Monday, July 11, 2016

Leadership – to have a dream and a set of values

Like any new administration, the Duterte presidency is getting its ear bent in countless directions. And given Juan de la Cruz has his instincts – populism and “crab mentality” among them – the new administration could lose its bearing and orientation and their ability to set their priorities right, if it fails to exercise leadership.

Great leadership would have a dream, but not only. It would likewise have the requisite values to lead the people to that dream. The good news is the Duterte administration appears focused on their 10-point economic agenda.
Still, the challenge is not diminished. Consider: “Among astute observers, it is commonly believed that the intra-elite competition that characterizes Philippine politics will never be allowed by its elite participants to spill over agreed boundaries in a way that will undermine the structure of ‘clientelism’ (a patron-client system of politics based on mutual economic benefit) that has been built up to control and manipulate Philippine society.

“That would be disastrous for the entire elite class. After all, each particular elite group has six years—the term of a president—to milk the system of corruption woven into the fabric of the government. Those currently not in power will patiently wait their turn until the next election cycle so that they will not endanger their turn at political plunder.

“A working justice system is crucial to reforming Philippine society. But we seem unable to strengthen the law enforcement and justice infrastructure because the patron-client networks built up by the ruling elite are too valuable a system of control for these to be readily given up.

“Unfortunately, our government is still run by a political elite class whose predatory instincts recall those of the ‘stationary bandits’ (once called kings or emperors) in human society’s distant past. Government power is viewed mainly as a tool to appropriate a significant part of the community’s wealth for the exclusive and private benefit of the power holders.

“Those who’ve had occasion to engage the justice system in this country inevitably become aware of how cases can be made to drag on interminably and how decisions can be bought and sold. Naturally, this effectively means that the so-called ‘rule of law’ exempts the rich and the powerful. [Reforming our ineffectual justice system, René B. Azurin, inquirerdotnet, 5th Jul 2016]

But how do we keep the equilibrium given our cacique hierarchical system and structure as described in the foregoing? Enter paternalism – it sits well with our compassionate nature?

“The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in pushing for the implementation of a nationwide P100 across-the-board wage hike. Newly-installed Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said he will be seeking the intervention of the President Rodrigo Duterte for the measure, which he said will address the needs of workers amid the rising cost of basic goods and services.

‘This is my personal suggestion, so that workers can be given immediate relief, there must be a wage increase that is across the board,’ Maglunsod told reporters during an ambush interview last week.

‘I will tell it to our president. We will tell him that poverty is widespread now. This is our humble suggestion so that we can provide immediate relief to workers,’ he added.

“The former labor leader affiliated with the militant labor group, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), came out with the proposal after the bill granting workers P125 across-the-board pay hike remained pending in Congress.

“If Congress still fails to act on the bill within six months, Maglunsod said he will formally urge Duterte to issue an executive order to implement the P100-pay hike after completing the necessary consultations with the private sector and labor groups.

“This will only serve as a temporary measure, Maglunsod explained, until they could convince Congress to bring back the National Minimum Wage for both the public and private sector, which would effectively abolish the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity (RTWPBs).

“‘We want a P750 daily pay for workers in commercial establishments and P16,000 for government workers,’ Maglunsod said.” [New DOLE chief pushes P100 across-the-board wage hike,  Samuel Medenilla, Manila Bulletin, 3rd Jul 2016]

In the meantime, “Philippines slides in competitiveness of ports, logistics businesses,” Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star, 4th Jul 2016. “Countries characterized by low logistics performance face high costs, not merely because of transportation costs but also because of unreliable supply chains, a major handicap in integrating and competing in global value chains.

“‘Logistics performance both in international trade and domestically is central to the economic growth and competitiveness of countries, and the logistics sector is now recognized as one of the core pillars of economic development,’ the WB added.”

The Duterte administration indeed has its hands full. But it’s encouraging that the economic managers have turned the 10-point economic agenda into a mantra. That would get the bureaucracy marching to the same beat.

“The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has slated for approval within the year of around P580 billion worth of infrastructure projects, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said yesterday.

‘For many of these projects, the approval of the NEDA board is the last hurdle,’ he said. ‘Between now and the end of 2017, most of these can be implemented unless there is an impediment.’

“Pernia also reiterated his earlier pronouncement of cutting down by a third the amount of time it takes to approve and award public infrastructure projects from an average of 29 months to between 18 to 20 months.

“‘We can reduce the (bureaucratic) layers and reduce the number of departments that have to approve the projects,’ he said.” [NEDA slates P580 B projects for approval,Czeriza Valencia, The Philippine Star, 6th Jul 2016]

That’s leadership, wow! And there’s more. “Construction of major infrastructure projects in Metro Manila will be undertaken around the clock beginning this year to fast-track their completion. This is to ensure that roads and other major projects would be finished on time, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told reporters in a briefing yesterday.

“Diokno warned that the public should anticipate some inconvenience with 24/7 construction, but that this would not be permanent. ‘Things will get worse before they get better, he said.” [Government sets 24/7 work on infra projects in Metro Manila, Prinz Magtulis, The Philippine Star, 6th Jul 2016.] Indeed, we should expect things to get worse given Metro Manila is a mega metropolis and needs beyond current efforts mega thinking and planning that demands centralized not fragmented power inherent in the current setup. “Traffic mess to persist sans planning overhaul,” Maisie Joven, Business Mirror, 6th Jul 2016.

This writer is not known to put leadership and wow in the same sentence to describe PH bureaucracy. Recognizing that he is not on the ground, being 10,000 miles away, critics of the administration may take it with a grain of salt. His hope is that beyond the dream of the leadership is a set of values that will keep them on the straight and narrow.

And we Pinoys would perhaps appreciate that despite our culture of impunity, an economic manager is demonstrating transparency and can say with conviction that “things will get worse before they get better.” It’s about time we unmask paternalism. We can’t keep sacrificing the future while preserving the status quo – aka mañana.

For example, we cannot stay fearful of raising electricity rates if it is the price to move forward in pursuit of a sensible energy initiative. Sadly, it is reflective of the lack if not absence of confidence in our ability to create a future for Juan de la Cruz. There is no free lunch. If we can borrow tons of money to support CCT, all the more we should come up with a safety net behind a sensible energy initiative, one that supports an aggressive drive to raise PH economic output – and triple the per-capita income of Filipinos. It is what community and the common good is about.

Energy and infrastructure are ground zero – they are meant to get us into the game. And to ensure that we win, we must become synonymous to innovation and global competition. Ergo: we must get ground zero sorted out sooner than later.

The same principle applies to across-the-board wage hikes. “Begin with the end in mind.” We can’t be a reactive nation and expect to become the next Malaysia. We have to learn to be proactive.

Look at how passive we are in driving exports. And as discussed in an earlier posting, the way to innovation and global competitiveness demands of us to be proactive. And that means understanding human need, the North Star in product development, not simply to peddle what we are able to produce. If we want our industry able to pay workers top dollar – like MNCs.

The bottom line: We have to: (a) move beyond populist rhetoric, (b) think ecosystem, (c) connect the dots and (d) seek to attain a virtuous circle. At the end of the day, we need leadership that has a dream and the requisite values to lead the people to that dream.

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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