GOVERNANCE IN THE TIME OF A POPULAR PRESIDENT
By: Rodney H. Rubinos
A Sick Nation
The previous administration was so rigged by corruption at all levels. The people’s trust to it has diminished and some were even lost. This lack of trust by the people in the government resulted to its instability to function well to efficiently deliver the basic social services. There were good programs at the time but because of the disoriented and low morale bureaucracy, the implementation was slow paced.
Government departments were tasked to do investigations aiming for anti-corruption also once captured media spotlight, but were mostly short-lived because of other perennial issues which involves almost the same personalities and issues every time. Anti-corruption investigations were set to wait at the parking lot – and the picture of the Philippine political system was messy, not to mention the streets filled with noisy parliamentarians articulating the interest of the marginalized.
This made the Philippines remain as the sick man of Asia in the international political scenario, making investors more than hesitant to do business in the country. The Philippine economy is just as sick – described to be on the verge of collapse. Recovery for this sick man and economy seems to need a lengthy and complex therapy.
The Hope And The Way
“If it were not for hopes – the heart would break.” –Christian Morgenstern
The installation of PNoy or President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III to the presidency in 2010 marked an achievement for the Filipino people who has desired for a brand new leadership against corruption. It was the first time after EDSA Revolution that the Philippines had another popular president. The popularity of the president did not only take flight during the election but continues to soar until the present. Critics are not deterrents for the present government to continue executing its program anti-corruption breakthrough programs with the battle cry of “Daang matuwid.”
The Aquino administration, needed to do a lot of fixing to gradually bring back the integrity of the government and trust of the constituency. In order to gear up the institutions in their full function, the heads of the agencies with personalities and advocacies not aligned to the president were uprooted from their position and this as applied on all three branches of the Philippine government. The most popular examples are: 1.) pursued anti corruption case of the former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; 2.) the successful impeachment case of Chief justice Renato Corona and 3.) the latest happened just before he could even take another turn at taking another turn in the election race, the case against former TESDA Secretary Augusto ‘Buboy’ Syjuco.
The bureaus, on the other hand, are aligning themselves to the new brand of leadership to urgently renew the political and economic environment and proving itself worthy of the trust of the people.
Governace and its core principles
These drastic and remarkable changes are now unfolding because the lessons of good governance and its practices in the developed countries has influenced the developing ones, and glad to say that even the sick man breathes hope.
This is an acknowledgement of the need to take up measures in properly executing the ultimate goal of governance which is to deliver the basic services to the people. This is also in pursuit of the nation’s aspiration to healing and breaking away from corruption. Instead, strengthen the political and economic institutions for the efficient delivery of public services and change the picture of poverty from slums to housing projects, from street crimes to more jobs until poverty becomes a mere adjective of the past.
However specific institutions and some personalities define good governance, it all leads to the fact that it operates into the common core concepts: a.) Legitimacy of the government – where people recognize the authority that rules them; b.) Efficiency to deliver public services; c.) Participation of the people are encouraged to take place in the democratic political and economic environment and lastly d.) Accountability of the people entrusted to dispense goods and services with their actions. Good governance also encompasses the three key institutions which are the government, civil society organizations and the business sectors.
Good Governance and Anti-Corruption
The Aquino administration in an effort to implement good governance developed its own version derived from the concepts mentioned above. The cabinet cluster on Good Governance and Anti-Corruption (GGAC) plan of 2012-2016 has been made operational as a “social contract between the Filipino people and the President.”
The program aims to institutionalize an open, transparent, participatory and accountable governance. The three strategic objectives of the plan are to curb corruption, improve the delivery of social services and enhance the business and economic environment. It has corresponding action plans that would lead to the desired outcome which is consistent to the program’s strategic objectives. This program has been the result of seemingly endless consultations from government agencies, civil society organizations, business groups and development partners since the GGAC program is a concrete plan made as a commitment of the Philippine government to Open Government Partnership organization to which the Philippines is a founding member.
It was evident when PNoy assumed office it was a clear indication of what the Filipino wanted – to eradicate corruption in the government at all levels for this might be our only shot at alleviating the nation from poverty.
Legitimacy is imperative for the government to bring back the trust of the people. Now, with the majority of the people’s trust already earned, government programs are easily implemented. The once-desperate Filipino has identified that there is a leader to lead the right path and all he has to do is walk it. More so, it is reassuring on the part of the public to have them involved in the policy formulation and execution.
The GGAC provided the government, civil society organizations and the business sector a venue to participative planning and decision making. Any policy that would result from any of the meetings could have smooth implementation because the people trough their representatives have had a hand in the direction of the Government programs.
Another indicative of good governance is the transparency measures through the availability of information to the public like the SALN of government employees in general. The SALN submission has been part of the government practice; however, it became controversial during the impeachment of CJ Renato Corona and became one of the paths where people can push for the passage of Freedom of Information bill. With the lack of such law, it would be hard for the government to go after those who are abusive of the information and protect those who are vulnerable to the information that one has against them.
Once this bill becomes a law, there will be a provision that the government and other institutions are to provide regular information to the public with regards to their performance. With this, people will have an involvement in monitoring whether the government agencies are efficient in the delivery of services that are required of them.
