In another demonstration of his lack of a deep understanding of the concept of command responsibility, Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino dissed his own speechwriting staff in public. Choosing instead to speak extemporaneously in front of an audience made up of participants in the 10th Student Catholic Action of the Philippines (SCAP) National Leadership Conference in Saint Paul University in Manila, Noynoy spoke of how he did not like the speech that was prepared for him by his staff…
[…] hindi ko ho gusto yung ginawa nilang talumpati para sa akin. [“I did not like the speech that they prepared for me”]
… the President explained in Tagalog.
Always quick to mitigate the media ripples caused by Noynoy’s frequent off-the-hip remarks, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda explained that the President was not necessarily unhappy with the performance of his speechwriters and that the President was simply adopting his delivery to the “mood” of the audience and occasion. Lacierda goes further to defend Noynoy’s role as having the final say as far as what he plans to say before an audience.
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“The President is his own speechwriter. At the very end, siya talaga ang nag-fi-finalize ng kanyang speech. Hindi siya unhappy with his speechwriters.”
But of course, though it seems lost in Mr Lacierda that Noynoy was quite categorical in his public disclosure of his dislike for the work of his speechwriting staff.
Distancing one’s self from the work of one’s subordinate is one thing — the mark of a weak manager. Publicly speaking ill of a subordinate is, to say the least, unprofessional. A real manager much more a true leader sees himself as personally responsible for the work of his staff and stands by this work when putting up a public face. A manager or leader who wears in public even the mistakes of one’s staff requires courage and honour. Obviously, Noynoy lacks both, choosing instead to say me-not-responsible for the quality of the work of his own Office staff.
When a General loses a battle, he does not come up to his commanding officer pointing fingers at the artillerymen who failed to move their hardware into position, or the infantry team who failed to secure a bridge, or the weather for failing to cooperate. He simply reports how he failed to accomplish his mission — period. Adam tried to pull a similar stunt when he had to face God and explain why he ate the Forbidden Fruit. “Eve made me do it” simply didn’t fly, and we all know how the first couple’s brief frolic in Paradise ended (suffice to say, we all get to be born stained by humanity’s first gaffe).
It is quite understandable when reprimands are made within the four walls of a manager’s office outside of the public eye. Keeping the interiority of the affairs of a team, well, internal is what builds esprit and camaraderie. A leader who violates the trust built within a team by making the public privy to the internal squabbles of his office creates divisiveness. More importantly, it makes said leader look like a pathetic whiner.
Indeed, this comes at a time when the public had just about forgotten about the October 2010 circus created by Carmen “Mai” Mislang — arguably the most famous MalacaÃ±ang speechwriter in Philippine history.
Mislang, at the time an “Assistant Secretary” in the bloated Communications Group of MalacaÃ±ang tweeted “wine sucks” referring to wine served by their Vietnamese Government hosts in a state dinner prepared for Noynoy’s delegation back then.
Noynoy may have unwittingly (assuming he normally possesses wit) undone months of excruciating public relations damage control work. Like the way a long buried childhood memory can resurface at the smallest hint of a familiar smell or a glimpse of a familiar face, or a chord from a hit song of that time, the mere mention of “speechwriter” in the middle of yet another Presidential gaffe could spell trouble for Mislang who had probably only now finished picking up the pieces of her shattered career and public persona.
That’s no problem of course for a man whose only concern is to look good before the Filipino public — often at the expense of the very people who work hard to help him with that very task.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.