Today is the day we vote for our candidates. Millions of Filipinos will decide who will get to lead the country in Congress and local posts for the next three years. The votes cast today will chart the course of the Philippines long after ballots are cast and polls close.
Out of the 61.8 million registered voters for the 2019 elections, around 2.1 million are voting for the first time. The 2.1 million first-time voters can actually sway the results of the election. So our responsibility as voters is not only to vote using our conscience and best judgment but part of our responsibility is to educate others.
Voting for a senator or any candidate is like selecting from among many job applicants the most competent in terms of work knowledge, skills, attitude, and positive habits. Voters should be aware of the works in the Senate and compare the competence of the candidates vis-a-vis the skills needed of a true legislator. In HR, the management must have a clear job description, with qualification standards. Unfortunately, while janitors, security guards, and utility personnel are asked for NBI and Police clearance upon their job application, political candidates can run for a position despite having charges of graft and plunder. Many of the candidates are not fit even for a barangay kagawad, yet they crowd the people’s attention during media ads and promos with their ability to sing, dance, and entertain during circus-like campaign sorties. Or worse, the voters are inveigled by guns, goons and gold, or by relationship, kinship and friendship, or by profligate vote-buying. If the voters only realize what senators are tasked by the Constitution to do, they will stop electing socialites and celebrities who have not even read the preamble of the Philippine Constitution. They should scout the best and the brightest who have the integrity not to compromise national interest and the pure heart for public service, and to put the common good above personal and partisan interests and ambitions.
More importantly, to choose political candidates wisely, voters should also consider not only the capability of the candidate but also the character of the candidate because character is the foundation upon which other qualities are built. To guide us, here are the top characteristics of some of the world’s most successful political leaders:
HONESTY AND INTEGRITY
Honesty and integrity are two important ingredients which make a good leader. Honesty develops character and builds credibility and trust, which are the foundation to evoke confidence and respect from those around you, and in the case of political leaders, teammates and constituents. Political leaders who possess integrity can be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might benefit them to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers. This requires the highest standard of honesty and integrity.
COMPASSION AND EMPATHY
Compassion is the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something to alleviate that suffering. While some may see compassion as a weakness, true compassion is a characteristic that converts knowledge to wisdom. Good political leaders use compassion to see the needs of those he or she leads and to determine the course of action that would be of greatest benefit to all those involved.
Having confidence in a political leader is about having faith or belief that he or she will act in a right, proper, or effective way. A good political leader needs to be both confident in himself or herself as well in their ability to lead. Leaders who possess this quality inspire others, drawing on a level of trust which sparks the motivation to get others on board and get the job done.
Flexibility for a political leader is about understanding the give-and-take aspects of politics, and the ability to find the common ground. Good politicians listen carefully to all sides, to not only hear their arguments but to especially learn what it will take on behalf of all parties involved to reach a consensus. This characteristic allows political leaders to recognize setbacks and criticism, to learn from them and move forward.
Great political leaders have all of these qualities. Each aspires to respect different views, analyze problems, and identify the best solutions – not based on loyalty to political party, but rather based on what is good and right and in the best interest of the nation as a whole.
Finally, we as voters should not only elect for leaders who have these set of characters, but voters themselves should also embody good set of characters. The point is that, the good character truly required by government offices does not reside in the leaders alone but also in the people themselves. In other words, our leaders are simply reflections of the people who chose them. Here then lies the significance of character education in our community if we are to change our country for the best.
To read more about character education and the importance of being a school of character, please click the link of the article written by a Linker, Andrea Rentuza, Grade 8: