How hard could it be, considering that one would at the very least expect a bit of executive management chops in the various characters who are vying for the highest executive position in the land? If we are to expect Filipinos to courageously rally around a serious effort to become a better country in the foreseeable future, it would help to see a leader who has it clear in his or her mind how to get us from A to B.
Fortunately the answer to the above question is a resounding NO. It is not hard.
Coming up with a roadmap that befits a presidential candidate can be described in several easy steps:
STEP 1: Understand the situation and state relevant issues associated with key aspects of the situation.
- Widespread poverty
- lack of employment
- lack of skills
Often a statement describing a “situation” sounds like a description of an “issue”. In the case of the above example, it can be argued that “widespread poverty” is an issue. Thus for the purpose of this exercise we make the following proposed differentiation:
A situation most closely expresses one of a handful of key metrics that quantify or qualify the headings in a platform summary matrix.
An issue describes complications in factors that contribute to a situation. It more closely approaches a challenge that implies a specific solution that would yield specific measureable results. These results in turn contribute to changing the stated situation.
STEP 2: Take positions on relevant issues.
Candidates should state in precise terms how different the parts of the world affected by an issue would look when their envisioned position has been achieved.
- Reduction of birth rate
Note in the above example that the difference implied by the position stated is a lower birth rate compared to the galloping birthrate that describes the situation in the Philippines today.
STEP 3: Articulate actions that can be implemented to achieve the stated position.
Position: Reduction of birth rate
- Mount campaign to de-stigmatise birth control
- Distribute affordable contraceptives.
A statement of action should allow identification of clearly-defined deliverables (e.g. information campaign or condoms supplied to Barangay (community) Health Centres) and outcomes (e.g. positive public response to condom distribution).
STEP 4: Compile and describe a platform in a coherent and internally-consistent framework.
The following diagram illustrates how the examples used above form just a small subset of what should be a comprehensive roadmap for change that a candidate — or political party — should bring to the table.
The principle of MECE (mutually-exclusive, collectively-exhaustive) should be evident in how all the elements of the platform/roadmap are stitched together. This involves careful thinking-through. As such, considering that Filipinos are not known for thinking things through carefully, a politician that is at least able to come up with such a framework that stands up to the standards described here already demonstrates that he or she is different from all the rest.
The challenge, Mr./Ms. Politician is quite simple, really™.
An inability to describe one’s vision beyond quaint slogans and tired platitudes simply highlights the kind of intellectual void that has characterised Philippine politics for the last half-century. The results speak for themselves — in a muted tone that is, considering that there are no results.
To us voters, let us beware of certain taglines that abound in politicians’ campaignspeak:
Spending more on this or that.
Throwing money at the Filipino Condition has a poor track record of success as has been highlighted many times, most recently in this article specifically in the following excerpt:
It is so obvious how no amount of money thrown into solving The Pinoy Condition has yielded any real results. Despite the the International Rice Research Institute being based in the Philippines, we have become among the world’s biggest rice importers. Despite being among the biggest foreign aid recipients from the United States and Japan, we remain the least-promising of American allies in the region. Despite having hosted one of the biggest American military facilities this side of the globe, we are today the most militarily flaccid. The ADB once issued a report back in the early 90’s showing how the Philippines registers among the lowest realisation rates for development funds disbursed among its debtors.
“Strictly” enforcing this or that.
There is no “strictly” enforcing an existing law. There is only the absolute imperative of enforcing it (no additional qualifiers).
Taking a “tough” stand on “corruption” and other “evils”.
This is a close cousin of all the talk on “strictly” enforcing this or that. Rather than be dependent on a “tough” enforcer, we should rely more on systemic toughness that transcends politicians and their terms of office. The focus then should be on continuous refinement/simplification of processes and systems and strengthening of the institutions that embody these.
Making like some sort of “hero” or, worse, “saint”.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no more need for heroes in the Philippines because there is no real fight left to speak of. There is only proper implementation and a consistent upholding of the simple principle of doing the right thing.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying [Aquino's Honour Guard] didn’t do anything worth commending. After all, they stood practically motionless in the rain, on the back of a moving truck, for several hours – and without a toilet break. That’s impressive human endurance right there. But that’s all it is, and it isn’t even unique. It’s just discipline.
Giving them an award, therefore, for an act that amounts to nothing more than an exhibition of discipline, is to reward them for not being undisciplined – as though being disciplined required a superhuman effort. Come to think of it, for many Filipinos, maybe it is a superhuman effort. In which case, might as well then give an award to every motorist who took the effort to move his car so that Cory’s hearse could pass even though he really had to be somewhere and was already running late; might as well give an award to every pickpocket who refused to victimize the crowds out of deference to Cory being dead even though his ring leader would prolly beat him up for missing a golden opportunity; might as well give every single person in the queue for not cutting in line or getting rowdy during the long long wait to see Cory dead, even though their feet hurt and their clothes were soaked through from the constant drizzle.
In the same way, being a president, a mayor, or a barangay tanod is a job — a job with a description, scope-of-work, and expectations inherent to it. And the voters, quite simply, expect this job to be done properly.
Thus whenever we see those key words in the italicised headings above, the first thing that should flash in our minds is this:
If there was only one thing that a politician can do to make a convincing claim that he/she means business, it should be in a demonstrated capability to articulate a coherent platform or roadmap for change for our sad nation.
Here’s the latest product of our efforts to get more visual and therefore get the message across to a broader audience. The challenge of 2010 is not some kind of “laban” as some old-school pundits, “activists”, and politicians purport it to be. The challenge is maturity in the way we conduct ourselves as an electorate:
Download as a PDF file here!
Download, print, and DISSEMINATE the forces of enlightenment to Da Masa (and all Pinoys with no access to the Net)!
The voters are the final arbiters in this competition of ideas and personalities (mostly personalities). But at the end of the day, the leaders of a country merely reflect the character of their constituents — specially in a democracy.