Friday, January 15, 2010

Ramos lectures bets at presidential forum

January 14, 2010, 5:00pm

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Former President Fidel V. Ramos on Thursday lectured three presidential contenders – Senators Manny Villar and Richard Gordon and former defense secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. – on work ethics, simple lifestyle and maintaining a credible leadership as they vie for the country's top position on May 10 this year.

The 81-year-old Ramos threw the last set of questions to the three candidates from his audience seat during the Presidential Policy Forum hosted by the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center in Makati City.

Ramos, president from 1992 to 1998, was applauded by the audience when he raised his hand to be acknowledged for his questions.

Looking relaxed, the former Constabulary chief broke the serious atmosphere in the forum by reminding everyone that he is not a candidate for this year's election.

“I will have a big problem if I will win in the election,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience.

“If I win, I would not be allowed to come here in sport shirt and jacket...with no security and protocol,” he added.

Ramos commended the three candidates for their forthright answers and their comprehensiveness in dealing with the country's problems but expressed dismay that not all the presidential hopefuls showed up.

Ramos asked the three candidates about their lifestyle while serving as the country's president.

He also brought out the issue on political dynasty, citing the Constitution which prohibits the chief executive from appointing a relative within the fourth degree of affinity or consanguinity to any government position.

Holding his signature unlighted cigar, Ramos also pointed out that a president should dedicate himself to working not only 24/7 or 24-hours a day, seven days a week, but also 25/8.

“It is about multi-tasking. You are like a juggler, juggling at least 10 hot potatoes and your feet are not on the ground as president,” he reminded them.

Teodoro, the administration bet, answered the lifestyle question by stressing that the country's leaders must live with “honor, dignity and modesty.”

On team building, Teodoro emphasized that it is a shared vision with shared burdens that deal with adequate tasking for all concerned.

On appointing relatives, Teodoro said the public should not only be guarding against relatives being given positions in the bureaucracy but those who use dummies to control a government agency for their selfish motives.

Gordon said it is important to tap the talents of every member of the team just like he did when he reconstructed the Subic Bay area following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1990 and when it was abandoned by the US military the following year.

Taking off from his campaign slogan “Sipag at Tiyaga” (hard work and patience), Villar said he has the training and experience to work more than 24/7 in pursuing the presidency.

“About simple living, look at my family... they are all living a simple life. I only have one wife,” he added, “we are not extravagant.”

Villar also reiterated that the next president should possess strong leadership and management skills to make the country globally competitive.

He maintained that the next president should work hard from Day One and must succeed in the first year of his assumption in view of the tremendous problems facing the nation. Failure to address the pressing issues in the first year will not be a good signal for the nation’s future, he said.

“The country's next president should act as chief executive from Day One. There is no room for an on-the-job training while performing the duties of the highest office of the land,” Villar said.

“The country is already facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions. The budget deficit is increasing and the number of Filipinos going hungry is now in a historic high. The next president should be president from day one,” Villar said.

Liberal Party standard bearer and leading presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III did not participate in the forum as he was reportedly out of town.

Gordon also said the Philippines can only be competitive by first eliminating graft and corruption which he said is a big hindrance to our prosperity. He said the education system should also be given priority to enhance productivity and global competitiveness.

Teodoro shared Gordon’s view saying that if elected, he will make sure to invest heavily on education to advance the skills and talents of Filipinos. He said if he wins, educational reform will be a top agenda.

On the Mindanao problem, the three candidates agreed that peace negotiations must be pursued at all costs, saying the government would not attract investments in the region if there is no peace and order.

Villar however said that to really address the Mindanao problem, the government should strike at the root of the problem, poverty.

Gordon said the Mindanao problem remains due to lack of effective governance to address the crisis.

While they agreed on pursuing peace efforts, Villar and Teodoro also wanted to strengthen the military as a guarantee for peace in the troubled region.

Teodoro also said people living in Mindanao should know how to live with each other to achieve peace.

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