[PHOTO AT LEFT - Former New York City mayor Mayor Rudolph Guiliani listens to a question from STAR executive editor Ana Marie Pamintuan during a roundtable discussion of the first Leadership Conference Series at the Rizal Ballroom of Makati Shangri-La yesterday. Photo by JOVEN CAGANDE]

MANILA, JULY 29, 2008 (STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - Former New York City mayor Rudolph Guiliani has a simple rule on how Filipinos should choose the next leader.

“The very best way to do this… figure out which one you can trust most for the future of your country,” Guiliani said. Filipinos may be in disagreement... “but who do you trust the most? Who do you think is closest to what you want for the future of your country?”

Guiliani, who gained prominence for steering New York City out of the rubble of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, stressed he is not about to intrude into purely internal politics in the Philippines when pressed to name a particular presidential candidate to succeed President Arroyo in 2010.

Guiliani gave the advice to Filipino voters during an exclusive interview at the sidelines of the Leadership Conference Series co-sponsored by The STAR.

The brief interview with the former New York City mayor was held yesterday at the Makati Shangri-La following Giuliani’s hour-long talk about “Leadership in Times of Crisis,” in which he discussed extensively the six principles of leadership.

Guiliani stressed a leader must be trusted to hold on to his or her words, whether in politics, in business, or in other endeavors.

“Your word in life is the most important thing you have, whether in business or in politics. To be able to accomplish things, you have to be known as a person of your word. If you make a deal, you’ve got to stick with it, whether it’s a good one or a bad one,” Guiliani explained.

“Sometimes, we don’t focus on that enough in politics because some things have to get done by agreement and often, you can’t get everything you want,” he said.

Several prominent personalities and key government figures held a roundtable discussion of the issues with Guiliani yesterday.

The forum was also attended by former President Joseph Estrada, members of academe and top business leaders.

Among those who participated in the roundtable discussion with Guiliani were British Ambassador Peter Beckingham, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, Procter and Gamble Phils. president James Lafferty, TLC-Beatrice CEO Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Bro. Armin Luistro of De La Salle University-Manila and The STAR executive editor Amy Pamintuan.

The panelists discussed the issue of trust in leadership as they noted the adverse trust ratings of President Arroyo in the latest opinion surveys.

Guiliani, however, noted Mrs. Arroyo has demonstrated the kind of leadership that is not swayed by popularity concerns.

“It’s important to make the decisions that are necessary whether they may be popular or unpopular and you’re willing to risk some unpopularity (for) the good of the people,” Guiliani stressed.

“If you believe it’s the right thing and in the long term, it’s going to work out, a strong leader has to do that. You have to know (when) popular opinion is pushing (you) in one direction but that’s not the right decision in the long term,” he said.

When asked by Pamintuan about the issue of corruption in the country, Guiliani replied, “No one wants to do business in a place with a great deal of corruption.”

Guiliani stressed the importance of trusting the leaders to steer the country out of a crisis. “Trust is the first part of leadership in a democracy,” he said.

He likened a leader to a ship captain who sets the destination of the vessel. “You have to know the purpose and direction.”

“Too many people... take public opinion polls (too seriously) which sometimes are not an accurate guideway. Set goals and stick to (them) whether popular or not,” Guiliani said.

He cited former US President Ronald Reagan as among the leaders who had clear goals in defeating the communists although this tack was not always popular.

Guiliani himself made a bid for the Republican nomination in the upcoming US presidential elections this November. He lost in the primaries to Arizona Sen. John McCain.

During the open forum that followed, Guiliani admitted with candor why he opted to drop out of the race practically allowing McCain to win the GOP nomination undisputed.

“Because I got beaten by my close friend. If not, it would have been different. He (McCain) did a better campaign and reached more voters,” Guiliani said.

Despite losing to McCain, Guiliani publicly expressed his full support to the presidential bid of his partymate against the Democratic presidential candidate, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

“I believe John McCain will win over Obama… Respectfully, Mr. Obama is inexperienced. We can’t turn over the government to someone who has no executive experience,” he cited.

Guiliani however said he is also open to becoming the running mate of McCain.

“Only he (McCain) can offer that. I’m open to doing anything that he will win and get elected,” he said.

In the closed-door interview that followed with The STAR, Guiliani was more explicit in batting for McCain as someone deserving the votes of the large Filipino-American communities in the US to elect the Republican presidential candidate to succeed incumbent US President George W. Bush.

“The McCain presidency will be excellent for the Philippines-American relations and it will be excellent for American relations all throughout the world, particularly, I think in Asia,” Guiliani pointed out.

“I think you will have a White House, I can’t say more friendly, but a White House with a president that has high regard for the Philippines,” he stressed. – With Pia Lee-Brago

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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