Press Release
October 4, 2013

(Speech at the 50th [Golden] Foundation Anniversary of Colegio de Sta Rosa, Makati, at Rockwell Centre on 4 October 2013.)

Part 1. Time Management; and The Anti-Bullying Law

Time Management

You have assigned me to talk on how to manage to be a mother and a public servant at the same time. My answer is that it makes me crazy. I love being a mother, but I have to work for a living, too. And if I am going to work to support my family, I may as well remain in the public service rather than in the service of some corporation whose main objective is simply to make money.

However, let me warn you that in today's political environment, making multi-million and even billions of money - and illegally at that - now seems to be the main concern of government officials. This is the reason why most Filipinos are now in a state of paranoia, because we are afraid that if we stay within one meter of any politician, we might get infected with their greed and corruption.

Otherwise, the internet is filled with time management strategies. Here is a good list of household management habits:

  • Focus on each daily task. Do not allow yourself to become distracted. Turn your mind into a laser beam, and concentrate on just one point.

  • Separate the responsibilities of work and of motherhood. This is actually emotional management. No matter how much you feel about parental responsibilities, you must put your mind over your emotions once you have left for work. And once you have closed the door to your office, immediately stop being an office functionary and morph into a homemaker.

  • Set reasonable daily goals. Do not expect too much for the day. Make a reasonable list of things to do that you can finish in just one day. At the end of the day, if you do not have a sense of accomplishment, it means that your expectations have exceeded your capabilities.

  • Do not procrastinate. There are certain household tasks that you usually leave for last, such as cleaning the kitchen. If it is in your list for the day, put on your warrior costume and give yourself the courage to attack that kitchen, because if you don't, it will always be there to stress you.

  • Be organized. Organize your schedule, your house, and your discipline strategies. The best way to start is to organize your mind just after you wake up and give yourself a few additional minutes in bed. You can then picture an organized schedule for your day.

  • Delegate work. Delegation of responsibility is standard procedure in the office. But many mothers forget that delegation of responsibility is also effective in the home. In the Philippines, we are fortunate to have househelp; nonetheless, they still need supervision. Home supervision should be divided among the individual parents and the children. It should not be the sole jurisdiction of the mother.

  • Say no when necessary. As loving mothers, we cannot say yes to every request or appeal from the family and from the outside world. Do not be afraid to disappoint people by turning down a request for your time, because if you become too busy, people would get disappointed anyway.

  • Don't be perfect. You don't have to be the perfect mother. You can take shortcuts if it will help you to remain an oasis of calm in your household, instead of a bundle of nerves. You are allowed to take shortcuts in getting to the office, helping with the homework, or getting the house clean.

  • Develop a routine. This is a big reducer of mental energy and stress. I am sure many of you are already familiar with this trick. Rotate everything, such as your dinner menu, and chores among the kids.

  • Be flexible. You cannot run your home like an assembly plant. Machines can operate as robots, but people are not built that way. So expect the unexpected, including your own personal meltdown sometimes. Do not allow yourself to go off on a guilt trip just because something unforeseen crops up. Life is always messy.

  • Finally, take care of yourself. Observe self-care. Mothers get tired, and sometimes we neglect our food. Then we become less productive and organized. According to the authorities, we should get quality sleep, eat a healthy diet, and follow other self-care strategies for mothers.

Anti-Bullying Act of 2013

Congress has passed R.A. No. 10627, also known as "An Act requiring all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies to prevent and address the acts of bullying in their institutions." I am proud to tell you that in the Senate, I was the principal author of this law. It prohibits bullying, which refers, among others, to:

  • Any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim.

  • Any act that causes damage to a victim's psyche and/or emotional well-being;

  • Any slanderous statement or accusation that causes the victim undue emotional distress.

  • Cyber-bullying or any bullying done through the use of technology or any electronic means.

The law requires all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies which prohibit bullying on school grounds or elsewhere.

Every school is required by law to provide students and parents a copy of the anti-bullying policies that it has adopted. It is the responsibility of the school principal to promptly investigate any report of bullying. If the school administrator fails to comply with these requirements, the Department of Education is empowered to impose appropriate administrative sanctions. The erring private school itself could suffer the penalty of suspension of its permit to operate.

Part II. Pork Barrel Scams Might Lead to Failed State

As a lawyer, I am worried that the present state of pork barrel scandals involving the PDAF and the DAP might turn our country into what the political scientists call a failed state. The term failed state emerged after the end of the Cold War. It is said that between 1955 and 1998, there were 135 cases of state failure. The rate of state failures surged in the 1960s, when colonizing countries withdrew and new states were born, or when a superpower like the Soviet Union collapsed. The following are the characteristics of a failed state:

  • The state apparatus is unable to uphold an effective monopoly of violence over its whole territory.

  • The state lacks an effective judicial system and the rule of law.

  • The state is unable or unwilling to fulfil international obligations such as debt repayment.

  • The state cannot prevent various forms of transnational crime or the use of its territory for perpetration of violence against other states in the international system.

State failure can be caused by rampant corruption, predatory elites who have long manipulated power, and an absence of the rule of law. According to Transparency International, two examples of failed states are Burma and Haiti, said to be the two most corrupt and repressive countries in the world. Another failed state is Guinea. It experienced some of the highest economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, but nonetheless it failed because of the enormous gap between the rich and the poor.

Political scientists have concluded that state collapse does not occur spontaneously. It is likely that complex and conflict-ridden processes of deterioration and an erosion of state function precedes state collapse. I am not one of those people who think that these pork barrel scandals that outrage the Filipino people will simply go the way of other scandals. In the past, they evoked strong political reaction, but eventually tapered off until they were forgotten. I think that people today - who have grown sophisticated with the advent of social media and the import of ideas on governance by the overseas Filipino workers - will not allow these pork barrel abuses to fizzle out. It is said that vigilance is the price of liberty. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen of the Colegio de Sta. Rosa, let us be vigilant! Let us demand swift justice for the guilty, for justice delayed is justice denied.

As a senator I am so depressed at the self-seeking behaviour of my colleagues that I can hardly escape cynicism about the future of Philippine politics. The senators and congressman involved have crossed the line into kleptocracy or into state capture. The greed for pork barrel among lawmakers is undermining government legitimacy. The scandals show clearly to every Filipino that the benefits of state action have been diverted to the narrow and unrepresentative groups in Congress. At this point of the rising tide of scandals, we need drastic and transformative policies. We should be ready for difficult confrontations with powerful vested interests in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

We can still avoid disaster by taking three steps:

First, the government should withdraw its petition to the Supreme Court so that the TRO will remain on the release of the balance of the PDAF for 2013.

Second, the Senate should review the budget passed by the House of Representatives which cost P2.268 trillion for 2014, by removing the P25.4 billion pork barrel, which is hidden in the budgets of the various departments, and the bulk of which will go to DPWH.

Third, the Senate should integrate into the regular budget certain off-budget sources of revenues, namely, the P130 billion Malampaya Fund; P12.5 billion motor vehicle users charge; the PAGCOR Social Fund; and the PCSO Charity Fund. -o0o-

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