Look for managerial expertise

Look for managerial expertise

DEMAND AND SUPPLY by Boo Chanco
PhilStar
June 12, 2009

Today, Independence Day, is a good time to think about the qualities of the person we will vote for to be our next president. The recent two part ANC Leadership Forum should have provided clues on what to expect with each of the candidates. Unfortunately, neither of the two episodes got wide exposure. The other problem has to do with the danger of falling in love with the more telegenic and media savvy candidate.

Indeed, that seems to be the problem with the Filipino electorate. It is easy to get the ordinary voter infatuated with a candidate because of personality and other non important attributes. It is easy for the Pinoy voter to get taken by empty promises coming from a candidate with media sex appeal. That’s at the root of our problems.

That’s one reason why both Sen. Loren Legarda and Sen. Chiz Escudero are among the leading contenders even if they are the least qualified. Neither of the two from Danding Cojuangco’s NPC has significant managerial experience. Neither Loren nor Chiz has the track record to assure us they can run the massive bureaucracy called the Philippine government. We should learn from our experience with Gloria Magtatagal Arroyo. As such, all they can offer are promises. Ampaw is a good way to describe Loren and Chiz, which makes them ideal for the vested interests operating the NPC.

If we take an unbiased look at the candidates, the ones that really surfaced as most deserving in recent forums, not just the ANC ones, are those with local government experience. They are able to point to a track record to back up their program of government. I am thinking of Sen. Richard Gordon, Mayor Jojo Binay and MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando. This is why it is unfortunate we do not have more local government officials like Mayor Sonny Belmonte and Mayor Jesse Robredo among the aspirants. Gov Panlilio does not count because he is a first termer and still needs time to show what he can do.

Sen. Dick Gordon appears to be most ideal because of his colorful and productive public service record. He was mayor of Olongapo, first chairman of Subic Bay Metro Authority at a time of crisis, tourism secretary and now Senator of the Republic. He is also a very active hands-on head of the Red Cross.

In all the posts he has held, Dick has displayed a rare kind of passionate, visionary leadership that produced the results he has promised. Dick is not the easiest person to be with and his temper is legendary, but there is no denying he has a good heart that’s committed to public service. Trained in UP and Ateneo, he also has the intellectual qualities a President must have.

But Dick’s not up there with the survey leaders. Some say that Dick’s glory days are past. He was hot during the Subic days but politicians like movie stars have expiry dates with the fickle public. Weather weather lang! And he doesn’t have a funding source that could give his candidacy a chance to win.

Mayor Jojo Binay is the dark horse to watch out for… a real Obama-like figure. His television advertising is the simplest and for me, the best… no gimmicks… walang padyak. He made his Makati constituents talk about the social welfare benefits they enjoy from cradle to grave — free medical care, free school up to university level, free job training and a more extensive senior citizen care program. At the end of the commercial, the Makati citizens simply said: Ganito kami sa Makati ngayon. Sana buong bayan din.

Oo nga naman. Bakit sila lang sa Makati? In other words, Jojo Binay is not just promising you heaven on earth the way a Loren or a Chiz would. He has delivered and he has his Makati constituents to confirm it.

I have known Jojo from our UP days and he is not a bad speaker and should do very well in presidential debates. But he does not have the media savvy and telegenic looks of a Loren or a Chiz.

Ok, some would say that he had become prosperous as mayor of Makati. But then again, many of them got prosperous while in Malacanang or other public offices too but failed to deliver even half of what Binay has delivered to his constituents. Maybe we can’t expect our public officials to be saints. But like Binay, they should at least deliver the services expected of government.

Chairman Bayani Fernando is one determined candidate for President and it would be dangerous to rule out a man with such determination. He also has a track record to point to as Mayor of Marikina. The transformation of Marikina from a backwater suburb of Manila to what it is now is a tribute to Bayani’s determination to do just that.

Bayani’s record in MMDA is more controversial. It was a more challenging assignment that was mission impossible in the sense that he carried no political power which continued to reside with the mayors who refused to work with him. For me, what he had been able to accomplish was about as much as anyone could do to respond to such problems as traffic and floods. If we gave Bayani political power to transform the nation, I am sure he will work on it 24/7 and with the tenacity and precision of a fired up engineer working on a landmark building or bridge.

The other selling point of Bayani’s candidacy is his wife, present Marikina Mayor Marides Carlos Fernando. She has even improved on what Bayani has started in Marikina. And if she becomes First Lady, we are effectively getting two for the price of one. Think Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Mar Roxas has an extensive business background primarily as an investment banker in New York, not the best thing to have in a resume these days. I have no doubt that Mar would make an honest non corrupt President but I just wonder if he has the decisiveness the job entails and the ability to reach out to the masa, given his pedigree. He is said to be considering Ping Lacson as running mate, something that makes me wonder what Mar Roxas is really all about.

Unfortunately, the two real front runners, Sen. Manny Villar and Vice President Noli de Castro decided to skip the forums, probably thinking they have little to gain from them. They however deprived the voting public a chance to more carefully assess their qualities for the job.

Sen. Villar can point to his rags to riches life story as proof that he knows how to manage. Indeed, it is said that this self made billionaire is the only candidate who can finance his multi billion peso campaign by himself. His life story can inspire Filipinos to aspire for and attain a better life.

VP Noli is probably best where he is right now. I know Noli quite well from our days working together at ABS-CBN. I cannot forget how he responded to me when I tried to convince him to run for public office for the first time. Like Dolphy, he responded only half jokingly, papaano kung manalo?

To Noli’s credit, he has shown he can deliver on his assignments. As this administration’ s housing czar, he has done more than what past administrations have. Noli takes his work seriously and will be the first to tell you if he thinks he needs more professional advice to see it through.

I don’t know if Noli will decide to run for the top post but I am hoping that at some point, he will agree to run for re-election under Manny Villar, his Wednesday Club colleague. Noli and Manny share many advocacies from mass housing to OFW welfare. They are ideal together. If nothing else happens, a Villar-De Castro team will ensure that every Pinoy ends up with a roof over his head and that’s a pretty good goal to think about.

What about Gilbert Teodoro? He is a bright and well connected politician with a pedigree. I was probably the first to see his potential long before he was appointed to DND. But he lacks actual public service time that would test his mettle and his heart. His short tenure thus far at DND is not enough to measure what he is made of. But don’t rule him out for future contests beyond 2010.

As for Erap? I think he is just kulang sa pansin. He knows his time was in the past and the nation ought to move on. If he loves this country, he will spare us the trauma of reliving those bitter days of EDSA 2 which will resurface with his candidacy. Maybe he should just be a king maker and endorse one of the others who also share his dreams and ideals.

Where do we go from here? As I said, look for proven managerial expertise… and a heart that clearly beats for the people.

Boo Chanco
bchanco@gmail.com

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