Believing in the President

Published July 3, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Fr. Rolando V. De La Rosa, OP


Fr. Rolando V. dela Rosa, O.P.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. received exuberant applause while delivering his inaugural address. I myself was moved by his sincerity and firm resolve. He seems poised to realize our dream of a better and brighter Philippines during his incumbency. He repeatedly declared: “Ang pangarap ninyo ay pangarap ko.”

I believed him. But it is too early for me to say that I believe IN him. To believe IN a person involves more than giving my assent to what he says. It means being bound to this person, committed to him, because I am certain that he will not deceive me. I believe IN a person who has credibility.

Credibility is correlative with a person’s behavior, especially the way he keeps his word. If he fulfills his promises, his credibility is established. If not, his credibility becomes questionable. Inconsistent behavior creates a qualitative change in our appraisal of a person, and this corrodes trust and confidence.

I am sure many Filipinos feel the same way as I do. Our collective memory is swamped by unfulfilled promises of previous presidents: no nepotism, complete financial transparency, food on every table, a house for every Filipino family, education for all, peace and order in society, high employment rate, no graft and corruption, and the end to criminality, terrorism, and illegal drugs.

So, despite the hope that the new president has sparked in our hearts, the sense of despondency remains. We fear that the promised future might just be a prolongation of our oppressive present. We fear that things would continue to get worse before they get better.

Believing IN someone is difficult especially for those who have been habituated to helplessness and hopelessness. Hope springs in the hearts of those who have not yet given up. But how about those whose life is one hellish ordeal of daily miseries brought about by rising prices of commodities, chaotic traffic in cities, pollution, and poverty?

When helplessness engulfs us, we drift to fatalism. We begin to think that what will be, will be. We become a nation of observers, emotionally moved by our depressing situation, but unwilling to make any real commitment to change it.

Our new president himself wants to change that attitude. He wants us to invest our hope NOT primarily on him. He doesn’t want us to idolize him and place our destiny in his hands. He knows that in a democracy, a leader cannot succeed without conscientious followers. He wants us to discard the idea that president is the sole agent of change, while we act like bystanders. Hoping to get the same support that catapulted him to the presidency and emphasizing his role as a servant, he said:

“I was not the instrument of change. You were that; you made it happen. You picked me to be your servant, to enable changes to benefit all . . . Imagine if government invested in your SELF-EMPOWERMENT to bring it closer to taking on whatever challenges come. Imagine, a country that, in almost every sense, is you. Imagine what you and government can achieve together.”

I pray that the new president will succeed where his predecessors have failed. I pray that he will lead a government that governs least but provides the most, or, as he put it: “This is what government and public officials are for. No excuses; just deliver.”

May our new government leaders prove to be selfless public servants who would give us sufficient reason to believe IN them.