Press Release
February 16, 2006


Sen. Mar Roxas yesterday called on the government and young Filipinos to continue to aspire for and work towards the governance goals that were at the core of People Power in order to lift the country from its political doldrums and redeem its full potential.

In a speech at the 8th National Ayala Young Leaders Conference, Roxas urged the people to be civically engaged and work for democracy, adding that government should be similarly conscious of positive values that could bring about more effective governance.

What possibly went wrong was that shortly after we staged People Power, we left it to others to make things happen. We exited our engaged mode and reverted back to the passive stance we had during those 20 years of Marcos, he said.

Roxas lamented that Filipinos lost many opportunities to be one of the leading economies in Asia because their leaders have forgotten their commitment to good governance and failed to embrace traditional values in running the country.

We feel dispirited and lost. The people we put in government to do the job of governance are so busy trying to keep their jobs that they forget to do the job, said Roxas in a speech before student-participants at the 8th National Ayala Young Leaders Conference.

Roxas encouraged young Filipinos to uphold the traditional values of integrity, credibility, accountability, courage, fortitude, and vision as they are the future leaders of the nation, saying a government cannot succeed without practicing these values.

We are about to celebrate the EDSA anniversary in a few days. Let us remember what People Power was all aboutvalues and governance, he said. These are the values that will make our country rise up and redeem its fullest potential.

Roxas drew parallelisms between the government that foregoes values in running its affairs and successful companies in the private sector that consistently apply and uphold traditional values.

He explained that governance in the private sector can be seen when a depositor entrusts his money to a bank, knowing confidently that it will still be there weeks, months, or years from now with interest. Contrastingly, the people are asked to pay a higher VAT, but they do not know how the government will spend it because it still does not have a budget.

He said the government has been rocked with endless controversies and scandals because it failed to practice governance and values. He said millions of pesos were lost in the fertilizer scandal, the overpricing of automated election machines, the unexplained use of the P30 billion Marcos wealth that is supposed to be given to human rights victims, and the failure to monitor the performances of pre-need companies in fulfilling their obligations to their planholders.

Against this backdrop, People Power seems so far away now. We have squandered so many opportunities and now, other Asian economies have left us very far behind, he said.

However, Roxas said all is not lost as there are still shining examples of individuals and companies who have performed well and continue to lead the way forward.

He cited the successes of Tony Tan Caktiong who invented and transformed Jollibee from an ice cream house to a fastfood giant; Chit Juan who opened Figaro Coffee Inc. before Starbucks came to the country; Rogelio Nemeno, whose Nutrilicious Foods Corporation started from a single blender; and street sweeper Fely Barot who now sells stuffed toys and house decors in her own store and through a network of seven sub-retailers within her community.

He said the government must embrace these values to increase its credibility and help our country rise up and redeem its fullest potential.

This is what People Power means to me and the values underlying these stories. Without these values, then its just noise. Its just a mob, he said. The potential to be succeed, to be great, and to be a champion lies in every one of us.

Roxas said the hopes and dreams that people fought for during the first People Power revolution 20 years ago remain a remote and cruelly elusive phantom as the country continues to experience the same problems plaguing it during the martial law regime.

He said the people have become civically disengaged because of the failure of our leaders to fulfill the promises of EDSA. He added that people became passive onlookers in the sidelines instead of actively watching over the actions of their leaders and holding them accountable for wrongdoings.

Many of the problems we had 20 years ago are still with us and in even worse and more urgent status, he said. Our labors and sacrifices are subverted by endemic corruption, political squabbling, crime and violence, and by the absence of a clear, believable vision of our Filipino future and of our way to get there.

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