Villar reveals vision for RP in New York
–Johanna M. Sampan
During the recent commemoration of Philippine Independence, Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. flew to New York City and delivered a speech at the Carnegie Council on his vision for the Philippines in the next few years.
Villar said the country’s problems a hundred years ago were still its problems today. “We have been running in the same place for too long.”
On the role of suffrage in affecting change, he said that elections in the Philippines were never a clash of vision, but rather a clash of personalities.
A self-proclaimed presidential candidate in the 2010 elections that will pick President Gloria Arroyo’s successor, Villar said that in poor countries like the Philippines people need to understand the effects of pervasive poverty on the quality of democracy. He warned that pervasive poverty is the new “Iron Curtain.”
“For long, Filipinos have equated elections with political freedom and political freedom with democracy. But attaining political freedom is only the first step in establishing a truly working democracy,” Villar said.
“Democracy is both about securing political freedoms and expanding economic opportunity. Failure in one area and you negate the advances in the other,” he added.
Villar said he understood how it was to wake up one morning not knowing how to survive until the next. He added that he knew the concerns of the head of the family that has only the shanty to call a home.
“I was a poor boy who grew up in the slum district known as Tondo, in the City of Manila, perhaps the equivalent of the New York City’s the Bronx,” he said. “Each new day was a struggle for survival. My mother was a fish vendor, my father was a government employee, and we had to survive on their combined meager income.”
“This is how I learned the virtues of hard work and perseverance, what in our national language translates into my slogan ‘Sipag at Tiyaga’ [hard work and patience].” It was my hard work and perseverance that was my ticket out of poverty,” Villar said.
He noted that the country has concentrated far too much on the form of democracy but has missed out on its substance.
“Democracy is all about empowering the powerless. Empowerment not only through the exercise of the right of suffrage but also through the opportunity to maximize one’s God-given potential.
“This, if I am chosen by the people, to lead the next government of the Philippines, will be the focus of my administration,” Villar said.
Source: The Manila Times Online, 20090625top5.html