Friday, May 15, 2009

The ANC Leadership Forum and our options for President in 2010

The ANC Leadership Forum which was held on May 11 (exactly a year before the 2010 elections) at the Leong Hall of Ateneo De Manila University gave the Philippines a hint of the character of those planning to run for President in 2010.

Such forums are rarely seen and kudos goes to ABS-CBN, one of the country's leading networks, for broadcasting the forum live nationwide through the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Present during the forum were Senator Francis Chiz Escudero, Senator Richard Gordon, Senator Mar Roxas, Pampangga Governor Ed Panlilio, and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro.

After attending the forum at the Leong Hall, I initially had the opinion that it had turned out to be rather a light discussion and more of an introduction to the emerging Presidential candidates. But then, days after the forum, I've begun hearing people in the street talking about the forum.

This is a good sign and an indication that the show had somewhat succeeded in getting people talking about who to vote for as President in the 2010 elections.

In assessing how the guests/Presidential candidates fared, I'd probably rank them as follows:

1. Senator Richard Gordon.
2. Secretary Gilbert Teodoro.
3. Governor Ed Panlilo
4. Senator Mar Roxas
5. Senator Chiz Escudero.


First, I must confess that my mind was already made up even before I attended the forum, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it could not have been unmade.

My first consideration in choosing a Presidential candidate, and therefore ranking them this way, follows the idea that we ought to look at the elections as a job interview.

In a way, we are interviewing people who will be filling up a post that is executive in nature. In looking at the qualifications of the candidates, we ought to be looking for people with the background and track record which shows clearly that they are executive material.

I ranked Gordon first because, among Presidential candidates, he has the longest track record for being a successful and effective executive. Starting with his early days as Mayor of Olongapo City to his days as Founding Chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to his days as the Secretary of the Department of Tourism and then currently, he is serving as the Chairman and CEO of the Philippine National Red Cross.

My second runner up would be Teodoro because of his avowed intelligence and current handling of the Department of National Defense. Sure, not all will agree with this and cite the defects of his leadership in the Department, but then again, he is still an executive.

Third is Governor Panlilio. He has had some success in eliminating corruption in his province.

Fourth would be Senator Roxas, because he atleast had served as Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Fifth would be Senator Escudero, because among the five who attended the forum, he has absolutely no experience as an executive. Like the rockstar he is being projected to be, he makes a lot of noise but really lacks substance.

As to how they fared during the interviews, I'd still keep Escudero in the lowest rung because of the obvious lies he pandered. Most glaring of all was his claim that he was not rich when in fact he belongs to one of the richest, most influential clans in Southern Luzon.

Slightly higher than him is Roxas who basically answered questions about his love life and he couldn't even say definitely if he would be marrying Korina Sanchez or not. He failed to hedge even a month.

Panlilio ranked a bit higher because he couldn't say how exactly how he'd settle the issue of family planning and all he could mutter was that he'd go for a broader dialogue -- a safe answer.

Still, Teodoro would rank second in the line up because of his definite and specific answers. What got me was what he said about changing the country and he believes that the work will begin with changing our institutions because institutions change behaviour.

Gordon trumped him on this point when he said that what is needed is leadership by example and this shows Gordon's experience in leading people, because he knows that people will do as their leader does.

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