09 February 2010

Integrity vs. Competence

As the presidential elections draws nearer, we hear an oft-repeated question: What’s more important Integrity or competence? A self-proclaimed Noynoy Aquino supporter, Ward Luarca shares his views in an essay he hopes will answer this question.


Sen. Noynoy Aquino’s rivals in the presidential race, along with their “jeer”-leaders, have taken issue with his supposed lack of experience and accomplishments. Their presumptuous claim can be reduced to one single, albeit simplistic, question of COMPETENCE – if one has it or not.

But they would not question his integrity. (Yes, there is, too, the demolition job led by another “presidentiable” and his “stoke”-persons who are brothers, accusing Noynoy of “doing a Villar” vis-à-vis the SCTex, which is an ironic, self-incriminating, thus comical, catchphrase. But Noynoy is not a subject of censure by his peers in the Senate, Villar is.)

Let’s put them in their place. Let’s begin with a scan of the global landscape. In President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, he spoke extensively and with great emphasis about CORE MORAL VALUES (of honesty, hard work, decency, freedom with responsibility, individual initiative, and regard for the wellbeing of others). This was in the context of his citing the problematic legacies of the eight years of the administration he had succeeded, as well as the indiscretions by Wall Street “money fixers”, as it were, that triggered the global economic meltdown in September, 2008 and which effects continue to this day.

In many other parts of the world – in Europe, South America, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and in our very own Asia, including the various offices of the United Nations – DOING WHAT IS RIGHT by and for the people by those who govern them is undoubtedly the overwhelming call of the times. To be sure, the leaders of these nations and the businesses that run the regional and global economy are highly COMPETENT people! At least most of them are. But what happened?

They devalued CHARACTER – also called INTEGRITY – and overstated COMPETENCE. The election of President Obama brought to the consciousness of many people around the world the need for CHANGE. Change for what? I believe the change is as much for creating new systems and procedures to achieve goals as for restoring the age-old collective moral values that propel the individual will to achieve those goals the RIGHT WAY. “Right” in the sense of doing the greater good for the greater many. “Right” in the sense of adhering as much to moral imperatives as to the essence of democracy.

In the Philippine context, we are today as if reliving the abusive and oppressive Marcos years, leading to the Snap Election, and later happily spawning PEOPLE POWER. Our country today is living proof that INTEGRITY must come above COMPETENCE. Marcos then had the best brain trust. He and they were supposed to be arguably the most COMPETENT among those who would serve the nation. But he and many of his handpicked leaders forgot about INTEGRITY.

Under the present administration, we are in a similar situation. Today we have instead a culture of impunity! Of brazen disregard for accountability and human rights, our laws and institutions. All in the name of exercising and maintaining power and amassing ill-gotten wealth. Indeed, they call themselves competent, as all of Noynoy’s rivals for the presidency today also call themselves competent.

Which may very well be true! Because it is from education, practice of profession, exposure and experience – as all of them have had – is their competence gradually and cumulatively acquired and enhanced. Most people who have received such training and exposure invariably gain a level of competence in their chosen field, with very few exceptions. Noynoy has certainly received and applied such training and exposure as much as the next presidentiable. His competence in government work is all a matter of public record. As his rivals’ competence is also a matter of public record.

I submit that we – the voters – must judge each candidate on his integrity, his character, above competence. They all possess the necessary abilities, but what of integrity?

Nuong Snap Election nuong 1986, sa kampanya ng partido ni Marcos, ang pilit nilang ipinapanira kay Candidate Cory ay ang mga salitang “walang alam!”. Ganoon din ang sinasabi nila tungkol kay Noynoy ngayon, iba nga lang ang pamamaraan. Sagot ni Tita Cory sa kanilang batikos: “Oo, wala akong alam…sa pagnanakaw, sa pang-aabuso, sa katiwalian.” Para yatang nauulit sa ngayon ang nangyari na nuon. Si Cory Aquino ang naging pangulo ng bansa, isang “walang alam” (yun ang sabi ng mga katunggali niya). Pinarangalan si Tita Cory sa puso ng maraming Pilipino nang siya’y pumanaw. At iyon ay dahil sa kanyang integridad; sa pagiging matapat niya sa tungkulin at sa bayan; sa pagtataguyod niya ng demokrasya.

Ipinagpapatuloy ngayon ni Noynoy ang pagpapamalas ng integridad na siyang pinakamahalagang minana niya mula sa kanyang mga bayaning magulang.

Competence and ability are measurable traits and skills, recorded on transcript records and resumes. Character and integrity are quiet expressions of the heart, their passing marks delicately etched in God’s handwriting on the soul. Competence is applying the “How-To”, conceived in the mind of man; integrity is a continual testing of Life’s “Why”, flowing from the wisdom of God.

Which then should come first, integrity or competence? The answer, I believe, is obvious. I shall vote on the basis of one’s BEING, not doing.

Reposted from http://www.noynoy.ph/blog/2010/02/08/integrity-vs-competence/




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