2022 election campaign exposes severe lack of leadership and public administration talent in Philippine politics

A stoic friend commented about the incestuous nature of Philippine politics. On one hand we have septuagenarians running for the two top posts who are competent and qualified. On the other, we have forty-somethings who are not. What does this say about our politics and leadership development in political institutions? We’re not at par with Singapore which grooms members of parliament for higher posts. A parliamentary system enables a member to learn the rudiments of legislation in preparation to becoming a member of the bureaucracy which allows him to gain experience in how the system works. Singapore members of parliament (MPs) are encouraged to pursue continuing education. As such, they usually have anywhere between one to three post-graduate degrees tucked under their belt by the time they are appointed to head ministries. This is a far cry from what we have here. We have bureaucrats who have post-graduate degrees but no experience in the private sector which works to their detriment since their mindset is still the usual lack of sense of urgency and more bureaucracy.

A case in point is a state college that has been without a President for more than a year just because of the delays in the search committee convened by the Board of Trustees in getting their work done. Going into the last phase of the process will take them another thirty days. Whoever is selected, the next President will have to work with the existing budget and will need to wait eight months again for the next budget season to submit to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). It’s only in his second year that he can actually implement his development goals and he’s given only two four-year terms. Reappointment is rightly based on his performance but he does have a particular disadvantage given the time it takes for his required budget to be approved and it is also certain that he won’t receive the full request.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos was conscious of this fact which is why he placed the onus of leadership development on Onofre Corpuz who promptly set-up the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) as the training ground for bureaucrats and future leaders of the country. Sadly the DAP has fallen by the wayside as its own bureaucracy has been riddled with political appointments. The present political structure doesn’t allow new leaders to come up the ladder. Political dynasties have thrived post-Marcos despite the promise of Cory Aquino to do away with them. The ban is stipulated in the 1987 Constitution but there is no enabling law which has been passed by Congress for obvious reasons.

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Even the party-list system which is supposed to be an avenue for marginalized sectors to gain representation has been abused by leftist-militant groups and mainstream political dynasties. The House of Representatives has been reduced to a cornucopia of party-list groups which resemble sari-sari stores. There is no control mechanism and corruption at the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has enabled these party-list groups to win seats by reaching the minimum vote threshold set by law. It’s about time that the political structure is reformed to take into account these exigencies. At present the shallowness of the political talent pool is being felt as we have recycled Senators and Congressmen. What’s worse is dynasties rule at the local level specially in the regions. This is why there is minuscule development at that level.

It’s about time that we take stock of what’s needed to become competitive in attracting foreign direct investment. The pandemic has shown the weak underbelly of the economy in terms of economic activities being concentrated in the National Capital Region and its outskirts (NCR+). This has to change along with the leadership development program if the country is to become truly progressive and development goals achieved.

9 Replies to “2022 election campaign exposes severe lack of leadership and public administration talent in Philippine politics”

  1. Yes currently we have….
    – a poor Actor who became a politician
    – a poor Boxer who became a politician
    – a poor Engineer graduate who joined the AFP and worked his way up but has tried to run for President multiple times, but it has not worked out (he is probably the best choice, but not sure the mahirap or pobre will vote for him.
    – the son of a former “dictator” (he may have not been a dictator, but he was something not quite right…) whose family stole millions/billions? from the country who probably has not worked for much…
    – Likely… the rich son of a judge, a lady who failed the bar exam 2-3 times, the wife of a former politician who died…. probably has not worked for much…
    -Likely… the daughter of the current president has been given various political positions. Who famously said “honesty should not be an election issue”

    The funniest part is that GetRealPhilippines thinks that Marcos is somehow a good choice and “deserves” it or something because the idiot Aquino son got to be president. The Yellows are idiots and the Marcos’ were (probably still are, I am sure the Mom is) corrupt.

    Marcos can win, but i doubt it. He placed 7th in senate voting. His sister placed 9th (Manny was 7th and Lacson was 4th in the 2016 election)

    1. Nowhere do I see on any Get Real Philippines article that it wants Bongbong to be elected simply because Noynoy Aquino got elected. That’s an oversimplification. What GRP is saying is that the Oppositionists wants the voting public to follow that logic (Vote Noynoy because he is an Aquino, but do not Bongbong because he is a Marcos) when it goes in their favor, and not to follow it when it goes against.

      Also, Marcos placing seventh in the 2010 election does not mean he’ll do poorly in next year’s presidential race. Sentiments change. Popularity wanes. Bong Revilla, who used to top senatorial elections, can still secure a senate seat but no longer at the top of the list. Mar Roxas was popular once upon a time, but got his ass kicked in the most recent elections. Binay was thought to be the heir apparent to Noynoy but when Duterte entered the scene, things changed. De Lima might have won in 2016, but I highly doubt a repeat next year. As for Trillanes? He can forget politics for a long time.

      So can you.

