• INSTITUTE FOR SOLIDARITY IN ASIA

    Communication matters

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    DENISE DALUSONG

    DENISE DALUSONG

    IT is incredibly easy to feel suspicious of real economic and national progress when you are overwhelmed with high rates of political corruption, social injustice and national organized crime. Juan and Juana are not to blame if they lose trust in a government that treats their taxes as personal money, and politicians that connive with high-level criminals with vested interests. A public official’s duty is to the nation, and is to be held responsible for delivering adequate public service to all of its citizens.

    In order for the government to perform this function, they must first and foremost learn from the communities and the people that their services target. They must go to far-flung areas and find out what these Filipinos actually need, and in the process, also figure out what needs to be done to better their organizations.
    Government and consequent national reform is more likely to spring from genuine collaboration among the different stakeholders of the country than anything else.

    We at the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) believe that good governance is a shared responsibility among the public and private sectors, and the people they serve. Using the Performance Governance System (PGS), we urge our public institutions to work with sectoral experts and the citizenry in crafting strategies that will truly develop communities and industries.The PGS forces governance partners to install mechanisms that can help maximize the strategic impact organizations can make, given their mandate. This is done through a multitude of things, including cascading the strategy and governance sharing.

    When I first started with ISA and worked closely with the National Development Company (NDC), I was relatively clueless about what they did and who their projects benefited.In time, I learned about their history, mandate and investment philosophy. During the NDC’s most recent public revalida last October 18, 2016 at the Dream Philippines Fair, Ma. Lourdes F. Rebueno, the NDC general manager, mentioned how proud and confident she was of the progress that the organization has made ever since adopting the PGS. And she should be–the NDC has consistently reached its ambitious annual targets for new strategic investments in the agriculture and power sectors. The organization’s projects are needs-based and inclusive, targeting various economic hotspots in the country.Their recent ventures have been more effective in closing the gap in supply chains, as well as profit gaps. All in all, NDC has definitely grown to become a noteworthy driver of the national economy.

    Unfortunately, this progress remains to be news for a sizeable majority. Very few media outlets covered the grand opening of the One-Megawatt Rizal Mini Hydropower–possibly the biggest and already the most publicized project of the organization thus far.Even investment experts know very little of the organization’s investment philosophy and portfolio, and there are still a number of people who cannot even get the name of the organization right; it is a company, not a corporation.

    A mentor of mine once said that “success undocumented is not success.” Especially for a public institution like the NDC, it is fundamental that wins and other matters are reported to the public. The public must be informed of which projects their taxes fund and whether or not they agree with the government in this regard. As equal stakeholders in the process, citizens must be able to know about the services that they can benefit from. In order to get people on board with the strategy of the organization, employees within the organization and the communities they service must be able to identify the strategy itself. How can we, as regular citizens, participate in attaining the organization’s vision if we do not even know what it is?

    Part of our work at ISA is encouraging our partners to craft internal and external communication plans that allow all stakeholders to support, sustain, and/or improve the organization’s strategy.These plans are essential in ensuring collaborator awareness and resultant participation–from the lowest levels of the organization, to the people who benefit from the projects organizations decide to take on. Government organizations must make sure that their matter is communicated, because communication matters.

    Silent movements are great, but socio-political change is only possible if people are informed and voices are heard.Sustainable national development thrives in a deep partnership between the government and its constituents, and trust is an integral part of this relationship. If the government can successfully communicate our nation’s progress, then Juan and Juana will be more inclined to believe in good governance and participate in building our Dream Philippines.

    Denise Dalusong is a political science graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University and is currently a program coordinator assigned to help implement the Institute for Solidarity in Asia’s (ISA) governance reform programs in national government agencies in the Philippines. To learn more about her work with the Institute, visit isacenter.org.

     

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