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The Philippines and the world are anticipating the next big event in Philippine history. No, it’s not the Manny Pacquiao fight with Ricky Hatton. Well, okay, maybe the second next big event (for who can deny the excitement and anticipation that this fight is bringing to the world). I am talking about the upcoming national elections in 2010.

Indeed the political season is in the air. I’m sure you can feel it as well. The billboards in EDSA are slowly showing the faces of Presidentiables while TV and radio advertisements are no longer limited to ordinary consumer advertising campaigns. I can name a few…Senator Mar Roxas – “peddling” his way to the hearts of the masses; Senator Manny Villar – highlighting the OFW assistances he made out of his own pocket and the most recent would be Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati – showing the progress of the Philippines’ corporate capital. I was particularly amused by the “unwitting comment” (sorry, I just know that everything in advertisement is scripted) made by one Makati resident suggesting that hopefully the progress experienced in Makati will be experienced by the whole nation. Hmmm…vying for a Senator slot, huh?

Anyway, how does this relate to you and me? Well, the future is in our hands – literally. However, we often underestimate our responsibility as voters. Aside from actually voting, it is also our accountability to make sure that we spread the word from “voter’s rights” to actual sharing of our views in choosing the right officials to serve the country. You see – yours is only one vote and unless you discuss and share your opinions with others – then, whatever your views are will remain yours alone. Another critical responsibility is policing our elections. The reality is that any system will always experience glitches both intentional and unintentional. The best thing that we can do is to make it hard for cheating politicians and disruptors to do their thing.

I’m sure you have your own qualifications for a leader. I will be upfront with you and share my belief that the number one character we should look for in a leader is righteousness (uprightness, morality). I have heard a lot of people say that the main problem of the Philippines is that we do not fear the law. Even our own lawmakers and governing leaders have made a mockery of the law and have repeatedly used their positions to their own personal advantages. I agree. However, I believe that the greater problem of the Philippines is that we do not fear God. The “fear of God” that I am referring to is reverential fear (fear out of love and respect). It is on this junction that I will swing a hard blow… we are as guilty as everyone else.

But then, that is just one person’s opinion.

The Philippines is known as the only Christian country in Asia. However, what has been a source of pride before has now become a source of ridicule. How can the only Christian nation in Asia be also known as the Perpetually Sick Man of Asia?

In Exodus 18:21-22, the qualities for the leaders of Israel were outlined for Moses.

“Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.”

The Bible is clear in giving out these characteristics:

  1. Able men
  2. God-fearing
  3. Men of truth
  4. Hates covetousness (Greediness, Materialism)
  5. Bears the burden of other leaders

I am not a Bible expert but this is my trial to apply this to our present state:

Able men – Ability to lead may be measured by track record, leadership experience and actual knowledge and skills. I personally look into the candidate’s personal attempts in furthering their knowledge and skills. Garbage in, garbage out.

God-fearing – Simply claiming that a person is God-fearing does not at all mean that it is true. Sorry to say but, more so, if this is claimed by a politician. The true indicator of a “God-fearing” person is seen in his life.

Matthew 7:20 states, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Morality is a specific thing. Being moral or righteous is a specific state. There is just no gray area. Therefore, moral accountability in a person’s life is a preview of his moral accountability in the nation. If a candidate is a known rapist or a philanderer, will you be surprised if he lobbies for the legalization of prostitution or use influence to dip his hands in the public fund to support his mistresses? (The lesson should be very obvious by now.) The same logic is applicable to other moral violations no matter how petty from gambling to drug trading.

Men of truth – Truthfulness is not only reflected in words. Truthfulness is reflected in all of our dealings as a human. Therefore, if a person is a businessman, how he conducts his businesses should be measured. Does he evade taxes? Does he practice fair employment policies and wages? How can you prove his sincerity? Are his words translated into actions?

Hates covetousness – Note the word “hate”. Imagine having a leader who hates materialism or greediness! This would require a proactive stance. Not only will that person avoid greediness but he will also ensure that no person under him will covet. Imagine having a mayor or a governor who will ensure that nobody will perform graft and corruption for his entire term! Imagine having a president who will take an aggressive stance against graft and corruption such that anybody who is proven to be corrupt will be truly prosecuted and will be punished. Imagine a bribe-free customs or BIR.

On an economist point of view, an honest government will not only result to operational efficiencies but also to millions of pesos worth of direct investments. Investments will not only result to more taxable income for the government (which will later translate to government servicing such as social services, education and health) but also generate thousands of employment which will eventually improve the lives of Filipino families. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has reported that over $48 billion has been lost by one East Asian country in 20 years due to corruption. (http://www.adb.org/documents/policies/anticorruption/anticorrupt400.asp?p=policies) To a layman, this would mean that if the government is efficient, then the government can provide for our basic needs. For a clearer illustration, just look at the state of our public school system and see how the millions of dollars of foreign aid and taxes were wasted due to corruption and how these money could have helped in ensuring that every Filipino child goes to school.

We desperately need leaders who HATE GREEDINESS in all forms.

Bears the burden of other leaders – I was thinking how this can be applied given our political system. I can just imagine how difficult it would be to govern one municipality that it is simply impossible to efficiently “meddle” with the governance of another.

The revelation to me here is that the “burden” referred is the leader’s burden for the country. If that is so, then, it only means that the leaders that we elect should look past political affiliations and relationships and put the welfare of the country first and foremost. This way, our leaders will only be answerable to God and to the Filipino people.

I am just one opinion…and I sincerely hope that I have been able to impart well. However, there are millions of people who have yet to know the significance of choosing right leaders. Most of these people will just look at “what this candidate has done for me” which usually involves superficial acts such as giving Php 500 or donating construction money for the basketball court. Many of these acts have proven successful for most politicians…and look where our country is right now.

We cannot sit back, relax, and hope that this election will be the turning point for our country. If you are one of the people who hope for the Philippines to move forward and enjoy the full blessings of the Lord, let me tell you that God orders you to rise up and make a stand. Pray for the country. Pray for the elections as early as now. Even the politicians are massively preparing for the elections as early as the last elections. Share your thoughts. Be active agents of change. Do what you can do to protect and help our country.

Only God can place leaders and He always has a purpose for everything. What I have learned throughout my Christian life is that faith is anchored in obedience to God. God’s command and promise is clear:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:22

You already know God’s promise and how to claim it. What are you going to do?