There is a common question from many of the comments on this blog, which is, essentially, what am I doing personally to make our country a better place. Put another way, some assert that all I do is engage in talk about “change” while not doing anything concrete to effect it. To address this directly, here are 4 things – there are actually more but let’s start with this number – I am doing personally and concretely to move this country forward:
1. Eliminating Corruption at PLM (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila). As president of the University I oversee a fund of 300 Million Pesos yearly for the benefit of nearly 12,000 students, staff, and faculty. Commission on Audit records will show the wastage and corruption that have occurred in past administrations. For those familiar with S.O.P.s (standard operating procedures, which is a codeword for corruption) of government, unfortunately, ten per cent of that fund, and this is a very conservative estimate, goes to the head of the organization. In my case it would be 30 million a year, at least. There are rumors that the past administrations in PLM stole even more than that. I do not – and will not – steal any money from PLM. That money should benefit the University, its students and staff. By utilizing the University’s money properly, I am building up our nation’s future leaders.
2. Lecturing on Youth Leadership and Empowerment. From invitations from organizations like the Jaycees and Rotarians to Student Organizations to High School and College graduations, I always make it a point to make my speeches or lectures center on youth leadership and a sense of hopefulness for our country’s future.
3. Establishing Programs for Adult Education and PLMAT review. We are currently working on an adult education program in PLM that will provide instruction to janitors and other low income earners such as small vendors, metro aides, etc. Also, seeing that those with higher income levels have an advantage at the entrance examinations for PLM, we are establishing a PLMAT – the University’s entrance exams – review course that will target the poorest Manila High School students to enable them to hurdle the highly competitive PLMAT. Bringing quality education to the poorer sectors of our community will always reap social dividends in the long run.
4. Advocating Muslim-Christian Dialogue Through Media, Articles, and Lectures. Muslim-Christian dialogue – inter-faith discussion – is very close to my heart, particularly being married to a Catholic. Through my numerous articles, media interviews and appearances, as well as lectures, I hope to open the lines of communication between Muslims and Christians in the Philippines, which is the essential pre-condition to overcoming distrust, discrimination, and finding peace in Mindanao.