Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016
Various scholars and other impartial observers19 have long observed that the problems of lack of accountability and corruption in governance are ultimately traceable to the country’s historically evolved political processes and traditions.
These include: (a) the dominance of elite interests – both local and national – in politics and political contests; (b) the absence of political parties that exact accountability from individual politicians based on principled party platforms; (c) the weakness and subservience of the bureaucracy relative to the political class; (d) the unprecedented power and discretion of the executive branch that encourages both patronage politics and grand corruption; and (e) the corruption of elections through patronage and money politics. As the President stated in his Social Contract, it would appear that the country “has no vision of governance beyond political survival and self-enrichment”, which is why the country is in “need of transformational change”.
But while constitutional changes to institute crucial political and economic reforms may be in order, it is inadvisable to do so in an atmosphere of public mistrust and suspicion that such changes will be self-serving to the incumbents. As the government performs creditably, the matter of constitutional reform may be taken up. Even short of constitutional change, however, important reforms should be put in place by statute. A first priority must be to restore and maintain the record of peaceful, efficient, and credible popular elections, which already happened in 2010. Legislation to encourage the formation of stable political parties and organizations may also be considered, including campaign-finance reforms and stricter minimum formal numerical and reportorial requirements for political accreditation. Reforms in the disbursement of discretionary funds of both Congress and the executive can help weaken the culture of patronage. A reform of the internal revenue allotment (IRA) scheme which is currently a very passive and automatic mechanism, to elicit greater local revenue effort among local governments will also help reduce fiscal mendicancy among local leaders, and make them more accountable to their own constituents instead.