One of the most important benefits of education is a virtue, a desirable quality of a leader that well-educated Philippine President Benigno Aquino Jr. failed to demonstrate to his people.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Philippine armed forces was absent during the welcome honors ceremony for the 42 brave SAF Commandos who were massacred by members of MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) in Maguindanao, a province South of the Philippines. In grief, the families and relatives of these fallen heroes who were in need of their President’s support and encouragement were left alone and crying #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the president?).
Many Filipinos were disillusioned by their President’s lack of compassion and openly expressing their sentiments and criticism through Twitter and other social networking websites. These reactions are mainly focused on President Aquino’s misdemeanor as an educated public servant with mixed-up priorities and reluctance of Malacanang Palace staff to answer public inquiries such as #NasaanAngPangulo or the president’s whereabouts.
A Filipino social media user criticized and described their President as a student who was absent during final exam but hopeful to pass the class. In essence, the act of supporting and uplifting the spirit of those who lost their loved ones critically test the extent of a leader’s education and virtue. However, President Aquino failed to take the test, as he was somewhere else minding his other priorities and completely confident on the morality of his political decision. A Filipina lawmaker and a known critic of people in government, on the other hand, hinted about Mr. Aquino’s priorities, when she wittingly blamed Mr. Aquino’s disoriented social priorities on car shows. Another concerned Filipino social media user sharply criticized the conduct of well-educated and intelligent Presidential Staff who conspired and concealed the truth. In this user’s opinion, the staff, in the process of concealing the whereabouts of their beloved president made a mockery of their academic achievement along with the virtues learned from school.
The above incident is not only illustrative of the alarming consequence of electing a public official with muddled priorities but also the reality of public’s high regard to education and behavioral expectations on educated individuals.
It is quite clear from the public reactions and criticisms that most people see education as both providers of knowledge and developer of virtues or socially desirable behaviors among students. This, in reality, is the academic knowledge that most people believed the educated individual has and being applied not only at work or in pursuing a better life but also in appreciating the needs of others, making equitable decisions, and in recognizing the right priorities.
The question posed by the mournful families of the fallen heroes’ such as #NasaanAngPangulo, was never meant to satisfy their curiosity on his whereabouts but seeking justice and compassion from an elected leader whom they perceived as intelligent, virtuous, and powerful enough to alleviate their sufferings. However, their expectations were wrong, as the facts about the man they want to see and confide with are even more disheartening. It probably formed an enduring memory of people in government that are unappreciative of the 42 policemen’s heroic deeds, numb and unsympathetic of other people’s feelings and needs, incapable of distinguishing genuine priorities, and a President who actually went to a Mitsubishi plant inauguration instead of solemnly welcoming the remains of their loved ones.
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