  2. That’s quite a summary you got there Tim. Regarding wannabe #3: Lacson won’t win. The historical fact in the Philippines is: No one who ran for president (the first time) and lost has ever won in their second (or third) shot at the presidency. Not exactly sure how it works, but it seems Pinoys brand you a loser for good after your failed first shot at the highest seat of the land. Lacson may be exceptionally experienced and qualified but he lacks something very important: winnability. He already blew his chances back in 2004; his chances of winning in 2022 are practically close to zero, esp. in this coming election season filled with new choices and faces. He should exit the race ASAP and spare himself the trouble and pain. Look at what a second failed attempt did to Miriam. Losing in a presidential race twice can be depressing and can ultimately lead to an early death.

  3. I disagree that we have a ‘severe lack of leadership ‘ in Philippine politics. I don’t remember any year that we experience a drought of skillful and talented leaders who vied for public office (president and vice-president).

    I’m not sure what the writer is referring to, but leadership itself is not the problem of this country. The problem lies on the leaders who lack moral and conscientious integrity. Educational degree is not a guarantee to a sterling work. No amount of grooming will make one a better public servant. It may help or develop a person to strive to be one but it will not ensure you will be a good (not even excellent) government leader or public officer/worker.

    With regard to Singapore in terms of comparison, we were once like them when we have the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL). The ‘it’ political party created by former president Marcos. It is the party that dominated the political landscape during the entire Marcos watch. Singapore has their own KBL too in the People’s Action Party (PAP). It has been the most dominant party since 1968.

    As to the present crop of leaders running for office (Lacson, Isko, Bongbong, Atienza, Sotto, etc.), I think we have enough choices to be able pick one that is not only qualified but also capable of leading the country to a better place than before. It is not true that we don’t have the talents.

    So do we still need to be a Singapore to be a success? No, we just need to stop engaging in too much politics and nonsense.

    1. Hahahaha!
      You are by far the most entertaining commenter around here
      You just described why the Filipinos lack skillful leadership. When a highly educated, skillful leader lacks moral integrity, it makes them an ineffective leader. I also do not agree with what you said: No amount of grooming will make one a better public servant. On the contrary. It is actually in the grooming that prepares one to be become a good one. Then the years of experience will follow. But, it is important to understand that grooming also means instilling the proper moral codes and fiber that will guide the leader in their political course.

      Also, to be clear, the Philippines was never at any time or another like Singapore. Never was, never will be.

      1. Had you read the entire quote about grooming a leader, you would agree with me. Here’s the complete phrase.

        “No amount of grooming will make one a better public servant. It may help or develop a person to strive to be one but it will not ensure you will be a good (not even excellent) government leader or public officer/worker.”

        The Philippines and Singapore were ones similar in terms of having a strong leaders in the persons of Lee Kwan Yew & Marcos. They both also have dominant political parties (People’s Action Party & the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan). Those things are what I’m referring to when I compared the two countries.

        I’m sorry if I offended your delicate Singaporean-skin. (Joke!)

        1. I still don’t agree with you, on both points.

          Marcos was not a strong leader. He was an American puppet, groomed by the CIA to serve American interests. Lee Kwan Yew, on the other hand, stood up and fought for the good of Singapore.

          The United States pretty much tolerated the bogus claims of Marcos that he was a bemedaled war hero. But when he could no longer serve the Philippine debt to IMF-World Bank, the CIA tasked author Alfred McCoy to expose the fake Marcos medals and his supposed heroic war stories.

          If Marcos was a strong leader, he would have put Imelda in place. He would have curbed Imelda’s propensity for lavishness and he would have not allowed his cronies to amass the kind of fortune that could only be surpassed by the amount of fortune Marcos himself stole.

          You were right though, about Singaporeans, the ethnic Chinese ones at least, having more delicate skin than most Filipinos.

        2. 20 years at the top and Marcos was not a strong leader? If Marcos cannot control Imelda it only means he’s a lousy husband. It has nothing to do with his one-man rule over the country. If your standard of strong leadership is based on how one controls his/her espouse, my friend, I don’t think this country will ever see a strong leader again.

  4. No, he was not a strong leader. Simply corrupt. A strong leader is someone who actually LEADS. Someone who will stand up for his own people and fight for them, not against their interests.

    Like I said, Marcos declared Martial Law and kept himself in power with the tacit blessing of the American government because he was their puppet. That’s not strength. If he was truly strong, why couldn’t he hang on to power when he fell out of American/CIA favor? I’ll tell you why. Because by 1986, Cory was the new American puppet. Marcos had become too much of a liability for the Americans to keep around. Marcos could not service the country’s debt, he sent Imelda on missions to countries like Soviet Union and Libya to borrow money which the Americans disapproved of. He also could not control the NPA insurgency, another sign of weakness.

    Besides, if a leader is to be strong for his country, shouldn’t he first be able to control things within his immediate surrounding? Wife included?

    You are right, though. With people who possess a mentality like yours, this country will indeed never see a strong leader, ever.

    Make sure you do the laundry. Your “espouse” might get upset.

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