ANYBODY who's been following this weekly column will know that I have very seldom written about politics. From the start of my writing engagement with this paper, I told myself that I should concentrate on articles that are inspirational and educational, mostly revolving around the topics leadership, management and similar things.

I decided on that tact due to the fact that most columnists talk about politics and current events or variations thereof. I wanted to be different; to write in a different niche.

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Today, I will digress from that pattern and talk politics because of a quotation that has haunted me lately, thus: "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality" (Dante Alighieri, Italian poet of the middle ages, 1265-1321).

If I may, the quotation may as well be reworded thus: "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their silence."

In an article I wrote months ago, I wondered why we are very strict when we hire office or household employees but don't care about the qualifications of the politicians who govern us and mess up our lives. When we hire supervisors or managers of our companies, we look deeply into their past performances, their moral righteousness, honesty, integrity and similar things.

Even our maids and drivers have to be honest and hardworking; otherwise, we replace them.

But when we elect presidents, senators, congressmen, mayors, governors, and councilors, we don't care if they are corrupt, womanizers, land grabbers, smugglers or gambling lords--and to think that these officials make or unmake our future; or don't we even realize that?

What's wrong with us Filipinos?

Does it have something to do with our twisted attitude that we don't care if our neighborhood is dirty for as long as our house is clean? It's common hereabouts that people sweep their surroundings and throw the trash in the neighboring vacant lot, right?

In short we don't think in terms of what is good for the community, for the city, for the country. As a people, we are selfish, thinking only of what is good for ourselves and our respective immediate families. The rest of be damned.

It is this bad attitude that differentiates us from the peoples of more progressive countries. Over there they take the saying, "In union there is strength," very seriously. And they end up very prosperous.

The 2010 election is another chance for us to reform and work for that dream of a better Philippines. Let us unite and be strict with our selection, as if we were selecting the executives for our own companies. Let us be aware that the survival and progress of our country and our selves depends on such choices.

Let us not vote on the basis of who is well known or not; or who gives more sardines and noodles; or who is rich; or whom we personally know.

In a perfect world, the ideal leader we should elect should have honesty, integrity and the ability to run the government, in that order.

However, in our less than perfect world, honesty and integrity should be the most important consideration in the selection. For running the government efficiently can be achieved by hiring the right professionals and delegating the job to them, the way the tycoons successfully do it with their business empires.

But you can't delegate honesty and integrity.

Ismael D. Tabije (MBM, AIM '81) is the publisher of the online management resource site: www.bestmanagementarticles.com. Email comments to idtabije@gmail.com