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A Peace with Freedom

Joseph Ejercito Estrada (

Joseph Ejercito Estrada (

Other important pieces of legislation I am pushing include the Omnibus Power Bill and Amendments to the Omnibus Investment Incentives Act. The Power Bill, which will further deregulate and privatize the power sector, is now in the Bicameral Conference Committee.

I am also pushing for the early enactment of an AntiRacketeering Law with anti-money laundering provisions, and a Bill that seeks to further strengthen the supervision capacity of the Central Bank. These are for instituting greater transparency, accountability and good governance in our public and corporate sectors.

Just as important, by taking more concerted efforts to pro-fit our education system and upgrade our communications infrastructure, my administration is equipping our most important resource - our people - for the global knowledge economy.

You may have heard that your country, the United States, recently garnered the top ranking in the global new E-Economy Index, which maps the "technological vitality" of the world's 47 leading economies. The Philippines did well, too, being ranked number 26 overall. Well ahead of most of our neighbors and Italy, Brazil, Mexico, China and Korea. We were adjudged the world's number 1 in the category of knowledge jobs. That put us ahead of Australia, the US, Canada and France, in terms of qualified engineers, availability of its skills, availability of Senior Management and higher education enrollment.

As Captains of Industry and pillars of American business, you will not have failed to notice that the reforms my administration is continuing and those that we have - begun all take the strategic view. They are not short-term, unsustainable palliatives. Not only are they intended to address weaknesses laid bare by the crisis; they are meant to further fortify Philippine Economic-Foundations, and brace the country for the challenges and opportunities of the new economy. We are building for the future now.

And this same orientation is what we have for the other aspects of our national life. Yes, we want long-term prosperity, so we yearn and now work hard for lasting peace.

You have heard, without a doubt, about the difficulties we have recently been facing in the southern part of the country.

For so long, the peace of the nation and the authority of the state have been threatened by elements seeking to dismember our land. Like all free nations that fought long and hard for their independence, we cannot allow this sorry situation to fester.

My government's first aim in Mindanao is to restore and maintain peace for without peace development will be a pipe dream. We know that poverty and the long government neglect that bred it are the roots of our present travails. But any government earnestly seeking to redress this wrong will fail if lawlessness runs rampant.

Accordingly, my government has been seeking to uphold its authority and solemn duty under the Constitution to preserve the integrity of our nation. We cannot allow lawless violence and barbaric terrorism to run our country down.

The reconstruction and socio-economic development efforts in Mindanao have begun. We will not stop until we uplift the lives of all Filipinos there. We will actively talk peace ad actually build it with everyone who sincerely seeks it.

When I sought and assumed the Philippine presidency two years ago, my overriding ambition was to give the best I can back to the nation that has been so good to me. That has not changed. It has only crystallized into the three-pronged goal I now wish to win for my country.

I want my people to enjoy peace, but only with freedom, I want my people to savor prosperity, but only with fairness, and I want my people to experience stability, but only with openness.