MANILA, AUGUST 28, 2006 (STAR) BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET By Wilson Lee Flores (Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame. –Dr. Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle)

I was aghast when ex-President Cory C. Aquino recently told me that international boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and movie actor Cesar Montano are both planning to run for Manila vice mayor next year as running mates – of Mayor Lito Atienza’s son and of Senator Ping Lacson, respectively. I believe Pacquiao and even Montano might fall victim to that management maxim called the "Peter Principle."

Dr. Laurence Johnston Peter formulated the Peter Principle in his 1968 book based on the idea that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then are often promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent. He said: "In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." How many companies, organizations or governments have people rise to their level of incompetence, then wreaked havoc and caused so much trouble for everybody?

It would be tragic for the rags-to-riches icon and sports hero Manny Pacquiao – if he makes the mistake of joining politics – to fall victim to the Peter Principle. Even if he wins the 2007 election as Manila vice mayor, what next? I am not against showbiz or sports stars going into politics, like Lipa Mayor Vilma Santos, who is a successful leader. However, I believe politics will not do Pacquiao good. If you love your country, Manila and yourself, don’t enter politics, Manny Pacquiao.

King of Comedy Dolphy once told Philippine STAR Entertainment editor Ricky Lo that if he wins the election, the problem is what will happen next. For that wisdom and humility, I salute Dolphy as a great man with genuine concern for the public welfare. In fact, I dare say comedian and movie producer Dolphy – another rags-to-riches icon – is smarter and more honest than 95 percent of our politicians in this republic, who often act like clowns and dumb fools without shame or remorse!

Manny Pacquaio is a world-class athlete and top advertising endorser. He has already climbed the Mount Everest of success, wealth and fame; why jump into the dark abyss of politics which is not his field of expertise? Pacquiao is already a national symbol. Why risk his prestige and good name by joining Philippine politics and possibly rising to his "level of his incompetence"? What does he know of governance? How will he solve Manila’s perennial problems with poverty, garbage, traffic, slums, floods, public education, law and order?

If Manny Pacquiao plans to retire from boxing and wants to look for more excitement, I suggest he follow what Kris Aquino once did and approach Mother Lily of Regal Films to join showbiz. Or, follow China’s Olympic-gold-medal gymnastics champion Li Ning, who parlayed his fame into big business. Or, better yet, donate the bulk of his wealth and be a philanthropist!

I believe other examples of successful people who have sadly risen to the level of their incompetence include the following:

Former President Joseph Estrada – Erap was a good actor who became a very effective Mayor of San Juan for decades. However, Erap reached the level of his incompetence when he aspired for and won the election as Senator (accomplishing only a few laws such as a bill on carabao propagation, but I’m sure not a bill outlawing carabao English!), and then as President. Erap should have sought advice from his friend Dolphy!

Imelda Romualdez Marcos – Perhaps no First Lady in Asian history can match Imeldific in elegance, prestige, charisma and indefatigable energy. In her prime, she excelled as patron of the arts, political campaigner, civic leader and diplomat, but she rose to the level of her incompetence as political co-ruler of the Marcos regime.

Michael Jordan – The greatest athlete in the history of professional basketball and multi-awarded superstar of the National Basketball Association (NBA) retired in 2003. Sadly, he rose to the level of his incompetence as director and then president of basketball operations with the Washington Wizards team and made lousy executive decisions. In May 2003, the Wizards team owner unceremoniously fired Jordan, who said he was shocked "by the callous refusal to offer me any justification for it."

Mao Zedong – Perhaps world history’s greatest revolutionary leader ever, Mao’s passion, fury, eloquence and genius turned the biggest nation upside down with upheaval and sweeping changes. Mao was a great revolutionary and talented romantic poet, but he reached the level of his incompetence when he administered China, plunged it towards the economically disastrous Great Leap Forward, and the chaotic, 10-year Cultural Revolution. Mao should have stopped while he was ahead in 1949, after overthrowing the corrupt Chiang Kai Shek regime, and should have passed on authority to others such as his capable ally Premier Zhou Enlai.

George Walker Bush – Though I support Bush in his war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, I think history will judge Bush as a substandard US President. This Yale and Harvard MBA graduate was once a successful governor of Texas, but he seems to have risen to the level of his incompetence as US President and world leader with his clumsy handling of the Iraq war, the weak US economy bedevilled with budget and trade deficits, and other troubles. For the sake of world stability, I hope Bush immediately gets better advisers to compensate for his mindboggling incompetence!

Many Philippine politicians – It is tragic that one of the reasons our Philippine economy is weak and massive poverty still confronts us is the disgusting phenomenon of so many hordes of immoral, incompetent, thick-faced and selfish people – including those with fancy degrees and high education – whom we have allowed to rise to the level of their incompetence as political leaders, legislators, generals and bureaucrats.

We deserve the leaders we get if we do not care, if we do not dare criticize cheating or bad governance, if we do not jail any big-time political crooks for corruption, if we do not demand higher standards, if we accept as "fate" the sad state of the nation. I’ve always believed this – the Philippines is not hopeless, it is our many inutile and corrupt politicians who are hopeless!

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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