Better than any serye to date on Philippine TV, the race towards Malacañang in the 2016 elections demands public attention. With much fanfare and unexpected plot twists, the presidential race has gripped the entire nation with a mixture of dread and anticipation.
Political propaganda, news coverages, election surveys, Facebook memes and (sometimes ridiculous) interviews do little in helping us determine who to vote for come election day. I, myself, am still undecided about who will get my precious vote on May 2016, but here are the qualities that I think we all should find in a candidate.
I will vote for someone who supports and embodies LIFE — that’s leadership, integrity, faith and excellence.
Everything rises and falls on leadership, says renowned leadership guru John Maxwell. All kinds of reforms — whether political, economic or social — will only end up in the ditches without good leadership.
But leadership is a tricky subject. Having the balls to push for an ideal, win public acceptance, outwit political opponents or, heck, exterminate them from the land of the living don’t necessarily indicate strong leadership.
A leader is a servant. He who serves best leads best. Service doesn’t mean feigning compassion for the poor, enjoying boodle fights, directing traffic and whatnots in front of a camera. A leader serves by using his power to protect the welfare of the people, promote the common good and defend the weak.
One doesn’t need to look far to validate a person’s leadership. Check how he manages his own family and see their relationship, values and culture at home. If this candidate doesn’t know how to manage and protect his own marriage and household, how will he lead an entire nation?
Moreover, the ultimate mettle of leadership is the person’s ability to lead himself. How does he govern himself in view of existing laws, ethics and moral standards? If a candidate does not pass this acid test, chances are his leadership will crumble in the face of strong pressure or trials.
A person’s ability to lead himself depends largely on his character. In leadership, character is everything. As John Maxwell puts it, leadership is about influence, and a person’s influence is built on his credibility and moral track record. With strong moral leadership, a leader gains the people’s respect and admiration.
What the Philippines needs is a leader who will lead with integrity. Integrity is doing the right things no matter what. It’s about sticking to one’s moral standards. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Integrity is about being morally consistent, whole, undivided. We’ve already had leaders in the past who may have had brilliant minds, economic acumen or strong political will, yet we remain to be the sick man of Asia.
Why? Because what we need are not just leaders with outstanding intelligence; we need leaders with unmistakable integrity.
Economic progress is not the only problem that we need to focus on. We need to restore the moral standards and values that founded our institutions — love, righteousness and justice.
We don’t need leaders who will clean the streets by striking fear, but leaders who will show us that we as a people know better than embrace barbarity. We need leaders who will not fool us into believing that they can end our economic woes, but leaders who will empower us and inspire us to embrace the future with hope. We don’t just need leaders with political experience, we need leaders with unquestionable character.
A person’s faith shapes his character. Indeed, faith is the moral compass that guides a person, especially when circumstances demand sound decisions. Faith is the barometer through which a leader leads.
I will not vote for a candidate whose faith is questionable. I want a president who will establish the government on the strong foundation of justice and righteousness. I want a president who will protect the marriage institution and will not push for legislations that seek to undermine it. I will vote for a president who will uphold the value of human lives and will do everything in his power to protect it.
Look at the United States. While it remains to be the strongest superpower on earth, its social institutions are in the brink of collapse in the face of moral degradation. Economic progress is not the end-all-and-be-all of everything.
As CBCP President Socrates Villegas puts it, corruption comes in many shapes and forms. Stealing from the public funds is one of it, but moral corruption spells greater doom. We need a president who is guided by the right moral compass. We need a president who understands that all governments are instituted by God; it is a charge from God, and that he is ultimately accountable to Him.
Hence, we need a president who will not play god, but will be guided by his fear of God.
Knowing that the government is a public trust, and that it is a charge from God, public officials must perform their duties to the highest standard of excellence. This one is the easiest to see; one should only look at the candidates’ track record as a public servant.
These qualities will surely narrow down — or complicate — your choices. Perhaps, upon close examination, you may find that none of the candidates pass these qualifications. I just hope that on the day of the polls, we will be guided by the right values and principles in choosing our leaders.
Whoever wins this election, let’s participate in the work of nation-building, pray for the new leaders and bless our nation.
It may be difficult for now to look for political candidates who embody leadership, integrity, faith and excellence, but I am part of a movement called Every Nation Campus, whose ultimate desire is to raise up the next generation as world-changers and nation-builders.
I’m keeping my knees bent and my fingers crossed. God bless the Philippines.