16 Toward 2016: Qualities of the leader we need in the next presidential elections

By Bernadine Racoma, as originally posted at Philippine Online Chronicles, Blog Watch.

With just a little over two years left before the next presidential polls, perhaps it’s already time to think about the national leader we want to install next. It makes sense contemplating on what’s to come in the not so distant future as the country went through a mix of major developments that included calamities, scandals, controversies, and of course progress. After nearly four years of the present administration, we should have already seen enough good and bad to have an idea of who our ideal leader should be for the next term.

The following attributes or criteria can help us determine the better choice in 2016. A lot of effort has been exerted to maintain an optimistic perspective here. It’s a new year after all. Who likes spreading negative vibes when we’re just turning a new leaf?

16       Honesty

Yes, that lonely word. While we may have been disappointed by several leaders numerous times, we can’t just lose hope that someone honest can helm Philippine politics, economy, and society. If a Pinoy cabbiein Las Vegas can do it, there’s no reason a Filipino politician can’t.

15       Integrity

Integrity sounds cliché but it remains to be one of the integral attributes of a good leader. Since his election, Pope Francis has been busy trying to restorethe integrity of the Catholic Church. It’s never too late for the Philippines to elect someone with integrity.

14       Confidence

Who likes having a fainthearted president? Nobody, of course. However, confidence should not be equated to arrogance (tempted to link this to some news item about a Filipino leader who loves acting high, mighty and infallible – trying hard to keep the positivity theme). The line between confidence and arrogance is not too narrow to be unnoticeable. Confidence is like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asserting Japan’s territorial claims. Arrogance is Abe’s indiscriminate visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, blatantly disregarding the implications of the act would on neighboring countries and the rest of the world.

13       Creativity

A president also needs to be creative although not through the creation of questionable programs like DAPand the establishment of an amply-staffed Communications Group to ensure the conveyance of government propaganda. Creativity here is about finding ways to approach problems with novel but promising solutions.

12       Unrestrained Resourcefulness

Definitely, resourcefulness is not about telling the media that there is no magic wand to reduce power rates. Of course, nobody expects the government to use a magic wand to solve the nation’s problems. We have to acknowledge the fact that our leaders are not really bereft of means to address pressing problems. It’s just unfortunate that they are bound by various factors that prevent them from being usefully resourceful. Hopefully, the next government leaders will be free from constraining interests and influences.

11       Commitment and Responsibility

Being committed and acting responsibly are obvious necessities for a leader. These are self-explanatory but they have to be included in this list for the sake of emphasis.

10       Positivity and Ability to Inspire

Hopefully, the next president is someone who can positively affect people. The complete absence of critics is impossible so the president should be someone who knows how to handle all the negative comments and channel positivity in everything. However, this does not mean attempts to concealthe ugly things in the country instead of providing appropriate solutions.

9          Proactive Leadership

Enough of being reactive, the country has seen how the habit of merely reacting to problems has caused degradation and destruction. We don’t need a hesitant leader. We need someone who has a vision, clear goals to achieve within six years. The country needs someone who can implement necessary preparations to reduce the ill consequences of disasters, natural or man-made.

8          Open-Mindedness and Receptiveness to Change

A number of things in the foundations of Philippine laws and politics are ripe for modification. Starting with the abolition of the ridiculous lawthat limits the creative way the national anthem could be sung by artistsin major or high profile events up to the necessary amendments on economic provisions in the Constitution, the new leaders should consider the possibility of updating the country’s laws and political principles to facilitate greater economic progress.

7          Good Communication Skills and Unity-Advocating

It is not necessary to be fluent in multiple languages a la GMAto be a good communicator. What’s important is the conveyance of the message – the right message for the right people. As much as possible, we need a president who does not need speechwriters. A leader who can sincerely speak his heart and mind without resorting to flowery and hifalutin language is more preferable. Moreover, it’s high time to have a leader who does not blatantly polarize the populace.

6          Consistency

It’s quite obvious how President Aquino’s “Tuwid na daan” campaign is not perfect, as its harsh implications are widely believed to have only been applied to political opponents. However, this does not mean that it is a complete failure. It only lacks consistency.

5          Ability to Choose the Right Officials and to Delegate

A leader is nothing without his officials and soldiers. A good leader chooses the right officials to support him. Hopefully, the next leader of the country is someone who is not torn by power struggles, someone who is supported by competent people.

4          Initiative and Being Organized

The Yolanda disaster taught the Philippines a lot of lessons. These lessons should have included the need for leaders who are averse to playing the blame gameand the need for better organization.

3          Long-Term Vision

We need someone forward thinking. The Philippines needs someone who is not only concerned with the present—and certainly not someone who keeps going back to the past to pass the blame. Long-term goals have to be set without necessarily neglecting the need to address immediate concerns.

2          Resolve to Get Rid of Traditional Politics

Obviously, we should already put an end to trapos in government. This does not only mean electing someone who espouses a clean image. What the country needs is someone who is really bent on ridding the government of transactional and patronage politics. The country has already experienced nearly four years of a leader who is known to be “clean.” Obviously, a clean leader is not enough. What’s needed is a leadership that cleans, someone who can revolutionize Philippine politics for the better. President Aquino has been making baby steps in this regard. It will definitely be better to have longer and faster steps in the future.

1          The Courage to Own Up to Mistakes and to Learn and Improve

This attribute sounds very simple but this is perhaps the most difficult action for any politician. However, this is something the next President of the Republic should have. We understand how successors of the GMA administration would hesitate to do this after the first 1.5-termer president of the country “>tried it, albeit halfheartedly, and ended up incriminating herself.

It has to be pointed out, though, that Gloria Arroyo’s idea of “owning up” to the mistake wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She said sorry – yes, but she did nothing to rectify the mistake. She would have appeared more credible had she instituted palpable reforms if she couldn’t afford to simply step down in at least the same fashion Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand opened the possibility of a snap election.

The next leader of the Philippines does not have to have the best brains. By now, everyone should have already realized that nobody can ever be a perfect leader, not even 20% close. Nevertheless, there is hope in finding a leader who can realize a mistake and can do something to correct it, and change to become better.


Photo by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. Some rights reserved.