Press Release
May 18, 2012


Chairperson Patricia Licuanan and members of the Board of Regents; Dr. Emanuel de Guzman, President; Dr. Victoria Naval, Executive Vice-President; Dr. Samuel Salvador, Vice-President for Academic Affairs; Deans, Heads of Departments, Advisers, other Officers of the University, Faculty and Staff; members of the graduating classes of 2012; family and friends; ladies and gentlemen; fellow Filipinos, a pleasant morning to you all.

Immediately, I would like to thank the Board of Regents, the Faculty, the Administration Officials and Employees, and the 2012 Graduating Classes of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines for conferring upon me the Doctor of Humanities degree, honoris causa.


Considering the circumstances under which I have begun to serve our country and people as a Senator of the land, I am thoroughly humbled by this gracious act of the University.

And because I am completely overwhelmed by this generous act of your bestowing upon me this doctorate degree without my having to spend at least two years to earn it in serious study within the confines of the University, I would like to state for the record that among all the higher institutions of learning in this country, I consider myself indebted to the PUP - for life, if you wish.

Cadena Perpetua to Principles

Lest you misunderstand me, I would like to clarify that it is a sort of a cadena perpetua that I bind myself to - not to the PUP as a set of old concrete buildings and new attractive edifices rising up but to the solid principles for which the University has been founded.

A simple architectural structure that unerringly catches the sight of any visitor to the main campus of the University says it all.

I refer to the PUP Pylon that has in recent years been christened as the symbol of truth, excellence, and wisdom.

What is Education Worth?

For indeed, what is education worth to our people or to anyone for that matter if it is not based on truth, if it does not stir up the desire for excellence, or produce wisdom for those who pass through its portals?

Although the idea is already embedded in the triune virtues that PUP education underscores, I would like to stress the thought that what, indeed, is education worth if we do not use it for the advancement not only of our personal interests but of the greater welfare of our people in general?

To stress the obvious, I cannot help but allude to the past as I presume to discuss the present and the future of our country.

Mabini's Relevance

I think that it is most appropriate that the main campus of the University is named after the great Apolinario Mabini, the Sublime Paralytic. For as everyone knows, Mabini stood in his time for the best that the Filipino should be known for: love of country, devotion to duty, and advancement of the welfare of others over self.

Destitute, sick and ailing, Mabini served the best interests of our people without let-up. Refusing amnesty during the American occupation of our country, he preferred to be exiled to Guam. And upon being allowed to return to the country, he continued to nurture dreams of service to our people with these words:

"After two years, I am returning (home) completely disoriented and, what is worse, almost overcome by disease and sufferings. Nevertheless, I hope ... I will still be of some use unless I have returned to the islands for the sole purpose of dying."

These are well-worn thoughts of Mabini, the national hero, which I believe need to be recalled time and again so that they are not forgotten as irrelevant echoes of the past.

One Continuum

But I dare say that our glorious history as a people should never be forgotten. And even as we should never forget the past, we must also look forward to the future that is also anchored on the present.

After all, the past, the present, and the future are one continuum in the life of peoples.

Our Common Struggles

In many ways, your story as the 320-strong PUP Class of 2012 mirrors my own struggles, although in a different form.

I had to face the worst of, allow me to call them the demons of, Philippine politics in my battle for electoral reforms.

I was a victim of electoral fraud in 2007, a case of daylight robbery where a senate seat was stolen not only right before my own eyes and nose but also before the very eyes and noses of the entire Filipino people. I filed an election protest even if the beneficiary of the election fraud was the fair-haired boy of the then sitting President of the Republic of the Philippines, even if the election referee, the Comelec then, was biased against me, and the Tribunal which was to decide my case was dominated by the allies of my adversary. Still I persisted. Because that was the right thing to do.

The details of my having to fight tooth and nail using the law to get to serve what remained of my six-year term as a senator is too recent to repeat before a knowledgeable audience such as you.

Suffice it to say that after four years of a roller-coaster kind of struggle, I finally got proclaimed, my dear countrymen and women, as your servant in the Senate of our land.

My Pledge

And to repay you and our beloved University for the trust and confidence you have reposed in me and which you continue to express by the conferment of the Honorary Doctorate Degree this morning, I pledge before you, my fellow citizens, and before our God and my family, that Koko Pimentel, your servant in the Senate, will do his best to promote the welfare of our people and uphold their dignity as we continue our nation's struggle for peace, progress, justice, and development.

I say this mindful of the fact that the masses of our people face the stark reality of struggling against poverty on a daily basis.

To repeat a well-worn cliché, millions of our people live below the poverty line. That means for millions of countrymen and women, there are not enough food, clothing and shelter, medicine, and other basic necessities of life.

Your Advantage

As graduates of the PUP, our people's university, you pass through her doors into the world of reality with one distinct advantage: you are now equipped with the knowledge to reach for upward mobility and for the improvement of your lives that had been denied for many of our people.

Given PUP's commitment since 1904 to give you quality and responsive education, I am confident that you will not fail.


More specifically, it is my hope that your graduation today will make you job creators, entrepreneurs, and innovative citizens - and not merely add your names to the statistics of the unemployed that overwhelm the available work force of this country.

You, as well as the thousands of PUP graduates who came before you, are the proud beneficiaries of this institution.

Privilege and Responsibility

But with privilege comes a great responsibility.

Just like you, your speaker too is an "Iskolar ng Bayan". (I am proud to say that the scholar is now a Senator.) As "Iskolars ng Bayan", we are not "Iskolars ng Sarili".

Therefore, the ultimate fulfillment of that privilege of having been an "Iskolar ng Bayan" should be the advancement of the greater good of our people, our country, and even of the human community in general.

Forces for Transformation

This is where you, the Class of 2012, could come in as relevant forces for the transformation of our country. As the privileged individuals whose education has been subsidized by our government and society, you are morally bound not to limit your talents for personal satisfaction, but to channel them for the common good.

In closing, I ask that you explore with the rest of our people the frontiers of moral and institutional reform and the renewal of the Philippines, our only country, so that democracy and its blessings of truth, freedom, justice, and dignity for every man and woman may revitalize our people, and create for us all a kinder, more humane, more just society, and a better nation.

"Pag Nasa Tama Ka, Never Give Up!"

The road to reform will certainly be difficult. And in times of difficulty and doubt, which will surely come your way, always remember the words of advice, which you could treat to be some sort of a personal formula for success, of your manong, your kuya Senator Koko Pimentel that "Pag nasa tama ka, never give up!" Please repeat my words of advice so that you will never forget them: "Pag nasa tama ka, never give up!"

As I end my talk, my dear graduates, always remember to persevere and always fight for what is right. For as has been proven in my political struggle, in the end, virtue triumphs over evil, truth wins over lies, and justice prevails over injustice.

Again, Congratulations to the Class of 2012!

Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat, at mabuhay ang PUP!

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