalewala nang ilang taon ang kanilang kapakanan. Mahabang panahong ipinagkait sa kanila ang nararapat lang na dapat ay sa kanila.

Noong tumakbo ako sa pagkapangulo, sinabi ko sa inyo: Hindi po ako magnanakaw. Inimbitahan ko kayong lahat na tahakin ang tuwid na landas, na baguhin ang lumang sistema. Ibinigay n’yo sa akin ang inyong suporta. Nang sumumpa ako sa aking tungkulin, sinabi ko naman: Wala nang wangwang. Tatapusin na natin ang sistemang iilan lang ang nakikinabang, habang nagdurusa ang ating mga kababayan. Matapos ang apat at siyam na [buwan] ng aking panunungkulan, nakikita na po ninyo ang pagbabago. Pinatag natin ang mga lubak sa ating sistema. Tinugis natin ang mga tiwali. Ibinalik natin ang tiwala ng sambayanan sa pamahalaan. Ang dating bansag sa ating “Sick Man of Asia,” napalitan na ng “Asia’s Rising Tiger.”

Sa pag-unlad nga po ng ating ekonomiya, nabigyan tayo ng higit na kakayahan upang tutukan ang mga kakulangan sa kasanayan at kagamitan ng PNP, BJMP, at BFP. Noong araw nga, ang pananaw sa kapulisan, kapag binigyan mo ng armas, maaagaw lang ng NPA. Noong 2007, mababasa sa mga pahayagan, bilang halimbawa, na imbis na bigyan ng de-kalibreng armas at kagamitan, ang ipinapagamit po sa ating mga pulis ay pito at batuta na lang raw, para hindi agawin ng NPA. Ang tanong nga po natin: Paano kaya makakalaban kung ang makakaengkuwentro ninyo ay may dalang M-16?

Sa ating pagtahak sa tuwid na landas, patuloy nating tinutugunan ang mga dinatnan nating kakulangan sa inyong hanay. Ang hangad natin: lalong mapaunlad ang inyong kasanayan para sa tinaguriang “shoot, scoot, and communicate.” Noong 2014 pa lang, naisara na natin ang kakulangan ninyo sa mga pistola nang makabili tayo ng 74,879 Glock 9mm pistols para sa inyong hanay. Nariyan din ang 12,399 handheld radios, at 144 patrol jeeps na naipagkaloob na natin sa PNP mula 2010 hanggang 2014. Nitong Marso naman, nakapag-hire na tayo ng 4,859 non-uniformed personnel para tumutok sa gawaing administratibo sa inyong ahensiya, upang madagdagan naman ang bilang ng mga pulis na nagpapatrolya sa komunidad. Noong nakaraang taon din po, 9,860 PO1 positions na ang napunuan natin. Ngayong taon, naglaan na tayo ng P1.64 billion para madagdagan pa ng 10,000 ang PO1 positions. Para naman po sa Special Action Force: Pinag-aaralan natin nang mabuti ang mga aral mula sa Mamasapano upang higit na masiguro ang minimal risks kapag may operation. Daragdagan pa natin ang kanilang pagsasanay at kagamitan, at ibubuhos ang lahat ng pagkalingang nararapat [sa inyo] bilang isang elite unit ng PNP. Ang hamon nga sa susunod na pinuno ng ating Pambansang Kapulisan: Maglatag ng plano upang higit pang mapagtibay ang pagkakaisa ng ating mga pulis. Baguhin na natin ang kultura na parang may magkakahiwalay na tribo sa PNP; may bata si ganito, may bata si ganyan. Iisa dapat ang ating paghakbang upang maging epektibong tagapagbantay ng ating mamamayan.

