by Paula Bianca Lapuz
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino recently attended the Open Government Partnership (OGP) gathering in New York, where he met with other state leaders, including US President Barrack Obama, to affirm the country’s shared commitment with the rest of the globe in fighting corruption and to ensure more transparency in governance.
President Aquino confidently shared his administration’s initiatives to thwart corruption and to bring wrongdoers to justice and even boasted of his campaign message last 2010 elections, “Kung Walang Korap, Walang Mahirap,” (If there’s no corruption (in governance), no citizen will have to endure poverty).
But do people acknowledge good governance when they see it?
According to a study conducted by the National Statistical Coordination Board, voters do not vote based on the candidates performance on governance, proof of which is the re-election in 2007 of former government officials or their relatives in the ten worst governed provinces in the country which includes Maguindanao, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Camarines Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Albay and Romblon (Sauler and Escandor Jr., 2010).
Of course, Maguindanao is now an exception, with the old ruling clan now being prosecuted for the alleged murder of at least 49 people in Ampatuan, Maguindano last November 23, 2009, after their political rival, and now Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu challenged their dominance in the electoral arena.
Good governance champions former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca and former Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio both lost their re-election bid last 2010, despite their strong stance on good governance and campaign against corruption.
Statistics show that the country actually did quite well based on several good governance indicators per the collation of World Bank (See Annex A). Of all six indicators, the Philippines earned good rates between 1996 and 2009 in Voice and Accountability, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and yes, also in Control of Corruption, but fared poorly in Political stability in the same period.
So really, is it about corruption?
Well, corruption plays a part. But it’s not the only reason for slow development. While it is good that the President is bent on weeding out corruption, actual improvement in the political and economic climate must be seen sooner than later and this means promoting growth stimulating policies and carefully planning programs and projects specifically on poverty alleviation, job creation and education.
Corruption is everywhere in the world, even in the most developed countries like South Korea, Thailand, or even in the US, but still they manage to get ahead. It will be good to see the government moving past the campaign phase, and toward real work. We need to see
landmark policies passed such as the Freedom of Information Bill, which up until now is pending before the Congress.
FOI advocates have, in fact, criticized the President for exhibiting lack of political will on the FOI issue in his speech in the OGP summit. The group stated in a report that the President’s speech merely stated that ““government would strive for the passage of the FOI bill (Calica 2011).”
The government performance will be measured not just by its projected image to the world but also based on how it handles crucial issues. Be it as may, it is always nice to hear that something good is being done in the country. People might just be wary of immediate results.