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Job interview

How come Filipinos cannot seem to treat politicians or candidates as prospective employees?

One root cause to this complex question might be because our Constitution and election laws have such low standards for elected public officials.  The reason for this is we live in a democracy which in theory should be as inclusive as possible when it comes to people seeking public office. That’s why the rules cannot exclude those who have no college degrees, no police or NBI clearance, or PRC license. It is hypothetically up to voters to be wise enough so unqualified candidates don’t win and are handed the keys to our country or communities.

Another probable reason is that while those who run for office think highly of themselves, those who have the duty of putting them there probably have self-esteem so low that they can’t imagine being in the position of power to screen the nation’s employees every time they cast their ballots.

As a people, we likely see ourselves as lowly serfs or peasants beholden to a lord or patron, and we cannot imagine imposing standards on those leaders the way an employer would an employee.

But if you come to think of it, comparing a public official in a position of power, responsibility and accountability to the CEO of a huge corporation is probably something most regular folk cannot relate with because they don’t work for publicly listed corporations and do not know any CEOs. However, if we compare it to a position with less responsibility and power, say a sari-sari store manager, it is essentially the same thing.

We all know what to expect from CEO candidates. Aside from the need for extensive experience and connections for the job requirement, they should have a college degree from a reputable university, and probably a master’s degree as well. There are numerous interviews and they probably have to submit police and NBI clearance to boot. Most importantly, they cannot ever lie about any detail in their application, such as a fake university degree.

However, for most people, the process of selecting a CEO, or any corporate employee for that matter, is none of their concern. It could be a magical and mystical process for all they care.

But if we ask them to select someone to manage their sari-sari store or drive the taxi or tricycle they saved up for, that is when they start to understand the importance of standards and requirements. If you can’t just pick anyone off the street and give them the keys to your cashbox or taxicab, then why are we not giving enough attention to the qualifications and principles of the people we vote into public office?

The first question for anyone applying to man my little store would be if they have ever been accused or convicted of a crime. If the answer is yes and there are other available candidates, why should I choose that guy? It may not matter to some if a candidate’s dad or entire family are convicted criminals, but if it is your sari-sari store and life savings on the line, those facts pertaining to criminal activity and tendencies should matter.

Then there are the usual standards: high school education, university degree, post graduate studies. Job experience. Have they been involved in the community or do they spend their days just bumming around whining and complaining?

If there is only one candidate and the need is urgent, then you may have to bite the bullet and hire the guy. But if there are many other candidates, why the hell would you cast your lot with the person with the least qualifications, the worst track record and the most lies? Why would you believe everything they say and not bother double checking their claims? Nobody would leave their life savings with the least qualified, most crooked and least capable candidate and yet there are so many of us who think nothing of giving such candidates the royal treatment.

If we consider our country as the sari-sari store of our dreams where we invested all our life savings in, we should consider all candidates for public office as prospective employees. We have to scrutinize their track records, academic records, criminal records and even family history. We cannot just believe the lofty promises they make because it is our responsibility to ensure that the people we put in charge of anything so important to our lives do not end up taking all our hard earned money or losing it to scammers.

It is not so hard to impose minimum standards on any candidate that is going to be a big part of our lives. Whether that person is applying to be the caretaker of your sari-sari store, drive your taxicab, or run the country, we cannot just hire based on gut feel and how they look, sing or dance. We cannot just swallow all their claims and promises… hook, line and sinker. We have seen how that story ends and right now, we cannot afford to make an even worse mistake.

Can we try to be a better Human Resources department for our country this time around?*

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