The issue is government effectiveness


Sen. Serge Osmeña has done the nation a world of good in calling attention to the under-performance and awful management of President Aquino and his Cabinet after nearly four years in office. Coming from an Aquino ally and key campaign leader in 2010, that’s a thunderbolt that could electrocute, or at least wake up everyone.

The public should get to the heart of the criticism and the issue. There’s a danger that some will dismiss the problem as just semantics; other observers and critics have indicted the administration more harshly as incompetent and clueless, barely a notch above a student council government.

To muddy the issue, Budget secretary Florencio Abad has weighed in with his own rating of Aquino’s performance, giving him high marks as a manager. With Abad’s responsibility for the disbursement of pork barrel funds and the invention of the mammoth Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) still festering, that’s the equivalent of Al Capone rating the FBI on law enforcement. Just because his office is called the Department of Budget and Management does not cloak Abad with management expertise, a notion that no budget secretary in history ever claimed.

It is equally misleading to feast on the Osmena quote as the death knell for a lameduck presidency, as some are merrily doing in social media.

It is more important for the nation to get its perspective straight and read the nation’s pulse accurately, so we can focus on the real challenge facing us.

No policy agenda to solve problems
The primary issue here, I submit, is government effectiveness – government failure to draft a coherent policy agenda for solving the nation’s many problems and urgent crises.

Most glaring among the administration’s failures are:

Helplessness in coping with the devastation and human misery wreaked by Super Typhoon Yolanda, despite the massive assistance provided by the family of nations and international aid organizations;

Rising joblessness amid a growing economy, and deepening poverty;

Weak agricultural growth and manufacturing decline;

Slow buildup of the nation’ infrastructure;

High prices of basic utilities—electricity, water rates, and telecommunications;

Unstable relations with neighbors.

Government ineffectiveness in these areas are striking because the past three years under President Aquino’s leadership have been a time of growth for the economy; a rare time of positive reports on our country; unprecedented growth of international reserves; rise of the Philippines to the top in business process outsourcing, and the rise of overseas workers remittances to nearly $22 billion annually.

The tremendous capital created by these positive developments, however, has not been effectively translated into lasting political stability, government competence, economic dynamism and social harmony.

The meaning of effectiveness
In a vivid explanation of the idea of effectiveness, the thinker and teacher Edward de Bono says:

“Without effectiveness there is nothing. The greatest dreams in the world stay as dreams if there is no effectiveness.

“What is effectiveness?

“Effectiveness is setting out to do something and doing it.

It is as simple as that.”

De Bono wrote these words in the book, Handbook for the Positive Revolution, which he wrote for Brazil to assist its government in its bid for national transformation. Remarkably, in just a decade after its publication in 1991, Brazil rose to the front rank of nations, and is now ready to host the World Cup this year, and the Olympics in 2016.

Effectiveness is the missing link, you might say, in the evolution of the Noynoy Aquino presidency. It is the crying need of our government today.

As scandals have proliferated over the pork barrel and smuggling, government in our country has never been in greater disrepute and less trusted by the citizenry than it is now.

Public officials, elective and appointive, are uniformly suspected of raiding the national treasury.

The low public regard is mirrored by a decline of talent in government service. As President Aquino is perceived to have no qualifications for the presidency, so people of talent and with expertise shy away from public service, leaving the field alone to the mediocre and easily corruptible.

Without respect and trust in government, there can be little change for the better.

A positive case for government
President Aquino has often lamented that the media and his critics stress only the negative in what they see around them and do not see and report the positive.

Ironically, according to a highly respected Harvard professor of management, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, building the positive case for government is a key part of the solution for making government more effective. She writes:

“The most important factor is leadership . . . To restore respect for government, leaders need to argue the positive case—that government carries out meaningful and beneficial functions, that public service can be a high calling, and that government services can be [and should be]provided with impartial professionalism . . .

“As long as antigovernment rhetoric goes unchallenged and voices of respect are silent, we will not get good government.”

