The Philippines went through its transition from a dictatorship to an for the required reforms to take root and finally make a positive difference. In recent years, the relationship between democracy and economic growth has attracted . democracy in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines and . The recent election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has cast a pall on U.S.-Philippine relations and thwarted Washington's ongoing pivot to Asia of improved growth, democracy, and alliance with the United States.
In fact, policies emerge as a response to the contextual challenges rather than the other way around. In some cases, economic development preceded the demand for autonomy and not the other way around. Hence, more than the distribution of goods and services, decentralization as a policy should consider how power is distributed between the state and society. Particularly interesting would be to determine whose interests are at play, how production was pursued, what the nature of the relationship is between public and private sector, and how the labor-management relations is structured.
It will be irresponsible to talk about the federal project that is detached from the social realities, local government capacities, and histories of particular places.
Transition to democracy: the Philippine experience
The tendency to discuss its consequences from a national perspective is therefore misleading. Any discussion on the effects of a multilevel system of governance on development must be localized, because after all, development happens in particular places. This is also true even across countries and regions. Why is there so much disparity even though spaces for citizens participation in local development and planning is in place? One way of understanding this is to look at democracy not just a state but as a process that requires strong and genuine local opposition parties that will continuously challenge the status quo.
It’s complicated: The Relationship between Federalism, Development, and Democracy | BusinessWorld
If there is one concern that must be raised at this point, it is the fact that local predatory powers remain resilient despite the establishment of democratic institutions after Martial Law. Democracy has shifted power from the top to below, but it was mostly the local elites that benefited from this. That the country is dominated by political dynasties, some as old as a century, is an indication of power not being able to permeate to the grassroots.
The current federal project should not be hijacked by local predatory interests. What we do not want to happen is to transfer power to the local level but there is no avenue for local power to be contested. A broad range of societal actors should be allowed to take part in the discourse and debate on the technical, legal, and political aspects of federalism.
It’s complicated: The Relationship between Federalism, Development, and Democracy
And in cases where citizens participation is observed, they remain to be passive players in local policies and politics. Hence we must be cautious to assume that decentralization and federalism leads to development and democratization. This points to two important intermediaries that connect federalism, development, and democracy.
First, we know that institutions matter, but which ones? And second, do these institutions support genuine local political competition, or do they perpetuate predatory tendencies that stifle participation in the local policy processes? Foreign debt was restructured and dutifully paid under an internationally sponsored and supported program. A free enterprise regime was made to flourish the foreign debt of the private sector was restructured under government-negotiated terms and conditions with foreign creditors, with virtually all of the gains accruing to the business sector.
Nongovernmental organizations were encouraged and allowed to proliferate. Civil society was made to thrive without government pulling the strings behind it. A land reform law was decreed: Universal education up to high school was provided for. Media were given free rein to help shape public opinion and to assist in the fiscalization of official government actions and programs.
All the above strategic initiatives, which helped give flesh and substance to democracy even during the early years of transitionwere undertaken after considerable debate, and often with reasonable delay. Moreover, their execution was far from fault-free; and those failings were all too often magnified and exaggerated by sensationalism on the part of opposition politicians and the media. Nonetheless, under the impetus of the democratic ideal, the basic strategic directions were clearly set and tenaciously pursued.
Transition to democracy: the Philippine experience | Inquirer Business
Fundamental challenges a Four presidencies have since succeeded the initial transition presidency of Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos was elected in and served a full term until Erap Estrada was elected in and served up to early he was removed from office during an impeachment proceeding in Congress. Gloria Arroyo, being vice president, became president in and was elected to a term of her own in Benigno Aquino III was elected in The Constitutionally mandated process of succession through election or as in the case of Arroyo, by succession on the part of the vice president has been dutifully observed: Nonetheless, fundamental challenges continue: Comparative rankings in competitiveness, corruption, ease of doing business, and corporate governance show the Philippines at the bottom quartile in Asia and the world.
The transition from a dictatorship to a democracy, over 25 years, has certainly brought the Philippines forward: But even after 25 years of pursuing the same strategic directions, the vestiges of corruption, bad governance and a flawed civic culture continue to present enormous challenges, which the Philippines must now confront.
Reflections on the road ahead Democracy sets very clear strategic directions; but these directions are not enough. They need to be substantiated by an equally clear set of strategic priorities, which need to be pursued vigorously and systematically every six or so years: These priorities need to be translated into, and concretized by, a portfolio of initiatives, each of which should have measures and targets of performance every year within each six-year period.
In this manner, we bring democracy from its ideal heights and bring it to bear upon the performance we need to deliver every year, and the targets we need to meet every year, or even every quarter of each year.
Democracy imposes a concrete, specific, time-bound discipline of performance. Furthermore, the deep-seated vestiges of corruption, bad governance and a flawed civic culture would need to be confronted: We can do so by installing and constantly nurturing a culture of good governance and responsible citizenship.
This may have to be done one national government agency at a time; and one local government unit at a time. It also has to be complemented by infusing that culture at all levels: