Press Release
April 20, 2010

[Address of Sen. Nene Pimentel at the 58th Commencement Exercise
of the Urdaneta City University, April 20, 2010]

Mayor Amadeo Perez Jr., Chairman of the Urdaneta City University; Dr. Elizabeth A. Montero, University President; Distinguished members of the Faculty, and the non-faculty Staff of the University; Parents, dear friends and the members of the 58th graduating class of this university.

I only have a simple message that consists of two parts to all the graduates of the University tonight.

Give thanks

The first is that you - all of you - have to thank your parents, your spouses, your family, your Alma Mater, and our God for making it possible for you to get your diplomas today.

Kung minsan kasi nakakalimutan natin ang ating mga tatay at nanay, asawa, pamilya, ang ating eskuwelahan, at ang Panginoon, kung tapos na ang ating pag-aaral.

It is important to remember that as somebody has said "gratitude is the most beautiful flower in the garden of the heart."

And, therefore, tonight is as a good a time as any for us to pluck the flower of gratitude and thank all the people and the Almighty who made it possible for you to graduate from the various courses that you have individually taken.

Not an end

The second thing that I would like to share with you tonight is that your having succeeded in finishing the courses that you have taken in the University is not an end by itself.

It is not enough that you have finished a degree or a course and that you have a diploma or a certificate to show for it.

Beneficial use

That diploma or certificate will be worthless unless the education that it symbolizes and which you had acquired will be used not only to benefit yourself but your neighbor as well.

Walang silbi ang diploma o sertipikasyon na natanggap ninyo ngayong gabi kung hindi mo gagamitin para sa kaunlaran ng iyong kumunidad at ating bayan at hindi pangsarili lamang. Obligations

Getting an education imposes obligations upon those who acquire it.

Negatively, you cannot use your education to take advantage of others. Or just to make money at the expense of the many.

Positively, to give meaning to it, you must use your education to help others who are less fortunate than you are. Share your knowledge with others. And enable them to overcome the difficulties that afflict the unlettered and the ignorant.

Climate change

One of the hottest issues in the world today involves climate change.

The massive Carbon Dioxide emissions from the factories, cars, engines, and machines of all kinds from the developed world are causing colossal pollution for peoples of the earth including those of us who live in the developing world.

Big icebergs are melting from the northernmost parts of the globe causing sea-levels to rise - threatening to submerge low-lying areas around the world.

Cyclones are hitting certain communities of our country - like Misamis Oriental, where I come from - that were never before subjected to that calamitous phenomenon.

Landslides and floods like Ondoy and Pepeng that recently hit many of our provinces and cities, including Manila, heat-waves and cold-waves, are likewise becoming frequently experienced events in the country.

I cite these occurrences because as people who have acquired education in various fields of endeavor have an obligation to help lessen the devastation of our environment.

Massive pollution

For instance, we all know that global warming stems largely from the massive pollution of the atmosphere coming from the colossal carbon dioxide emissions from the crude oil that run the world's factories and engines of growth.

We also know that using alternative sources of energy like solar, wind, and wave, and the use of hydro and volcanic power sources of energy would drastically lessen carbon dioxide discharges into the atmosphere.

It is, thus, incumbent upon to pressure our communities and our government - at all levels - local and national to be less dependent on crude oil to fuel our industries, to cool off our homes, to run our vehicles, and do a thousand and one things that use crude oil.

We should demand from our leaders, non-government as well as government, and since we are in the midst of an election period from our candidates for various positions in government to include in their platform planks for the reduction of pollution and the protection of our environment.

We can also ask our school children who number by the millions to plant trees every year and take care of them. Those trees will replace those cut by illegal logging and act as natural absorbing devices of the excess carbon-dioxide emissions that pollute the air.

Electoral campaign

As a vital corollary to that duty of requiring of our candidates to present platforms and programs that are designed to protect Mother Earth, I would suggest that those of us who have been privileged to acquire some education should help ensure that we get clean, orderly and peaceful elections.

Let us not leave things only to the Comelec or the government.

Not enemies, just opponents

For instance, we should not only watch the polling places. We should help and encourage our people and our candidates to use language that is not inflammatory. We should all understand that those who disagree with us or those who are supporting candidates other than our choices are not our enemies. Hindi sila mga kaaway. They are just political opponents - mga katunggali - who happen to disagree with us.

The right to disagree with one another and to express that disagreement in public are hallmarks of a democratic order.

Karapatan po ng ating mga kababayan na di sumang-ayon sa lahat na gusto ng sino mang tao o grupo. At karapatan din ng mga tao o grupong ito na magpaliwanag sa kanilang panindigan sa publiko.

Kaya sa halalang ito huwag na nating saktan ang isa't-isa. Magdebate tayo. Magpalitan ng kuro kuro.

Let us engage in political discussions. In partisan debates. In impassioned arguments.

Pero di kailangan magsuntukan tayo, magbarilan tayo o magpatayan tayo.

We live in the same land. We are citizens of the same country. We profess love for the same principles of democracy.

Choose the best

Let us, therefore, choose the best among our candidates. Let us emphasize their credentials for public service, their capacity to do good, their ability to keep their word, their love of country above self. Let us rise above false campaigning and distance ourselves from black propaganda.

Let us deemphasize the negative. Let us stress the positive.

If we underscore the foibles of our candidates, we would end up choosing the lesser evil. But if we accentuate the positive, we would be electing the best among those aspiring for public office.

Gun ban exemptions

Let me end by pointing out that the proposal to exempt judges from the gun ban during the election period is wrong.

If judges are to be exempted, why not the prosecutors? Why not the lawyers? Why not the businessmen? Or even the dentists who pull the wrong teeth of their patients?

Wild West

Allowing people to carry and possess firearms to protect themselves will make this country like the Wild West of the US in the 19th century where the likes of Jesse James or Billy the Kid or whoever was the fastest gun in the area was the embodiment of law.

To do so, the rule of law to which as a civilized people we are all entitled will be replaced by the rule of the gun.

Prejudicing the poor

Pushed to its logical conclusion, allowing people to carry and possess guns to protect themselves will prejudice the poor even more because, among other things, they are unable to buy guns for their protection.

Yes the judges, the prosecutors, the lawyers, the wealthy and everyone who is threatened need protection from harm. But it is the duty of the government to defend our people from gangsters, gunslingers, mobsters, or private armies like those of the Ampatuans in Maguindanao. Not for us to arm ourselves to protect our lives.

Our police, our armed forces, our law enforcers are more than enough to maintain law and order so that our civilian government agencies and our people can work for the prosperity of our nation and live in place.

Rising from poverty

With law and order and with educated people like you who are graduating tonight, we will surely hasten our people's emancipation from the clutches of poverty and speed up the enjoyment of the blessings of development that are bound to come inevitably, hopefully, at the start of the new administration, with the grace of the Almighty.

Thank you again for this privilege of allowing me to share these thoughts with you.

Maraming Salamat po. Dios ti ag ngina apo. Daghang salamat kaninyong tanan.

God bless us, all.

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