Criteria in choosing the next president
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 25, 2016 - 9:00am

The members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines who are attending their meeting before the start of the International Eucharistic Conference are poised to issue a statement on this year's presidential elections. While there is a separation between the Church and the State, the shepherds of the flock may issue some guidelines for the Catholic faithfuls in the exercise of their freedom to choose their political leaders. God, of course, in His Infinite wisdom has given each one a free will. But since the human will can be manipulated, misled, hoodwinked, or put under undue pressures and influences, it is important that the exercise of free choice in electoral contests, such as the May polls, should be guided by a set of criteria based on Christian tenets and values.

We propose the following set of criteria: character, competence, family values and background, platforms of government, stand on important national issues, and track record. On Character, the specific qualities we should be looking for are: integrity and honesty, God-centeredness, respect for the sacredness of life, respect for the rule of law, non-involvement in any plunder and graft case, and proven compassion and mercy for the poor, the last, the least and the lost. On Competence, we should demand expertise in planning and strategizing based on vision, mission and values, skills in problem-solving and decision-making, communication skills, skills for empathy, ability to unite the nation and to heal the wounds of factionalism among the people, and competence in economics, finance, trade, foreign affairs and national defense.

On family values and background, the voter must scrutinize the lifestyle and records of the candidate. First of all, is he or she is a good husband or wife; second, as a father or mother, third, as a son or daughter, fourth, as a brother, sister or relative, fifth, there must be no record of infidelity or marital violence and sixth nor record of divorce, annulment or separation, whether "de jure" or "de facto."

On platforms, the candidate must have a coherent and comprehensive plan on national security, foreign affairs, national defense, and on peace and order, and how to address the problems on drugs, gambling, and crimes. Then, he must have a plan for social services and development which includes labor, employment, social welfare, education, health, housing and agrarian reform. There must also be concrete plans on the environment and disaster preparedness and rehabilitation.

The voter should also judge the candidates based on their stand on important national issues, like: the China intrusions into our territorial domain, on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Bangsamoro Basic Law, the Mindanao peace process, and also their stand on the Freedom of Information Bill and the Anti-Dynasty Law. The candidates must also explain their stand on the age-old problem of the ceaseless diaspora of human talents and human capital on unemployment, on contractualization, on wages and other unfair labor practices. They must declare their position on the issues of family dynasty and nepotism. The candidates should be assessed in a series of symposia and debates.

Lastly, candidates should be evaluated based on their track records. Have they ever been involved in imprudent or fraudulent disbursement of public funds? Have they been linked to the PDAP and DAP scandals? Are they being charged of unexplained wealth? Are their lifestyles not appropriate for public servants? Have they ever been questioned in the filing of SALNs? Are they noted for mediocrity or ineptitude in decision-making and in execution of programs and projects? Are they beholden to some business interests or religious groups that are notorious for interfering in electoral campaigns?                 Lastly, are they components of a family dynasty or linked to any drug lord or gambling lord?

josephusbjimenez@gmail.com

BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES CHURCH AND THE STATE ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL AND THE ANTI-DYNASTY LAW HIS INFINITE INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONFERENCE MINDANAO NBSP ON CHARACTER ON COMPETENCE
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