Nurturing New Leaders Beyond Politics
First International Conference of Asian Political Parties, Manila Hotel
September 18, 2000
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I have come here to extend my good wishes to all of you who are participating in the First International Conference of Asian Political Parties. I also welcome this opportunity to share with you some thoughts on the issues facing us today in Asia and in the rest of the world, and what organized groups such as political parties can do about them.
This meeting of Asian political parties attended by their representatives is happening at a time of crisis for the poor peoples on this earth. This is not to say that the poor are not in perpetual crisis — so needy are they of material resources and services, and so meager is the response of governments. But they are even more at risk at this time as the world grapples with the phenomenon of globalization.
The globalization of trade, of products and of services, has made the products of industry available almost anywhere in the world. But it hasn't made them any more accessible to the poor. As nations —both rich and poor — succumb to the inevitability of globalization, the poorer ones are left behind, with neither the means to purchase the goods nor the expertise to compete with those who produce them.
And those who bite the bullet and enter the race for globalization, come face to face with a whole new world, of advanced technology they can hardly keep up with, of swift mergers and acquisitions that render them defenseless, of automation that displaces a lot of a their people from the work-place, and of sophisticated international rules and regulations they can hardly cope with. It is a sad fact that globalization has rendered many nations and governments economically, socially and politically vulnerable.
Globalization is a double-edged sword. It is both a boon and a problem of our world today. If globalization is to work for everyone, there is a need to balance its positive and negative sides. Businessmen and governments must be sensitive to this, as well as; the political parties that aspire for power.
The question that we must all grapple with is: How should we a really address poverty? It is the age-old question that has stumped mankind since time immemorial, but the answer is as elusive as the other ideals of democracy, like good governance and the eradication of corruption.
While there is no one answer to the question, this forum may wish to focus on how the wisdom and actions of the many who have tried and have succeeded in their own small way can be shared, studied and replicated.
Political parties have a lot to do with the development of leaders who will in turn lead our peoples out of poverty and hopelessness.
If political parties take seriously their roles in democratic development, they will see to it that they develop genuine leaders whom the rest of society, the youth especially, can respect, trust and emulate.
Much depends on the kind of people we present to our respective electorates to choose from, the values they ascribe to and promote, the kind of lifestyles they live, their style of leadership and whether or not they empathize with those who are poor and underprivileged.
I am talking about men and women who inspire others by their vision, their dedication to the noble causes, their active involvement in the people's lives, and their willingness to take political risks in pursuit of the people's agenda.
I have met a number of such men and women in and out of politics and they have been the source of my hope for the democracy that we have been trying to strengthen and make relevant to the needs of the Filipino people.
The Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Foundation which I established after, the assassination of my husband, is currently in the process of documenting the experiences of leaders with the plan to present them to the youth as examples of selflessness and responsible citizenship. In our proposed work of developing new leaders, we seek to link up with other foundations with whom we can share resources in order to extend the range of our influence. One such collaboration of the Aquino Foundation is with the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany. Over the past six years, we have worked with the Hanns Seidel Foundation on the development of cooperatives and the promotion of human rights education in the Philippine National Police.
We will soon open the Aquino Center in Luisita, Tarlac, which will house the Institute for People Power and Development.
We hope to continue this cooperation with Hanns Seidel Foundation and other like-minded foundations and NGOs in our new tack towards the development of young, credible, sincere and dynamic Filipino leaders.
The task of developing new leaders is urgent and daunting. Therefore, I invite the political parties to participate actively in it.
But I reiterate, genuine leaders cannot be developed solely in the hothouse that is electoral politics. They must be nurtured in the context of the larger society, its problems and challenges. In this, the political parties will find no better partners than civil society — the NGOs and people's organizations that are in touch with the burning issues affecting the people, especially the many who are voiceless and vulnerable.
Perhaps, by cooperating with civil society, political parties can learn to consciously and attentively listen to the people and be more responsive to their concerns.
Thank you for your kind attention and I hope that you will all enjoy your stay in the Philippines. Mabuhay!