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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Essay on Administrative Reform in the Philippines - Public Administration Essay

Essay on Administrative Reform in the Philippines

            A study was made by the World Bank about the extent of corruption in the Philippines.  The study reveals the existence of a consensus in the government, nongovernmental and international circles that corruption in the public and private sectors in the Philippines is pervasive and deep-rooted, touching even the judiciary and mass media (Chay Florentino-Holifena, 1998).  This is collaborated by the data collected in September 1998 by Social Weather Station (SWS).  The survey says that nearly two thirds of the respondent thought that corruption exists in the government with 38% saying “a great deal” while 34% saying “some.” Also, according to Transparency International which calculated that Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) n the Philippines, on a scale of1 (higher perception of corruption) to 10 (negligible perception), the CPI for the Philippines was 3.6 in 1999.  Out of the 99 countries rated, the Philippines was perceived as the Fifty-fifth least corrupt. 
            As a result of the problem of prevalence of corruption in the Philippines, then President Joseph Estrada asked the World Bank to make recommendations to help the Philippine government strengthen its fight against corruption.  For its part, the Philippines thought that the need for a stronger anti-corruption program is imperative considering that it is being cited with increasing frequency by international business surveys and anticorruption agencies as a country where corruption inhibit foreign and domestic investment.  The need for stronger anti-corruption program by the Philippines is also brought about by the effects of corruption which drains away limited and scarce resources of the Philippine government for development, distorts access to government services by poor communities and undermines the public confidence in the governments determination to help alleviate poverty and fight corruption.
            In addition, the need for stronger anti-corruption program is made imperative in view of the importance of attracting international aid which is severely hampered by the international image of the Philippines as one of the haven of corruption in Asia.  It must also be stressed that the move towards improvement in the public administration is a global trend that has affected even Southeast Asian countries which desire to improve public administration (M. Shamshul Haque, p.1297).
            The World Bank then proposed a Nine-Point Approach in fighting corruption in the Philippines as its recommendation for creating a national strategy for fighting corruption in the Philippines.  The principle behind the Nine-Point approach is focusing on reducing opportunities and motivation for corruption and making corruption a high-risk and low-reward activity.  World Bank therefore recommended nine key elements for the national anticorruption program:  a) reducing opportunities for corruption by policy reforms and deregulation; b) reforming campaign finance; c) increasing public oversight; d) reforming budget processes; e) improving meritocracy in the civil service; f) targeting selected departments and agencies; g) enhancing sanctions for corruption; h) developing partnerships with the private sector; and i) supporting judicial reform (“Combatting Corruption in the Philippines”, 2000, viii). 
            In the light of the necessity of implementing reforms in the Philippines, this paper seeks to discuss the three areas of governance that may help in the attainment of the national goals of the Philippines which is to eradicate corruption, minimize the bureaucracy, minimize overlaps in program implementation by government agencies and check the expansion of government activities.  These areas are:  (1) decentralization and local governance, (2) economic deregulation and privatization and (3) human resource management.
Reforms in local Governance and Decentralization
            The Philippines follows a Unitary form of government in which there is a concentration of political powers and authority in the national government. Legislative power, or the power to make, amend, repeal or alter them is vested in Congress which is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Executive power, or the power to administer and enforce laws, is vested in the President.  Judicial power, or the power to settle actual controversies involving rights, is vested in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.
            This is unlike the United States which adopts the Federal system of government in which political powers and authority are shared between the national government and the individual states.  However, the 1987 Constitution in recognition of the existence of territorial and political subdivisions of the Philippines which are provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, has given these territorial subdivisions local autonomy for the purpose of making them effective and efficient partners in national building.  Thus Article X Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution provides that:
“The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities and resources and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of local units.” (Art X, Sec 3, 1987 Constitution)
            The constitution also gives the local government fiscal autonomy for them to be able to provide basic services to their constituents, to wit:
            “Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees, and charges subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress ma provide consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy.  Such taxes, fees and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local governments.” (Art X, Section 5, 1987 Constitution)   
            As a result of the delegation of some powers and authority by the national government, the local government has been important and vital machineries in the attainment of national goals of the Philippines.  The national government has learned that delegating some of its powers will enable it to focus on more pressing national concerns.  It has also learned that giving communities local and fiscal autonomy will help make them proactive partners by the national government in the fight for corruption and advancement of the country. 
