Readers talk back about the leaders they want

Readers talk back about the leaders they want
By Minerva Generalao, Kate V. Pedroso, Lawrence de Guzman, Schatzi Quodala
Philippine Daily Inquirer

(The Inquirer’s “MY VOTE, MY TURN” asked Inquirer readers to send in their thoughts on hot topics and issues that best define the 2010 election, character traits the next president should possess, political heroes the next president should emulate, and bad traits and political scandals the next administration should avoid.

The questionnaire was published in two waves—from June to July last year, and in February. In all, it elicited a total of 840 responses. The Inquirer compiled and collated the answers. Highlights of the study.)

Question 1: Key issues

The 2010 election is really about change and democracy.

It’s about “change, choice and direction,” said Tom Fresinido, who sent his response via fax. Kerwin Lu of Davao, on the other hand, said the 2010 election is about “changes that can be done and who can do it.”

Of the 840 responses, 239 (28.5 percent) cited election, democracy, voters, politics and citizens, as what the May elections are really about.

Respondents said the main issues in the next elections are: Having a new leader and changes (20.4 percent), restoration or renewal (11.1 percent), corruption, morals and trapos or traditional politicians (9.4 percent), poverty, economy and other issues (8.5 percent), President Macapagal-Arroyo (7.5 percent), governance and leadership (6.2 percent), voter’s maturity (1.5 percent), intentions, visions and party platforms (1.3 percent), nationalism and youth (1.2 percent).

Others cited fate of the country, love, honor, integrity, peace, freedom, discipline and faith (4.5 percent).

Question 2: Positive traits

“Our next president needs to be capable of knowing right from wrong and, of course, of doing the right thing,” said Nympha Cabrera of Naga, Camarines Sur.

For Domino Kay Ortega of Baliuag, Bulacan, the next president “needs to be capable of living and upholding good values despite having greater power.”

Alex Melchor Tupas of Cavite said: “May puso, may pangarap, may konsensiya (He or she must have heart, vision and conscience).”

Thirty-five percent of readers like Cabrera, Ortega and Tupas cited moral ascendancy or ethical leadership as the top trait of the next president.

The next must-have traits of the next president are: Political will, competence and leadership (27 percent), selflessness and upholding the common good (24 percent), credibility (23 percent), bringing about changes and transformation (10 percent), loving the country (4 percent).

Other respondents cited the ability to address specific concerns like poverty (4 percent), unifying the country, ensuring the country’s security and protecting the environment (5 percent).

Included in the category of responses coded as moral ascendancy and corruption-free leadership are: Moral ascendancy (good moral fiber, unsullied, unblemished, honorable, exemplary/model leadership, principled with “hiya” and delicadeza) which garnered 21 percent; God-fearing/God-loving, which totaled 7 percent; not corrupt/anticorruption, which collected 7 percent.

Included in the category of credibility are responses which cited sincerity, honesty, trustworthiness, integrity and transparency.

When these two categories are combined, a high 58 percent of the readers said the next president should be a moral, clean and credible leader.

Most of the readers, however, gave multiple answers expecting the next leader to be able to be clean and credible. Not only that, he must be able to exercise political will and be an effective leader.

A reader from Cavite said the next president needs to be “incorruptible, with vision and good governance.”

He should be capable of “demonstrating an inspiring blend of courage, integrity, hard work, selflessness and love of country,” said Rodolfo Neri Marasigan of Davao del Sur.

A total of 37 percent said he should have political will, competence and leadership. He should be an agent of change, a redemptive healer who can improve the economy. He must be able to uplift the socioeconomic cultural fabric of the nation, as well as regenerate morality and galvanize the people to action.

In short, he should be a “Jack of all traits,” according to reader Jerome B. Felipe.

Question 3: Role model

The next president should follow in the footsteps of the late President Corazon Aquino.

Aquino topped the list with 207 responses or 24.6 percent naming her as their model for president.

Aquino topped the tally before and after her death in August that plunged the whole nation into mourning.

Her husband, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., had a total of 145 responses or 17.3 percent of respondents look up to him as a good leader.

A total of 69 respondents or 8.2 percent, however, did not name any role model for the president.

Former President Ramon Magsaysay, who was well-loved by the masses during his time, got 57 mentions or 6.7 percent, while the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was listed by 42 respondents or 5 percent.

Yvonne Borromeo of Muntinlupa said the next president should be like Aquino, Magsaysay and “other Asian public officials who bow out of public office in the face of scandal or wrongdoing.”

Other political figures in the top responses included Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (2.9 percent), US President Barack Obama (2.7 percent), India’s political icon Mahatma Gandhi (2.5 percent) Andres Bonifacio (2 percent) and former President Ferdinand Marcos (1.4 percent).

Presidential candidates also figured in the study: Sen. Manuel Villar (1.2 percent), Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (1.1 percent), Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (1 percent), Sen. Richard Gordon (1 percent), former President Joseph Estrada (0.5 percent) and Bro. Eddie Villanueva (0.2 percent).

Aside from political figures, respondents also mentioned biblical figures: Jesus Christ (0.7 percent), King Solomon (0.5 percent), King David (0.2 percent), the Good Samaritan (0.1 percent), King Benjamin (0.1 percent) and Moses (0.1 percent).

Also mentioned were comic book hero, Superman (0.1 percent) and TV drama series character, Santino (0.1 percent), a boy gifted with the power of healing, among others.

Question 4: Negative traits

Corruption topped the list of things the next president should not be capable of. Some 368 respondents or 45.6 percent cited it.

“The country’s next president should not be capable of dipping one’s hands into the country’s coffers,” said Manuel Gappe from Manila.

Readers asked to finish the sentence, “The next President should not be capable of ____” gave the following answers: Graft (8.5 percent), cheating (6.5 percent), self-interest (6.1 percent) and stealing (6 percent) as responses.

Others also cited the scandal-tainted National Broadband Network deal with Chinese corporation ZTE (5.6 percent) as well as the Hello, Garci scandal (4.4 percent), two major controversies that rocked the Arroyo administration.

Common answers also included: Lying (5 percent), abuse (4.3 percent), greed (3.2 percent) and scandals in general (3.2 percent).

From Italy, too

Of the 840 responses sent in by the Inquirer readers, 37 percent were from Metro Manila, 29 percent from areas in Luzon outside Metro Manila, 12 percent from the Visayas and 14 percent from Mindanao.

Two percent of the responses came from Italy, Macau, Maldives, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the United States. Seven percent chose not to indicate their location.

The bulk of the responses or 64 percent was sent via SMS, 25 percent e-mailed their answers and 10 percent responded by fax.

Results of the study do not reflect the views of all the Inquirer readers as they included only the views of respondents who answered the questionnaire. Multiple responses were considered for all the items.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.