Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why another six years is a bad idea

This is my column today, August 19, 2014.


We are told that the friends and allies of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III are now laying the groundwork to ensure that the machinations to amend the Constitution and consequently, to enable Aquino to run for a second term, become successful. 
Aquino should be very, very wary.  With friends and allies like that, who needs enemies?
Quite frankly, Aquino would be crazy to want another term.  The writing on the wall is as clear as day—all the odds are not in the President’s favor this time around.  The friends and allies who want Aquino to remain as President beyond 2016 are not really thinking of what is good for the President, or for the country.  They are simply thinking about themselves. 
 Let’s be blunt here:  The chances of putative administration candidate Mar Roxas winning in 2016 is very slim.  Thus, the only way they can continue to wield power and influence is to retain Aquino in the Palace.  That is the only logical reason for the sudden change of heart on fixing the term limits of a president—something that used to be sacrosanct in the light of the late President Corazon C. Aquino’s staunch advocacy on the matter.
 Those who are saying that the President needs to stay in office to sustain and strengthen the supposed successes of this administration are suffering from a severe case of extreme myopia.  (Of course there are people who question the supposed gains the Aquino administration has made since 2010 but let’s not go there).  Furthermore, the premise is actually indicative of inefficient leadership.  Are they saying that out of the millions of Filipinos, there is no one who can do what the President has supposedly been doing—or even do it better?  Or  are they saying that the programs of this administration are so incomprehensible that no one else can understand or implement them?  And then there is the matter of succession management, which is the mark of a good leader.  Every leader worth his name accepts that he or she is not immortal and therefor trains a successor.  If there is no one else who can succeed him, what kind of leader does that make Aquino?
 Anyone who wants Aquino to serve for another six years after 2016 must really hate the guy.  It is obvious that the presidency is not exactly a walk in the park for Aquino—he has aged considerably since he came to power, he has become irritable and seemingly unpleasant, and I can only imagine the kind of toll the pressures of the presidency is making on his health.  Give the guy a break, let him go back to his three Gs—guns, girlfriends, and games (computer games, to be more specific). 
 And then there is the matter of the relatively short shelf life of presidents in this country.  This is painfully made obvious by the continued nosediving of Aquino’s popularity ratings. We are a country that expects and demands too much from a President and tends to blame that person for all our woes, whether systemic or trivial.  Why would anyone want to transform Aquino into becoming the most hated person in the country, which is a natural consequence for anyone who overstays in power in this country?  He should quit while he is still a revered figure among many.
 To those who are saying that the issue is more than individuals and that servant leadership requires extreme personal sacrifice, let me just repeat a point I already made earlier in this piece:  Aquino already had his chance, it is time to allow others to step up —and yes, there are many others out there with just the same virtues, ethics, and level of integrity if those are truly the criteria we want to insist on.  Those who continue to say that there is no one else who is qualified is only contributing to narrowing the options. 
 The problems and challenges that were present in 2010 are completely different from those that confront us now.  What we need is a transformational leader who will not only perpetuate governance in the country but harness it as a tool to attain algebraic growth.  We probably need a different set of competencies.
 But over and above all these, is another six years of Aquino really worth scrapping the constitutional prohibition that safeguards the country from another dictatorship?  Think about it.

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