Leadership is about steering a nation’s ship, but it is also about picking the right people to steer the ship with.
Because a leader’s capacity, attention and reach are finite, equally important are the choice of the men and women who would be the face of governance to the people they are expected to serve, whose interests they are expected to champion.
When the President assumed the top post several years ago, there was much hope that the next six years would be better than the years before. There were a lot of promises. The aim was to reduce corruption, because without corruption, Mr. Aquino said, there would be no poverty.
There were also grand scenarios of economic progress dangled before a nation so desperate for opportunities in their own land. We would be the next first-world economy, we were told. Investors and tourists would flock to the Philippines. It would be a different era for the country, whose people are so used to the grime and the stink of unlivable working conditions, and who were coming from the dark days of the previous administration.
The President and his team practically styled themselves as saviors.
Nearly six years on, the people are still desperate, perhaps even more so because of the empty posturing of the managers who overpromised but underdelivered.
Worst of all, these executives remain smug and arrogant, convinced of their infallibility even as their incompetence runs the country to the ground.
If there were perhaps a symbol for this administration’s six-year reign, it would be the Metro Rail Transit 3. The MRT 3 was doing well when these managers came in—not spectacularly, but at least respectably. Now it has become notorious for its coaches that never come on time, the dangerous rails and a system operating beyond its capacity.
It could be the airport, named by travelers as one of the worst in the world, and which makes suspects out of hapless extortion victims. It could be the traffic, or the continued suffering of the victims of calamities, or the unresolved extra-judicial killings, or the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor amid supposed credit rating upgrades and nominal growth of the Gross Domestic Product.
Through it all, these managers operate in self-congratulation, pat each other on the back for their trial-and-error work and continue to receive their undeserved salaries at the expense of the people whose lives they make more miserable. Meanwhile, they score their critics and reject any suggestion that they could have done their jobs better.
We heave a collective sigh of relief that their contract is nearing its end—God forbid we give them another crack at leading us.