Time to ask: Are they fit for the presidency?

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“The crisis of leadership today is the mediocrity or irresponsibility of the men and women in power, but leadership rarely rises to the full need for it…The fundamental crisis underlying mediocrity is intellectual. We fail to grasp the essence of leadership that is relevant to the modern age.”

James Macgregor Burns, Leadership

THE recent arguments, over whether Sen. Grace Poe- Llamanzares and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte should be seriously considered for election  to the presidency, have focused mainly  on the minimum constitutional requirements for anyone to hold  our highest office, such as citizenship and residency; and  whether they have satisfied the procedural and technical requirements of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) such as deadlines and process of candidate substitution.

All these issues are important in their own way.


But I believe they fail to ask the more important question which our people are asking in their homes and their offices, whether the presidential candidates are really fit for high office, and  whether  they can do the job at this challenging time for our people and our country.

If public questioning does not rise to a higher level, if followers and voters do not demand more from the candidates, we will surely get the mediocre and irresponsible leadership  that leadership guru Professor Burns warns about.

We will fall short of the strong leadership that Reader Hector said in his recent analysis that is so gravely needed by the Philippines today.

 Lowering the bar for the Presidency  

The fact that there are substantial numbers of people who feel that there should be no further investigation of Senator Poe’s long train of misrepresentation and lies in her pursuit of public office, and the fact that certain senators  have pronounced her a natural-born citizen without investigation and legal reasoning, provide an indication of how far our bar for the Presidency has been lowered.

Yesterday we needed men of achievement like Marcos, Macapagal and Ramos to fill the office. Now it is suggested that a total foundling can adequately discharge it.

At last week’s Saturday forum at Annabel’s, I asked Chito Gascon, chairman of the Philippine Human Rights Commission, what the  CHR has to say about the fact  that Mayor Duterte has made the killing of people a fundamental part of his program of government.  I suggested that if the commission merely busies itself with wondering whether Duterte did indeed kill 1,700 people, it would not be doing  the nation any good. It would be abdicating its duty.

The fact that the mayor has moved on into a public spat with Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas, which turned into an exchange of challenges (slapping and fisticuffs and even a gun duel) has plunged the run up to the 2016 elections to the level of the grotesque.

A reflection on Filipino judgment

What does it say about  the prospects of our people and our   country, when we allow such an important political exercise, as next year’s elections to be diminished and trivialized in this way?

The Philippines is the 12th largest country in the  world.  We maintain diplomatic relations with the great majority of nations in the  world. And our voice and views carry weight and influence in the councils of nations and in the resolution of international problems, of which the dispute over the South China Sea is surely one.

What does it say about our judgment as Filipinos if we hold presidential elections without insisting that candidates answer publicly questions about their character, programs and policy ideas?  What answers will we get if instead of forcing them to debate publicly under serious questioning, we just allow them to insult each other?

All this is disturbing because 2016 could be a watershed year for the Philippines, if we truly hold free, fair, orderly and credible elections next   year, and if we succeed in making the transition to a new president and administration, who we all pray will be better than BS Aquino.

A politics of problem-solving

The search for the next president is a process of finding  the man or the woman who is best fit for the job.

When the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.  said that democratic politics is a “politics of remedy,” it means precisely  that electing a president is finding a leader who can provide solutions to the major problems facing the nation.  We are looking for a leader who can make the right decisions and adopt the right policies that will advance the national interest and promote the public’s welfare and well-being.

When we demand that presidential candidates should present the nation their programs of government, we mean that they should spell out their  broad governance philosophy, and their specific  policies for the economy,  society, politics and the bureaucracy, and our relations with the world.

We should not  allow them just offer us fancy slogans, and programs on a napkin, because once they get to Malacañang, they will make decisions and choices  that will fatefully affect us individually and collectively.

We have seen how grave presidential decision-making can be when President Aquino unilaterally took the step of concluding a separate peace agreement  with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and agreed to the creation of  a Bangsamoro sub-state, and when he embarked on a policy of confrontation with China.

What the President of the Philippines must provide above all is sound judgment, not whimsical flights of policy and experimentations in politics.

If we, the Filipino people, the media, and the political class and our social institutions consent to a diminished presidential campaign and elections, then we will  reap a stunted president and  mediocre administration.

If  we agree to downgrade the process, we will get what we deserve – a low-grade president and administration.

This is  the time to raise the serious  questions, because crucial questions about the presidential elections still remain to be resolved by the Comelec and the Supreme Court.

We do not want to be told that we are too late in our intervention for a purposive and meaningful presidential election next year.

