, JULY 19, 2011 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - Malacañang yesterday allayed fears of a prominent Catholic bishop that President Aquino might not have a vision for the country, despite the chief executive’s honesty and integrity as a public servant.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the administration agrees with Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas (photo) that integrity is not enough to run the government but she clarified that the reform agenda of the government is continuing.

“We agree with Bishop Villegas. We understand that. I was able to read the speech of Bishop Villegas and he rightly called that it’s not just integrity, the vision should also be there,” she told government-run radio dzRB.

She said contrary to Villegas’ perception, the President has long laid out his vision for the country and whenever he gives a speech, he always mentions what the administration wants to achieve by the end of the President’s term.

Villegas, a very close friend of Aquino’s late mother former President Corazon Aquino, advised the President to “move forward with excitement” and not to get stuck in the past, as in his repeated attacks against his predecessor, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Leadership without vision is treachery to the governed. Integral leadership also means setting the path towards the future,” he said in a speech delivered before members and officials of Rotary Clubs at the Lyceum Northwestern Philippines.

Villegas, the incoming vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said Aquino needs more than integrity to lead the country.

“Those who set their hearts on the plow cannot keep looking back. Leadership is moving forward with excitement. The task of the leader is not only to stay clean and live by integrity,” he said.

“Is it enough to be a man of integrity in order to lead? Integrity is a great capital asset in leadership but it is unfortunately not enough,” Villegas pointed out. “The man of integrity must also be integral. Leadership is not just about moral ascendancy. It takes more than integrity of character to become a leader. Leadership is vision setting too.”

He said Aquino should aim for a “balanced square” of leadership of which only one side represents “integrity.” The three other sides should represent economic progress and stability; political will and clarity of laws; and the availability of education and social services.

“If these three sides are given equal support connected by integrity and blameless living, even integrity itself will become part of our national ethics and the rays of bright future await us,” said the Pangasinan prelate.

Villegas’ comments came two weeks after the President marked his first year in Malacañang and 11 days before his second State of the Nation Address on July 25.

Villegas admitted that Aquino was able to maintain his clean image in keeping with his kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (There are no poor where there are no corrupt) campaign battle cry.

“Although not perfect, our President has been conscientiously trying to rise above the perception that all politicians are corrupt and all politics is dirty and no one becomes a politician and stays clean,” he said.

“After one year in office, the first word that comes to mind to describe the present national leadership is integrity,” he added.

He however said leadership must be integrating, it “must embrace and unite not alienate and divide.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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