Saturday, February 13, 2010

May 2010 Election : My Suggestions for Candidates

The May 2010 election is gradually starting to heat up the political landscape of the Philippines. Political campaigns on television are starting to dominate the screen; political jingles are repeatedly playing on the radio; political posters are starting to invade the streets with the not-so-real pictures and promises of the candidates. Indeed, political campaign for the election has started. Speculations of who will make it or not are starting to rise up, thus, surveys become a trend to really gauge at least the possibilities of the candidates to make it come Election Day.

Political platforms of every candidate are full of promises. Most of which will not be kept or even remembered once they are in office. Bernard Baruch, an American statesman, succinctly captured the essence of it in the cynical admonition to voters by saying: Vote for the man who promises the least--he'll be the least disappointing.

So, to those politicians who promise good governance, quick economy development and corruption-free Philippines, may I suggest you the following. I believe that in order to achieve good governance, honest civil servants and evade corruption in government, the following measures should be observed:

1) Egalitarian society - no class distinction

School shall be compulsory for everyone with no tuition fees for full-time students. Attendance is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 17, and free meals are served to pupils at elementary and secondary levels. The first ten years of education (elementary and secondary school) are compulsory, and the pupils go to their local school.

Strengthen universal suffrage that included the right of women not only to vote but to stand as candidates for election too. Public administration is open for everyone and a career as a civil servant is open for everyone. The welfare services should be expanded. The main elements of the welfare society are a basic old age pension for everyone over 65, free basic education, kindergarten places and higher education, and health care for everyone. The state will take care of the unemployed.

All of the foregoing factors will reduce the urge to bribe civil servants and the temptation for civil servants to take bribes.

2) Adequate pay for civil servants

The career of civil servant shall be highly regarded. Salaries must not be particularly high, but good enough. Make it so attractive that losing the job is bad news.

3) The referendary or rapporteur system

The referendary system is an old pillar of legalism copied on Finland administrative system. A referendary is a civil servant who researches a matter under advisement, suggests options and offers a final proposal. In this system the referendary, who is of lower rank than the decision-making politician or civil servant, can adhere to his or her opinion against the superior party. A minister can make a political decision that differs from the proposal of the referendary. If the referendary does not sign it, it nevertheless becomes legally binding. A referendary is legally responsible for the decisions he or she makes. If a minister or the government makes a decision different from that which the civil servant involved proposed in the matter, the civil servant can obviate legal responsibility by writing a response, but that is quite unusual.

From the point of view of corruption, this system demands from the potential corrupter double work. He or she has to convince both the decision maker and the referendary of his or her interests.

4) Non-political civil servants as heads of ministries

Non-political, professionally skilled, permanent civil servants should be put as state secretaries since they are the best types for promoting the interests of citizens.

5) Transparency and openness

Everything in the public administration really is public, open for criticism by other civil servants, citizens and the media. All the diaries and records kept in the public administration are open to everybody.

6) The duty to provide public explanation of the reasons behind decisions and the duty to be proactive

Among the most important guarantees of good governance are the right to be heard, the right to receive a reasoned decision and the right of appeal. Another important principle is that it is not enough for a civil servant not to make mistakes. A civil servant must be proactive in carrying out duties in the best interests of the citizens.

7) The strong positions of the Chancellor of Justice and Ombudsman

The Chancellor of Justice works in the government – is a part of wider government - and the ombudsman is part of parliament. The president nominates both, but they are wholly independent in their work. They have all the tools and rights they need to investigate and act. They will be the highest and most highly regarded legal officers in the Philippines.

8) Collective and collegiate decision structure

Corruption is facilitated if a decision-making unit consists of only one person. The corrupter can focus all tactics and resources on that individual. As both parties usually benefit, there is little reason for either one to reveal their dealings and thus make themselves liable for possible punitive measures. If, however, decisions are made by a collegiate body, corruption becomes much more difficult and unsafe, but not impossible. More people have to be convinced of the advisability of deciding in favor of an interest group and there is always the possibility of one would-be corruptee blowing the whistle on any shady transaction.

9) A system of incentives

Make a percentage payable to the concerned department for every project that is completed on time and within budget. This money will be distributed among those in that office. (This will prevent the wrong contractor being given the job for monetary considerations)
Give judges an incentive for each case that is settled within the allotted time

10) A ‘whistle blower' program has to be initiated

Anyone reporting corruption will be rewarded and the people from that department itself will come forward since they lose a lot of incentives if one of them is corrupt. Incentives are reduced for departments where corruption has been discovered and not reported by the employees themselves.

A mandatory five years imprisonment is compulsory for any corrupt worker (apart from seizure of all earnings since inception). So if more roads are built by the Road Construction department on time and within budget- incentives will accrue to that government department.

Anonymous websites will enable 'Whistle Blowers' to reveal the corruption of their colleagues secretly. Anti Corruption squads (ACS’s) will jump into action to investigate. ACS’s will be rated on the number of successful cases handled per year and will be extremely high paid individuals so that their honesty is unquestionable.

 All government officials, from the central down to the local government, may be reelected only once.
 Families and relatives of government officials until the fourth civil degree of consanguinity and affinity are prohibited to hold or run for office. This will discourage padrino system and political dynasty in the Philippines.
 As mentioned above, the President upon taking office must renounce any party affiliation, so that he or she may be seen as neutral in regard to party politics.

There you have it guys. So if you are a politician or have a politician friends, and if you are running because you want to serve or you want to effect change in this country, you may refer it here.