Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:25:00 01/30/2010
AS THE WHOLE COUNTRY seems to be engulfed in debate over the appointment of his successor, Chief Justice Reynato Puno swung from making jokes about his impending retirement and lecturing on the kind of leaders that the country needs.
Puno's retirement on May 17 has ignited a fierce legal and political debate over whether President Macapagal-Arroyo can legally appoint his successor despite the ban against presidential appointments two months before the May 10 elections.
"I shall be bowing out of office in a few months' time. I'm the only chief justice whose birthday is announced in the media," he said jokingly at a leadership forum organized by the Philippine-Australian Alumni Association.
Given the Filipino penchant for hospitality, he said he just might end up spending his entire retirement pay on "blow-out parties."
On a more serious note, he noted that the hullaballoo over his retirement has turned the spotlight on "greater constitutional issues and has brought about so many born-again constitutionalists."
In his speech, Puno said the country needed "transformational leaders" who will "awaken the moral values of their followers" and warned against those who lead as if they were "transacting business."
He blamed the country's present and past leaders for their "self-interest" and "self-centeredness" which he said continued to propagate economic inequality, social discrimination, poor governance, environmental degradation and apathy.
"A transformational leader focuses first in transforming self to become selfless, to look out for each other, to promote unity and harmony and to give more importance to the interest of the whole more than its parts," he said, citing the late American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of a transformational leader.
In contrast to the ideal are the transactional leaders who buy their followers off, he said.
"Transactional leaders motivate followers by appealing to their self-interest. They approach followers on a quid pro quo basis with an eye to exchanging one thing for another, such as jobs for votes or subsidies for campaign contributions. Leadership to them is more of a transaction, more of business where you get your goal through the bargaining of interests," he said.
"A transactional leader is obsessed with the completion of an objective with little regard to its moral and ethical hazards on his followers," Puno said.
He said the country's social ills are "manifestations of self-interest, the results of self-centeredness and the consequences of self-absorption of those who lead and have led us in the past."
Meanwhile, the AIM Policy Center has added its voice to prevailing opinion that the President is banned from appointing a successor to Puno less than two months before her own term expires.
By insisting on appointing a new Chief Justice before she bows out, Ms Arroyo is undermining the fragile stability of the economy, according to the center, the think tank unit of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).