I have a theory that it wouldn’t be so problematic if PNoy was not so arrogant, vindictive and divisive at the start of his presidency. The belief that he could do no wrong and the inability to admit mistakes has combined with arrogance and vindictiveness to create a toxic situation for the administration and our society.

Now is the time to restore the situation to sanity and balance.

Now is the time for the President to reason together with other leaders. Conversing only with himself will lead nowhere.

The criticisms will become more positive and less scathing when the government shows and proves its effectiveness in solving national problems.

Effectiveness requires professionalism and competence.

Good government is based on facts, and can never be sired by mere propaganda.


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  1. Where have you been hidin’ Yen? This is the stuff champs are made of ya know.

    Now, some clueless palace propangandists know why our Boss had some more than 20 odd years of excellent administration— critic’s claim to the contrary—– notwithstanding.

    For sure if ya can lay off from snookering—then maybe we’ll both be given another shot at helping out whoever comes out smokin’ in the 2016 polling.

    chiz hor

  2. Effectiveness of governance is the issue, my friends. We have to commend Mr. Makabenta for giving us a most reliable definition of what the word “effectiveness” means. Leaders of government, most especially, must have this quality to govern and lead his people. The best model I can think of is Jesus Christ. His EOs were doable. First he started from “ground level” HUMILITY. His chose his team from sectors of life adapted for the task he would hold them responsible in helping achieve the goal he set: fishermen (they were to be fishers of men), tax collector (he needed someone who knew the law of taxation), a treasurer (a crook from the start, but he did not mind because a good leader knows how to give a second chance to an erring associate, patient, that is), a secretary (speech-writer, like H. Coloma, perhaps?). Jesus Christ personally chose them, trained them not with words, but with example. When a leader is humble, he listens, he makes himself available to everybody – even to the devil – only with the latter he knew how to unmask his treacherous approaches. Why? This humble Leader was always in communion with his Father and the Spirit. He never did things on his own. His team learned all their lessons of effective governance from no other than Jesus Christ on whom God said: “Thiss is my beloved Son, listen to him”. See, they even gave up their lives rather than do differently.

  3. The only reason why we are left behind by other countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and other developing countries in Asia, because we continue to be blinded by emotions and the thought of who is being popular in selecting our national leader, instead of selecting a competent and a visionary leader. Huwag tayo magpadala sa mga nambobola at popular lang na mga politoko every election campaign. Having an allegedly honest leader will not necessarily make a country succeed if the national leader is not competent and visionary. So why not start thinking about this in the next presidential election? We need to learn and consider a leader who may not be popular but competent enough, with good historical background in governance and with good vision in leading our country to progress, aside from being honest. Pwede ba huwag na natin ibenta ang boto natin dahil tayo lang mahihirap ang laging kawawa pagkatapos ng election?

  4. Paano maging epektibo ang programa ng pamahalaan kung kahit na sino ang maluklok bilang presidente basta hindi marunong magbigay ng grasya lalo na sa media ay laging binabahiran ng katiwalian kahit hindi pa nakapagsimula ang proyekto? Kinalimutan na ata nila na ang lahat ng problemang pang ekonomiya na naganapsa loob ng 9 na taon ay minana lang ni Pi-Noy at ginagawan ng paraan para maibsan man lang kung hindi maalis ang mga masasamang nangyayari na pilit kinakalaban ng mga taong nasanay na sa biyayang ipinamimigay ng dating pangulong GMA, maging sa taga media man o nasa nanunungkulan at karamihan ngayon ay sumasakay na lang sa isyu para sa darating na 2016.Kung may positibo man ay natatabunan ng ipinangangalandakang negatibo ng taga media.

  5. “Ironically, according to a highly respected Harvard professor of management, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, building the positive case for government is a key part of the solution for making government more effective.”

    I cannot see how this article help in “building the positive case for government.”

  6. “Ironically, according to a highly respected Harvard professor of management, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, building the positive case for government is a key part of the solution for making government more effective.”

    I do not see how this article is “building the positive case for the government.”

  7. You fail to give credit for the economy to the architect of sound policies the benefits of which continues, PGMA. And to the resilience of the OFW remittances.