Constructive engagement with government

With four cities and one municipality, the Ateneo School of Government's Government Watch (G-Watch) Pilot Run project (this is the final of seven columns on this project) had the lowest tier of Philippine government covered; the sixth site would cover an equally critical government level, provincial. Provinces, too, receive their own internal revenue allotment from the national budget; they also possess decentralized and delegated powers and responsibilities in their jurisdiction. One such responsibility is infrastructure development: critical component of economic development, cash cows and tempting targets for graft and malfeasance. And provincial programs offer larger tempting targets. Citizen monitoring and social accountability must also find a place in the larger fields, the provincial level, as they naturally roost close to home, in cities and towns.

But the larger playing field may also present larger obstacles and challenges. Philippine history is replete with the sometimes lethal viciousness of provincial politics in certain locations or regions, in and out of election season (the Maguindanao Massacre is one of the most recent, most notorious examples). As parties and families fight it out at the ballot box, reputations, fortunes, prospective lucrative opportunities and entrenched interests are at stake. Perhaps even more than cities or towns, because of suck stakes, in such provinces the virtues of constructive engagement between government and civil society might find little traction.

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