By Jesus P. Estanislao
There is one fundamental transformative change we need to bring about, if we are going to give reality to our Dream Philippines; and it is that good governance is practiced and observed at all levels of government, and in all sectors of society.
Indeed, for us to bring our country really far into the path towards our Dream Philippines, we must have a government that can put in place the abovementioned transformative changes.
But what kind of government can put in place such transformative changes?
We would need a national government that performs at very high levels of public service standards. We would need the local government units (LGUs) to deliver transformative results and services to their constituents. We need the national government agencies (NGAs) to be able to attain developmental transformations that can bring them to the attainment of their respective goals and institutional visions.
But this is only possible if the government, both at the local and national levels, would observe and practice the principles and best practices of good governance, such as integrity, meritocracy, transparency, accountability, public participation in governance, goals and vision attainment, and sustainability.
The rich and manifold experience of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) clearly demonstrates that, with a good development and governance program faithfully implemented, LGUs can reduce poverty and achieve economic growth in their localities, while NGAs can deliver excellent and transformative results that allow them to attain their respective institutional visions.
But how do we ensure that good development and governance programs are adopted and practiced by every LGU and NGA in the government?
This is where “Re-Engineering” our economic, educational & governance systems comes in. The transformative changes we absolutely need — and as articulated above — can be achieved even without changing our current political system, or shifting to a federal-parliamentary form of government. Certain major policy adjustments and reform programs in the economic, educational and governance areas would suffice to bring about the necessary desired changes we seek.
A first crucial step: for these major policy adjustments and reform programs to be even considered, and then seriously and effectively implemented, the President of the country must believe in them and insist on them as national imperatives. But these imperatives are so systemic and fundamental that they cannot be left with the President alone. He or she must lead such that all sectors of society will be coordinated in a manner that each would contribute effectively to what they themselves must consider and deliver.
A second crucial step must be taken as well, and it is for all sectors of society, under the coordinating baton of the President, to act fast, with a sense of urgency, in identifying and implementing the major policy adjustments and reform programs that can usher in the transformative changes we need. Moreover, we need to take into account certain developments happening in the world around us. Among these are:
a) The continued rise of China’s economy and its need for more natural resources.
b) The fast and continuing advancement of technology and its disruptive impact on societies and economies unprepared to take advantage of it.
c) The shift from oil and gas to electricity as well as the shift in demand for types of skills in various regions of the world. Along with other global developments such as global warming, climate change, international terrorism, and the continued internationalization of the illegal drugs problem, all these will require us to think of where to position our country in a manner that in the end we come out way ahead.
It is really high time that we band together. Yes, we must count on government. But we must all do our share for our country´s long-term future.