PRANK is a mild word to describe the mischief that President Duterte sowed with his gratuitous claim that a presidential candidate is a cocaine-user. The charge was calculated to discombobulate the candidates and throw the campaign into disarray.

Duterte got the attention that he craved. The candidates caved before the vicious attack with most hoping that it would take away some of the luster from Bongbong Marcos' front-running campaign and with BBM in turn, striving to defend what he has painstakingly built over the past few months.

The presidential candidates trooped one after the other to the hospitals to get a drug test. Marcos went further. He not only tested negative for illegal drugs (cocaine or whatever), but he submitted a copy of the test results to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Ironically, it is now only Bong Go, Duterte's chosen one, who has not moved to take a drug test and clear his name; this after boasting about his readiness to take a drug test after Duterte lit his dynamite.

The public is still waiting for a hospital to pronounce Go negative for drugs. Alas, his ubiquitous quasi-medical Malasakit centers are not qualified to do drug testing. Indeed, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the centers did not perform any service to help people cope with Covid. Malasakit, you see, is designed as a bleeding heart not as a health care service.

Lady-like, Vice President Leni Robredo also did not move to take a drug test. She thought BBM would take most or all of the heat. But Marcos Jr., much like his father during his time, did not flinch in taking on the challenge.

He declared: "Pagkatapos ng salita ni Pangulo, eh di lahat tayo magpa-drug test. Eh di inunahan ko na (After what the President announced, all of us should undergo a drug test, so I beat them to it)."

"As I made the call during the 2016 election campaign, I'm calling again on all elective aspirants to take the drug test to ensure our people, particularly the young generation, that no elected leader is into illegal substances."

Palace sings a new song

In the face of the Marcos pushback, Malacañang now sings a different tune. Cabinet secretary and acting Palace spokesman Karlo Alexei Nograles sheepishly claims that drug tests are voluntary.

Nograles stressed that there is no need for candidates to be subjected to mandatory drug testing nor will the Palace call for it anytime soon.

That this ruckus was ignited by the President cannot be easily waived aside, however.

It is not forgotten by the people that over the past five years, Duterte had repeatedly claimed and boasted that he had lists of many public officials (including local government executives, governors, mayors, police generals, judges, etc.) allegedly in the pay of the drug cartels and drug traffickers. He tarred everyone and every institution in sight. But he never disclosed the names in his lists, nor did he provide any proof for his grand claims, and meanwhile thousands of people, mostly innocents, were killed in the drug war.

Duterte learned nothing from the failings of the drug war; he has done nothing to repair the damage and do justice to the victims.

The looming threat to Duterte and the supreme irony is that it will be the successor government (which Duterte has sought to malign) which will preside over the process of righting the ship.

It will be fitting and would not be surprising if the next administration chooses to subject Duterte's war on drugs to an unsparing inquiry by an appointed commission like the Agrava commission which investigated Ninoy Aquino's murder. Accountability for the drug war and the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) should be determined definitively. No cow should be held sacred and spared.

Leadership intelligence

In the heat of the cocaine-user imbroglio, it was indignantly suggested in the media, mainstream and social, that in lieu of a drug test, the presidential candidates should be subjected to intelligence testing (IQ tests).

The idea is to bare for all to see a presidential candidate's readiness and capability for national leadership. Many of us do not want to see here in our country a clone of US President Joe Biden, who has embarrassing cognitive problems.

I won't go so far as to advocate IQ tests for the current crop of presidential candidates, but I want to share with readers the information that in leadership and management studies today, the field now talks about a method for measuring leadership intelligence.

There is a book entitled Leadership IQ by Emmett C. Murphy (John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1996). It's the result of a 20-year study of the nature of leadership and the relationship between leadership and intelligence.

The research by E. C. Murphy Inc. identified 1,029 people who demonstrated an exceptional level of leadership intelligence, which Webster's dictionary defines as the ability to "show the way."

The full dictionary definition reads: "the ability to which a leader is able to use the faculty of reason — the ability to learn from experience, to otherwise acquire and retain knowledge and to respond successfully to new situations — to guide or show others to an effective course of action or thought." (Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, 1990)

The research fleshed out this definition to identify the content of leadership intelligence and the skills that enable a leader to use the faculty of reason and guide others to a successful course of action.

Their first and most basic discovery is that leadership can be defined and measured as a form of intelligence. For too long the concept of leadership has been addressed through anecdotes, hearsay and self-serving discussion.

The book sums up its findings in this insight: In a successful organization, every leader works, and every worker leads.

Murphy reserves the term "workleader" for authentic leaders who make history.

Workleaders are the people to whom others turn when missions need to be upheld, breakthroughs made, and performance goals reached on time and within budget. These are the leaders who transcend the problems of the moment.

I cannot discuss now the whole of Emmett Murphy's thesis on leadership intelligence (that must wait for another time), but as a final note, I want to discuss a key point of his brief that sheds light on the limitations of our national leaders and the candidates now bidding to become the next president of our country.

I refer to his concept of "strategic humility."

Strategic humility

Murphy wrote that one of the most interesting qualities displayed by workleaders is their practice of what he calls strategic humility. "[Strategic humility] reinforces the fact that mature, savvy and intelligent leaders know what they don't know, an understanding that in turn fuels an almost insatiable appetite to learn. We use the term strategic humility because it results from a strategic decision to use learning as a tool for progress, and it characterizes confident and assertive leaders.

"What distinguishes well-known leaders from others is their recognition of the truth in Igor Stravinsky's words: 'The awareness of one's ignorance grows exponentially with one's knowledge.'

Workleaders don't let pride get in the way of thinking. they seek a purpose for leadership beyond self-interest. Which explains why they place the people or the customer at the center of their concern."

Humility is a great word to describe this quality of effective workleaders.

Our idea of leadership is often mixed with a false idea of manliness. Our popular image of manliness usually consists of a man with a cocky swagger, a rebel who blazes his own path and stands confident and ready to take on the world.

"Humility" doesn't seem to fit into this image. Humility conjures up images of weakness and fear. But real humility is a sign of strength, authentic confidence and courage.

This is the heart of the problem of our politics today.

Many of our leaders and would-be leaders do not have strategic humility. They do not know what they don't know.

Authoritarian leadership is prized as strong. Constitutional, by-the-book leadership is neglected as weak or too slow.

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