When campaign strategists  and politicians are still huddling on how best to present themselves to our people in order to win, it is wise to remind them that our  ambitions and expectations from the balloting are high, and will not be satisfied by lies and humbug.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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18 Comments

  1. Actually, there’s no one fit enough to be the president, but if we go by the track record on governance, then, Duterte must be given the chance for what he had done to Davao City. There’s the big probability that it can be done with iron discipline. Qualifications and educational resumes do not make a president, concretely, experience, track records and wisdom do, not theories of knowledge.
    // “And our voice and views carry weight and influence in the councils of nations…”// When did the Philippines have the political clout that its voice and views carry weight? When? Try to stay in other countries for long periods of time and one hears nothing of the Philippines in terms of international contributions, but good at singing and beauty pareants or Imelda having 3,000 pairs of shoes. International political clout is nil. In fact, the Ph. is popularly called a nation of domestic helpers. Pastilan!

  2. Yen, you are right on the money on every point. You hit the nail on the head. If I may add another point is that our people are ready to vote for a frog because they are fed up with these traditional politicians who are corrupt, liars and thieves. And now we are also besieged with these incompetent, unqualified celebrities turned politicians. We are frustrated!

  3. Yen, you’re right on the money on every point. You hit the nail on the head. If I may add another point is that at this juncture of our Philippine history, our people are just so frustrated with our politicians who are untrustworthy and so much despised. Therefore, they are ready to vote for a frog, a slug, a low life or any low crawling creature for a change instead of these proven thieves, liars, and incompetent people in our government in the likes of celebrities-turned politicians and clowns. Truly, a sad state of affairs in our beloved country.

  4. If I am not mistaken, the start of the actual and legal campaign period is February 2016. Hence, why is the COMELEC setting a deadline for filing certificate of candidacy for president at a very early stage where presumptuous candidates would just be prematurely campaigning in the guise that there is no “VOTE FOR ME”? Isn’t the period of premature campaign only becomes a divisive issue when there are more important matters that need more attention than issues of residency? With the period wasted on petty squabbles, we forget that there is a looming WW3, that tsayna has become more bold in its squatting, that the drug menace and smuggling has grown into uncontrollable proportion or that ISIS has made a foothold in the mountains of Mindanao? Is Andy so stupid that technology is not available to print any number of ballots in so short a time or that there is no technology where we do away with printed ballots? Wisdom dictates that the last day of filing certificates of candidacy should be the day before official campaigning starts.

  5. Dr. Strangelove on

    My choice would be someone like Mr.Makabenta for President… yet our choices are limited to picking the best of the worst…or damage control.

    Beyond that many doubt this country can even have an honest election in the phycial process of it.

    A rational mind would impeach the one we have now allowing the Vice President to rule for a year, delaying the election until we sort this all out.

  6. Leaders are formed when young
    Managers are trained as adults
    Politicians are appreciated when dead

    Leaders inspire people
    Managers coach employees
    Politicians defraud taxpayers

    Leaders play sport
    Managers play the game
    Politicians play the fool

    Leaders create jobs
    Managers develop people
    Politicians exploit opportunity

    Leaders are thinkers
    Managers are doers
    Politicians are actors

    Leaders are team builders
    Managers are team players
    Politicians team up with criminals

    Leaders set the pace
    Managers take on the baton
    Politicians are always in a rear

    Leaders employ MBA’s
    Managers have MBA’s
    Politicians can’t spell MBA

    Leaders think global
    Managers act rational
    Politicians go emotional

    Leaders are like a father
    Managers are like a brother
    Politicians are like a black sheep

    Leaders plant orchards
    Managers cultivate apples
    Politicians are rotten to the core

    Leaders learn
    Managers mentor
    Politicians procrastinate

    Leaders strategise
    Managers analyse
    Politicians plagiarise

    A bad leader runs a kakisotracy
    An old leader runs a gerontocracy
    A drunken leader runs a bar
    A cowardly leader runs away.

    • leaders inspire,
      managers harmonize,
      politicians create chaos.

      leaders are looked up to,
      managers are followed,
      politicians are despised.

      leaders’ jokes are hilarious,
      managers’ jokes are funny,
      politicians’ are fit for the monkeys and the dumb.

    • Here is a typical bad comment..the question is simple, are they (present candidates) fit for the presidency. The answer is yes. Here are the bases.
      1. Mar , Poe, Binay, Miriam and Duterte are qualified to run based on education and experience
      2. Based on moral ground and without record of corruption- Mar, Poe and Miriam are qualified.
      3. Based on Comelec requirements – Mar, Binay and Miriam are qualified.
      4. Based on communication skill and personality of a President to represent PH – Mar, Poe and Miriam are qualified.
      Binay and Duterte appears to be lacking in this category.
      5. Based on management – Mar, Poe and Binay appears to good.
      6. Based on platform of government – Mar, Poe, Miriam and Binay have acceptable platform. Duterte has not officially publish its platform of government.

  7. Gloria M. Kuizon on

    Chairman Bautista and the Comelec must definitively show that they are for sound Philippine electoral democracy and not the tool of elites that want to perpetuate themselves in power and ignore the voice of ordinary Filipinos.

