To Vet or To Bet

vetting

Selecting a leader is a hard task. In a field of equally capable peers, selecting the candidate best fit for the job is hard. In a field of equally incompetent peers, selecting the most competent will also be hard.

But supposedly in a field of unequal capabilities, the best person for the job should be easy to spot, right? Well, in a perfect world, that’s supposed to be a no-brainer. But, hey, it’s the Philippines we are talking about here, you gotta hold on to your horses. And speaking of horses, a word comes to mind – to “vet”. A quick look up of the origin of the word reveals that:

To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race. Thus, it has taken the general meaning “to check.”

It is a figurative contraction of veterinarian which originated in the mid-17th century. The colloquial abbreviation dates to the 1860s; the verb form of the word, meaning “to treat an animal,” came a few decades later—according to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest known usage is 1891—and was applied primarily in a horse-racing context. (“He vetted the stallion before the race,” “You should vet that horse before he races,” etc.) By the early 1900s, vet had begun to be used as a synonym for evaluate, especially in the context of searching for flaws.

Merriam-Webster also defines vetting as

1-a: to provide veterinary care for (an animal) or medical care for (a person)
1-b: to subject (a person or animal) to a physical examination or checkup
2-a: to subject to usually expert appraisal or correction <vet a manuscript>
2-b. to evaluate for possible approval or acceptance <vet the candidates for a position>

Vetting, therefore, is a process of examination and evaluation, generally referring to performing a background check on someone before offering him or her employment. In addition, in intelligence gathering, assets are vetted to determine their usefulness.

Supposedly, leaders are thoroughly vetted. For example, in the United States, when the party’s presidential nominee chooses a vice-presidential candidate to accompany him or her on the ticket. Prospective vice-presidential candidates undergo detailed evaluation by a team of advisers acting on behalf of the nominee. In later stages of the vetting process, the team will examine a wider range of items such as finances, personal conduct, and previous coverage in the media.

In the Philippines, we can say that there is a vetting process (and that’s really stretching it). However, whether such process is thorough, begs to be asked.

Are we being thorough in selecting the people who will lead the Philippines.

Are we being thorough when we ask a parasitic landlord class to lead the very people whose blood it has been sucking?

Are we being thorough when we vote for a liar who hails from the Ivy League?

Are we being thorough when we vote for a womanizing boozing dropout of a thug ?

Are we being thorough when we vote for the same old names, same old faces, same modus operandi – and expect different results?

After all, as pointed out by Paul White, while Richardson was being vetted to be the commerce secretary “It is up to the vetters to get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth out of appointees.”

We, the Voters, have an obligation to thoroughly vet every candidate that comes before our way. Many, if not all, of these candidates will make decisions that will impact our lives and of our people, every day.

The purpose of the vetting process is neither to embarrass or put a candidate down, nor to further politicize the process. Rather, the purpose of the vetting process is to ensure that candidates may be trusted with the responsibilities that come with serving an elective position.

By ensuring that these candidates are doing what they say they did, something which they should be doing anyway, we are ensuring the candidates are, at a minimum, complying with the rules that more often than not they will help create and implement.

Thus, when we ask for a platform, we ask not for the sake of asking.

We ask because we want to know, we want to verify, we want to validate, we want to confirm – that the candidate is the person who he/she claims herself to be. dont_step

We want to see what are the principles that will guide a candidate’s decisions in the pressing issues of the day.

Political capital – name recall, winnability, popularity, machinery – is not enough.

In this high stakes elections, heart is not enough, beauty is not enough, and brains is not enough.

A balanced and thorough evaluation is needed, lest we gamble our present and future as we have done in the past.

And speaking of gambling, do you want to bet your future on an unvetted candidate?

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11 comments

  1. Seems like our trains of thought were on the same track today.

    What I’m trying to figure out is what people are so afraid of. The number of fervent excuses they make for candidates not having platforms is astonishing. “But character is a good quality…..” “Past performance is a very good indicator of future action……” Oh, please. Are they really saying, “We’d rather not know?”

  2. BenK,

    I was just about to say that, too – re: weekend train of thought.

    Most would rather not know, because they know their candidates have nothing to put on the table except more of the same.

    Or going by Primer, he’d hate to see his BF bubble burst.

  3. I guess you’re right. So is that what they mean by ‘People Power’?

  4. BenK,

    I’ll hazard a guess – jologs think of “people power” as a revolution – when it was actually a revolt to reinstate the landlord-dominated social order prior to martial law.

  5. Nice rant. Good points about the absence of RATIONAL vetting practices in the Philippines. As the old saying goes: “The definition of INSANITY is doing the same things over and over again yet expecting differing results.”

    I see the same INSANE vetting practices in play when the newspaper pundits and other usual media suspects try to “vet” the candidates:

    MABAIT SIYA — Pinoys love this phrase. It has a feudal ring to it. No mention of competence. No mention of clear goals and ideas and ideology. Just kindness. Isn’t that nice? Asking for kindness instead of results got us to where we are now.

    HE/SHE COMES FROM A GOOD FAMILY — Dynasties erode institutions. Instead of relying on institutions, people rely on family name/personal politics. While some dynasties do provide good leaders from time to time, overall it atrophies political evolution and prevents new talent from rising and creating positive changes. Genetics don’t matter as much as proven RESULTS do. This is the reason people should steer clear of NoyNoy.

