“These five items relate to the candidate’s integrity, competence, experience, political philosophy and personal character.”
At this point in the 2022 electoral season, this country’s approximately 61 million eligible voters may be divided into two groups. The first group is made up of voters who have already decided, or are committed to support one of the eight major candidates for the office of President of the Philippines; let’s call them the Decideds. The rest of the 2022 voting population is composed of voters who either are leaning toward one of the candidates or are still undecided as to who among the eight individuals is the most meritorious beneficiary of their votes. “Sino ba ang iboboto natin?” is a question that is asked with increasing frequency by the Undecided as Election Day nears.
I have prepared a six-item questionnaire for the benefit of those Undecideds who intend to approach with good conscience, common sense and, yes, patriotism the task of choosing the best-possible 17th President of the Philippines. The five items relate to the candidate’s integrity, competence, experience, political philosophy and personal character. Undecided voters should direct the five questions of the questionnaire against the eight contenders to see who among them comes closest to meeting the requirements of a good and able national leader.
The first question that needs to be asked about the presidential candidates is, has the candidate ever been accused and/or prosecuted of any kind of wrongdoing, either as a private citizen or as a public official? Being accused of a serious wrongdoing is a bad mark for a presidential candidacy; having been prosecuted and convicted should spell doom for the candidacy.
The second question that should be directed at a presidential aspirant is, has the candidate received education or professional training sufficient to enable her or him to grasp the intricacies and nuances of the job of Chief Executive and to govern a nation of 112 million people competently in a 21st century setting? A good President need not be a Ph.D; Ramon Magsaysay is acknowledged to have been a good president, yet he was a mere engineering graduate. It goes without saying that all educational credentials must be truthful and verifiable.
The third item in the five-item questionnaire for President-choosing relates to experience. Does the candidate have creditable either as a public servant – a vice-president of the Philippines or senator or mayor – or as a professional in the private sector? The presidency of the Philippines cannot be a matter of on-the-job training or of the best intentions; it is a very serious business.
The voters in the coming election need to have a good idea of the political philosophy of a candidate. Is she or he a liberal with regard to the role of the government in Philippine society, or is she or he a believer in minimal government involvement? Does she or he believe in centralized government or is she or he a strong advocate of devotion of governmental powers? The answers to these and similar issues need to be known by the voters of 2022.
Filipino voters in the May 9, 2022 election also need to pose the question about a candidate’s personal traits. Does the candidate have good work habits, is personally disciplined and is systematic and organized in her or his approach to professional natters? Or is the candidate a bon vivant and lacking in discipline in her or his approach to life? The voters of 2022 need to know about these things before the electoral season comes to an end.
Last but certainly not the least, the Undecideds need to direct a question about baggage – not baggage of the travel kind – about the presidential candidates. Are the candidates carrying into the election baggage from the past – unexplained wealth, a conviction, personal use of narcotics, an extramarital relationship or a police rubout? Or is a candidate squeaky clean, with no vulnerabilities?
The candidate that emerges best after the asking of the questionnaire’s questions is the candidate that the Undecideds should vote for come May 9.