This concludes the reposting of my blog entry, "4 Proposed Solutions to Help Fix the Philippines."
4. Making Government Relevant; Reshaping our Nation through Effective Public Leadership and Active Citizenship
Ever since I can remember, we have heard never-ending complaints about how government has become a stumbling block for progress in the country. Because of corruption and inefficiency as well as a lack of vision and direction, government has become a deterrent to reforms and genuine change when it ought to be in the forefront of helping make change happen. Many are beginning to realize that the quality of life in our country is directly and intimately linked to the quality of leadership and governance.
Suffice it to say that the old methods of governance have not worked and the old style of electing our political leaders characterized by patronage and money politics has failed us. The old ways of choosing our leaders, the old ways of electing our politicians have not resulted in a better run nation. In fact , we are in a mess because of their failure to lead us. We must get rid of the old ways, reject the previous political approaches and bring in the new. We must be willing and ready to try new methods, new approaches and we must be willing to take risks, to experiment and be daring if we are to expect real changes to take place.
People's Participation in Governance. At the heart of it all is that the saying 'we get the government we deserve' and only when the citizens and citizen's groups are organized to push for community and national development will we see genuine community and national development taking place. When there are less of us interested in wanting change to happen AND are actually doing something about it and there are more of us simply watching, cursing in the darkness and refusing to get involved then the change we seek will happen later rather than sooner.
The key is active citizenship. More and more people are beginning to realize that there is a direct relationship between the quality of leadership and governance and the quality of life. It is fast becoming clear to the vast majority of our people that corrupt and inefficient leadership leads to a poor quality of life for our people. Only when a critical number of citizens begin to realize that governance is everyone's business and are willing to do their share in this regard will governance become more relevant and responsive and doing one's share includes participating in the elections by supporting candidates who are capable or by being a candidate as well if one feels that he or she has the capacity and the commitment for public service.
Supporting and/or Electing Capable Public Leaders; Public/Private Partnerships in the Communities.
In the final analysis, communities will be reshaped and our nation will move towards a new direction when the citizens together with capable public sector leaders come together, partner with each other in pursuit of a common vision for the future. It is essential therefore that citizens be engaged in supporting public sector leaders who are capable and willing to move their communities and our nation towards a new direction.
There are a number of very successful local governments in the country that exemplify this reenergized partnership between the citizens and their leaders. Naga City, Marikina City, Bulacan Province, General Santos, Cebu and Davao and Puerta Princesa Cities are just a few examples of governance in the grassroots that are truly changing the quality of life in their respective areas. The challenge is to further expand these pockets of good governance and bring it to the national level to become the general rule in governance rather than the exception.
The synergy of government and private sector partnerships can bring about sustainable reforms for our communities, our nation. Community development is a necessary first step towards national development. It must be an effort that recognizes that the grassroots is where the hard work is to be done. Local communities are in the forefront of providing a better quality of life for our citizens. They must be given the necessary resources by the national government for them to do the job well.
The Gawad Kalinga phenomenon (this writer has been an active government partner of GK since 2001) best describes how communities can be changed for the better with the active partnership of committed citizens as well as committed public sector leaders in the local and national level.
Building a National Reform Constituency; Mobilizing the Nation
In sum, to be able to address poverty, the quest for peace and ending pervasive corruption among other serious challenges facing the nation, it is essential that various stake holders are mobilized and are involved in the full implementation of these reform programs. Ultimately, the beneficiaries of these reform efforts must be involved in the realization of a better quality of life for all.
It is essential that a national reform constituency is forged and cobbled together by groups and individuals whether in government or in the private sector all of whom are committed to genuine reforms and sweeping change. Crucial in this national reform constituency are the youth and students, civil society groups, faith based organizations, farmers, fisher folk and labor groups, the academe, business groups, local and national public sector leaders and Filipinos overseas. Even the independent media groups must be mobilized to help galvanize this national reform constituency.
Committed and capable national and local public sector leaders together with the active participation and support of a vigilant and mobilized citizenry will usher in the genuine reforms we all wish for our nation.
Finally, we all yearn for a better Philippines. We all have our hopes for a better nation and as a people, we will collectively realize these hopes only when more of us are willing to make a stand, take the risk, move out of our comfort zones and pledge to commit to doing our share in helping shape our communities, in helping move our nation towards a new direction. Given the gravity of the challenges facing the nation, only an effort that is nationwide in scope, inclusive in nature and firmly rooted in the grassroots will truly bring about the change we seek for our nation.