Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why NOYNOY is not qualified..

If one were to believe ABS-CBN, the vast majority of Filipinos are so enthused about electing Noynoy Aquino as president. I have conducted an informal survey among friends and relatives, and the Aquinos’-who I am sure are sincere about discerning what is best for the country-may also want to hear what other people are saying. Faith may go beyond reason, but it is not the opposite of reason. Here are some of the questions/comments other people have about the major arguments put forth to elect Noynoy as President:

1. ARGUMENT ONE: Noynoy has the genes for heroism, having Ninoy and Cory as parents. At the very least, he will be motivated to become a good president if only to preserve the legacy of his parents and continue the work they set out to do.

COMMENT: Motivation is a complex thing. People are complex creatures.We do not know if heroism is something that is written in the genetic code of a family. We do know that people in the same family can be motivated by different things (see how different Kris is from Ballsy in terms of interests and passions.) We do know that some people are just naturally passionate about politics and its potential for good. Obviously, Ninoy Aquino had that kind of passion in his DNA. Perhaps it was what gave meaning to his existence so that he was willing to give up his life rather than wait it out in the safety of America. Passion for principle-centered politics is an energy that drives people to be intellectually curious, to study issues and problems, discern solutions, be a staunch advocate for certain points of views and work smart and hard to mobilize support for their advocacies. This is where charisma comes from- leaders draw followers because they are passionate and certain about their advocacies.
A presidential candidate must have this passion to do good; one cannot be lukewarm about the job!

How can we tell if Noynoy has this passion in his DNA? Or how can we have the confidence that the experience of his family has directed his energies so that he will, for sure work hard to be a credit to his family ? The best predictor is what he has shown in the past. He has had two terms in congress and three years in the senate. Did he show himself to be studios and diligent? Did the quality of his participation in deliberations show that he had a good grasp of the complexity of the issues and problems? Did he take well-reasoned points of view? Did he provide good solutions to our most difficult problems by way of authoring landmark bills or did he just append his name to bills actually initiated and studied by his colleagues? Did he show determination and doggedness in mobilizing support for his advocacies?

Most people agree that Cory was a hero but not in the mould of Ninoy. She was a good woman who may not have had the passion or aptitude for politics but who tried to fill in the shoes of Ninoy at a time when the fight was all about good versus evil. Is this still the kind of hero we need today?

2. ARGUMENT : This is a fight of good versus evil and who else but Noynoy to lead us into the promised land? (the subtext here is that we do not need a competent leader; a “good” person with some government experience will do.)
Cory was a good person and yet, she was not able to or did not prioritize the culture change required to deal with deep-seated corruption in the BIR, Customs, other government agencies and in the Philippines as a whole. Neither did another six years of President Ramos solve this admittedly difficult problem. (although the use of technology in the BIR was started in Ramos’ time.)
Cory was a good person, but her administration failed to anticipate the crippling power shortage partly responsible for low growth rates during her time and for which until now rich and poor alike are paying a high price.
Cory was a good person, but she did not make any bold or imaginative action to drive home the point that her fellow elite in the Philippines must sacrifice to help solve the problem of poverty.
The point I am making is not that Cory was a bad president, but that being “good” alone will not solve our deep-seated problems.

The call for Noynoy to be president is perhaps a sign of our desperation. It feels like we have been walking aimlessly in the dessert for the proverbial 40 years (it’s been 23 years actually) and our hope is that Noynoy will be our Moses. If only we could just rely on Yahweh and on manna from heaven! But obviously, we do not need to go to on a retreat with the pink sisters to discern that God wants us to work it out the traditional way- through brain work and spadework! Our Moses must have a roadmap. He should know the complexity of the terrain, the possible dangers, and the alternative routes. Moreover, he must have a strong conviction about the best routes to take. (otherwise, his people will fight among themselves. Cabinet secretaries will tell you a president will get conflicting advice from different people. The president therefore must be well-informed, intelligent and confident about making decisions-specially during crisis situations)

Filipinos are imaginative and creative; and perhaps that is why we tend to favor “emotionally- driven” solutions to our problems. Hence, we pin our hopes on movements (Ako Mismo, moral recovery etc..) and symbolisms (yellow ribbons, Ninoy’s glasses). These are helpful, but I think we have lived long enough to realize –we gotta have a good plan! A detailed one that will address the issues of poverty and corruption. How do we increase revenues and clean up BIR and Customs?(specially since we anticipate huge budget deficits in the future as a result of the excesses of the GMA administration and the current pump priming ) How do we ensure that we continue the relatively high growth rate (essential for poverty reduction),low cost of money and low inflation that have been the bright spots of our economy in recent years? How do we ensure our limited resources are spent wisely? Where do we get the money we need for infrastructure? How can the president get the support of congress and senate while at the same time ensuring pork is spent properly? How do we provide jobs and livelihood for people-specially for the majority without a good education? In Agriculture ?-but exactly how do we ensure land reform actually succeeds? And how do we bring down the cost of interisland movement of goods? How do we ensure that growth in tourism is sustained? How can we make our manufacturing sector (which should absorb blue collar workers)more competitive? Or is manufacturing for export still the way to go? How do we attract foreign direct investments? How do we find the elusive path to peace in Mindanao?
What exactly do we do about the poor state of public education?(our teachers are already paid better than those in private schools)How about the population growth issue?

Obviously, integrity is VITAL to become a good president. With the problems we need to solve however, being good is not SUFFICIENT for success. So Noynoy is the only one who can unite the opposition? But UNITY for what EXACTLY? And who is this opposition and what do they ACTUALLY stand for?

Just because we have been disappointed with GMA and ERAP does not mean that there is no one out there who has the integrity, passion, intelligence and political smarts required by the job.. Perhaps the Aquino family can make use of the goodwill in other ways to help the country?