Beyond Character Experimentation: Adaptation in the Next Six Years is Vital

Filipinos wait to receive treatment during a medical civil action program part of Amphibious Landing Exercise PHIBLEX 2012 in Malabon Manila Philippines Oct. 24 2011 111024 M ED903 025 2Filipinos wait to receive treatment during a medical civil action program, part of Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 2012, in Malabon, Manila, Philippines, Oct. 24, 2011. PHIBLEX is a bilateral training exercise designed to improve the interoperability, readiness and professional relationships between the U.S. Marine Corps and partner nations. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

The Philippines is an example of a middle-income country capitalizing on the advantages of adherence to democracy, decentralization, a strong civil society and its people’s capacity to innovate. It faces the challenges of deriving a governance equation that would, at least, neutralize the nationalistic limitations in its Constitution, the strong influence of international financial institutions, pervasive poverty, corruption, and yawning income and power inequalities. These challenges repeatedly form part of candidates’ campaign to secure seats in government.

The country is still at the experimental stage in choosing the rightful persons to lead this country. This is the very reason why the persons who held the presidency had varied characteristics. After successfully ending the regime of a brilliant lawyer turned dictator, we have elected a religious widow, a military officer, an action star, an economics professor, and her student thereafter.

This is the same reason why the country do not follow a defined pattern of national growth and development. Various changes and reforms have been initiated but, to some extent, they were not continued. Adding to this is the fact that the present party-system we have cannot guarantee continuity.

Of course, long-term development plan cannot be contained within six years, and people would always want more than what the government can deliver. However, we cannot entirely blame the electorate. Candidates promise almost everything during campaigns (or was it the people who thinks that these candidates can solve all their problems within three or six years?). Sometimes it makes us think, “what if God had went down and filed His candidacy?” We believe he can do it even in three days, shorter than three to six months if He wills.

Unfortunately, God is not qualified for the following reasons: (1) He is not a natural born citizen, (2) He lacks the residency requirement… and so on. Electing the President and the Vice President this second Monday of May should not be all that matters to us; proper discernment down to who deserves the last seat at the “local sanggunian” is. Inclusiveness is attained through harmonizing the goals of the local and national governments. By characterizing the candidates, 2016 is another experiment for the Filipinos.

Governance in the country has been equated with the realm of bureaucratic politics or with the operationalization of efficient management practices in running the government. For years, however, the concept evolved and its relevance now includes addressing the pressing concerns encountered by both public and private organizations.

Today, governance is viewed to include complex mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups anticipate their interests, mediate their differences and exercise their legal rights and obligations. Kooiman argues in his work “Governing as Governance” that governing can be considered as the totality of interactions, in which public as well as private actors participate, aimed at solving societal problems or creating interactions and establishing a normative foundation for all those activities. Therefore, governance as advanced by Cariño (2003) should be an approach that allows for dynamism. It chooses management over control because its system is permeable, admits outside influences, assures no omnipotence and omniscience on the part of decision-maker, and subjects decision to evaluation and critique of all those with a stake in them.

Thus, stakeholders should take part, subject to limitations set by law, in the decision-making process and their implementation.

Let us also note that challenges and problems we are facing today do not extend only to our territorial boundaries. They go beyond borders. The processes through which our decisions are made and the events happening to us affect people beyond our jurisdiction. We need to maintain and expand our linkages and establish greater cooperation and collaborations in a continuously globalizing world community.

The Global Risks Report 2016 of the World Economic Forum revealed that from the environment to international security, risks are on the rise in 2016. In this survey, 750 experts assessed 29 separate global risks for both impact and likelihood over a ten-year time horizon. The result of the assessment shows that the top 5 risks with greater potential impact for 2016 are: (1) Risks in the Failure of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, (2) Weapon of Mass Destruction, (3) Water Crisis, (4) Large-Scale Involuntary Migration, and (5) Severe Energy Price Shock. Moreover, the same assessment shows that the top 5 risks in terms of likelihood are: (1) Large-Scale Migration, (2) Extreme Weather Events, (3) Failure of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, (4) Interstate Conflict and Regional Consequences, and (5) Major Natural Catastrophes.

Four out of the five categories – environmental, geopolitical, societal and economic – were featured among the top five most impactful risks. Only technological risks were not featured, where “Cyberattack” was assessed as the highest-ranking risk in both impact and likelihood.

Income disparity is reflected in the growing interconnections involving profound social instability and both structural unemployment and underemployment and adverse consequences of technological advances. The next elected officials must provide details on how they should structure the market to work for the poor – for them to participate in the economic activity as producers, as employees, and as consumers.

Technological risks may have not yet impacted the economy or security in systematic ways, but the risks still remain high; something that the government should reflect on.

Beyond characterization of the candidates and the packages they offer, the electorate should look into how these two connect to the risks our country and the world are facing in the next six to ten years. The next leaders of this country should have a national development framework, or at least flagship programs that respond to risks with greatest potential to impact society and their likelihoods to happen. They should give higher priority to formulating plans of action as well as planning for contingencies in these risk areas or categories. Mitigation measures against such risks are important, but adaptation is vital.

Reymund B. Flores is a graduate student working on his Doctor of Public Administration degree at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG).