Prof Frederick V. Rael has been teaching for almost 20 years in various local colleges and universities in the Philippines.
The Philippine election of 2022 is upcoming. The filing of the candidacy last October signaled the start of the circus-like campaign. Filipino voters are again being courted by political candidates through their beautiful campaign jingles and expensive TV ads as well as enticing posts on Social Media. Troll armies ( now a seasonal job in the Philippines) are getting their handsome paycheck again. Social media are flooded by fake accounts, fake news, and constant bickering of political candidates.
In my experience as a voter, I have always chosen the unpopular but most deserving and qualified to run our country from my point of view. Unfortunately, none of my presidential candidates have won the Philippine election. I have come to realize that my preference for a presidential candidate doesn’t fit the standards of the majority of Filipinos. Sad to say, we, Filipinos, tend to elect the most popular (celebrities, athletes, etc.), instead of the most deserving leader. Nevertheless, I have always supported the president who won the election because I believe in democracy. As they say, “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (the voice of the people is the voice of God).
An election is about the voice of the majority, not the opinion of one person. An election is also a chance for the poor to choose a leader who will genuinely take care of their needs. However, an election is also an opportunity for the elite or rich families to protect their interests by donating a large sum of money to their preferred candidates. Despite my lack of success in choosing the winnable presidential candidate in the past elections, I will still wake up early on Election Day and proceed immediately to the polling precinct to cast my precious and priceless vote. I believe that participating in an election is my right and at the same time my obligation to my country. My only vote (whether or not my candidate would win) is a testament that the spirit of democracy is shining within me.
I have come up with important questions to ask the candidates that I would like to share on this blog. As a framework, I borrowed Plato’s important virtues of a moral person (soul) as guides in the formulation of these questions such as wisdom, honor, heart, humility, will, and temperament. A president must possess at least some of these qualities so that he/she can effectively lead our country.
The questions I presented below are products of my vast experience as a social science professor and deep contemplation of the cosmos as a voter.
A president must have the wisdom to know the truth since the Philippines is confounded by many problems.
1. Does the candidate possess the wisdom (educational background, training, knowledge, and skills in governance) to solve our country’s problems?
2. Does he/she possess a certain degree of knowledge in psychology, philosophy, economics, political science, history, sociology, and other fields of sciences?
3. What can he/she do to solve the pandemic/health crisis?
4. Does he/she have a program to improve the condition of women, children, LGBT, and PWDs?
5. Will he/she finally abolish the law on contractualization?
6. Will he/she increase the salary of the essential workers (doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.)?
7. Will he/she support the proliferation of public schools for greater access to education?
A president must be an honorable person because we, Filipinos deserve a dignified leader.
1. Does he/she possess a track record of making promises to people that are impossible to implement?
2. Does he/she have the reputation of breaking most of his/her promises to the people?
3. Does he/she have the reputation of attacking his enemies instead of promoting peace and reconciliation?
4. What political family or clan does he/she belong to? Does his/her clan have a good reputation?
A president must have a big heart for the poor and the disadvantaged since a large portion of our population comes from them.
1. Whose interests is he/she protecting, the rich or the poor?
2. What programs can he/she offer to reduce the poverty rate in the country?
3. Is he/she in favor of redistribution of agricultural lands to the farmers?
4. How can he/she manage the prices of commodities?
5. What programs will he/she implement to increase the employment rate?
A president must also possess the humility to live a simple lifestyle just like any ordinary Filipinos.
1. Does he/she have the reputation of helping the people through charitable acts or offering voluntary services to the needy?
2. Was he/she involved in any forms of corruption (vote-buying, bribery, or any scandalous affairs)?
A president or leader has to possess the courage or the will to do what is right
1. Does he/she possess the will to do what it takes to solve the issues of the country despite the odds (battling the business tycoons, oligarchs, landowners, etc)?
2. Can he/she protect our country against foreign invaders?
3. Is he/she brave enough to speak the interests of our country against another country or the international community?
4. Does he/she possess the political will to implement positive changes in the lives of the people?
A president has to possess a temperament to balance his/her material desires.
1. Does he/she have an extravagant lifestyle?
2. How do his/her family and relatives spend their money?
3. How many mansions and cars do he/she possess?
4. Is he/she a wise spender?
5. Who are the sources of his/her funds for the campaign?
1. Is he/she wise enough to answer tough questions during an interview? Does he/she make sense when he/she talks to the press?
2. Why is he/she popular? In what field is he/she popular?
3. Can he/she use his/her popularity to effectively lead our disastrous prone country consisting of 7,000 islands and islets and 109 million people (including numerous tribes and regional groups) confronted by lots of social problems that have prevailed since time immemorial?
Of course, I do admit that nobody has the monopoly of knowledge in solving our country’s problems but a presidential candidate must at least have the right priorities or exact platforms to offer to the voters as well as the abilities to execute them. At a minimum, we must know whether or not they have something to say intelligently about the issues. We need a president who has the cosmic wisdom (higher than mere intelligence) to manage or handle these issues. Remember, the president’s decisions affect us all and your one vote would affect my future.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Frederick V Rael