Filling the vacancy of President of the Philippines

When Human Resource (HR) Departments are trying to fill up a vacant position, they normally come out with a short list of qualifications. We are quite familiar with this. In a search for a technical sales job, for example, we normally see the following in an ad: male or female, 23 to 32 years old, preferably single, pleasing personality, college graduate of a technical course, possibly belonging to top 10 of the class, experience helpful but not necessary, willingness to learn in a world-class environment, willingness to relocate, those who don’t meet the above need not apply; company is the leader in the industry, and salary is above the industry average. This is to narrow down the search to only those who fit best the job description, and hopefully, through a series of written exams, a psychological test, and a battery of interviews, the right person could finally fill the vacancy.


Today, we are all members of the HR Department; the highest office of the land will be vacant mid-2016. We are looking for one who could do well in a job generally described by the 1987 Constitution as follows:

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Chief Executive

— Under Article 7, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, the President heads the Executive branch of the government, which includes the Cabinet and all executive departments. The executive power, as such, is vested on the President alone.

— Section 19 gives the President power to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment, except when the President is under impeachment.

— Section 20 provides the President to contract or guarantee foreign loans on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines with the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board, and subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

— The President exercises general supervision over local government units.


— Article 7 Section 18 of the Constitution: “the President is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines”. As Commander-in-Chief, the President can call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he or she may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.

Power of Appointment

— The Constitution (Article VII Section 16) empowers the President to appoint, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, the heads of executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, officers of the armed forces above the rank of colonel (Army) and captain (Navy), and other officials. The president also appoints those required by law that he appoint, or those whose appointments are not provided for under any other law. The members of the Supreme Court are also appointed by the President, based on a list prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council. Judicial appointments do not need the approval of the Commission on Appointments.

Government Agencies

— The Office of the President also has attached government agencies under it. It includes agencies such as the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission (Philippines). These agencies are not under the different cabinet departments and are under the direct supervision of the President.

Minimum eligibility:

Under Article 7, Section 2 of the Constitution of the Philippines, in order to serve as President, one must be:

* at least 40 years old and above
* a registered voter
* single or married
* able to read and write
* a male or female Filipino citizen by birth
* and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding election.

* * *

Whereas the HR departments of private companies are quite meticulous in filling up even low level positions, the Constitution has left further qualifications for the top job to the discretion of the voters. I think the reason for this is that they wanted to avoid a constitutional crisis where none could be chosen because the choice has been made very narrow. The other reason seems to be that of being able to allow an intelligent leader and/or a statesman with wisdom to define his or her own job description and thus, his or her own qualifications for the job within the framework spelled out in generalities. The problem is that voters since the start of the Fifth Republic of the Philippines have been choosing those who didn’t have the highest leadership or statesmanship qualities, not to mention intelligence and wisdom — and uhmm, integrity.

What the constitutional framers didn’t foresee is that there could be an election where neither a leader nor a statesman would show up in the line up of candidates, and the framers must be cringing even now in what is supposed to be their self-contented retirements. Is this what is about to happen? What we have today is a feisty neophyte Senator who is saying that the job does not need an executive experience and that honesty and integrity should suffice. Then, we have the dodgy Vice-President who is saying that he has several pages of resumé spelling out his executive experiences which should stand up against any Justice of any Court if he is charged for anything, including charges outrightly against integrity and honesty. Then, we have the Cabinet Secretary, who is trying his best to please everybody from the President to the most unknown voter and thus, is now perceived more of a wimp rather than one who is his own man standing for something, and who is saying forget such things since he has executive experience, as well as honesty and integrity. Today, we are holding our breath hoping (maybe, against hope) that a real leader and/or statesman shows up before the deadline in the filing of candidacy in October.

Things have been increasingly difficult with the passing years because what the framers of the Constitution didn’t really foresee is that they were installing a system that would require more and more expensive election campaigns which have practically forced the incumbents to be corrupt in their respective offices to stay in office, or to seek a higher one. At least, in the two-party system of the past, the parties took care of filtering the candidates in an effort so that it is the best and the brightest who is presented as their candidate, and individuals did not worry about campaign expenses, the party took care of that.

These days, nuances in a selection process have been thrown out the window. If one has enough popularity, and one has enough thick-face, one could aspire for the top job without even considering that lack of qualification could bring about unnecessary injustice and heartbreaking collateral damages — never mind, a government official could use his/her budgets based on his/her personal whims, and he/she could buy expensive PR campaigns to cover-up any personal shortcoming. Thus, below all the glowing propagandas are all these rotten politicians we have today. The hoi polloi, helpless, could in the end only descriptively and derisively call the leaders of late as “kapalmuks” or “tigas ng apog”.

The helplessness is reflected in the wide swing of the voting pattern, like a pendulum that has been pushed wildly. Tired of the incompetence of the reluctant housewife who became the First President of the Fifth Republic, they went for the intelligent as a reaction to the unintelligent. They voted a Five-Star General, a graduate of West Point, who always had an unlit tobacco in his mouth which voters probably thought as exuding confidence. He was just doing fine until the Thailand financial crisis didn’t spare the Philippines, and everything from thereon went to hell in a hand basket. Disillusioned, the voters went for a movie star, who tasked a group of PR experts to make sure the public only knew him as someone who is dumb. As it turned out, he wasn’t that dumb, he was in fact wily.

Still, the voters again said it was time to have another one who is intelligent, so an economic professor came to office. But, the many scandals of the economists made voters think that intelligence may not be a good qualification for a President, so they voted for the dumbest they could, or will, ever find. Of course, the dumbest of ’em all knew he was dumb since he knew he didn’t do anything as a Congressman and a Senator, so he had to manage via propaganda. Thus, for the first time in the world, a communication group of an administration had three Cabinet ranked managers, a coterie of the best in the ad and PR business in the background, supported by a clique of burgis sycophants and yesteryear showbiz stars trying to stay relevant as their careers fade into the eerie twilight, in order to paint a picture that the state of affairs is at its finest and dandiest with the dumbest.

