Social accountability, an imperative

Dr. Antonio G.M. La Vina, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government and BOT member of ANSA-EAP pens a column for the Manila Standard Today, reproduced in ANSA-EAP's blog VOICES, entitled Social Accountability, an imperative.  

What has been called the “Third Wave of Democracy” by Samuel Huntington describes the growth, around the end of the Cold War and the following years, in the number of countries which have granted their citizens the right to vote at large for their government, and guaranteed their civil liberties and human rights such as the right to free speech. It remains an admittedly incomplete picture, though, because civil liberties and periodic elections are two out of three ingredients for a sustainable, stable democratic state. Voting and human rights are not merely ends in themselves, but the tools by which citizens can ensure their prosperity, welfare, and stability. In the political environment, this is achieved through the policy process—in short, through governance.

This is where the ball is often sadly dropped. As the Philippine experience will attest, it is very difficult to translate electoral gains into policy gains: ensuring that the public servants elected into office execute the mandates for which they were elected. As well, Filipinos certainly enjoy many liberties—one of the most free presses in the region, if not the world; a political culture built on the foundations of the EDSA People Power revolutions; an expectation of democracy, even in spite of the occasional cynicism about Philippine politics. Yet for these advantages, we still face the challenges of bridging the gap between the rich and poor; effectively delivering basic services such as education, health and welfare; protecting the environment and marginalized peoples; and ensuring fairness and justice in the distribution of public wealth. Corruption still plagues governance, as recent headlines show.

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