I wrote about this topic over a year ago. It seems to be relevant again.

I have listened to many persons who have been affected by the super typhoon Yolanda. Naturally, a common thread in their narratives is the harrowing experiences they have had. They have never seen such an event in their lives. This is understandable because indeed Yolanda is the strongest typhoon in recorded history. But another common thread is their criticism about the manner in which the national government and even the President has responded to their dire situation.

I will not repeat here what these persons have said because you can read about them in the newspapers and the social media. These are awash with their complaints. What I want to bring up here is the idea that for any nation to surmount a catastrophe of colossal proportions a good leader is indispensable.

If you read about the history of Italy, Germany and France after the Second World War, you will realize the great role their leaders had in rebuilding their nations that were devastated by the ravages of the war. The names are well known: Alcide de Gasperi of Italy, Konrad Adenauer of Germany and Charles de Gaulle of France. If we were to identify a common denominator of these three leaders, I would say it is this: they were wise. They had sufficient wisdom that gave them a vision of what to aim for and the knowledge of how to get to the goal. And they also had a second good quality: they were strong. For their story you can read Paul Johnson’s Modern Times.

It is not my intention to pass judgment on our President. My main concern is how in the history of our nation we have not been gifted with someone like de Gasperi, or an Adenauer, or a de Gaulle, or even a George Washington: men whose ideas and deeds have built a nation and continue to do so even after many generations.

I have heard many persons comment to me that we do not have in our culture a kind of system to develop the leaders we need and much less a system to put them in place. I do not want to talk about politics here because that is not my role and expertise. But this topic has something to do with justice which is a moral issue.

There should be a system we must develop so that through it we are able to elect leaders who are competent and can lead the nation especially through crisis situations which will always come around. If we demand that a practitioner first pass a stringent examination before we allow him to practice as a doctor, lawyer, engineer or architect, because if he fails he can bring harm to many persons, then why do we not demand a person to pass a demanding test before we allow him to become the Chief Executive? At present, the government requires a candidate to pass the Career Executive Service Board exams to be able to occupy executive positions in government then why not demand the same for the Chief Executive? There should be even more reason to demand competence of the Chief Executive because his decisions can affect the lives of a hundred million Filipinos.

Good leaders are not born; they are made. We Filipinos must find a way of making them.


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