The young professionals' support group of my local church met up last night at Penthouse 4 of Emerald Mansion to discuss next generation leadership. We had about fifteen attendees last night, not shabby attendance at all, considering that it would allow most of them to contribute to the discussion.
Anthony Ngo led the discussion based on a book titled Next Generation Leadership. According to Anthony, a next generation leader puts priorities on 1) initiating progress and improvement; 2) becoming an example of insightful courage; and 3) being a careful, not fearful, leader. It was a good discussion, and many people were able to give comments on their own experiences of leadership and/or following ineffective leaders.
The current political situation is a classic case study of leadership that leaves much to be desired. A few weeks ago, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo was launched into her latest and greatest battle, titled rather appropriately by Philippine media as Gloriagate. A conversation between then-candidate Arroyo and a member of the Commission on Elections was apparently wiretapped by members of the National Bureau of Investigation. In a nutshell, Arroyo was caught asking the COMELEC member about the possibility of "protecting her votes," i.e., rigging the elections to ensure she won.
Naturally, this triggered an uproar in the nation that values its right to suffrage (can you blame 'em? We've elected a housewife, a general, a B-movie actor, and an economist dwarf to the presidency since 1986, of course we value our elections, mmph).
Arroyo had the golden opportunity to turn things around for the Philippines since she was swept to power in the People Power 2 revolt that ousted former president Joseph Estrada. She squandered those three years, quite frankly, and showed little else for it other than the continued depreciation of the peso (something she was touted to break, given her economist background) and scandals involving illegal gambling and accusations of corruption against her husband Mike.
In 2004, Arroyo "won" a legitimate six-year term for herself, but it was widely viewed as a dirty victory, the triumph of power she effectively wielded as the incumbent president going into the election, over popular actor Fernando Poe, Jr. (who succumbed to a stroke in December 2004, a death many superstitious fans attributed to his heartbreaking loss), tough-as-nails crimebuster Panfilo Lacson, popular evangelist Eddie Villanueva, and also-ran but effective and widely respected politician Raul Roco.
Ultimately, what makes it difficult for an Arroyo presidency to actually come to term is the same reason why the Estrada presidency didn't come to term: Estrada lost his moral ascendancy to reign when the corruption charges against him, while never proven to be true, caused him to do certain things that showed he had something to hide. Five years later, Arroyo also seemed to lose this moral right to rule when she attempted to whitewash Gloriagate, at one point denying it was she (ergo, she lied). This, coupled with the corruption charges against her husband, the rapid deterioration of the economy when she was touted as the savior of such, and the recent departure of her husband (foreign exile, they called it) to prevent further accusations against him, don't bode well for Madame President.
When the tide against the Marcoses began to swell, what did they do? They fled.
Mike Arroyo's leaving the country at this point in time doesn't make the Arroyos any more fragrant. In fact, it's viewed as a way for Mr. Arroyo to escape when the poop finally hits the fan. With the First "Gentleman" out of public view, he can make all the necessary changes to allow for the money they've siphoned off national coffers to disappear into Jose Pidal-like accounts, just like that fellow Carlos Garcia, who channeled off millions of dollars into his own family's accounts in the US.
Everyone hates being lied to. When your leader lies, you lose trust. When you lose trust, for the most part, you can no longer accept that leader's right over you. Forgiveness is the now the mantra being chanted by most of society, but for the most part, I think critical mass is starting to build.
Arroyo's a sly cookie. By choosing former broadcaster Noli De Castro as her vice president, the middle class will never support a popular uprising against her. The widely viewed as incompetent De Castro is not a viable candidate. Nor is Susan Roces, Poe's widow, who has made herself widely available as the next Corazon Aquino (proxy candidate, and therefore proxy winner should Arroyo in fact be ousted), because there is no legal mandate.
Personally, I think the best option for this entire fiasco is for Arroyo and De Castro to step down out of delicadeza reasons, and have Senate President Franklin Drilon step in, as is his right as third in succession to the presidency. Drilon is clean and efficient - maybe he can bring some sense to this entire mess.