Radical reforms are needed for the next administration – think tank

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MANILA, Philippines — Sweeping reforms must be implemented by the next administration to undo the damage wrought by decades of personality-based governance practiced in the country, according to Stratbase Institute expert Albert del Rosario (Stratbase-ADRI ).

In his presentation of his special article titled “Lessons and Perspectives from Philippine Political Governance: Traversing Regimes from Marcos to Duterte”, Rizal Buendia, a Filipino expert from the Global V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg and non-resident member of the Stratbase-ADRI, argued that sweeping structural, political and even electoral reforms could address decades of personalistic governance blamed for the corrosion of political institutions in the Philippines, leading to certain degradation if left unaddressed.

“Philippine governance has divided national and local government based on personal, organizational and political interests which have consequently endangered national unity and national identity,” Buendia said in her study presented at a conference. online forum organized by the think tank on April 28th.

In his article, Buendia analyzed governance under seven presidents over more than 50 years in terms of transparency and accountability, electoral politics, political party system, political participation and populist politics.

The study reached several conclusions: first, that the prolonged absence or inadequacy of national transparency and accountability mechanisms and policies has not checked or resolved corruption in government; second, that the country’s political institutions have been corroded by personality-based governance; third, that the party system has been weakened by dynastic and clannish electoral politics and unprincipled/ideological political parties; fourth, that political participation has been hijacked by patronage politics and elitism; and finally, that populist politics have threatened and restricted democratic rule.

“We need an expansion of social and political structures and institutions that encourage the amplification of democratic rule,” Buendia said.

He added that the country needs policies that strengthen transparent and accountable government to fight corruption and corruption.

Another is the need for a mass electoral system to “reduce and neutralize the power of the elite, the privileged and the powerful”.

The country also needs a resilient multi-party system based on platforms, programs, principles and ideologies to strengthen representative democracy; and the institutionalization of holistic governance to counteract and prevent the fragmentation of society.

Buendia pointed out that the Philippine political party system is marked by the absence of any discernible ideological or philosophical difference between political parties, making party switching or “turning around” a common feature of Philippine politics.

He said that over the decades populism has been bred by the continued failure of governance and relentless corruption, sustained elitism in political systems, issues of peace and order, poverty, injustice and the concentration of power in the central government.

The expert noted a curious characteristic of politicians as having the ability to project themselves as anti-elite, even when they are part and parcel of the economic and political elite.

“They have become adept at associating themselves with the hopes and desires of the poor,” Buendia said.

For the President of the Stratbase ADR Institute, Professor Victor Andres Manhit, the need for a forward-looking governance perspective will remain regardless of who wins the election.

“I would say it should be three-pronged, anchored on government, private sector and civil society collaboration,” Manhit said.

“Government institutional reforms should be forward-looking and strategic,” he added.

Manhit underlined the crucial exercise of carefully choosing the country’s next leaders.

“We must demand transparency, accountability and integrity from government. We should consider the character and ability of those courting our vote,” he said.

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