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According to Wiktionary, “Motherhood statement” is defined as a vague, “feel good” platitude, especially one made by a politician, that few people would disagree with.

In the Philippines, esp. at this time of the year (#Election2016), you would hear a lot of “feel good” promises made by politicians from the national to local level. Why? It’s a good “ploy” to win votes. And as always, people are looking for a “change”, come election time.

I realized that the Filipino people have a “short fuse” or patience after Edsa 1. They have been clamoring for change but isn’t it ironic that change should come from within first before you look for it in others?presidentiables 2016

image credit: Phil. Star website.

 

A friend once told me that the Philippines get what they deserve because they voted for the “wrong President”. At the time he told me that, it was “Erap” who was President. Look what happened. He did not finish his term because he blew it. Scandals plague his administration due to “jueteng”allegations. But he was the majority winner in the ’98 presidential election. I think a lot of factors contributed to it. There was also the global recession that took place during his term so it added to the economic woes of the country. I am bringing this up to highlight the Filipinos’ propensity to vote for someone and if he’s not happy, he will resort to “People Power”.

I think it’s about time that we put “People Power” in the right context and its proper place. The 1st and genuine “People Power” took place last 1986 when people have been clamoring for change. Even though Martial Law was lifted last 1981, it was just for a show, meaning it was only to show to the world that the late FM (Ferdinand Marcos) listens to human rights advocates. Martial Law will always be identified with human rights abuses because mainly, your freedom of speech is taken away from you. So, even after it was lifted, it was still “status quo” as if, martial law was not lifted. You still can’t speak against the government in any form of speech. Back then, it was only through radio, print or tv. #SocialMedia was non-existent yet at that time. Martial Law may look good because there was peace and order but it was a cover up to the discreet big time corrupt practices made by the First Family and their cronies.

Fast forward to today. It’s the season again where you see and hear a lot of “patronage politics”.  Again, it’s common to see and hear stuff like these to win votes.

A congressman once said that the Office of the President is an institution for service, not a den for thieves. I believe this goes the same for all public offices. That is why accountability is very important.

It is in this light that I thought of sharing what should be our basis in selecting our country’s leader.

To my mind, our next president should have the following criteria, attributes, and plans for our country:

  1. Our President should be God-fearing (attribute).

When you have a leader who is godly, it follows that he must be honest. If he is honest, he will be accountable to the people. When a leader is transparent, there is less room for corruption. In the Philippines, corruption has always been a major issue. Marcos was removed from office due to corruption. Similarly, Estrada was removed due to allegations of plunder. Cory was put into power because she was the anti-thesis of Marcos (no taint of corruption). Among the presidentiables, who is allegedly corrupt and who has no taint of corruption to his or her name? Some say that you may vote for someone who is not corrupt but once that person is in power, he or she becomes corrupt. That is true for power corrupts. What more if the president is given absolute or dictatorial powers. So it is not enough to vote for someone who is not corrupt but who is a faithful follower of God. If there is one, his or her life would be a reflection of his or her faith in God. And that attribute will carry our country to prosperity for righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34).

         2. Our President should embrace “continuity” (plans).

Have you noticed that every time a new president wins, all the programs of the previous administration will be stopped or discontinued and will be replaced with another or altogether different program based on the priorities of the new government? Remember the “Clean the Pasig River” project of Ming Ramos, the First Lady of FVR? When President Estrada won, what became of it? You won’t have to look into the documents. Just look at the Pasig River. It is still the same old Pasig River that we dread ie., polluted, dirty, stinks and murky. Had it been continued from the time it was started, maybe, we could be seeing a clean Pasig River today. I’m not sure if there are some private organizations that have continued this project but it is  different when this is undertaken by our government since it involves a tremendous amount of capital and resources (people) to complete this plan.

So what worked with the “Daang Matuwid” program of President PNoy? For one, I hope that the economic managers will be retained or at least the economic policies. They have been doing a great job in keeping our country insulated from the market volatility. These managers were responsible for the intensified anti-corruption and tax drive which began during the term of GMA (VAT). I share in the belief that this should be continued as we need the capital to build infrastructures and deliver other basic services (health, senior citizens). When one candidate promised that he will not impose taxes, that is a motherhood statement since taxes are the “lifeblood” of the government. Capital is very important to implement the many programs of one’s administration. Aside from this, our country is also reaping the benefits from the continued rise of the BPO sector in the country (we are now the BPO Capital of the world, a title that we wrested from India) and the OFW remittances. Any economic ruling affecting these two important sectors will significantly alter our economy so “continuity” is very important, to say the least.

In this context, it is given that the next president should discontinue or improve on what did not work before with the previous admin. To name a few:

  • worsening traffic;
  • slow or no internet at all how about a free wifi? =);
  • healthcare for retirees

          3. Our President should be patriotic (attribute)

This is not an attack on one of the presidential candidates. Beyond the citizenship issue, by patriotic, I meant more than being a citizen but our next president should have a genuine love for our country. And by that, our president should be able to defend our country and the Filipino people from the following. To name a few:

  • the provocative acts of China;
  • the plight of our OFWs;
  • prevalent drug and child trafficking;
  • lawless elements that can scare away not only tourists but also our countrymen from living in a safe and peaceful environment.

4. Our President should have the knowledge and experience (criteria)

Managing a company requires impressive experience and stellar academic achievements. What more, when you have to manage more than 7,000 islands? It’s about time that the Filipino people should vote wisely and vote someone based on the candidate’s intellect and experience. For example, does the candidate have enough experience to steer the country to further economic miracle enough to be noticed, if not envied, by our regional neighbors?

When you have an experienced and knowledgeable leader, it follows that his or her wisdom in leading the nation will prove to be correct and that is judged keenly on the basis of his or her decisions from appointing the best people in the cabinet; from making landmark decisions that will benefit the country (example, when the PNoy government went after the big corrupt officials and personalities, the world took notice. During PNoy’s term, our country received several investment rating grade. This was a testament to our government’s good housekeeping in managing the country’s finances. As a result, for a time, we attracted foreign investors and that caused the stock market to breach the 7000 PSEi index and from there, there’s no way to go but up).

5. Our President should be healthy (criteria)

I believe that this is the most basic of all criteria. When you become president of a nation with a population of more than 100 Million, it is not a bed of roses. From Day 1, you will be overwhelmed with all kinds of problems from all walks of life, locally and globally.

We need a president who is of a sound mind and body that can withstand the rigors of the daily duties of being the CEO of a country because a healthy disposition can factor in making the right decisions for the country.

It is important that we look beyond the headlines (because all we see are negatives as the media is prone to highlight it) and research on each candidate’s qualifications in terms of criteria, attributes and plans. After all, we are entrusting our country’s future to our would-be president.

Our country, the Philippines, is blessed with the best of the best. We have the best people, the best location, the best natural resources, the best food, in short, the best of everything,  so why not elect the best President our country could ever have?

To my dear countrymen, may you have the wisdom to vote wisely for the love of the country.

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