By Fidel V. Ramos
Former Philippine President
AS APRIL 2018 ENDS (WHICH INCLUDED HOLY WEEK, VETERANS’ WEEK AND BIR’S TAX DEADLINE), IT IS MOST TIMELY TO ADDRESS FELLOW FILIPINO CITIZENS AND TAXPAYERS ABOUT THE OBLIGATIONS OF OUR NATIONAL LEADERS AND THE COMMON TAO (PEOPLE).
LIKEWISE IMPERATIVE IS A PRAYER FOR OUR PHILIPPINE REPUBLIC, A NATION OF 105 MILLION WHO ARE DESERVING OF A POSITION OF DIGNITY, RESPECT, AND EVEN ADMIRATION IN THE COMMUNITY OF NATIONS – CONSIDERING OUR COURAGEOUS AND PROLONGED STRUGGLES FOR INDEPENDENT NATIONHOOD AGAINST SPAIN, THE U.S., AND JAPAN.
These “best practices” in good governance are crucial elements in the book “Our Continuing Voyage for Enduring Peace and Sustainable Development” by the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation (RPDEV) and the Media Touchstone Ventures Inc. (MTVi) – launched last 21 April 2017, as part of the universal observance of “Earth Day” the day before.
PART I. LEADERSHIPAND GOVERNANCE
THIS WRITER SPEAKS HUMBLY AS CITIZEN EDDIE – YOUR FRIEND, BROTHER, FATHER, AND GRANDFATHER.
Experience teaches us that no woman/man, be she/he the President, can single-handedly bring progress. The job of nation-building demands that every citizen, no matter what his/her stature in life is, must do his/her share. A national leader must define where he/she will bring the nation and show the people how to get there.
He leads by setting the right examples that the rest of the citizenry should emulate. He leads by making bold and correct decisions for the betterment of many, not the enrichment of the few. More than this, he must ensure that the people get inspired by that vision so they will contribute their efforts to attain that common dream.
In our 51 years in public service, we have striven to take the lead in many endeavors, and by the grace of God, achieved some success.
We can honestly say that we could never have done much alone, but always performed and achieved them together with fellow co-workers in government and private sectors.
When each of us come together in Unity (of purpose), Solidarity (in values), and Teamwork (in nation building) – with one goal in mind and driven by the same values – we become a strong competitor as a nation, able to achieve the quality of life we yearn for in an environment of enduring peace and sustainable development.
The piece of brick which a mason, laborer, farmer, fisherman, soldier, housewife, businessman or professional contributes to the task of nation-building counts substantially in strengthening the pillars of an economically strong and safer nation to live in.
At the end of the day, progress is the conquest of poverty. There is real progress when only the lazy or the totally disabled are jobless. Progress is enjoyed when every citizen feels safe in his home, in his workplace and on the streets.
These building blocks put together is the sum total of the sustained and collective efforts of our people. Let good governance ring true for each public servant – from the Head of State down to local government units.
PUBLIC SERVANTS MUST THINK OF THEIR DUTIES NOT MERE JOBS THEY NEED TO PERFORM EVERYDAY, NOR OPPORTUNITIES TO CLAIM PRIVILEGES FOR THEMSELVES. RATHER, THEY MUST ALWAYS THINK OF PUBLIC SERVICE AS AN EXPRESSION OF THEIR UNCONDITIONAL LOVE FOR COUNTRY AND FELLOWMEN.
PART II. FVR’S PRAYER FOR PILIPINAS
ALMIGHTY GOD, ON THIS CRITICAL JUNCTURE IN OUR NATION’S LIFE, WE IMPLORE YOU TO LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN OF THE PHILIPPINES. “FOR YOU HAVE BEEN A DEFENSE FOR THE HELPLESS AND THE NEEDY, A REFUGE FROM THE STORM…” (ISAIAH 25:4)
Grant our leaders the wisdom and vision to imbue our people with greater unity, solidarity and teamwork, without which our Philippine ship – on which we are all passengers including the young ones, even the unborn – will flounder in stormy seas.
O Lord, our Great Navigator, we pray most of all for those elected to lead us because it is they who must guide our people to the better future to which we all aspire. Did not Jesus Christ tell His disciples: “Whoever would be first among you must be servant of all. For the Son of Man also came out not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many?” (Mark 10:44-45)
Almighty Lord, over the years the Filipino people have proven their unity, solidarity and teamwork in times of great upheaval and survived foreign occupations, wars, revolutions, rebellions, coup attempts, and violent struggles. We emerged triumphant over oppression because of our faith in Your all-embracing compassion and our faith in our own qualities as a God-fearing, law-abiding and caring people.
