MANILA, July 4, 2015— The country’s system of political patronage is among the biggest impediments to good governance, the head of Manila’s Roman Catholic Church said on Friday.
In a conference on “Servant Leadership in Public Service,” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle did not mince words in attacking opportunistic patronage politicians who exacerbate the country’s problems.
“Bato-bato sa langit, tamaan na tayong lahat… because socially and culturally and politically our society has not graduated from patronage,” Tagle said.
“And ultimately, patronage politics or the patronage style of leadership is not service,” he said.
The cardinal was among the speakers of the two-day pastoral conference held at a hotel in Ortigas Center, Quezon City.
He lashed out at politicians who provide the needs of the community, not out of charity, but to make the people beholden to them.
“There is a form of giving that further enslaves the other people,” he said. “They do not contribute to the common good.”
True public servants, he said, are guided by real mission for the common good and are not taking advantage of their positions.
And part of serving the common good, he added, is inviting everyone “to participate in the achievement of the common good.”
“Are we truly serving, or are we keeping people beholden to us?” Tagle asked.
A washbasin, towel and pitcher
As the national election is fast approaching, the cardinal gave the audience an idea on what to give to politicians: “a washbasin, towel and pitcher”.
“When they ask, ‘What is this?’ you say, ‘Read John 13,” Tagle said, referring to the classic Biblical account that demonstrated Jesus’ leadership and practice.
Tagle said the teachings and life style of Jesus are important in Christian life and in leadership.
“This environment of common good will be achieved if there is real service for others even those who do not belong to my group, even not to my persuasion,” he said.
Tagle then criticized politicians who have an excessive sense of self-importance, saying they should “contemplate the humility of a servant.”
“Pride ruins leaders,” Tagle said. “Pride sets me above the others, even if it’s not true. I start thinking of myself as better than the others.”
“Pride places ambition ahead of mission and people,” he also said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)