On the occasion of every election in the Philippines from the baranggay to the presidential levels, not a few well intentioned people from civic organizations to professional associations – religious groupings included – come up with the desired qualifications of the candidates for particular or all public offices. This is not saying anything about the candidates themselves who repeatedly and emotionally proclaim their own respective sterling personal qualifications for the public offices they are aspiring for.
The said organizations, associations, and grouping state the attributions they require of the candidates to the extent of actually making a list of their own concrete choices for election. But for one reason or another, their respective listings of their chosen candidates differ in names or identity. Among the reasons why there are different candidates listed, could be precisely the different perceptions they have – and the life. Recently, there is even nothing less than the formulation and dissemination so the called “10 Commandments” for responsible voting – or something the like.
How about but two (2) criteria for the election of candidates for public offices – irrespective of whether these be in the local, regional and/or national levels. It is not really difficult to know their presence or absence in a given practically an unknown individual to the general public. Here are the two (2) criteria: Integrity and Competence. Not one or the other, not one above the other – but bith at the same time, in the same degree.
What is Integrity? In more simple words, it means the known honesty and probity, the perceived rectitude and righteousness of a political candidate – irrespective of dynastic affiliation and personal popularity. Someone with the attribute of integrity is identical with an agent of truth and justice. It is not a secret that the ethical quagmire the Philippines has been long since immersed is basically caused by the lack of integrity in abig number of its supposed public servants.
What is Competence? In more plain terms, it refers to the leadership capability and fitness, proficiency, and suitability of a political candidate for public service. The virtue of integrity – without competence – would be enough for private living, for self-care. But it is incongruous to even imagine that an incompetent public servant – no matter how good and honest – would make an acceptable leader In government. It goes on without saying that in this age and time, incompetent leadership is one big liability in Philippine governance.