July 26 2010
My Dear Countrymen,
Today I stand before you as your President, honored by your trust, humbled by your hopes and ready for the challenges that we, together, face as a nation.
15 million of you voted for me but, on your best judgment, a greater number of you did not. To the latter I say I will work as hard for you as I will for all others. In time I hope to become worthy of your trust.
On May 10 you spoke and what you asked from your leaders is for change, for a change in your circumstances, for a change in the way government and elected officials conduct themselves. You asked for a change in the state of the nation.
What is the state of the nation?
On the good side the economy has grown modestly over the last years despite the worldwide financial crisis. Inflation while never satisfactory has been contained. Unlike some other countries, our banking system is strong. The peso is firm. These are achievements of previous administrations that should be recognized.
On the bad side, last year the Government ran a budget deficit of P300 billion . This increased our national debt to 4.5 trillion pesos or P49,000 for every Filipino. For a family of five that is P245,000 or two year’s income for an average breadwinner. And that debt is growing even as I speak.
The interest on the debt is over P300 billion or 20% of our budget, money that otherwise could be spent on schools, health services, the environment, roads and public safety.
Today over 3 million Filipinos are unemployed and more than that underemployed. We are short 40,000 classrooms. We face a serious energy gap. We suffer floods from denudation, contaminated water from waste. We are importing rice when once we were the breadbasket of Asia. We have no meaningful healthcare.
We are listed 139 out of the 180 most corrupt nations of the world. Amnesty International classifies us among the worst in human rights and killing of journalists. The massacre in Maguindanao told the world the kind of nation we have become.
Despite the growth in our economy, the poverty level has not improved because of population increase, unequal distribution of income and corruption.
These are the numbers but the true state of the nation is not in the statistics. The true state of the nation is in your everyday lives.
In the last campaign I traveled the length and breadth of this nation and listened to your stories.
I listened to the hardship of putting food on the table, of caring for your sick child, of surviving until the next paycheck or worse when there is no paycheck. I listened to the loneliness of the overseas worker toiling in a strange land, to the sadness of the child as his mother leaves for foreign shores. I listened to your anger at the arrogance of public officials, at the corruption in government.
But I also listened to the pride of the parent seeing his child graduate, the joy of the young man bringing home his first paycheck, of the farmer on his harvest. These scenes were what gave me hope.
I have returned from these travels and I say: The Philippines, I hear you.
I hear your dreams, I hear your aspirations that tomorrow be a better day. It is the fulfillment of these hopes that is my mission for the next 6 years.
I have assembled a team of men and women to join me in the task. I have not asked that they be the best or the brightest or the strongest. I only asked of them that they be honest, they work hard, and they be committed to the nation. I asked of them that they care to make a difference to the Filipino.
To them I have said that we will not be judged by what we say but by what we do, how we do it, when we do it.
And this is what we will do.
(To Be Continued)