Strengthen us therefore, Dear God, to be capable of helping ourselves and others thru Your divine grace.
We need leaders who place the interests of the many above those of the few. We need leaders of vision who see tomorrow’s brighter possibilities – far beyond today’s political divisions, economic crises, violent extremism and territorial conflicts. We need leaders to restore hope because instilling hope is a critical quality of leadership.
The vision of a better future from which nations and peoples can benefit equitably is the unceasing, ultimate aspiration of all – regardless of political ideology, religious faith, cultural background, socio-economic condition, and ethnic origin. It is every country’s permanent national interest.
Provide such vision to our leaders that they may be guided accordingly in their policies and actions, and they and their successors may advance our people’s quality of life to higher levels. In Proverbs 29:18, You warned: “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
We see clearly, Dear Lord, that the trouble in most communities, and in Government today is that some leaders are in a hurry to harvest without first planting and nurturing. Your law of nature mandates: “For everything there is season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to plant and at a time to pluck…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
To overcome the challenges of mass poverty, endemic disease, environmental degradation, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and the gaps between the “haves” and “have-nots,” we need public stewards who see beyond the gloom and doom of the moment to the future’s brighter possibilities because of their visionary virtues – with the political will to carry out painful reforms.
You told our forefathers, “God will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous than your fathers. Your God will circumcise your hearts and those of your descendants, that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 30:5-6)
Further, God said: “Your fathers will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, that they will always fear Me for their own good and of their children. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good, and I will inspire them to fear Me, that they will never turn away from Me.” (Jeremiah 32:38-40)
“I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. I will remove the heart of stone from them and give them a heart of flesh, that they may follow My statues and obey them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts go after detestable things, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads.” (Ezekiel 11:19-21)
AND, IN THE END, GOOD LORD, MAY YOU BLESS THE PHILIPPINES AND ALL FILIPINOS HERE AND ABROAD, THAT WE MAY HARVEST THE FRUITS OF YOUR VISION OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.
AS YOU SAID “I AM MAKING A NEW EARTH AND NEW HEAVEN. THERE WILL BE NO WEEPING THERE, NO CALLING FOR HELP. BABIES WILL NO LINGER DIE IN INFANCY AND ALL PEOPLE WILL LIVE OUT THEIR LIFE SPAN. PEOPLE WILL BUILD HOUSES AND GET TO LIVE IN THEM… THEIR WORK WILL BE SUCCESSFUL, AND EVEN BEFORE THEY FINISH PRAYING TO ME, I WILL ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS… CALVES AND LION CUBS WILL FEED TOGETHER AND LITTLE CHILDREN WILL TAKE CARE OF THEM… IN THAT PLACE, THERE WILL BE NOTHING HARMFUL OR EVIL…” (ISAIAH 11 AND 65)
LORD JESUS CHRIST, GRANT US THESE PRAYERS FOR OUR LEADERS AND PEOPLE. FOR ALL THESE, WE THANK THEE, DEAR GOD, FOR THE GREATNESS OF THY KINGDOM ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN
WITH TIME FAST RUNNING OUT, EARTH’S POPULATION MULTIPLYING, MOTHER PLANET’S RESOURCES DWINDLING AND, MOST IMPORTANT, OUR GLOBAL HABITAT WARMING UP ALMOST IRREVERSIBLY BECAUSE OF MAN’S LACK OF CARING, SHARING AND DARING FOR EACH OTHER AND THE ENVIRONMENT – ALL PEOPLES, REGARDLESS OF NATIONALITY, MUST NOW CONNECT, COOPERATE AND COMMUNE TOGETHER MORE CLOSELY – PARTICULARLY THOSE OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC, THE PHILIPPINES INCLUDED.
The above “food for thought” for this Sunday (22 April 2018) had previously been written for the Manila Bulletin. However, given the convergence of the “Mahal na Araw” (Holy Days) and the relevancy of domestic events and international developments, especially where weapons of mass destruction and, on the other hand peace initiatives, where they coincide or compliment each other, we have the makings of many stories which need to be shared next time with our valued readers.
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