    HE SEEMS INTELLIGENT — A lot of middle and upper class people I talk to get excited over Gilberto Teodoro because of his “intelligent” answers in the debates. Fine. The guy is the anti-Erap when it comes to elocution and stringing together cohesive and logical sentences. But that quality alone doesn’t quality him to be president. An intelligent and rational electorate deserve more–we deserve a proven track record. Results. Sadly, there’s no reports of any profound positive changes in the effectiveness of the military or upgrade in military procurement procedures during his term. Has he made gains in rooting out military corruption? Has the military contained the MILF/ASF during his term? Has he addressed the fracture between PMA grads/non-PMA grads in the military?

    Once again, we are reminded of this essay on WHY PINOYS SHOULD NOT VOTE (a lamentation): http://www.dailyrandomsites.com/filipinos-should-not-vote

  6. Hi UFC:

    Excellent observations. If I may add:

    * Mabait siya – When am told about mabait, I ask the term be qualified. What is meant by mabait? How was such demonstrated? Does the mabait extend only to a small circle?

    * He/she comes from a good family – The family is not running for office – the candidate is. If the candidate is fronting for the company’s interests – he’s off my list.

    * He seems intelligent – Intelligence is a tool which guides the policy direction. The bigger question is with his “intelligence”, I presume he has a platform, Where is his platform, I hope it is a platform that will not insult his intelligence. What is his stand on foreign trade? Is he for opening up the economy? Will he make changes to the constitution? What are these changes?

  7. My favorite candidate, who I will not mention here, has been saying that we need candidates who have VET…

    Of course, it is an acronym. It spells out, Vision… Experience… and Track Record…

    He explains that a good leader must have Vision, or at least, an idea of where he is going to lead the country. Better to know where you are going and not know how, rather than knowing how to go but not knowing where. Vision can be interchanged with goal, objective, etcetera. Platforms and plans of action are the detailed plans of how to achieve the vision.

    How can be judge if the candidate is talking through his hat or just wildly imagining what the Filipino can do? We look at his experience as a public servant. What thing did he go through that makes him prepared to lead the country and deliver on his platform? Was he a leader all his life? Was he in an executive position for the most part of his career? What was his experience at achieving or accomplishing the things he said he’d do? Does he draw from a well of knowledge or does he dance in a puddle of platitudes?

    And then comes track record. In all of the positions that he or she has held, what has he or she done? Was he merely sitting comfortably in his office or did he actually make things hard on himself and try to achieve something that was never done before?

    VET.

    Vision. Experience. Track Record.

  8. Each candidate will present himself in a good light. VET included (one of those acronyms pinoys are known for – they love to talk about it, but when you review whether the talk matches the walk – the actions and the talk are contrasting like night and day..

    Thus, having seen all the stuff that PInoy candidates are capable of doing – I reserve the right to make my own conclusions – and without seeing the platform – I will take any candidate as a bozo until proven otherwise. I can’t say enough of this to candidates and their supporters – Platform Plez, if you don’t have one, don’t waste my time.

  9. Hyden Toro · ·

    We can only select a good leader. When we learn to differentiate between ” good characters”
    and “bad characters ” on those running for public office. As of now we are swayed by: sloganeerings;
    show biz personalities; distribution of rice, tuyos, noodles, etc…and all kinds of diversions to take
    our minds away from our situations; and get our votes.

  10. […] blogger Bong offered recently: The purpose of the vetting process is neither to embarrass or put a candidate down, nor to further […]

  11. Nice rant. Good points about the absence of RATIONAL vetting practices in the Philippines. As the old saying goes: “The definition of INSANITY is doing the same things over and over again yet expecting differing results.”I see the same INSANE vetting practices in play when the newspaper pundits and other usual media suspects try to “vet” the candidates:MABAIT SIYA — Pinoys love this phrase. It has a feudal ring to it. No mention of competence. No mention of clear goals and ideas and ideology. Just kindness. Isn't that nice? Asking for kindness instead of results got us to where we are now.HE/SHE COMES FROM A GOOD FAMILY — Dynasties erode institutions. Instead of relying on institutions, people rely on family name/personal politics. While some dynasties do provide good leaders from time to time, overall it atrophies political evolution and prevents new talent from rising and creating positive changes. Genetics don't matter as much as proven RESULTS do. This is the reason people should steer clear of NoyNoy.HE SEEMS INTELLIGENT — A lot of middle and upper class people I talk to get excited over Gilberto Teodoro because of his “intelligent” answers in the debates. Fine. The guy is the anti-Erap when it comes to elocution and stringing together cohesive and logical sentences. But that quality alone doesn't quality him to be president. An intelligent and rational electorate deserve more–we deserve a proven track record. Results. Sadly, there's no reports of any profound positive changes in the effectiveness of the military or upgrade in military procurement procedures during his term. Has he made gains in rooting out military corruption? Has the military contained the MILF/ASF during his term? Has he addressed the fracture between PMA grads/non-PMA grads in the military?Once again, we are reminded of this essay on WHY PINOYS SHOULD NOT VOTE (a lamentation): http://www.dailyrandomsites.com/filipinos-shoul

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