It’s election season again. So, as expected, a lot of people ask us who we think should be president. Personally I think that is a rude question. Ballots are cast in secret for a reason — because who one votes for is none of anyone else’s business. To be fair, good manners are really not a strong part of Filipino tradition. We are, after all, renowned for a habit of urinating in public spaces, jumping queues,and dumping trash on empty lots. So I’ll let that one slide and oblige the question.
Here is who I think should be President of the Philippines in 2016.
The next President of the Philippines should;
(1) Be able to articulate a vision for the Philippines by the time he or she steps down after completing his or her six-year term;
(2) Possesses a track record of focused execution and courageous oversight; and,
(3) Be a statesman and a gentleman and behave as such.
There you go. That is who I will be rooting for in the coming elections. We can see that my choice of president hasn’t really changed much since 2009. I think three points pretty much cover it, which is why I really cannot understand all the hollow-headed blathering about the issue of “presidentiables” and “winnability”. When you get it down to the basic principles, electing a president is really quite simple.
Many will likely note that I didn’t include “honesty” and “integrity” in the above criteria. My reasons are simple. Those two are virtues one would expect of any modern civlilised human being, not just a president. So adding these two as explicit criteria in an exercise to evaluate presidential candidates really does not make much sense. Honest people will elect honest leaders and representatives. Dishonest people will elect dishonest leaders and representatives. It really can’t be more complicated than that. Philippine history is self-evident on that matter.
Then there is the whole thing about the need for “true reform”. I’ve been hearing that phrase for the longest time. It’s always made out to be a “pressing” imperative every election time. Funny enough, “true reform”, despite being made a key part of campaign slogans for more than 50 years has never happened. Why? Because obvious solutions are never implemented. Look no further than the traffic “issue” currently causing the chronic paralysis that characterises much of Metro Manila today. Metro Manila is a textbook case of a wholesale institutionalised ban on the inclusion of obvious solutions in urban planning. Even the biggest and most obvious solution of them all — eliminating pork barrel from the national budget — seems to be a monumental challenge!
More importantly, “true reform” will never happen because Filipinos do not elect true reformists. Most of the politicians who will be coming out of the rattanwork and declaring their candidacy over the next few months will be sporting familiar surnames. These will be names coming from the impossibly infinitessimal 1% of Philippine society that controls more than 90 percent of its economic and political capital. So much for variety. It is no wonder that the same inbred ideas and inbred approaches to governance will continue on over the foreseeable future. It is because the same sorts of characters will be elected into office.
The eminent scientist Albert Einstein once say…
Problems cannot be solved using the same thinking that created them.
The Philippine government today, all that came before it, and much of what will be coming in the next 100 years are products of Filipino thinking. Until Filipinos change the way they regard their leaders, they will suffer the same sorts of leaders they make a national sport out of complaining about. If Filipinos cannot imagine a different set of people they could consider for their presidents and representatives in Congress, they will continue to get the crooks, conmen, and plain idiots that govern them today.
So Filipinos really have a choice. We’ve always had one. Ours is a democratic form of government after all. How we regard the important exercise of choosing the next president is where the solution lies. If we focus on issues rather than on personalities, on platforms rather than on circuses, and on critical thought rather than on idle gossip, there might still be hope in a good president taking his or her seat in Malacanang someday.
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