By Harvey S. Keh Contributor THE past weeks we have seen yet again another controversy involving the first family particularly first gentleman Mike Arroyo. According to an alleged report by the World Bank, the Arroyo has been at the receiving end of bribes given by contractors who aim to corner infrastructure projects run by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and primarily funded by the World Bank. As a result of this report, the World Bank has decided to suspend and ban these contractors from taking part I any future biddings for their projects. This issue has since elicited various reactions from our political leaders. Our Congressmen and Senators have since began their own investigations regarding this matter with even one congressman saying that it should be the World Bank and not Arroyo who should be investigated. Up until now, Arroyo continuous to create all sorts of excuses just to be able to avoid being called and asked by Senators who are trying to get to the bottom of yet another corruption scandal that has been an all too often refrain in this present administration. What is primarily lacking in our present government and leaders is transparency and accountability. Sadly, our President didn't even help as she even took out a right to information clause in our National Budget which would've made it easier for ordinary Filipinos to ask where our money is going. We have also seen that prior corruption and political scandals have died a natural death not because they were resolved but simply because the attention of media has been shifted to other equally pressing and important matters. Up until today, we still haven't heard Senator Manny Villar explain clearly about the budget insertions that he allegedly made that would favor his real estate company. Last week, we celebrated the first year anniversary of Jun Lozada's expose on the NBN-ZTE deal but up until now its alleged main perpetuators are still enjoying their lives playing golf. Finally, we will already be going to the 2010 national elections and even up to now, there is still no closure in the 2004 Hello Garci elections controversy. Given the kind of government that we have had the past 8 years, we have seen it to be a government that has continued to condone and perpetuate graft and corruption at all levels. Several democratic institutions such as the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and the Office of the Ombudsman have also been compromised. Thus, while many of us are already starting to lose hope in our government and our political system, I believe that this kind of situation calls for us to be more vigilant to look for a leader that will first and foremost be God-fearing, ethical and morally-upright. I have always believed in the saying that a great leader is a product of the need of his or her time. We have seen in the United States of America that they were able to elect a African-American President in Barack Obama simply because they wanted to see a drastic change in the way their country was being run. As if on cue, one of Obama's first Executive Orders was to ensure transparency and social accountability in his government by banning current lobbyists from serving in his government. Right now, I believe that our country needs a righteous leader more than a leader with a Doctorate in Public Administration. It seems that we have often looked at the competencies of the leaders we elect while failing to check whether or not they have a genuine heart to serve our countrymen. I am not saying that competencies and skills is not important but with the kind of situation that we are in right now, our next President should primarily have the strength of character and unceasing will to battle the growing corruption found in our government today. I have always believed that leadership skills can easily be learned but the character and principles of a leader whether good or bad cannot easily be changed. Comments are welcome at email@example.com Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government
Recently in Reform Leader Category
By Harvey Keh AS the United States of America's President-elect Barack Obama was delivering his victory speech in Chicago, a sense of inspiration and hope began to fill me up. Here was a young African-American, first-term Senator who has defied all odds to become the first Black President of the most powerful country in the world. Obama campaigned on the message of “Change,” a change that every American could believe in, a change that resonated with so many American voters most especially those aged between 18 to 29 years old. In CNN's analysis, one of the major factors for Obama's victory was his charismatic appeal to young voters. This appeal along with his very inspiring words would rally millions of young and previously apathetic American voters to register and take part in the elections. Obama also showed the world a new way of campaigning, earning hundreds of millions of dollars not by getting big donations from businessmen but by appealing to ordinary people to donate small amounts of $5 to $10 to his campaign. More importantly, Obama's campaign team was a master of using the power of the Internet and social networking sites such as Twitter, My Space and Facebook thereby being able to relate to the more the younger, tech-savvy generation. He ended his speech with the words Yes We Can and he showed the world that despite having not enough financial resources or political clout compared to Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain when he launched his bid for the Presidency more than 2 years ago, he was able to win decisively because he was able to rally ordinary people to his cause. Indeed, change has come to America and Filipinos can learn much from the experience of Barack Obama since as we draw near to our own Presidential elections in 2010, will we have to content ourselves again with choosing from the same faces or worse, choosing between the lesser evil among the candidates? I hope not. I look forward to the day that we can also find a true Filipino leader that will also inspire millions of Filipinos to rally for change, a change that millions of Filipinos have been longing for and a change that will hopefully, put an end to the growing poverty cycle that majority of Filipinos have to face each day. Many Filipinos have begun to lose hope in finding that leader but I think that we have our own little Obamas in our country today such as the likes of Ramon Magsaysay Awardees Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City and Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela, Gov. Eddie Panlilio of Pampanga, Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija and Gov. Teddy Baguilat, Jr. of Ifugao. These local government leaders have defied the odds in their respective areas to win against well-entrenched political dynasties and at the same time, deliver proper basic services to their constituents. Being with them in our group which is aptly named Kaya Natin!, we go around to different colleges and universities to share their stories of hope and change towards inspiring more Filipinos to work for good governance and electing effective and ethical leaders for our country. Obama was not entirely correct when he said it is only in the United States of America where someone can defy the odds and win, our own Kaya Natin! leaders have shown that Filipinos can also say, "Yes We Can! Kaya Natin!" For more information about Kaya Natin!, you can contact Kai Pastores at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (02) 426-5657. Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government. He is also part of Kaya Natin!