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On May 2016, about a year from today, we will be choosing our next set of leaders, from president down to mayor. Fifty-four million registered voters, more than half of our population, will fill up at least 18,000 positions.
This act of voting, a basic duty in a democracy, seems commonplace. The skeptics and those blasé about this national ritual will stay away. After all, haven’t we had so many elections, they say, and look at the kind of leaders voted into office, self-interest throbbing through their veins, intent on fattening their bank accounts?
But precisely it is this defeatist attitude that contributes to the perpetuation of the status quo.
Elections, no matter how imperfect they are, help shape our future, the kinds of policies and institutions we want to address pressing problems: to narrow the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor and widen the middle class, to achieve zero-tolerance toward corruption, to reform our political parties and crush dynastic and elite politics, to foster fair competition, and strengthen transparency.
It is with this civic spirit that Rappler launched #PHVote: The Leader I Want, a campaign aimed at the youth, to get them involved and, this early, start scanning the political horizon for candidates to elect. After all, as Ronald Mendoza and David Yap III of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Center have said: the Filipino youth “account for about 40% of the total voting population. In each presidential election between 2010 and 2040, there will be well over 10 million potential new youth voters joining the electorate.”
In a forum on May 12 attended by students from various universities, speakers, mostly from the academe, sharpened key campaign issues and dissected the qualities that make a good and effective leader.
The De La Salle University (DLSU) hosted the forum organized by Rappler and its partners, the Building an Inclusive Democracy consortium which includes the DLSU College of Liberal Arts, the Ateneo de Manila School of Government, the AIM RSN Policy Center for Competitiveness, and the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance.
The discussions sizzled with issues and insights on what hobbles the Philippines’ growth that, we hope, will stay with the audience, keep them vigilant and thoughtful. (WATCH: Highlights of the #PHVote forum)
The country they get to inherit should figure in their young lives, seamlessly folding into their apps, college courses, and soon after, their jobs.
They know that there is much more to do beyond voting wisely. But this is a start.
To conclude, a few words on leadership. It is not what Kevin Spacey excellently portrays in “House of Cards,” where pure power is what he’s after, wielding it like soft clay, in pursuit of “ruthless pragmatism.”
Leadership requires character, a strong moral compass.
As David Brooks puts it, “Can you be a bad person but a strong leader? …historically, most effective leaders …had a dual consciousness. They had an earnest, inner moral voice capable of radical self-awareness, rectitude and great compassion. They also had a pragmatic, canny outer voice. These two voices were in constant conversation, checking each other, probing for synthesis, wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.” – Rappler.com