Tunay nga po: Napakalaki na ng ipinagbago ng pagtrato ng pamahalaan sa ating mga pulis. Ngayon, mataas ang kanilang morale at mahaba ang listahan ng kanilang pagpapakitang-gilas. Halimbawa nito si Senior Inspector Charity Galvez, na pinamunuan ang kanyang pangkat sa harap ng pag-atake ng 250 NPA sa kanilang presinto noong 2011 sa Agusan del Sur. Matagumpay ring naipagtanggol ng mga pulis natin kamakailan sa Mati City, Davao Oriental ang kanilang presinto matapos umatake ang tinatayang 80 rebelde. Nariyan ang kuwento ni PO3 Edlyn Arbo, na walang-alinlangang tinugis ang isang holdaper sa nasakyan niyang jeep, kahit na off-duty siya at walang dalang baril. Noong manalasa ang bagyong Yolanda, naglakad nang anim na kilometro si Inspector Marjorie Manuta para makatulong sa mga kababayan nating nasalanta. Marahil, naaalala rin n’yo ang kuwento ng apat nating rookie policewomen na buong tapang na humarap sa Martilyo Gang sa Mall of Asia nitong 2014.

Sa paglaban naman sa krimen, katangi-tangi din ang resulta ng operasyon ng PNP, sa ilalim ng pangangasiwa ni Secretary Mar Roxas ng DILG at ng Napolcom at ng bumubuo ng ating PNP leadership. Mula nga po nang inatasan natin siya na tutukan ang pagsugpo ng krimen, lalo na sa National Capital Region, at ilunsad ang Oplan Lambat-Sibat noong nakaraang taon: ang dati-rati’y 918 insidente kada linggo ng general criminality rate noong Enero hanggang Hunyo 2014, napababa sa weekly average na 471 nitong nakaraang apat na linggo. Ibig sabihin po, bawat linggo, 447 insidente nating mga kababayan ang nailalayo na natin sa kapahamakan. Ang maganda pa nga, naibaba pa natin sa 400 ang general criminality rate noong nakaraang linggo. Dahil nga po nakikita natin na epektibo ang inisyatibang ito, ilulunsad na rin natin ang Oplan Lambat-Sibat sa iba’t iba pang mga rehiyon.

Malinaw po: Habang kinakalinga ng estado ang ating mga pulis, ay lalo naman silang nagiging mahusay sa pagkalinga sa ating mamamayan.

Ang nangyayaring transpormasyon sa inyo pong mga hanay ay bahagi lamang ng malawakang pagbabagong nagaganap sa ating lipunan. Bibigyan ko ng diin: Pagbabago ang ipinangako ko sa inyo, at pagbabago ang inaani natin ngayon. At wala akong balak na itigil ang pagsulong ng reporma sa nalalabing mahigit isang taon at tatlong buwan ko sa puwesto. Sa patuloy na pagtitiwala at sa pakikipagtulungan ng bawat disenteng Pilipino, masisiguro nating hindi na makakabalik ang lumang sistema kung saan nagdurusa ang napakarami habang nagpapakasasa ang iilan.

Sa mga magsisipagtapos: Mapalad kayo dahil ang daratnan ninyong PNP ay mas moderno at mas kumpleto sa kasanayan at kagamitan. Ang hamon po sa inyo: Sundan, kung hindi man higitan, ang mabuting halimbawa ng mga nauna sa inyo. Sa bawat kriminal na inyong mahuhuli, sa bawat suhol na inyong tatanggihan, at sa bawat pagpapakita ninyo ng tapang sa panahon ng sakuna, makakapag-ambag kayo sa higit na kaligtasan ng kalakhang lipunan. Sa ganitong paraan, magdadala kayo ng karangalan hindi lamang para sa inyong mga sarili, kundi pati sa inyong mga mahal sa buhay, sa inyong uniporme, at sa ating Inang Bayan. Buong pagmamalaki ninyong masasabi: Kayo nga ang “Lahing kayumanggi na handang ialay sa bayan ang dugo at lakas.”

Magandang araw po. Maraming salamat. At muli, binabati ko kayong lahat.

