As with our finances, we must narrow the social deficit in this country. We must expand health coverage, improve education, provide affordable housing, cleaner water and air, and safer streets. We must protect the working conditions of our overseas workers.
The aim of my administration is not just to improve gross national product but the overall quality of people’s existence. Money is just one facet of the human condition.
The resources to narrow the social deficit I have partially identified but more will be needed. Here I will be seeking the support of the private sector, our Filipino communities abroad and bilateral aid. I have already been offered pledges of support.
There is one vital aspect in our social deficit over which I have only partial control. I refer to the administration of justice. People will often bear hardship but seldom will they accept injustice for it is in the tenets of fairness and redemption that their dignity rests.
The Judiciary is an independent branch of Government and it is to them that I make this appeal. You are, sirs and madams, the conscience of this nation, the last bastion of redress for those in distress. Let us work together to expedite the administration of justice, us in investigation, prosecution and enforcement, you in adjudication. Let our coverage apply equally to the weak as to the strong, to the poor as to the wealthy.
I was elected on a mandate to overturn corruption and that I will do. Yet the reform that we seek should be broader than that. It should apply to our everyday lives, to the ethic of work, to the behavior towards our neighbors, to the respect to our elders, to the care for the weak, to conservation of our land. These are the values of our ancestors to which we must return. It is this journey that I believe is the greatest challenge we face as a nation.
The overall task that I have set for ourselves is ambitious, will be arduous but all of it is possible. The results will be long in coming, possibly beyond my term; but the benefits are worthwhile. This I know to be true.
At times we may fail but that is not enough reason not to strive with God as our light and faith in the spirit, goodness and initiative of the people.
We are not 92 million Filipinos, 7000 islands, 81 provinces or 42,000 barangays. We are one Filipino, one land, one community with one heritage and one common purpose.
It is that purpose that today I have sought to define and that I pledge to fulfill to the best of my ability.
But my work and that of my staff is insufficient if you will not march with us. To my colleagues in Government I say let us honor our covenant with the people. To my detractors I say let us find common ground. To my supporters I say the work has just begun.
You may each seek your own path but let us promise that at the end of our journey we will converge, in equal dignity whatever our standing in life, in the same place in the sun, in the knowledge and the comfort that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the Almighty.
May God bless you all and this nation we so love.
Mabuhay to the Philippines, Mabuhay to the Filipino.