Inexperience


With just over a month before Filipino voters head for the polling precincts to cast their ballots and pick their new set of leaders, I feel compelled to ventilate my opinions about issues raised against Senator Grace Poe, particularly on her so-called lack of experience to lead this nation.
One only needs to do a quick review of history to find out that there is no job experience that prepares an individual to be a leader of nations or armies. In fact, the greatest leaders of the world didn’t have an impressive track record that marked them for the important roles they played in their nations’ histories. The same can be said about military leaders. Leadership is more of character, an ability to bring together people and forge a national agenda. It is about decision-making and a courage to tackle difficult challenges. Often, great leaders just leap out of the shadows, where they used to occupy positions of little significance.
Perhaps a good example would be General Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower. Before the outbreak of World War II, Ike was just a major doing menial staff work for the flashy General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines. Ike was a quiet, unassuming army officer who went about doing his work efficiently, meticulously. He was hardly noticed except by his superiors who came to depend on him to deliver on the tasks assigned to him. There was nothing spectacular about Ike.
But in just a matter of three years, Ike climbed through the military career ladder in rapid fashion, ultimately becoming the Supreme Allied Commander who successfully led the combined American and British forces that liberated Europe from the grips of the Axis powers – Germany and Italy. The more popular generals like George Patton and Omar Bradley became his subordinates. Even the irrepressible British general Bernard Montgomery had to play second fiddle to him.
In politics, the late Ferdinand E. Marcos seemed destined to be the country’s best leader. A war hero, Bar top notcher, brilliant Congressman and Senator, Marcos had a track record that many politicians coveted. On top of that, he had a very beautiful wife in Imelda Romualdez. While he had a good start, including the first few years of martial law, Marcos became mired in corruption and human rights violations that he was ultimately toppled down in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
Where does this put Grace Poe?
Senator Poe’s public service as chairman of the MTCRB was brief. But she was able to establish a good track record that boosted the public’s confidence enough to make her number one Senator in the 2013 national elections. As Senator, she demonstrated intelligence and courage in carrying out her legislative work. Her highest point was in conducting the Senate investigation into the Mamasapano massacre as chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs in which she showed depth of understanding and probity in delving into the misadventure of an inept commander in chief and his best friend who was suspended as PNP director general.
Apparently, Senator Poe captured the confidence of many Filipinos, and this encouraged her to seek the Presidency despite entreaties of the Aquino administration to recruit her as running mate for Mar Roxas. And I would say that Senator Poe has the makings of a good President. She has an ability to break down complex issues and present them in as simple a manner as possible for people to understand. More importantly, she knows how to get talented individuals to work together. She does not hesitate to seek advice and listen to suggestions. There is no arrogance in her personality.
Finally, Senator Poe has shown she can stand her ground against the so-called tougher male rivals for the Presidency. She thinks well on her feet, and always comes thoroughly prepared in facing tough questioning. During a forum in Iloilo City last February, Senator Poe was confronted by a hostile question at the University of Iloilo. She listened calmly and answered in a cool voice, never showing the slightest trace of irritation, the university professor who threw that question.
Courage and calm under fire might yet become Senator Poe’s greatest asset. The Presidency is not an easy job, and more than on-the-job experience, the individual wielding its powers will need more of EQ than IQ. She finds it easy to navigate through the minefields of politics to pursue what needs to be done, unmindful of the swollen toes which she might step on. Leadership isn’t about knowledge of the job; it’s more of tough character to do what matters most to get the job done.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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