Candidate scrutiny

In about two weeks’ time we will see the roster of candidates who have filed for candidacy for the upcoming national elections next year. Already, the candidates are one by one doing their own announcements ahead of Comelec’s deadline.

Based on the Constitution of the Philippines, the qualifications needed to run for president include: must be a natural-born Filipino; a registered voter; must be able to read and write; 40 years of age at the day of the election; and must have resided in the Philippines 10 years before the election is held. The qualifications are not as stringent as you and I hope to be, and essentially anyone can run for office judging from what we are seeing these days.


Interestingly, the recruitment process in the private sector is the opposite of what’s happening in the public space: the level of scrutiny and recruitment milestones increase and get harder as the position goes higher on the food chain. To get the best of the best, companies even hire recruitment companies or executive search firms to be able to successfully place the most suitable candidate to get the job done. The background and reference checks alone show how companies take the recruitment process seriously to get the right individual in contributing to achieve the company’s objectives.

One would naturally then ask: what more if this is a public position that the nation is recruiting for? Sure, the recruitment is done through our election process but how do we, as the voting population, scrutinize our candidates so we can get the best of the best to lead the nation?


We can look at the Human Development Index of the Philippines to understand further. According to the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) website, the UNDP created the Human Development Index (HDI) and is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a decent standard of living. The education index is considered in the provision of the score per country, globally. As of 2021, our country’s HDI is at 0.718 – with 1 as the highest – at a rank of 107 out of 189 countries worldwide. What does this mean? The UNDP classifies the score of those in the 0.700-0.799 as “high” in terms of human development. In layman’s terms, it is a measure of human prosperity. We technically have what it takes to be a prosperous nation but there are other factors that come into play, which is another topic of discussion later on.


That said, we can do the due diligence needed to ensure we “recruit” the best candidate suited for the job. Just like any interview we are doing for a corporate job, we need to understand the candidates’ qualifications, and how the candidate can best represent our interests locally and globally, and many others. More importantly, there is also a need to ensure that the source of our information is legitimate and hence fact-checking should become second nature to those who would like to study the candidates further.

Perhaps the more compelling discussion point here is in understanding the approach to lead the country to a better Philippines, and how to spot one who is comfortable using motherhood statements versus the other who can really roll up his sleeves and do the work on the ground. This requires careful reading of information and asking the right questions. Add to this mix is how, behaviorally, we are a nation of highly emotional people based on a Gallup survey a few years back and naturally, how this will become a factor too in our candidate scrutiny.


We will have to play the role of HR in this case. We should ask all the questions, seek the answers so we can make an informed and well-thought-of decision.

Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include nation-building, sustainability education and financial literacy. The author may be reached at