In an effort to make the government accountable to the people there are also punitive restrictive provision in the GGAC. The punitive provision dwell more on the unresolved issues on corruption involving high profile personalities. In this case, we have seen the inter-governmental agencies concerted effort like the Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation and even the Judiciary in prudent handling of the cases to prudently handle and resolve the issues.
On the other hand restrictive provision focuses on the strengthening of laws and institutional and financial mechanism directed to prevent and eradicate corruption in the government. A case in point is the implementation by the Department of budget and Management of the digital reforms initiatives which includes cashless purchase system, distribution of the conditional cashless transfers and the use of electronic banking in its transactions. These measures ensure that with cashless transactions there is lesser possibility of putting money in the wrong hands.
In the case of efficiency, it seems that the present administration institutions are in full function. There is urgency in the implementation and completion of the government projects and programs. For last seven years of being on the road traveling provincial wide, this is the first time that I have seen road constructions done simultaneously.
Legitimacy vs Time and Uncertainty
The remaining three years of the PNoy administration will focus on the completion of the programs and projects it started and to uphold the new brand of governance it has introduced and practiced. This is a transition government toward to political and economic environment where people gradually give back their trust to the institutions.
The president has the confidence to materialize his visions because of the popular support. It is maybe because PNoy projects a leadership beyond personal interest. This is what the public right now requires and in fact, this projection from the president has moved the public, undeniably. Directly or indirectly, they are now more involved in most of the government undertakings especially in the policy making aspect.
The PNoy popularity will remain with time and the legitimacy of his position is unquestionable, but his term will end in 2016. My concern is on how we can we hold on to the essence of democracy, legitimacy, accountability and efficiency with the future leadership that are now introduced and practiced with us. The responsibility still resides on the people whether to continue with the brand of leadership they popularly required of a leader.
Our institutions are just recovering from the illness of corruption towards the antibiotic of good governance and one thing I assume – that we can hold on to the continuity of this kind of governance by keeping the sanctity of the next elections.
Just like the others, I was also on the verge of joining the bandwagon of our countrymen going abroad because of the hopelessness that I felt with the situation of our country. However, I realized that we are on our way towards the progress. A progress slow paced, but enough to make me stay. Going abroad would undeniably be my way of escape from a unresolved issues that I must be a part of the resolution. Instead, I started owning those issues to truly realize, that as a citizen, I need to stay in my country that needs rescue. After all it has been my childhood dream to be a catalyst of change. If that change would be towards good governance, I would want to be a part of that change.
(Source: Cabinet cluster on Good Governance and Anti Corruption Action Plan 2011-2016)
Since 2011, I’ve been hearing from my professors at the University of the Philippines Visayas that UP-NCPAG will be extending down south. I waited for the announcements and when they finally put up the tarps, I spared no time. As one of the requirements, I needed to write an essay on why I would like to pursue the field. This was my entry to the UP-NCPAG Doctor of Public Admnistration Program, thus, let this be my first entry on this blog:
REFUSING TO BE A TEENAGE BOY: Why I Intend To Be A Doctor of Public Administration
By: Rodney H. Rubinos, MM
P.J. O ’Rourke once quoted that, “giving money and power to the government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys,” thus, I refuse to give power or be one of the teenage boys by earning my doctorate degree in Public Administration.
I had been aspiring to be, once again, a part of your department for a long time now because I am aware that it provides the best education and environment for both graduate and post graduate students.
I aim to pursue a doctorate degree in Public Administration in this university, since it has honed me back with my master’s degree. I have graduated my degree in A.B. Political Science from the Central Philippine University in 2003 and Master’s degree in Management in this university last 2009, which were the precedent steps to the post graduate degree that I want to take up. I believe our university is one of the best schools that can help me fulfill my goals in my career and continuing education.
I have been working as a Professional Health Representative for Merck, Sharp and Dohme, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies. I have been trained and assigned in different areas to enhance my company’s sales through territory management. These work experiences taught me patience, perseverance, and alertness. I have dealt with professionals with various backgrounds –especially in health and sales; therefore, it helped me to become more flexible when it comes to my management and administration skills. I also became more creative in coming up with ways to relate with people of various professional fields and resolutions to area management problems. The personal qualities and the skills that I have acquired will surely aid me in fulfilling your requirements and hopefully increase the chance of securing a better post in government service.
If ever I am chosen as a graduate student in your department, I will continue to work hard to reach my long term goals in life. These goals include career advancement, improvement on my management and administration skills and attitude, and contribution to the corporate and professional community and public governance. I will work hard to achieve these goals not just for my own sake, but for the sake of my family , my colleagues and my community. I want to use what I have learned to improve my current condition and if permitted to, I someday want to be part of your department’s faculty to pay forward for the opportunity you have given me.
With all dedication to this hope of being one of the first students to graduate with this degree in your department, I will give my best effort and commitment to my studies. I am determined to hurdle the challenges to sustain my stay in the course and in the college should I be chosen.
I am grateful for having this chance to apply as a student in your department. I know that in this university once again, I will be able to achieve my goals and enrich my knowledge to improve my skills further.