CORAZON C. AQUINO
I regret that I cannot attend the Council of State meeting on January 24 for reasons of principle. By that action, I do not mean to be disrespectful of the Council nor to renege on one of my duties as a former president. Nevertheless, I apologize to the Filipino people, particularly those whose sense of propriety I might be offending.
While I value the Council of State highly as an institution, I believe that it can only function effectively as a top-level advisory body in an atmosphere of trust. And there lies the problem. At the heart of the crisis besetting the current administration is the fundamental issue of trust.
The very legitimacy of the President’s mandate remains under a cloud of doubt despite the administration’s self-serving statements to the contrary. Rather than resolve the issue in a transparent and forthright manner, the President has opted to muddle it further by insisting that any allusion to the legitimacy issue is part of a grand conspiracy to unseat her.
This is most unfortunate. This posture does nothing to restore the people’s trust in the presidency and in the government. Worse, my presence in the meeting may create more confusion as to where I really stand with regard to my July 8, 2005 statement seeking her voluntary resignation. The absence of trust on both sides gives me great discomfort to even contemplate participation in the forthcoming meeting of the Council of State.
I believe that I would be serving the interests of the Filipino people better at this time by sustaining my efforts to help strengthen our fragile democracy.
Over the short term, this entails working to restore confidence in democratic governance by advocating constitutional avenues out of the present political crisis. To this day, I maintain that the least painful path for the nation is for the President to make the supreme sacrifice of relinquishing her office. Short of that, I believe our nation would be due for protracted political turmoil.
Over the long term, my dream is to create an empowered citizenry as the foundation upon which our democracy can endure and flourish. Toward this end, I have reached out to various sectors to undertake major initiatives to improve the lives of the poor, who stand to suffer the most from the persistent crisis. By systematically lifting millions of Filipinos from poverty, we can help them regain their human dignity and make better choices as part of mainstream society.
Let me also ask the Filipino people to join me in praying for our nation at this critical time. For it is my belief that the most pressing problem impinging on the national interest is neither political nor economic in nature. It is a moral issue that cannot be resolved by structural or legal interventions and by government programs endorsed by the Council of State. It can only be addressed by the President herself.
16 January 2006