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.
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