Do not underestimate the voters, they could see through the thick smoke created by the DAP-oiled propaganda machine. Thus, based on surveys, the pendulum is about to swing to an intelligent one, a corrective measure that would just be fine if it were not for the ribbon untied by the Blue Ribbon Committee. The ribbon untied, it gave voters a peek into a world where the intelligent one seems more cunning than the Mafia mentality of the husband of the earlier economist and academic, and more threatening than that deeply sun-tanned pirate of Napoleonic height, storm-tossed by his many adventures in the high seas, but now about to pillage a a large sleepy town.

Roxas violated the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 in his seeming efforts to grab media attention.

Roxas violated the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 in his seeming efforts to grab media attention.

The pendulum would probably not swing that wildly this time if voters had another choice. But, what can they do? The other choice is an international banker who rides a motorcycle in the middle of a storm without a helmet assured that he won’t fall off because he said he treads only down the straight paths. He fell awkwardly, anyway. Maybe, he couldn’t see that straight path clearly enough. That is the problem when their smoke machine has blown too much smoke onto the path. Yet, another choice is a small mestiza who had a job to watch too much movies just to look for obscene scenes, foul languages, and blood-curling violence. They voted her because they said she might find and cut the same things in the Senate. Well, she probably could cut the head of the sun-tanned pirate of Napoleonic height waiting in the high seas as she is? We don’t know.

The thing is that if our voters were an HR Department in a real company, the company would look like it has been put in the tallest and longest roller-coaster ride. I think before the first round would have been completed, the Chairman of the Board would have died of a heart attack, or cross-eyed watching the wild pendulum swing. Imagine, he couldn’t fire the newly installed CEO for six years — methinks all of the Directors would also be dying of heart attacks one by one on board meetings, or meetings of stockholders.

That is the reason why GRP has had many articles since the last election discussing this and that qualification of presidentiables in an effort to assist voters discern the best candidates. GRP also maintains the most open of comment boxes (combox) to allow others to discuss their own thoughts on the topics at hand, and so that topics don’t become monologues by writers. GRP has also been critical of the political system, but there is no point in trying to have the best system if we continue voting the crooks and the crazies. We have to make do of what we have first, but try our best in helping the electorate make the best choice. What we don’t want happening is to tell you in 2022: “We told you so!”, or “Why did you vote again with your emotion in 2016?”, as what has happened in 2010!!! (Please note that I am just a guest writer here, so you can’t call this mere advertisement, but rather, a testimony.)

10 Replies to “Filling the vacancy of President of the Philippines”

  1. You cannot have qualifications without experience; and you cannot have experience without personal interest and bias. That may not be an ideal arrangement; but it is the way the world is built and we must make the best of it.

  2. Add,
    a tit bit off topic but is that really how a complete job opening ad looks like? (your first paragraph).

    – To mention age is against Dutch laws (age discrimination)
    PS: any company knows how to by-pass that “law”
    – no company cares whether applicant is married, single or widoded;
    – in case a woman is invited for job interview, the iter is always curious about whether the woman still has a child-wish. It is not forbidden to ask that specific question but its kinda inappropriate.

    Although I do understand the idea/thought behind it. No company wants to invest time, effort and money in a new recruit that is gone on maternity leave 5 months later.

    I miss the
    – no 9-to-5 mentality.
    – job interviews will start in week 40

    Furthermore, what I miss is the part where it says: “what do we (the company) have to offer you” And then what follows is:
    – salary indication per month based on 40 hrs (including 13th month if applicable)
    – number of vacation days (with full pay)
    – the perks/fringe benefits (lease car, cell phone, lap top, pension/retirement plan)
    – possibility to work from home

    Back to the requirements to become president of the Philippines, we would consider mentioning an age (40) age-discrimination.

    1. @Robert

      1. Yes, we can put age limits on applicants.
      2. Yes, for low level positions, companies prefer singles, especially those that need relocation, as say sending them to Visayas or Mindanao. Of course, for higher positions, it won’t matter if applicant is married or not.
      3. Maternity leave in PHL is only for Two Months — 2 weeks before delivery and 1-1/2 months after. Paternity leave is two weeks after delivery. The worst part of the law is that those under 6-mos contract only, or the ENDOS, are not entitled to these benefits.
      4. Salary normally based on 40hrs per week. And there is a 13th month pay in Dec mandated by law. Vacation leave in PHL is only for Two weeks, a company could grant another 2 weeks, but that is if company generous. Sick leave is only for 2 weeks max on accumulative basis per year.
      4. Work from home is only at the beginning stages at this point.
      5. Only top management and sales are normally entitled to company cars. Yes, computers, cell phones, etc normally provided by company to certain positions.
      6. Government mandated pensions via SSS for private employees and GSIS for govt employees are miserable. One has to take outside insurance or mutual fund individually to cover one’s retirement.

  3. If these Politicians would had applied in a real Fortune 500 corporation in the U.S. I am sure no one would had ever hired them.

    How would Aquino, Erap Estrada, Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada,Bong Revilla, etc…had done in a panel of Human Resources interviewers?

    Unfortunately, politics is not the same as choosing a qualified employee in a corporation. In politics, any candidate ;good or bad, able or unable; qualified or unqualified can run for public office.

    Filipino voters are used to : slogans, media propaganda, mudslinging,false accomplishments, lies, deceits, etc…
    Filipino voters swallow all these: hook, line and sinker…

    Imagine someday; Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, or some kind of uneducated ShowBiz personality, etc… will again be elected as President of this Hell Hole Republic.

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