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ENGLISH VERSION

On this day, we mark the transition of the 246 members of the PNPA “LAKANDULA” Class of 2015 towards becoming members of our uniformed services. Together with all your friends and families, your teachers, and the leadership of the PNP, BJMP, and BFP, I congratulate you.

The name you have chosen for yourself becomes even more meaningful, now that the 44 brave members of our Special Action Force have become part of our national consciousness. One cannot ask for a better example of “Members of the Filipino race prepared to offer their blood and strength to the country.” As you enter the next stage of serving the country, I am certain that their sacrifices are in your thoughts. As policemen, you will encounter situations wherein the lives of our countrymen, as well as your own and those of your comrades, will depend on your actions and your judgment. I am hopeful that you will use your training, and all that you have learned here in the PNPA, not simply to successfully fulfill your missions but also, and more importantly, to protect the safety of all.

I am certain that you have followed the news and the commentaries about Oplan Exodus. Some of these serve as inspiration to young policemen and policewomen like yourselves, and enhanced the image of our entire police force among the Filipino people. It is unfortunate, however, that some of these commentaries have also caused confusion, if not anger, among our countrymen.

At present, there are two reports from which one can derive information about what transpired in Mamasapano: The Board of Inquiry Report and the Senate Report that were completed after their investigations. Many of the questions in the minds of our countrymen can be answered by these reports. Both reports agree with our initial statements about certain details of the operation. In fact, the two reports reaffirm the position we had taken from the very beginning: The lack of coordination with the AFP was a major mistake. What saddens me is that at times, in lieu of asking me questions, those who prepared the reports chose to speculate instead. This leads us to ask: How can guesswork, instead of facts, help clarify this issue?

Excluding an instance where those concerned need further clarification from me, this is the last time I will speak on this issue. I hope you will allow me to share my own point of view to shed light on the context behind the decisions I made in relation to the incident in Mamasapano. It is your right to know the whole truth. After all, it is often said that, “the truth shall set us all free.” Perhaps the most important question I must answer is one that was asked me of a father of one of the fallen SAF Commandos. He asked: “Why did you allow my son to go there? Why did you let him die?”

I understand where such statements come from. I have repeatedly looked back on what I knew about what happened, and have thought about whether I had been lacking, and whether I could have done more. Let me emphasize: I would not have allowed those in our uniformed services to embark on a suicide mission. If an operation poses serious danger, I will always be the very first to call for its cancellation. However, the version of the plan presented to me convinced me that adequate preparations were made, and that it would be executed correctly. I also assumed that all my orders would be followed, especially since I was dealing with professionals regarding the matter.

My appeal is this: Try to put yourselves in my situation. If I had been honestly told on the morning of the incident: “Sir, we are at a disadvantage, we were unable to follow your order to coordinate with the AFP, which is why they are moving slowly. Can you please help us expedite their response?”—if I had known this immediately, do you think I would have missed the chance to help our men? But you know what happened. On the morning of January 25, there was no urgency in the text messages that were sent to me. From what was texted, it appeared to me as if the operation in Mamasapano had ended, or was coming to an end, because mechanized units and artillery were already providing assistance.

This is why I continued with my plans to go to Zamboanga City. Perhaps you will also allow me to explain what happened when I went there that day. Because of the initial attacks of the rouge MNLF, I instructed that Zamboanga City be considered a “hardened site.” What this means is that we strengthened our security policies, in order to thwart the evil plans of terrorists. When I arrived there, I was shown pictures of a car that was used for the bombing, together with the house from which the suspects came. There were surveillance operations even in the places in which the bomb was set off. Here, I asked: if these policies and operations were followed, why was the attack not prevented? Over the next days, it was explained to me that there were no overt acts—as our intelligence operatives call it—observed, acts which would have served as probable cause to accuse those inside the car. Apart from this, almost two years have passed since the Zamboanga siege, and yet, local issues hindered the full completion of what needed to be fixed. This was why I also wanted to take the opportunity to have a thorough discussion with Mayor Beng Climaco, in order to hasten the rehabilitation of affected communities.

