FOR a Defense Secretary to be apologetic for some security oversights is a rare sight indeed that we can only applaud for candidness.

But for a Defense Secretary to admit they have not been able to keep tabs on politicians who have been building up caches of firearms just to stay in power brings back the horror of the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre a thousandfold.

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"Our politics have become a contest not only of good ideas and programs, and good intentions of the nation. Our politics have become a contest of private interest. When I look and examine I see that (politicians) want to continue, keep, or take at all cost. 'Never mind that I massacre 57 people, or thirty journalists so long as I stay in power in Maguindanao,' that kind of attitude is not only exclusive in Maguindanao," Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said in a speech during the 38th Bishop-Ulama Conference last week at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.

More chilling still is what Gonzales said after that.

"I don't know whether we in the security establishment have failed but what we've noticed is that local politicians seem to think that it is easier more convenient, and probably cheaper to kill or murder their opponent than face them in a democratic electoral contest," he said.

What Gonzales said isn't that surprising. Filipinos have long had an inkling if not a full knowledge of this. It's not the message, it's the messenger -- the defense secretary.

"We probably have to apologize to our people, that we in the security force have been so caught in the so-called peace process in the country, which has really focused on the communist insurgency, the Islamic rebellion in the south, that we probably have not really noticed a growing menace," he said.

Indeed, the secretary owes the Filipino people a big apology. But more than that, the present government owes the Filipino people an even bigger one.

But it's one thing to get a candid apology for power-hungry politicians from a defense secretary and another to expect one from the greedy politicians themselves, the top guns included.

Given that, we can only say, let us not forget what has been said; and remember this always in our future dealings and decisions.