Why we need to understand our president?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

It is not easy to be the President of more than 100 million Filipinos, each one with mounting demands and endless expectations. It is not easy to be mindful of national security, trying to defend more than 7,107 islands from the encroachments and bullying of China, Vietnam, and other territorial predators and poachers. It is not easy to be thinking of national defense with the NPA, MNLF, BIFF, Abu Sayaf, Jamiya Islamia all trying to attack our communities and government and private institutions. It is not easy to be mindful of the crime situation, the drug problems, and the terrorisms emanating from external and internal  purveyors of deaths and destruction.

We need to understand our President. His position is very difficult, lonely, and hazardous. He has to think of five million unemployed, fifteen to twenty thousand underemployed Filipinos. He must be mindful of the twelve million OFWs who are all deployed in 200 countries all over the world. Some of our migrant workers are domestic helpers and many are being led to work and being exploited, maltreated and subjected to unjust and inhuman working conditions in dirty, difficult, dangerous, deceptive, and degrading work. The President is going to be blamed when some of them are beheaded, executed, or raped in foreign lands.

The President has to answer for stinking toilets in the '' worst airport'' in the world. He has to be blamed for the horrendous traffic situations, for congested seaports and unsafe highways and falling bridges. When there is a power crisis, the President will have to answer to the people. He has to think of education, health, social welfare, labor, migration, on top of agriculture, trade, industry and commerce. Of course, he has Cabinet secretaries. But they are all his alter egos. When they fail, the buck stops with the President. When they succeed, the success is attributable to them. The President bears all the brunt.

The leader has to take all the blame. That is the price of leadership. He cannot wash his hands as Pontius Pilate did. He cannot deny his bosses, as Peter did. He cannot betray the trust of all those who rely on him as Judas did. He has to face the music and put his neck on the line. He cannot save his neck by finger-pointing. He cannot say that there is no command responsibility in the police hierarchy and the civilian bureaucracy. He is the leader. He cannot delegate accountability. But we have to understand him because his responsibilities are admittedly tremendous and exceedingly difficult.

In the face of all the adversities that he is facing, we may be disappointed with the President. We may even be angry at the way he handled the problem. We might even hate him for trying to mislead the nation on some information. But we cannot avoid understanding where he is coming from, and where he is heading to. He is our President and we have no other. In the face of all the controversies, we might have condemned the manner he reacted to certain situations, and the way he handled some of the challenges. We expected him to have acted differently, and in a better fashion. He was imperfect. He was not the best. But he is our only President.

This only son of a hero and a former President could have chosen to live luxuriously in a yacht with girls and wine and music somewhere in the Caribbean. But he opted to walk the lonely and difficult path. He has his faults, his deficiencies, and his weaknesses. But, for the moment, we have no one else to lead us. He is the captain of the ship of state. If we keep on hitting him, the ship may sink, and we shall all go down with him. We do not have to love the President. But for our own sake, and not for anyone else, we have to understand him. At least, for the last fourteen months of his presidency. Or whatever remains of it.

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