The Presidentiables
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2015 - 9:00am

The candidates for the 2016 Presidential race are all ready to rumble. The top contenders are Mar Roxas, Jejomar Binay, Grace Poe, Miriam Santiago and Rodrigo Duterte.

Mar Roxas is from the Liberal Party. He was the former DILG head and part of the hierarchy of the current administration. He is remembered with the Zamboanga Siege, Yolanda disaster recovery, and police operational integrity. He was the uninformed DILG head that resulted in the SAF44 massacre and rebuked for his lack of action in the Lumad killings and abuse and the many more conflicting scenarios and decisions in the Daang Matuwid program of the president.

Jejomar Binay from United Nationalist Alliance and current Vice President, inundated with drastic plunder and corruption issues while being Mayor of Makati and issues on ill-gotten wealth. Most of his outputs as Vice President is said to give aid to the selected needy with no significant infrastructure changes or development.

 Grace Poe from heading the MTRCB to becoming a senator, possibly disqualified by Comelec for issues about her residency status. She was recently elected as sitting member of the Senate with really no significant achievements that addresses the needs of the nation.

 Miriam Santiago current sitting member of the Senate with quite a fiery reputation. Her background previously is judicial based and as Senator is quite pedantic when it comes to judiciary matters. Is she fit enough to address all the reforms to change the current machinery of government? Outside judiciary matters, does she have the skills to negotiate, compromise and devise needed reforms? What about her health issues? Is she physically fit to lead the country?

Then there is Rodrigo Duterte, current Mayor of Davao. He has implemented massive reforms in the City of Davao, a satellite template of a safe and productive functional city. He decided to run for president due to the demands and seemingly overwhelming support from citizens. He is quite an unorthodox operator with a background in judiciary. He applied stringent reforms in crime and punishment, improved infrastructure in the LGU level with success in functionality. Will his boldness, roughness and revolutionary approach effect change? Will the people accept his coarseness?

Who amongst these finalists should lead the country? What are they made of? Are they made of sugar and spice and everything nice? Are their promises of a paradise land merely a lip service to the people?

What kind of leader do we need? In choosing a leader one must look into the very core of his/her existence: family background and moral values, his growing up years that best show the character of the person he will become, his career that will exemplify his ability and skills to lead and his socio-civic works and advocacies that will show his compassion for those in need.

We must keep in mind that we are not choosing a person who will lead a small group or an islet. We should build on the idea that this person will lead a nation – a nation currently in distress. This leader must have the ability to look at the bigger picture, the problems our countrymen face, the struggle of our development and the continued search of our identity as a people and as one nation.

It is not a joke to become a leader. There are many issues confronting a new leader. However, if he or she has the purest heart, the sincerity, the desire to work, the compassion and the passion to get us back on our feet, then, we can make it. But these virtues are not enough. A good leader needs the ability to lead, to manage and to get things done. He or she cannot afford to lead with limited vision, with shallow ideas and the lack of discernment. A leader cannot afford to be too bold or too meek. There must always be a balance of power.

Our country is an archipelago made up of 7,107 islands. We have more than 100 ethnic groups with different dialects, nineteen languages and several religions (with the majority being Roman Catholic). We have 18 regions, 81 provinces, 144 cities and 42,029 barangays.

As a country that lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire near the equator in the forefront of Southeast Asia meeting the Pacific Ocean, we are clearly prone to major typhoons, earthquakes and other natural calamities. We are also surrounded by the different Southeast Asian islands which put our maritime security at a greater risk.

The political and socio-economic situation of the country remains the same. Poverty, unemployment, and crime still abound. Traffic has gone from worse to worst. Corruption, albeit curtailed by the present administration (as P-Noy would like to believe) will still be the main factor that will cause our misery and agony and hinder the progress of the nation.

Our current machinery of government is quite ineffective in all aspects of governance. Comments and words are used only for speeches with no effective outcome. You could even classify our country in a lawless category with the Laws of the Land so ineffectively written, making it easy for the lawyers to find loopholes in the whole Judiciary System.

All the government departments are inefficiently run, putting to waste the much needed funds to provide proper services to the people. Added to this are the plunder, corruption and continuous questionable activities of our leaders that have gone wayward in victimizing the people in illegal acts like the “Tanim Bala” conspiracy. It took the government a long time to act. Even our prison system sucks. Criminals run their illegal businesses from prison and continue to destroy lives even in confinement.

At the end of the day we need to lower the 80% in the poverty line and the 40% workers living in illegal settlements. Reforms must be implemented by government to better their living status and target them to become middle income earners. Just remember, an increased buying capacity of the workers is a massive increase in economic growth. This cannot however happen with the employment abuse of 3 to 6 months contractual system we currently have in place. People cannot plan their careers as there is no stability of employment. Furthermore, the fees for employment requirements for credible personal information such as renewal of IDs and security clearance are netting the government billions of pesos per year. This is taken from the people struggling to survive. This in itself is a human right issue that no one ever bothered to attend to.

So now, we are at the brink of another presidential election. Will these presidentiables be able to produce the changes through proactive reforms to improve government service? Will they be able to address the problems of the nation?

As voters we have the duty to choose who is best for our nation. We must not base our decision on popularity. We must take time to look deeper into each individual candidate’s ability to organize and plan to produce the needed result. Listen to what they have to say about current issues and problems facing the country. Choosing the right leader may bring that efficient administrative infrastructure, thus, forming a totally functional machinery of government.


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