Miriam: Keep standards high in choosing president

CEBU CITY, Philippines – What qualities make a good president? 

According to presidential candidate and senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, those qualities are: "academic, professional and moral excellence."

"May mga presidente na 'di nakapagtapos ng college (There are presidents who haven't finished college)," Santiago said at the University of Cebu, Banilad campus on Friday, February 26. 

This is Santiago's first campaign sortie outside of Luzon. She attended the event without her running mate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos.

While she was scheduled to arrive at 3 pm, she arrived on campus by around 4:30 pm because of a delayed flight.

Academic excellence

"Under the law, why does a police officer have to finish college, but a president does not?" Santiago asked in Filipino and emphasized that presidential candidates should "display academic excellence." 

She said: "Kung hindi nag-aaral o mataas ang grado, saan siya kukuha ng runong niya? Hindi madali maging presidente." (If they did not study or get high grades, where would they get their wisdom? It's not easy being president.) 

She gave an example of why academic excellence is important in the Senate: "'Yung iba sa Senado, 'yung iba walang alam kung 'di nagbabasa sa tinuro ng assistant. Dapat assistant na lang nila tumakbo!"

(Those others in the Senate, they don't do anything else but read what their assistants tell them to read. Their assistant should run instead.)

The tough-talking lawmaker told the students to keep their standards high when they choose their leader. 

"Napakakomplikado maging presidente ng Pilipinas (Becoming president of the Philippines is complicated)," Santiago said. 

Professional excellence

"Kung nakatapos ka na sa University of Cebu, dapat nag-practice ka kung anong kurso mo," she said on the importance of professional excellence. 

Santiago told students it was important to be excellent in your chosen field and that they should win awards.

Why the need to win awards? Santiago said, "dahil kilala ka dahil masipag ka at magaling magtrabaho (You should be known for being hardworking and good at what you do.)"

She said of other candidates who lack professional excellence: "Kahit sino puwede na lang mag-presidente? Tapos may pera sila siraan na lang nang siraan ang may abilidad?"

(Anyone can become president? And anyone with money can keep on destroying those who have the skill to be president?)

Moral excellence

"We know that God is the source of all human excellence, so leaders should show that they have morals," Santiago expounded on the importance of moral excellence. 

"Dapat may moralidad ang mga lider, huwag yung masyadong maraming querida (Leaders should have morals and not too many mistresses)," Santiago said. "Tama na yung isa, sobra na nga 'yun (One is enough, or even too much)," she added.

Davao City Mayor and fellow presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, who was in Cebu the day before, has admitted to being married to two women and having two other girlfriends. 

Alluding to Vice President Jejomar Binay, she said of candidates who have corruption cases, "Ang lakas ng loob tatakbo pa (they still have the nerve to run)!"

"'Di ako pinanganak para maging corrupt na opisyal (I wasn't born to be a corrupt official)," Santiago concluded in her speech. "Pinanganak ako para gawin ko ang katungkulan para makatulong sa aking kapwa." (I was born to serve and help my fellowmen.)  

Santiago's talk lasted for about 45 minutes. There were no other activities scheduled in Cebu and she returned to the airport right after the sortie. 

She will return for the second presidential debate which will take place on March 20 at the University of the Philippines, Cebu. – Rappler.com 

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.

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