“Anyone who does not know how to be
President on the first day of office will
never learn till the end of his term.”
— Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
For a President of the Philippines to be successful at his job, he must know this statement of Kissinger by heart otherwise he will be a dismal failure.
From Cory Aquino in 1986 to Rodrigo Duterte to this point in time, we have nothing but failures. Why failures? They never knew how to be President on the first day of office and they never learned till the end of their term.
For Duterte, the hope still remains he will learn as he still has one year and three months to go. But knowing his words and behavior for the past four years and nine months as President, it takes a miracle for him he learns.
This early: Why are we writing on the presidency this early when the election for President is still in May 2022? Based on our experience for the past thirty-five years, nothing is ever early.
The election of public officials is at the core of democracy. It is an affirmation that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” When you tamper with the electoral process, you commit the most heinous crime against democracy because you deny and destroy the fundamental postulate of the democracy. Many of our Presidents or their leaders have committed this heinous crime – but our commitment to democracy still survives despite the difficulties and the crimes.
This early, many of the leaders and admirers of possible presidential candidates are all over town plastering the landscape with colorful tarpaulins and social media with campaign lines from the most persuasive to the weirdest – urging them to run, run and run for President.
Early birds, hoping to catch worms, are leaders and admirers of Senator Manny Pacquiao of Saranggani Province in Southern Mindanao, Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City, daughter of the incumbent President, also from Southern Mindanao, former Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro, cousin of former President Pnoy Aquino, nephew of the late President Cory Aquino, from Tarlac Province, Central Luzon, and Senator Christopher “Bongo” Go, man Friday of President Duterte, rumored to be a close relative of Duterte, also from Davao City, Southern Mindanao.
From economic to political influence, all of them can be classified as oligarchs. In the Philippine environment, the most qualified person to be President cannot run for lack of means. Or, he refuses to be compromised by possible financiers. So let us examine what are the ideal qualifications of a good President or the less ideal qualities of a good President.
The IDEAL: Culled from readings of more than a hundred books on the presidency, here and abroad, and tempered by observation and analysis of Presidents and participation in many political and presidential campaigns, I humbly submit the following, in my humble opinion, as the qualifies of a good President who can serve best the interest of our country and our people. First, he must be brilliant, charismatic, well-read, knowledgeable, and educated on things that really matter – meaning, a renaissance man. One may ask – Does this individual
exists in our country? Of course, he does. There must one in every million. Since we are a country of one hundred ten million, there must about one hundred ten of them.
Second, he must be a visionary, revolutionary, and a dreamer. He must think outside the box – as CNN puts it: make, create and innovate. He cannot be the purveyor of motherhood statements – that is good only for amateurish and brainless traditional politicians.
Third, he must be focused, courageous and determined to accomplish what he needs to do for our country and our people based on his vision and revolutionary dream.
Fourth, he must have character and integrity defined in terms of his values, principles, and ideals.
Fifth, he must have the continuous and unyielding commitment and loyalty to God, our people, and our country
Sixth, in decision making, he must give primacy to justice according to law and equity, freedom, equality, and social justice.
Seventh, he must be disciplined to adhere to his well-defined objectives – consistent with his vision and revolutionary dream.
Eighth, he must know how to deal with situations and problems – simple or complicated.
Ninth, he must be humble and magnanimous in victory, defiant in crisis or defeat, as the great Winston Churchill would have it.
Tenth, he must appoint a Cabinet which must be composed of the best and the brightest in the land fired with the ideals and principles, the same values and commitment and love of God, the people and the country and who are analytical and independent-minded.
Eleventh, he must have the strength to deny the inappropriate request of relatives and friends which prejudice the national interest.
Twelfth, he must know how to listen to suggestions, even to unsolicited advice, and learn.
All these sound too idealistic but they are not impossible to find in a person. As I keep on saying – the impossible is only in the mind. The presidency or top national leadership is not for ordinary individuals. It is for individuals who skirt the fringes of divinity. For leadership, in the true sense of the word and action is clothed with the incandescence of the Divine. Less than the ideal: Under normal circumstances, in this country or in any other country, we can only expect a President or a national leader to be elected with qualifications that are less than the ideal.
For centuries, it has always been like that – whether a democratic or authoritarian regime. In a democracy, it is not easy to find a Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Winston Churchill, and a Lee Kwan Yew. In a totalitarian country, it is equally difficult to find a Lenin, Deng Shiao Ping, Moammar Khaddafi, Ho Chi Minh, and Fidel Castro.
In our country, at this moment in time, it may not be easy to elect men like Manuel Luis Quezon, Manuel Acuña Roxas, Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay, Carlos Polistico Garcia, and Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, as our President and national leader. So we are left to choosing among those who are less than the ideal. But even with the less than ideal, there are still primary qualifications that are required.
First, he must have above-average intelligence and courage.
Second, he must have character and integrity.
Third, he must have a genuine commitment and love of God, our people, and our country.
Fourth, he must have a set of values consistent with his ideals and principles.
Fifth, he must appoint a Cabinet which must be composed of the best and the brightest in the land fired with the ideals and principles, the same values and commitment and love of God, the people and the country who are analytical and independent-minded.
Sixth, he must have a set of advisers who know how to formulate a vision for the country and an appropriate and effective plan of action to achieve defined goals and objectives.
Seventh, he must have the strength to deny the inappropriate request of relatives and friends which prejudice the national interest.
Eighth, he must be focused and unrelenting in doing good to achieve the vision and goals he and his advisers would help design for him.
Ninth, he must be humble and magnanimous in victory but defiant in a crisis or defeat.
Tenth, he must know how to listen to suggestions, even to unsolicited advice, and learn.
Similar: The qualities of the ideal and less ideal President are similar on the basics. The difference lies in – brilliance, knowledgeable, well-read, charismatic, visionary, and revolutionary dreamer.
These are the qualities of the immortals who can defy time and circumstance, and come out in glowing and glorious colors.
Early birds: For the guidance of the leaders and supporters of the early birds, the early thirds birds themselves, the ambitious with or without a cause, the voters, and the citizens, I will follow this article on the early birds. I am not endorsing or supporting any one of them – that is the problem of the people, the voters, the early birds, and their supporters and leaders. I think it is service enough to country and our people by writing about the subject and the possible candidates, with the reminder from Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorite poets and I have many, in his A Nation’s Strength: Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long. Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky. (AI/MTVN)