Social Accountability Policy Environment in the Philippines
While the Philippine Constitution of 1987 provides for mechanisms for citizen participation in governance, the enabling laws and policies are mostly at its incipient stage. The use of these measures is similarly largely unknown to civil society and the government. The laws that seek to implement this Constitutional edict can be classified into two: 1) those that seek to provide information; and 2) those that allow citizens to intervene in governmental processes. The first class of rules is the primary basis for meaningful participation by the citizens under an SAc approach. The second class delineates the manner by which citizens can engage government to be able to fulfill the SAc approach.
The first class was supposed to have received a major boost with the enactment of the bill on Freedom of Information. The legislature has failed to pass this bill into law even after the reconciliation of the different versions of both chambers of the legislative. It remains to be seen, whether the last few days of the current Congress will act favorably on this measure. However, even without the codification of the rights of citizens to access information, there are enough provisions to allow access to vital information that will allow the SAc approach to flourish, albeit scattered and without clear provisions for remedies.
The second class of policies should allow citizen participation in governance on several levels: determination of policy; monitoring of programs; performance audits; and impact assessment. Given the different types and levels of intervention in governmental processes, these are similarly dispersed in the different laws that create the different offices of government. To cite an example of an unused mechanism, the Local Government Code of 1991 mandates the creation of Development Councils with defined memberships and powers. Non-governmental actors have a major role in these Development Councils. Yet, these mechanisms have been largely ignored, unused or frustrated by local government units. Another example is the mandate of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 to conduct hearings prior to the issuance of administrative issuances or implementing rules and regulations. The provision’s objective are frustrated by unclear standards on identifying stakeholders, the manner by which consultations are conducted, and uneven application by the different agencies. Unfortunately, there is as of yet no inventory of these laws that could allow the SAc approach to flourish.
The main aim of the review is to provide a deeper understanding and informed appreciation of the policy environment that shape and contribute to the understanding and practice of SAc in the Philippines. Click here to read draft paper