The called and the unqualified

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Among leadership circles, there is a popular phrase that people use to address the hesitation of people to step up because they feel unqualified. It is also used as a way of putting certain people in place for presenting themselves before the call and it goes: “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.”

In this season, when the incoming administration of president-elect Bongbong Marcos is under pressure to fill up Cabinet positions, I have learned that there are a number of people who have been presenting themselves for positions that they have either occupied before or are related to current political positions.

For instance, there has been a keen interest among stakeholders particularly industry players, investors and affected sectors about who will be picked as the next secretary of the Department of Energy or DOE.

Early in the game, people floated the name of Congressman Mikey Arroyo because of the fact that he heads the congressional committee on energy. Recently, a group asked about the chances of the former secretary Petilla being reappointed? On both points, there were serious doubts about Arroyo and Petilla because the former’s knowledge on energy across the board has primarily been from his chairmanship and has not been something of a passion and burning interest. It is one thing to be chairman of a committee surrounded by experts and consultants and interest groups, it is another to eat, sleep and dream energy. Ex-DOE secretary Petilla, on the other hand, maybe a veteran politician but his past performance at the DOE was unremarkable, a time when he talked about shortages and power barges and did not have the charm nor the clout to sway members of Congress to work with him.

From the looks of it, BBM will have to search far and wide for a consensus builder, someone who passionately believes in a new way of doing things, new technology as well as a new way of doing business and someone who will not be affected or intimidated by members of Congress, industry etc. The DOE should be led by an industry equivalent of Joey Concepcion in the field of entrepreneurship or someone who has fought tooth and nail and argued for nuclear power like Cong. Mark Cojuangco. Cojuangco however chooses to be independent and opts to do his work as a member of the Lower House.

During the campaign period, BBM promised to work on lower electricity costs. Foreign and local investors are definitely very interested on how the process and promise develops because the country’s and BBM’s ability to deliver on the promise will be a very strong magnet that will convince manufacturing and other industries to reconsider the Philippines. But in order to do this, BBM will have to find someone who has his eye on the goal and not side deals, lobby groups or playing the field to please everybody. BBM has already expressed his interest in nuclear energy and we all know that whoever orchestrates this, must have the knowledge and the political will and weight to take on all challengers.

The country already has all the technical experts and scientists needed to set-up alternative and renewable energy, all that’s needed is someone who also has the full backing of BBM, just like Sen. Bong Go had under President Duterte. The important thing is that BBM must make it clear that the energy development program is hands off to any and all opportunists whether political or otherwise. If need be, BBM must make the DOE a department of great interest and concern under his presidency.

While the energy sector is consulting amongst themselves to find an acceptable leader, word is out in the agriculture sector that Secretary William Dar is reportedly working at being retained as secretary of the DA. At least one sector representative of the poultry raisers declared this to be true and judging from what’s been coming out in media, there is a hint that someone wants a pretty portrait of Dar to be painted for the Malacañang recruitment agency to consider. Portraying Dar as qualified might be a lot easier than projecting him as successful or popular. For all his good intentions, William Dar is one of those guys who wasted his chance when he had it. For all his efforts, many rice farmers dislike him, hog raisers and poultry raisers don’t have a lot of nice things to say about him and his term at the DA has been marked largely by key terms such as ASF, importation, bird flu, crop waste and inflation. I personally made a lot of effort to support him and the department but after going through what many backyard farmers experienced, after interviewing countless of experts, raisers, producers and consumers, it became evident that Dar was the consummate bureaucrat who was held hostage by bureaucracy and pinned down by importers and interest groups.

Energy and Agriculture are too important for BBM and the country’s success. He should do a deep dive in search of a leader or consult with management and organizational experts on an alternative scheme of running these two departments like private corporations with many subsidiaries. BBM can be the chairman, then with a board, or sector reps, etc.

If the BBM administration runs the DOE and DA the same way it was run by all the past presidents then he will get the same results. As Albert Einstein said: “Doing things the same way, over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.” From a biblical aspect we need to sow in order to reap. We cannot simply buy, import, or borrow money. We need to build power plants, solar farms, windmills, green houses, floating fish cages and community markets. Like they say: Build it and they will come.


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