Tuesday, April 07, 2009

THE PHILIPPINES NEEDS MORAL, NOT TRAPO LEADERS

Puno moral force movement in place

Eight-man group has met twice in 3 weeks

By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—A Moral Force Movement envisioned by Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has taken shape and is set to come up with a criteria on who voters should elect in the 2010 balloting—from president down to the local levels.

Court spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said Puno had chosen highly respected individuals to make up the movement’s core group and has attended its two meetings over the past three weeks.

The group is composed of Henrietta De Villa, chair of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting; Msgr. Gerardo Santos, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission; and Marixi Prieto, chair of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Also in the group are Methodist Bishop Emerito Nacpil; Retired Gen. Jaime Echeverria, president of the Association of Generals and Flag Officers; former Finance Undersecretary Milwida Guevarra; Far Eastern University law dean Andres Bautista; and Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines 2008 awardee Noorain Sabdulla.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone chair Manny V. Pangilinan was among those considered to join. But Marquez said that Pangilinan wanted certain issues first clarified. He said the business tycoon supports the movement.

“In essence, they are focusing on the 2010 elections and trying to define what a transformational leader is,” Marquez said.

Puno earlier told law students that transformational leaders induce followers to transcend self-interest for the sake of the organization or the greater whole as against “transactional leaders” who motivate followers by appealing to self-interest.

Moral pariah

Marquez’s announcement came a day after Puno, in the United Methodist Church in Manila’s launch of its own moral force movement, said the Philippines has become a “moral pariah” in the community of nations because of widespread corruption.

Puno said that the country was a “social volcano about to explode.”

“We would like to choose and have elected transformational leaders from the highest post to the lowest post being contested in the forthcoming 2010 elections and the moral force movement would also like to unite all similarly minded organizations,” Marquez said.

He said that the core group in its two meetings was briefed by Jesuit experts and has decided to focus on defining leaders that would bring about transformation in the country.

“It will not be endorsing any specific candidate. It will only give the qualities of the candidates that we need to be elected,” Marquez said.

He said that a technical working group of volunteers has been formed to assist the movement.

“The core group will again meet after Holy Week. In between meetings, a lot of assignments are being given to the technical working group,” Marquez said.

Advocacy vs corruption

Marquez said the movement is Puno’s personal advocacy against corruption. “This is a personal call, a personal crusade of the Chief Justice. It does not involve the court in whatever manner,” he said.

“The judiciary is as much as possible being shielded from this,” he said. Once the movement is in full operation, Marquez said Puno plans to step aside.

He said the group would have its launch sometime in May, a year before the 2010 elections.

“We don’t want it to be identified with the administration nor do we want any of the members identified with the opposition or supportive of either group,” Marquez said.

“So it was really not very easy to get a respected member of the business community who is not allied one way or the other,” he said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita welcomed the movement.

“That serves as a wake-up call for many, especially those serving in government. That’s how we should look at it. We can’t say we’re all clean,” he told reporters at the Mt. Samat Shrine in Bataan province.

Ermita, however, said that rooting out corruption was part of the program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has ruled for more than eight years since January 2001.

“All leaders of countries would like to rule under a program of morality,” he said.

Ermita also said that it wasn’t surprising that Puno made such a call, pointing out that having rose through the ranks of the judiciary he was “aware of the causes of anomalies.”

Touchy issue

“Chief Justice Puno knows what to do, and knows why our morality has dipped because of the crimes he has witnessed,” he said.

Corruption has been a touchy issue to the Arroyo administration, which has been rocked by a string of scandals since 2001.

Link: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090408-198458/Puno-moral-force-movement-in-place (With a report from TJ Burgonio)

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