Honesty vs competence, trustworthiness!


My old barkada had a dinner hosted by my good friend, Bobby Lozada at the Casino Español last Saturday, and naturally the discussion turned to the current political race. Since the majority of my friends are supporting the candidacy of former Defense Sec. Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., we emphasized that trustworthiness and competence and not just honesty were more important traits that the next President ought to have.

This was explained very simply by my good friend Francisco “Paquito” Unchuan, owner of the White Sands Beach Resort in Mactan. Unchuan pointed out that he paid more than the minimum wage for his employees and being a member of the BLD Charismatic Community, his employees know that he is an upright, God fearing and honest man. Yet he said that while his employees know that the owners are honest, they still experience a lot of pilferages in their operations. Unchuan had to put a system in place in order to ensure safeguards that pilferage would be minimized.

I fully concur with Unchuan’s observations and I’m very sure that this holds true to every single business owner or entrepreneurs who have employees under them who must have experienced the same problems. We too had the same problems when for 26 years, my wife and I operated the Chika-an Restaurant, Cebu’s foremost native restaurant. A few years ago, we sold the restaurant and we no longer suffer from work related stress in managing many restaurant outlets, a peace of mind money cannot buy!

Indeed having an honest man for our President will not eradicate corruption as it has already been proven during the Presidency of Tita Cory. Of course, many pundits say we can never guarantee that a smart President won’t be corrupt; citing Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos whose regime was considered very corrupt, which is why the EDSA Revolt succeeded.

However on the other side of the intelligence coin, we did elect former Pres. Joseph “Erap” Estrada as President knowing fully well that he didn’t finish schooling. Yet, Erap was booted out in EDSA II also due to corruption. He was convicted and eventually pardoned. So I would rather go for the candidate who is “Galing at Talino” and put in systems to ensure that corruption would be minimized in this country, but no one can guarantee anything!

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Fifty-three years ago today, the Philippines’ most loved President, President Ramon Magsaysay died when his Philippine Air Force (PAF) plane, a converted military C-47 “Dakota” named “Mt. Pinatubo” crashed near the crown of Mt. Manunggal. Pres. Magsaysay was in Cebu as the commencement speaker of the graduation rites for the University of San Carlos (USC) and two other schools. Then he went to the Archbishops Palace to pray before he left for the old Lahug Airport for his meeting with destiny.

Of the 26 passengers on board the ill-fated C-47 piloted by PAF Chief Benito Ebuen, only one passenger, a newspaperman Nestor Mata from the Herald newspaper survived this tragedy. Contrary to common beliefs, people say that Nestor Mata survived the air disaster because he was seated on the tail section of the C-47. But in an interview with Nestor Mata years ago, he said that he was seated on the second seat next to Pres. Magsaysay… which was not at the tail end. So Mata’s survival was miraculous at best!

Then Cebu City Mayor Sergio “Serging” Osmeña Jr. asked Mata to stay in Cebu as it was already 12 midnight, but he insisted on taking the plane with the President. His recollection of the crash was, “There was a blinding flash then I fell unconscious.” The crash occurred between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Mata woke up in pain, hearing the howling of a dog. He shouted, “Mr. President, Mr. President, Pabling, Pabling” (a Liwayway reporter also on board) but no answer. At 8 a.m. a group of people found him and brought him down to a nearby village.

United States and PAF helicopters went into search and rescue operations and located the crash site and brought the remains of the passengers down to Lahug Airport. I was a little boy of six holding my father’s hand when the helicopter landed to bring the remains of the crash victims to the morgue. Then the remains of Pres. Magsaysay was placed in the Camp Lapu-Lapu Chapel and then brought to Manila for burial on March 22 where some two million Filipinos lined up the streets to bury the President.

I learned more about Pres. Magsaysay from my late father and later from the late Sir Max Soliven who was already a reporter at that time and Magsaysay was the “ninong” of their wedding. We remember Pres. Magsaysay as a fierce anti-Communist crusader, a former National Defense Secretary and a close friend of the United States. He was a man of integrity whose trustworthiness is unparalleled. This is why he was our most loved President.

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For email responses to this article, write to [email protected] or [email protected]. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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