How to handle your number two
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 12, 2019 - 12:00am

It’s a great waste of talents, public funds, and time wherever the top guy and the second-in-command spend all their efforts bickering with and undermining each other. Let me offer governors, mayors, and even presidents, if you will, a template for managing their number two.

Number two here is not a paramour, mistress, or secret lover. Number two in public administration and governance refers to the second-in-command, the next-in-line, the crown prince, the heir apparent. The president's number two is the vice president. The governor's number two is the vice governor. The mayor's number two is the vice mayor. The Cabinet secretary's number two is the undersecretary. The regional director's number two is the assistant regional director. The number one must have full knowledge of human behavior. He must have enough wisdom in leading and managing people. Good intentions aren’t enough. Skills gained through experience are vital. We should elect HR experts as local executives or appoint them as Cabinet members.

We have historical models to emulate. The best one is the Quezon-Osmeña tandem. The two were classmates in the UST College of law. Osmeña placed second in the Bar, Quezon only fourth place. But Quezon was more passionate, aggressive, and dynamic. Osmeña was laidback, soft spoken, and unassuming while MLQ was fiery, authoritative, true to his Spanish blood. Osmeña had Chinese blood, more work, less talk. But Quezon knew exactly how to handle Osmeña. MLQ gave him work, sent him to the US for missions, and kept him very busy. They were the best team in Philippine history.

Quirino tried to utilize the talents of Magsaysay by appointing him secretary of national defense, owing to Magsaysay's guerilla experience. But that made Magsaysay more popular than his boss. In fact, Magsaysay bolted from the Liberal Party to the Nacionalista Pand and ran against Qurino, defeating his boss resoundingly. Magsaysay, a mechanic, chose Carlos P. Garcia, a lawyer and poet from Bohol. They were a nice team too, but Magsaysay perished in a plane crash here in Cebu. When Garcia of NP took over, his vice president, Diosdado Macapagal was an LP. He was isolated by Malacañan, thus giving him time to go around the country to undermine Garcia, run against him, and win.

Macapagal and Marcos bickered. Marcos and Lopez had a falling out. Same with Cory and Doy Laurel. FVR knew how to play games with Erap. But Erap didn’t watch his back. He was stabbed by his own vice, GMA. And GMA had a dose of her own medicine when Guingona accused her of many shenanigans. Noynoy didn’t really trust Binay. And Duterte has serious doubts about Robredo. Making her drug czarina is a Trojan horse where Leni is set up to stumble and self-destruct. With due respect, our presidents need some seminar on Dale Carnegie's “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” They need some orientation to HR principles and processes. They need to study human psychology. They may be political experts but HR is a different animal. Rama has an edge over Labella when it comes to managing human capital. He has experience.

If presidents can’t even manage their vice presidents, how can they lead the nation? If governors can’t even reconcile with vice governors, how can they lead the province? And mayors too, in relation to their vice mayors? If they cannot even crack a nut, how can they carry a mountain on their backs?

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