Change Leadership

“Politics is done.  Today it is governance.”

                                                      Vico Sotto, Pasig City Mayor

I read an on line article in Forbes dated June 3, 2017 written by Panos Mardoukoutas.  It was titled “Why Filipinos Remain Poor” so it caught my attention.  Here are some of his comments:

“The Philippines is a country rich both in natural resources (e.g. nickel, copper, gold, silver and chromium) and human resources (close to 104 million people).  But it remains poor.

What is preventing Filipinos from getting rich?

Extractive institutions – institutions that allow a small group to extract incomes and wealth from the rest of society, and to block economic growth when its interests are threatened.

“Powerful groups often stand against the engines of prosperity,” write Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty”. Economic group is not just a process of more and better machines and more and better educated – people, but also a transformative and destabilizing process associated with widespread creative destruction. Growth thus moves forward only if not blocked by economic losers who anticipate that their economic privileges will be lost and by the political losers who fear their political power will be eroded.”

Worse, extractive institutions breed corruption and political oppression.”

When I read this article, I thought about the time when we founded and established Christian Council for Transparency and Accountability, Inc. (CCTA) in late 2012.  I was a member – trustee of Center for Community Transformation, Inc. (CCT) an NGO that was established to help the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. 

Its founder, Ruth S. Callanta, was also one of CCTA’s incorporators representing CCT, one of the five founding organizations of CCTA.  So when she invited me to help CCT more than just being a volunteer trustee I was unable to turn down her request.  I served CCT as executive director (ED) for about a year while concurrently executive director of CCTA during that time too.  After a year I chose to continue serving CCTA and gave up my ED role in CCT.

In one of my conversations with Ruth Callanta, she told me that the plight of the poor in the Philippines has not significantly improved since 1988 when she wrote the book, Poverty, The Philippine Scenario.  She wrote the book when she was still serving the Philippine Business for Social Progress an NGO that exists to improve the quality of life for the Filipino poor. 

She wanted to do more for the Filipino poor that she eventually founded CCT in 1995.  It has now grown into a network microfinance and service cooperative enterprises and an orphanage and school for the children of the poor people they continue to serve.

More than my experience serving those who help our poor Filipino brothers and sisters I also saw how good governance is being practiced by the executive team led by the CCT president.  She effectively engages with the members of the board of trustees who ensure that the organization continues to focus on its mission of transforming lives and communities of the Filipino poor.

This is also the reason why we in CCTA is passionately pursuing our advocacy for building a culture of accountability, promoting a spirit of transparency and developing people of integrity in the community we serve.

Going back to the Forbes on line article about extractive institutions that breed corruption and political oppression preventing the Filipinos from getting rich and progressing as a nation, I think we have one good thing we can hope for.

I see hope in the changing of the guards in the office of the mayor of Pasig City in the May 2019 election.  I had an opportunity to see on video Pia Hontiveros’ interviews (in the TV program “Politics As Usual”) with Vico Sotto, a very young mayoralty candidate who overwhelmingly won over the incumbent mayor, Robert Eusebio.  I watched with excitement his interviews before the election and during his first 100 days in office.

I took note of his comments during those interviews that were related to good governance or responsible stewardship.  I actually shared the video on my Facebook page and captioned it, “The Lord was with the good governor…and good mayor too” where I likened Vico Sotto’s brand of leadership to the life of Joseph who became the head of Potiphar’s household and eventually became prime minister of Egypt during the pharaoh’s reign. 

What brand of leadership am I talking about?  It is about integrity, transparency and accountability.

Here are some of the notes I took during Vico Sotto’s interviews that really demonstrated who he is as a leader:

“My heart is to do politics that is not usual.  I want to do things in a different way.”

“The most important thing is that my integrity is intact.”

“If my integrity is intact whatever I lack in knowledge or experience I can easily get other experts to help me out.”

But his most intriguing comments which I included as an epigraph to this article was:

“Politics is done.  Today it is governance.”

In an Inquirer article dated October 8, 2019, Vico Sotto echoed his passion for good governance when he explained why he was doing what he was doing as the newly elected mayor of Pasig City.  He said, “I don’t mind political problems.  For me, it’s a fact of life, this politics.  But I’m not one to focus on that.  My attention is focused on governing.”

So is there hope for the future of the Filipinos?  I think we have one in the good and youthful mayor of Pasig City.  I can say now that Rizal was right in saying “The youth is the hope of our mother land.”

I, like Rizal, see hope in the youth because they are our tomorrow and our future.  But it is not only Rizal who dreamt of a better future and destiny for our country.

In an essay entitled Rizal and Heroic Traditions: A Sense of National Destiny, Dr. Pablo S. Trillana, III wrote about our sense of destiny as a nation comparing the Jews experience as God’s Chosen People:

“The Jews by living their spiritual role as the “Chosen People,” have endured severe crises throughout their history and have reached heights of excellence in many fields of human endeavor. We Filipinos, on the other hand, have yet to exercise our individual and collective will to make the promise of our heroic traditions, with their glorious epochal triumph in 1896 and 1986, a reality; we have yet to attain authentic and sustained moral citizenship and governance… The noble edifice that waits to be built with our personal commitment to endurance, hard work, inner transformation and “damayan” is none other than the dream of our ancients carried through the ages in the heroic traditions of our race: Rizal’s dream of a nation of a moral and material worth, Bonifacio’s “bayan na may puri at kabanalan”, and Mabini’s country marked by virtue.  This is our national destiny.

The good mayor of Pasig is in his early thirties and is one good example of the youth that is the hope of our country, and maybe just maybe, he will lead us to our national destiny.

I am not hoping against hope because we have one good leader and mayor in Pasig City who passionately believes:  “Politics is done.  Today it is governance.” 

Will others follow his lead?

This is a good question to end this Change Leadership article.

2 thoughts on “Change Leadership”

  1. Vico Sotto, despite his privileged background is an anomaly in a sense but nevertheless a beacon of hope for the mostly *unprincipled governance of the Philippines, it’s heartening to know that there are organisations such as yours that care about changes for the betterment of the Filipinos. Not an easy task to overcome entrenched *moral discrepancies but a small start is better than none at all and Vico Sotto’s effort and those of like minded groups are indeed commendable!

    1. Thanks for your comments. It is always good to hope but better to start small changes in our own personal lives through the organization we serve.

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