             As a result, the local communities have been able to transform themselves to mini-governments that can to a certain extent sustain the needs of their constituents.  The local government units have been able to propose innovations on how to help the national government.  These are: a) Taking Care of People and Environment in Negros Oriental which is a project geared towards developing and improving the quality of life in Negros Oriental, a province in the South of Philippines.  The project involves the construction of community hospital that seeks to provide basic health services and information dissemination campaign to inform the people on how to take care of their environment; b) Saving the Mangroves of Kalibo, Aklan is a project geared towards the reforestation of a fifty hectare swampland; c) Saving the Marikina River is a project whose primary goal is to restore the Marikina River for the purpose of making it one of the major tourist destination of the city; d) The Mandaluyong Public Market is a partnership between the private sector and the city for the private sector to built and operate a market on a land owned by the city.  This project is now the source of the revenues of the city which it now uses to support its provision of basic services to its constituents; e) Transforming Malalag into a Provincial Agro-Industrial Centre in Davao Del is another example of the effect of empowering local government units as partners with other government agencies in local administration and management, human resource development; f) Acquiring a Complete Equipment Pool in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija is a project of the local government unit in acquiring under-utilized equipment from national government and making good use of them in rebuilding the local government unit; g) Floating Bonds for Low Cost Housing in Victorias, Negros Occidental is a project of the local government unit which involve floating of bonds to finance housing projects of its constituents; h) Improving the Productivity in Naga City is a local government unit’s project that focuses on providing services to the constituents, getting optimum outputs with minimum expenditures, producing quality results as desired and planned and making services accessible and acceptable based on the principle of greater good for the greatest number; i) Number Code Scheme in Makati City is a project geared towards easing the traffic in the business district of the Philippines; j) Medical, Dental and Legal Mission in Caloocan City which is a project that seeks to deliver medical, dental and even legal advises to poor residents in Caloocan City; j) Solid Waste Management Program in Bulacan is a project designed to ensure that the people learn to segregate and properly dispose of their garbage.
Privatization Program
            Privatization is essentially the sale or lease of assets of the government.  It is done either because the country realizes how efficient the private sector is in business management or because the government seeks to earn additional revenues and that privatizing its assets will be instrumental in the government’s economic development program. 
            Privatization of government assets started in 1986 during an era of political turmoil as the country has overthrown the dictatorial rule of the former President Marcos.  This is the first wave of privatization.  At the time the government wanted to dispose the assets which have been sequestered from the friends and relatives of President Marcos (Lauro A. Ortile p.130). Other properties were also included in the privatization such as those that were foreclosed and taken over by banks.  The second wave started in 1990 with the disposition of government properties in the utilities and infrastructure sectors which were formerly state-subsidized (Lauro A. Ortile p.130). The third wave consists in opening of a wide range of public services such as housing health, postal services and pension funds (Lauro A. Ortile p.130). 
            According to the Department of Finance, privatization has yielded positive results for the government.  It has not only generated additional revenues, but it has also broaden the base of ownership and fostered favorable climate for investors (Privatization Monitor, 2004, p.1).    Since 1987, the revenue generated from the privatization program has reached more than P200 billion for the Philippines. 
            According to United Nation Public Administration Network (UNPAN) (1997), the Philippine Civil Service more than doubled from 430,000 in 1971 to 840,000 in 1980 to almost 1 million in 1985 (Mirshariff Tillah, 2005, p.27 ) By itself, there is essentially nothing wrong in having a large workforce.  It may be argued that having a large workforce aids in the delivery of public services and gives employment opportunities to a large number of people.  However, if despite having a large workforce delivery of public service is still slow and the amount allocated given to these civil servants eats away a large percentage of the national budget, then having a large workforce is a serious cause of concern.  It must be stressed for a country like the Philippines, cutting down the size of its civil servants is imperative in the sense that money used to pay for the salaries of non-performing employees may be utilized for infrastructure and delivery of public services.
            As a result, then President Fidel Ramos implemented one of the legislative measures designed to downsize the government and ensure that its existing employees will be more effectively utilized.  This is the Republic Act 7430 “An Act Providing for Optimum Utilization of Personnel in Government Service through a System of Attrition” which is otherwise known as the Attrition Law. The objective was attained simply by means of freeze hiring and preventing the filling of positions that become vacant due to resignation, retirements or death  (Mirshariff Tillah, p.27).
            The Attrition Law is still being currently implemented until now.  It has been so effective that it has arrested the upward trend in government employment.  Though it has not completely stopped the upward trend of the government employment, the same however has caused the increase to slow down.  Research shows that the start of the implementation of the Attrition Law in June 1992, the total number of filled positions was 1,237,435.  This number was reduced in 1993 and 1994 but increased from 1995 to 1996. The present figure of 1,213,602, however, still remains lower than the 1992 level  (“Administrative Reforms: Country Profiles of Five Asian Countries” p.117). It is also estimated that the five-year implementation of the Attrition Law, has resulted in savings for the Philippine government in the amount of more than six billion pesos (US$ 240 million) (“Administrative Reforms: Country Profiles of Five Asian Countries”p.117).

            The Philippines has undertaken dramatic changes in the last few decades.  These policy changes are manifested in the legislative measures that have been passed which are designed to eradicate corruption, minimize the bureaucracy, and minimize overlaps in program implementation by government agencies.  Though there are a lot more changes to be done, the future is bright for the Philippines as these measures are initial steps that have been taken towards national development. 
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