  8. Have we been successful in choosing the responsible president in this country ? It is not the president at fault but our democratic system that is at fault. Presidents are beholden to their financial backers to bankroll their candidacy. There is not enough check and balance that too much power is centralized with the president. Commission on Audit is so weak that they themselves were corrupted by the system. PDAP has been there for decades . Do not tell me that the auditors failed to catch these anomalies and kickbacks. That is their job but billions were lost due to corruption. We have to change the system. It is so weak and susceptible to corruption.

    • Agree to some of your view. But the failure has nothing to do with the form of government. It’s the lack of character and will by some leaders and people. The root cause(s) are poverty and lack of education.
      Our country has a check and balance and robust laws. Two Presidents were imprisoned, one was impeached and another overthrown by peoples power.
      Disagree with the comment that COA is so weak. The COA should be appreciated for catching many officials in the PDAP and DAP case. There is a room for improvement to all level/agencies of government.

  9. Kindly enlighten us then Mr.Makabenta on whom to vote this coming Presidential 2016 election.As you have opined,the underlying mediocrity is intellectual which I absolutely agree. The Aquino-Roxas yellow brigades definitely mediocre and we do not know whether to laugh or cry in their battle cry for daang matuwid, Let us look for alternative as Poe and Duterte are delisted in the ballot.One of them gives a lecture on the difference between graft and corruption while you can no longer count the charges of plunder in his family dynasty.Another one claims victory in the social media, 55 million young voters she says but might succumb to cancer and if that happens, susmaryosep! her vice President might also be elected and we are back to the golden years of Marcos rule where loyalists are so happy while Imelda sings Dahil sa Iyo and all non believers are marched to the dark tunnel of despair.While to boycott is a no-no,selecting the lesser evil is a choice. Which one Mr. Makabenta ?

  10. I hear what you are saying . So now that all applications are closed ,JUST WHO , among the eligible candidates is capable of moving the Philippines into a new era. ???? GIVE US YOUR OPINION. !!!!

  11. Let Grace Poe run. She is fit to be president. In skills and in manners. The other Presidential candidates have shown they are immature and does not handle pressure well. Grace Poe is a leader we can all be proud of to other world leaders.

    The country is lowering the bar for President if we elect someone who cant respect human rights or will take us back to square 1.

    REPLY
    Pero hindi nga qualified according to the law e. Should we now also allow honest and competent student council officers run for president now even if they are underaged? Or good Chinese who have been without Philippine citizenship but living among us for decades? Bigyan na lang silang ng fake birth certificates na punong puno ng erasures and changes?

  12. It’s sad that instead of having candidates with a higher level of qualifications for the senate and, especially for the presidency, there have been ‘consistent’ deterioration of qualifications in both, for the past three decades. Topping this problem is the problem of persistent corruption.

    First of all, this may be due to the general impression that public positions are for power and influence, not for public service and ‘sacrifice’. This is the reason why many of these government officials act as if they own their particular areas of influence and wield power as if they are ‘untouchables’. Secondly, poverty abounds that people rely primarily on the government (politicians) for livelihood and support. Thirdly, these corrupt politicians are not punished because of lack of political will. So, the country ended up having moneyed corrupt candidates or one who is popular because of exposure on stage and/or cinema, or other endeavors, irrespective of whether they have or they do not have the appropriate qualifications.

  13. We will only downgrade the process if we allow the following candidates:
    1. Duterte
    a) Arrogant
    b) He is always above any existing laws
    c) Killed 1700 babies without the mothers – sa “pag-jajakol” dahil kinatatakutan ang kanyang mukha kundi lang sa pera at position niya sa gobiyerno
    d) The Duterte children will be worst than the children of Sadam Hussein and Khadafy
    e) No press freedom for he will liquidate all media commenting against him
    f) His personality can not be trusted by world leaders
    g) he is not educationally prepared
    h) cannot express himself in English except to touch his chin and face to make it appear he is good looking (pa-pa-pogi – he should be contestant of It’s Showtime)
    I) The only graduate of San Beda who is arrogant and cannot communicate in English
    j) and all negative things that would put the country a big SHAME internationally

    2. Llamanzares
    a) Too ambitious
    b) She is not natural born
    c) Liar
    d) lacks the 10 year residence (does not know how to count from 1 to 10)
    e) just using the name of FPJ for her ambition
    f) lumaki ang ulo dahil sa surveys
    g) promises to continue the legacy of FPJ producing fantasy movies
    h) has more pre-school nanny experience than a senator
    I) done nothing positive in senate except to experience riding on the MRT/LRT and and appear on TV
    j) cannot be trusted
    k) thinks that the office of the president is an easy job like the teleseryes
    l) she’s not a new hero as she claimed to an OFW