This is most particularly true with regard to the presidency. Considering that some of those involved in the alleged scam are admittedly presidential wannabes, I couldn’t be more alarmed, if not horrified, like the rest of us.
I’m not sure though what qualities we should exactly look for. Given the indubitable complexities of Philippine politics, it’s just so difficult.
For example, we could have a sincere president but I seriously doubt if his integrity would translate to effective governance. If there’s one thing we all agree on, it’s that honesty may be the best of policies, but it is certainly not enough!
Look at Tita Cory. She was probably the only honest president we had. But because she was not prepared for the job, she failed miserably. This is not of course her fault. She was “by fate” forced to lead a people that had gone awry, and that in itself was a tall order. She did what she could and probably even that which she couldn’t.
Good thing though, she redeemed herself greatly and in a way we should all be grateful for, by fighting for freedom and democracy until her last breath and by accomplishing more for the country when she got out of the presidency than when she was in it.
I think the same thing can be said about her son. He may have restored public trust and confidence in governance, what with his ability to maintain his clean image and rally the people behind him in spite and despite of. Yet, his failure to respond to pressing issues e.g. the hostage crisis, the Malaysian siege and the Taiwan controversy—will definitely hurt his legacy.
With three years remaining in office, history will likely remember him more for what he did not do than what he did as president.
Charisma, like sincerity, may also be a critical factor. Erap had a lot of those and then some. But as records show, he likewise failed miserably. Of course, one can argue his term was cut short. But would it matter if he finished his? I doubt it sincerely. If there’s one thing he got across quite clearly, that is you can tank up both literally and figuratively if you become president. I hope he learned his lesson and this time do better as a mayor. He did great in San Juan and there’s enough room for doing great again.
PGMA, on the other hand, was obviously one of the more qualified for the job, being an economist, highly educated and experienced. Yet, she blew it big time. Epic fail, in fact, not so much because she did not know what she was doing but because she did. And that was the sad part.
Unlike President Marcos, who up to this day has had a throng of loyal supporters, she just isn’t likeable enough to win our hearts. If she were an actor, she’s one of those forgettable faces who tried hard but just didn’t quite have “it.” The fact that you mustered guts to apologize on national television and nobody believed is a great testament of how loathsome you are in the public eye.
Maybe, it’s really about political will. But to exercise it, one would be gunned down to death. Nobody takes the presidency just because. It comes with a heavy price. In a society characterized by patronization and accommodation, nobody wins without the support of the mighty and the powerful. Of course, you become heavily indebted to them, and there lies the problem.
At the end of the day, nobody could tell for sure. If only we could have someone who possesses all these qualities. But maybe, just maybe, they may not also be enough. The magnitude and complexity of our problems demand more than having a good leader. Clearly, we can only extricate ourselves from our mess if we the people should do the right thing, albeit the definition of the phrase “right thing” in itself has quite expanded lately.
I really don’t know. As motherhood as it may seem, we just have to start from ourselves and effect change in our way. Maybe, that is the way.
Our leaders are corrupt because we, the voters are corrupt. In this country, hindi lang pork barrel ang baboy. Tayong lahat!
Atty. Edward Chico is vice-chair at the Commercial Law Department, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University and its faculty and administrators.