by Philippine News Agency – Forgive and forget? This is not acceptable for President Benigno Aquino III.
“With every step on the straight and righteous path, we plant the seeds of change. But there are still some who are committed to uprooting our work. These are also the ones who say, ‘Let go of the past. Unite. Forgive and forget so we can move forward as a people.’ I find this unacceptable,” the President said in his third state of the nation address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress on Monday.
“Shall we simply forgive and forget the 10 years that were taken from us? Do we simply forgive and forget the farmers who piled up massive debts because of a government that insisted on importing rice, while we could have reinvested in them and their farmlands instead? Shall we forgive and forget the family of the police officer who died while trying to defend himself against guns with nothing but a nightstick?
Shall we forgive and forget the orphans of the 57 victims of the massacre in Maguindanao? Will their loved ones be brought back to life by forgiving and forgetting? Do we forgive and forget everything that was ever done to us, to sink us into a rotten state? Do we forgive and forget to return to the former status quo? My response: Forgiveness is possible; forgetting is not. If offenders go unpunished, society’s future suffering is guaranteed,” he said.
President Aquino said that “true unity and reconciliation can only emanate from genuine justice.”
“Justice is the plunder case leveled against our former president (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo); justice that she receives her day in court and can defend herself against the accusations leveled against her. Justice is what we witnessed on the 29th of May. On that day, we proved that justice can prevail, even when confronted with an opponent in a position of power,” he said.
President Aquino, however, said: “There are still many flaws in the system, and repairing these will not be easy.”
“I am aware of the weight of your mandate. But this is what our people tasked us to do; this is the duty we have sworn to do; and this what we must do. Our task is reform towards true justice that continues even after our administration,” he said.
President Aquino said that ousting a corrupt government official does not end there.
He called on both Houses of Congress — the Senate and the House of Representatives — to pass amendments to laws such as the Anti-Money Laundering Act, to better hold corrupt officials accountable.
“Let me remind you that our fight does not end with the ousting of one corrupt official, with the suspension of an anomalous contract, or the systemic overhauling of a government office. I call upon Congress to pass our amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, that we may strengthen our measures to hold the corrupt accountable,” he said.