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‘Designated Survivor’

Siegfred Bueno Mison, Esq.

Gone are the days of red versus pink versus white. As the 17th president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will have to sustain his campaign slogan of unity. As to his erstwhile main rivals, former Vice President Leni Robredo, former Senator Panfilo Lacson, former Mayor Isko Moreno, and former Senator Manny Pacquiao, they are now part of the private sector. Yet, a day after President Marcos Jr. took his oath of office to serve as Chief Executive for six years, Atty. Leni Robredo launched the supposedly largest network of volunteers.

She organized her formidable crowds of supporters in her unsuccessful bid to lead government to establish the newly-registered Angat Pinas, Inc. Public Servant Bongbong will lead a government machinery laden with so much debt with the help of technocrats in his Cabinet, while Private Citizen Leni will lead a non-government organization laden with thousands of volunteers who committed to help the country, albeit outside the government bureaucracy. Said respective positions may have fallen into their laps providentially as all of us are sometimes thrown into situations to serve in ways we never expect.

Past the many deliberations and disputes that ripped even familial relationships apart, we all find ourselves in a different era of leadership, but with same political families. It seems to be a discernible Filipino peculiarity to always lay the burden, if not the responsibility, upon a leader. More often, we expect the person-in-charge to do all the work for us. A significant number of my friends and colleagues still raise their eyebrows in doubt whether President Marcos Jr. (PBBM) will succeed in putting food on every Filipino household’s table, or giving Juan de la Cruz a stable job, or making this nation great again in the eyes of many. Much is expected. The hammer of blame stands ready in the background, especially from the opposition.

PBBM now carries the weight of this country on his shoulders, expecting some blows from dissenters at any given time. This looming scenario reminded me of a speech delivered by a fictional US President in the TV drama Designated Survivor. The protagonist Tom Kirkman faced a set of bully-Governors who did not see any hope in his leadership as he was thrust into the presidency by sheer accident. In that brief moment of “interrogation,” the fictional US President declared: “I think I can effect change and promote unity.” He proceeded by asserting the “depth of my love for this country,” that he “cannot do this alone nor can I waste any more time fighting with you.” He accentuated his speech with: “We need to move forward fighting TOGETHER, or I step down.

These words have some semblance with what PBBM said during his campaign. Similar words also colored the aura of his inaugural address on June 30.

Despite echoing statements of unity and love for his country, President BBM will likely face a similar scenario with bully-“governors” or local government leaders who remain skeptical of his leadership abilities. But as what Tom Kirkman articulated, PBBM cannot do this alone. Instead of striving for unity among a divided Filipino society, he would be better off by dismissing the opposition as the enemy. He should see no pink or white Filipinos anymore.

As to Atty. Leni, being an ordinary citizen may not have been expected by most. But she appears to survive “in style” after a beating at the 2022 polls. With her volunteer program, Angat Pinas, Inc., whose advocacies in education, health, food security and community engagement, among others, Leni transformed her largest volunteer network into a non-government organization. Instead of choosing to fight and further divide, she chose to help government by being relevant outside the government. Notwithstanding her relegation from Public Servant Leni to Private Citizen Leni, she has no plans of not finishing what she started—to make a better Philippines, a dream that she shares with PBBM and the rest of the populace.

If there is any beauty in these recent political developments, it could be the realization that we find ourselves thrown into a “new frontier.” Filipinos are now living in an era, startling though foreseen not by anyone but by our Almighty God. Each one of us is deemed a designated survivor—marked for righteousness, waiting for that precious moment to own our new standing. The “designation” already materialized, our standing in Christ has by now been fortified by his death on the cross. The Bible lays witness to this in 1 Corinthians 1:30, which says, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” Meaning, we are the righteousness of God in Christ. This is our standing. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reinforces the truth of owning our identity with, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old is gone, the new is here!” It is up to us to accept that status of being a designated survivor and live a new life following the path of righteousness. We carve our own path and create our own “state” of being.

As to the “standing” of PBBM, he is the new Philippine president. But as to his “state”—what he will think, say, or do is a different matter. Whether he remains to evade taxes, whether he continues to lie about indisputable facts such as builder of the windmills in Ilocos, whether he keeps his promise of P20 per kilo of rice, will be seen within his residential term. His standing as president is permanent, yet his state fluctuates. And his standing cannot be impacted by his state. Regardless of what he does or not do, he will remain as president, unless removed for causes provided in our Constitution.

Parallel to the life of a believer, we are the righteousness of God in Christ and this is our standing. We could wrestle with our standing, question our identity, and fight with a throng of critics, but our standing is who we are, it is permanent. Our state is what we do, how we behave, what our problems are, what our mood is. Our state can never redefine our standing.

Therefore, we should rejoice for we have been earmarked for righteousness. We have been “designated survivors” like the one true leader who survived all persecutions here on earth until he sacrificed his life for us on the Cross.

A former infantry and intelligence officer in the Army, Siegfred Mison showcased his servant leadership philosophy in organizations such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Malcolm Law Offices, Infogix Inc., University of the East, Bureau of Immigration, and Philippine Airlines. He is a graduate of West Point in New York, Ateneo Law School, and University of Southern California. A corporate lawyer by profession, he is an inspirational teacher and a Spirit-filled writer with a mission.

For questions and comments, please e-mail me at sbmison@gmail.com.

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