The Virtue of Integrity

Manila Bulletin, January 24, 2010 | Go to article overview

The Virtue of Integrity


“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably INTEGRITY. Without it, no real success is possible; no matter whether it is in a football field, an army, or an office.” — Gen. Dwight David EisenhowerThe above “thought for the week” (which should also be “food for thought for 2010”) comes from a little-known, but inspiring book by Victorino A. Basco, Philippine Navy Captain (retired), and former Chairman of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, 1995-1998. His 2008 autobiography is titled “Virtues on Display: A Memoir of Class 1957, Philippine Military Academy.”Last Sunday, the 40th day after Vic’s death, his beloved wife Merle and their five children/six grandchildren held a reunion for this humble, but outstanding, public servant who literally died with his boots on. Several dozen classmates, co-workers, relatives, and fans attended his memorial.Exemplary CharacterIn the run-up to the 2010 elections which is heating up with the Comelec gun ban and frenzied political maneuverings, it is especially timely to recall the admirable example of how one dedicated Filipino proved his exemplary character – when high stakes were involved.Here is Vic’s story in his own words.“One of the principal missions under the Bases Conversion and Development Act (R.A. 7277, s-1992) was ‘to accelerate the balanced conversion into productive uses of Clark and Subic military reservations, raise funds by selling portions of Metro Manila camps, and apply such funds for their development.“Newly-elected President FVR appointed AIM Professor Victor Lim, a prestigious management practitioner, as BCDA Chairman/President. Subsequently, President Ramos recalled me from retirement and appointed me as BCDA Board member, representing the interests of the military.Honest, Transparent Bidding Process“Chairman Lim created the BCDA Special Qualifications and Selection Committee, with me as Chairman to conduct the bidding for the disposable 214 hectares of Fort Bonifacio. A competent staff who were holders of graduate degrees in economics, urban planning, and statistics backed our Committee.“My paramount objective was to develop an honest, transparent, and fair bidding process; all in the Committee worked tirelessly to attain this goal. In the past, most government biddings were marked by favoritism, collusion, bribery, and pressure from authorities. This trend in government bothered me.A large portion of Fort Bonifacio was to be privatized with four giant consortia as bidders, each capable of raising at least PhP5.0 billion in equity. “First, we wanted transparency. To this end, we circulated 26 bulletins equally to all bidders, clarifying various concerns. We were strict and firm, but fair, in imposing conditions, among which was submission of a P100 million cash bond and setting a minimum bid of P10,000 per square meter.“The second issue was how to determine the winner. It was agreed that the winner would be determined by the highest bid per sqm, and that all bidders would instantly, simultaneouslybe informed thereof.“For my peace of mind, I imposed a third condition. I required all consortia to commit in writing that, should they lose in the bidding, they would not obtain a Temporary Retraining Order or court injunction against the BCDA and the winner.Praying And Avoiding Pressure“My last concern was external to the bidding process. It was well-known that in any bidding, a padrino (backer) would exert pressure on the Committee to favor a bidder. Even after months of working out the process, I was still apprehensive. Every time my telephone rang, I got jittery. Could it be a padrino? Senator? Congressman? Cabinet member? the President?“I decided to be unavailable. Two days before the bidding date, I ‘disappeared.I packed my overnight bag and told my family that I would be out for a few days on business. …

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