As I was attending to these matters, again, I was thinking that the incident in Mamasapano had ended, or was coming to an end. Let me remind you: it was close to evening when I was advised of the true situation—not of the 55th but of our 84th Seaborne Company. I was told that linking up would be difficult, since it was getting dark and the danger of friendly fire was present and possible. I refused to agree that linking up could be completed the next day. I said: Aren’t those who are in a precarious position our brothers? I ordered them to craft plans so that they could link up at the soonest possible time, and save the 84th. The minimum I agreed to was to deliver aid, such as medicine and resupply ammunition, granted that linking up was impossible. With God as my witness, I tell you the truth. But I am aware there are those who are close-minded, who will not listen regardless of what I say.

Now, I could give a long explanation on the dangers presented by Marwan and Usman to our countrymen. I could also detail the problems and the errors in the operation. But now that I have shared all that I went through, and the information I held on that day, is there anyone who can say, in all honesty, that he can exceed everything we did in order to respond to the situation, given the information we held?

I am aware of this: that no words will suffice to explain the deaths of our brave policemen. A report or a speech can never reflect the entirety of what is felt by a parent who lost a good child. All I can do, after saying all that must be said, and after doing all that must be done, is to ask for your deep understanding.

Regardless of my anger for the disregard for the orders I gave, regardless of my regret for trusting people who concealed the truth from me, I can never erase the fact: 44 members of our police force are dead. And this happened under my term. Let me stress it: I will bear this basic truth with me to my grave.

Today, I say this once more: As President, I am fully responsible for any result—any triumph, any suffering, and any tragedy—that may be borne of our desire for lasting security and peace. It deeply saddens me that there are families who are now without a husband, a father, a brother, a son, because of what happened in Mamasapano. I am saddened by the fact that, despite my effort to give the families space to grieve, as they were to meet their fallen loved ones for the first time, some people found fault in this by calling me cruel or without regard for such loss. My intention was to help them heal. I wanted to have clear answers should I be asked, “What happened? Why did they die? What will happen to us now?” If my response was “I do not know,” how could I help hasten the healing? I am also saddened that our peace process has been affected by the sentiments connected to the result of Oplan Exodus. To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation: It is with the abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding.

As President, I have to attend to so many matters, all at the same time, all requiring an immediate response and decision from me. I am responsible for the 100 million Filipinos here at home and abroad. Yes, I am the President, but I am also human. I cannot read the mind of every person in front of me, and I cannot personally monitor every situation. But as I have promised, I will continue to do what is right and just. I will continue to exert every effort to serve all of you and to faithfully fulfill my sworn mandate. I am not saying that I am like God, who knows everything, but I have a duty to right whatever wrong I discover. And I assure you: We respect due process. Those responsible will be held to account.

I fully understand why Filipinos expect so much from their leader. For a very long time, we were robbed of our hard-earned taxes. Our rights were set aside for many years. For the longest time, we were deprived of what we truly deserved.

When I ran for President, I made a promise: I will never steal. I invited you to tread the straight path with me, to reform the old system. And you gave me your full support. When I took my oath of office, I said: The wang-wang mindset cannot and will not prevail. We would work to end the kind of system where only a few benefit, while the majority of our countrymen suffer. Four years and nine months into our administration, you yourselves have seen the change. We have fixed the problems in our path. We have gone after the corrupt. We restored the trust of our people in their government. Once we were called “the Sick Man of Asia,” and today we are hailed as “Asia’s rising tiger.”

With the resurgence of our economy came the greater wherewithal for us to focus on addressing the concerns regarding the training and equipment of the PNP, BJMP, and BFP. Before, the old thinking as regards our police was, if you gave them guns, the NPA would be able to grab it from them. In 2007, news came out saying that, instead of providing our police with high-caliber guns and equipment, our policemen were given whistles and clubs, so that the NPA would not grab those from them. We get to ask: How would you be able to fight if you encounter someone with an M-16?

