#AnimatED: Unfinished business after Aquino
In less than a year, the Philippines will have a new president. The question that’s uppermost in our minds is: will the next leader be able to build on the pluses of the Aquino administration and do much more?
In its July 15 rating, Standard & Poor’s said the Philippines could be upgraded from its current “BBB” with “stable” outlook, the highest ever given to the country, if the government undertook structural and institutional reforms. This assessment is spot-on.
What has happened under Aquino’s watch is basic, honest governance. The next big step is to undertake sweeping reforms:
- to change the highly unequal structure of Philippine society;
- to make government institutions accountable, transparent, competent and effective; and
- to end the internal rebellion.
First, the next president will have to lift millions out of poverty and strengthen and broaden the middle class. There are more poor than middle-income families. A study shows that the middle class, as of 2012, comprised about 3.6 million households while the poor comprised 4.2 million households. In contrast, only 156,000 households made up the rich. At the extreme end of the spectrum, the wealth of the billionaires led by Henry Sy, John Gokongwei Jr. and Enrique Razon, “are growing faster than the entire economy.” This is untenable.
Second, effective governance can only be achieved if competence and transparency are embedded in the institutions. As Calixto Chikiamco, president of the Foundation for Economic Freedom, writes, “Institutional reform is about governance and competence, not just daang matuwid.”
Third, it’s time that the twin insurgencies that have persistently divided our nation come to an end so that we can look beyond our shores and focus on external threats. There is some hope that the conflict in Mindanao will lead to a political settlement under Aquino’s watch – but that will only be the beginning of a long healing and rehabilitation process. The communist threat, for its part, remains a conundrum that has to be resolved.
We cannot afford to waste the next 6 years under a leader who will reverse the gains. It is critical that the next president possess certain qualities to be able to address these tough challenges.
The vision thing. He or she should be a strategic thinker, committed to the common good, and with the facility to stretch his or her mind to get a panoramic view of issues. This way, decisions are made with clarity and ample regard for how they will affect others.
Character. Integrity and a strong sense of fair play are vital. The next leader should be honest and sincere. He or she should value meritocracy. A candidate who is unable to say no to friends with vested interests does not deserve our vote.
Executive skills. Our next president should be like an orchestra conductor, deft in making a team work together, equipped with leadership and management skills.
As Aquino delivers his last State of the Nation address on July 27, let us not just look back at what he has done and failed to do. Let us look ahead and seriously think about how to move our country forward – and who will be able to rise to the occasion and make the mantra of “inclusive growth” a palpable reality. – Rappler.com