Governance reforms moving forward
“Our next leaders have an arduous task ahead of them.”
It’s a week before election day when tremendous energy and resources are expended to win the people’s mandate to govern our nation for the next six years. As polarizing democratic elections tend to be, whoever gains power will need the help of the nation’s brightest minds to navigate the evolving complexity and dynamics of nation building in a world full of crisis.
The latest in the Stratbase ADR Institute’s ongoing series of policy forums appropriately featured four of the think tank’s 16 special policy papers. These will soon be released as part of a set of sage recommendations from some of the country’s foremost thought leaders on critical reforms in governance, foreign policy, health, environment and economic recovery. sustainable.
Setting the tone for the online forum on “impactful governance reforms for the next administration,” Stratbase ADRi President Professor Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit said that at the heart of the elections lies an opportunity to define the course of the future of the country that needs a forward-looking perspective of governance, regardless of the leadership of the next administration.
“I would say it should be three-pronged, anchored on government, private sector and civil society collaboration,” he said.
He lamented how corruption and corruption continue to be a challenge and stressed the need for effective change through reforms.
“We must demand transparency, accountability and integrity from government – that we should consider the character and capacity of those who court our vote,” Manhit said.
Dr. Francisco “Kiko” Magno, Administrator and Program Manager of Stratbase ADRi and Professor of Political Science at De La Salle University, author of the special article, “Governance Agenda for Development in the Post-COVID Philippines- 19,” said corruption could be countered by making it a high-risk activity. This evil must be addressed through prevention strategies that reduce monopoly power, limit and clarify discretionary power, and promote government accountability.
Professor Magno cited the findings of the World Governance Indicators to give the next government a proper context with respect to ASEAN countries. He pointed out that although there have been improvements with the Philippines at the 5th place in the percentile ranking (2015-2019), when it comes to government effectiveness, we are at the bottom of the scale. In the Control of Corruption indicator, the Philippines ranks seventh out of ten ASEAN countries for respecting the rule of law.
To improve government efficiency, he proposed the adoption of an e-government law that would enable the interoperability of data and processes to drive efficiency in service delivery.
Dr. Sherwin Ona, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Development Studies, De La Salle University-Manila on Digitization Agenda 2022 towards a resilient Philippines through digital transformation and inclusion calls for the development of the “digitalization agenda 2022” which will operationalize the digital transformation, digital inclusion and protection of the country’s digital infrastructure by moving from the current perspective of cybercrime to cyberdefense.
Dr. Ona noted that although the Philippines has Ease of Doing Business Laws and the National Identity Law, these are fragmented and their implementation is a huge challenge. However, he pointed out that our leaders “don’t really have the idea of integrating government services or embracing the idea of digital transformation.”
“If the new administration takes digital transformation as the way forward, it should have a whole-of-company ethos. It should, in my view, embrace the idea of digital by default, privacy by design, and principles of good governance,” said Dr Ona.
Dr. Rizal Buendia, Philippine National Expert, Global V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg and Non-Resident Fellow of ADRi, presenting his special article “Lessons and Perspectives in Philippine Political Governance: Traversing Regimes from Marcos to Duterte”, stated that the continued failure of governance and unrelenting corruption, sustained elitism in political systems, problems of peace and order, poverty, injustice and the concentration of power in central government during more than three decades after the fall of the Marcos regime led to the rise of populism.
“Holistic governance promotes an integrated government organization. Integration requires a change of values, of structure in the functioning of government,” Buendia said.
Ms. Zy-za Nadine Suzara, Executive Director of iLEAD and author of the special feature “Rethinking Public Spending Priorities Towards an Inclusive Recovery”, criticized the effectiveness of infrastructure development as the main strategy for economic recovery and stressed the need for a national budget that a more inclusive economic recovery.
It calls for rethinking the current set of budget priorities “towards one that will boost health systems and support an inclusive economic recovery; implement structural reforms that would increase the ability of government agencies to respond to the crisis as well as the ability of local governments to use their funds; and restore open and participatory mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability in the provision and use of COVID-19 funds.
These are just a few of the range of problems and solutions that we need leadership to bring to the people. We need leaders with the seriousness, competence and genuine integrity to lead the nation out of this crisis, not create new ones.