As we tread the straight path, we are continuing to meet whatever gaps in your requirements that we may come across. Our goal: to enhance even further your abilities to effectively “shoot, scoot, and communicate.” In 2014, we were already able to address the backlog in pistols, when we procured 74,879 Glock 9mm pistols for your ranks. There are also the 12,399 handheld radios, and 144 patrol jeeps that we have turned over to the PNP from 2010 to 2014. Just this March, we also hired 4,859 non-uniformed personnel to focus on administrative work in your agency, to allow more policemen to patrol our communities. Also last year, we filled 9,860 PO1 positions. On top of that: this year, we allotted 1.64 billion pesos for an additional 10,000 PO1 positions. And for our Special Action Force: We are studying carefully the lessons learned from Mamasapano, in order to ensure, to the best of our abilities, minimal risk for an operation. We will continue to enhance your training and equipment needs, and we will give you the care and attention that you deserve as an elite unit of the PNP. Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: Craft the plans that will lead to greater unity in the ranks of the police. Let us change the culture of factionalism within the PNP, where that guy is his guy, and that is his guy. We need solidarity among you, so that you may be effective protectors of our countrymen.

Indeed: So much has changed in the way that government has treated our police. Now, there is high morale, accompanied by an extensive list of achievements. Senior Inspector Charity Galvez is a good example of this; she led her comrades in repelling the attack of around 250 members of the NPA on their precinct in Agusan del Sur in 2011. Our policemen in Mati City, Davao Oriental, likewise succeeded in defending their precinct against an attack of some 80 rebels. There is the story of PO3 Edlyn Arbo, who, without any hesitation, pursued and caught a criminal who attempted to hold up the jeepney she was in, even if she was off-duty and did not have her firearm with her. And during the ravages of Typhoon Yolanda, Inspector Marjorie Manuta walked six kilometers in order to render assistance to our countrymen who were victims of the storm. Perhaps you will also remember the story of our four rookie policewomen, who courageously confronted the Martilyo Gang, in the Mall of Asia, in 2014.

In our fight against crime, the results of the PNP’s operations under the supervision of Secretary Mar Roxas of the DILG, NAPOLCOM, and the rest of the PNP leadership have likewise been impressive. From the moment I tasked him to focus on reducing crime in the National Capital Region, and after he initiated Operation Lambat-Sibat last year, the general criminality rate has gone down, from 918 per week from January to June 2014 to a weekly average of 471 these past four weeks. This means that, every week, we are able to ensure the security of an additional 447 of our countrymen. On top of this, this past week, we reduced the general criminality rate to 400. Since we have seen the effectiveness of this initiative, we are now undertaking Operation Lambat-Sibat in other regions too. It is clear: As the state cares for the police, all the more have they improved in caring for the citizenry.

The transformation taking place in the PNP is only part of the widespread change that is sweeping our society. Allow me to emphasize: I promised you change, and change is what we are reaping today. I have no plans of ceasing the pursuit of reform in my remaining year and three months in office. Through our sustained trust in each other, and through the cooperation of each decent Filipino, we will ensure that the old system—in which a few take advantage of an anomalous situation, while the majority suffer—will never return.

To our graduates: You are fortunate because the PNP you will enter is far more modern, and more complete in terms of equipment. The challenge facing you today: Follow, if not surpass, the good example of those that have come before you. For each criminal that you arrest, for each bribe that you reject, and for each instance you show courage in times of calamity, you are helping to ensure the increased safety of society. In this way, you will bring honor, not only to yourselves, but also to your loved ones, to the uniform you wear, and to our nation. With full pride, you will be able to say that you are indeed, “members of the Filipino race, ready to offer the nation your blood and strength.”

Thank you, and again, my congratulations to you.

 


 

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