It is time for more direct participation by the sovereign public in policy making processes and for less delegation of authority by the people to their elected representatives. Outlined below are governance areas where options for reform can be initiated.

Checks and balances

There is need to strengthen democratic institutions by weakening the political culture that debases accountability in the exercise of delegated sovereign power. The perverted culture that needs to be diminished includes populism and personalist leadership. A congress that is subservient to the President is an example. Persistent values formation among the electorate and concrete structures on which to hinge it, such as laws that require community participation in adoption of public policy, are compelling options.

Government downsizing

A lean but mean bureaucracy serves many ends. It enhances efficiency and facilitates coordination. It helps to deconstruct the intractable web of systemic corruption. It cuts to smaller sizes the playground for patronage politics and dynasty-building. The allegation is that politicians — members of Congress in particular — are quick to create government offices not because they aspire to better serve the poor, but because they need a golden cage in which to fatten their bagmen and proxies. I mean, tell me a scandal-rocked government office and I will show you a politician’s hand behind it.

Direct representation

Our experience in implementing community-driven development projects prove that direct participation in collective decision making is possible. Example is National Community-Driven Development Project (NCDDP, formerly known as KALAHI CIDSS Project), which is primarily implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The NCDDP, invoking the LGC, enhances direct participation in collective decision making by facilitating processes through which community members plan, implement, operate and maintain and monitor community projects. Funds for these community projects are part of the core NCDDP components. In other words, there is a reward (project funds) that await community members after they have gone through the community processes.

The community processes include participatory situation analysis, project development, project prioritization, community-led implementation, maintenance and monitoring, all of which are embedded with steps that require barangay assemblies (where at least 80 percent of households in the barangays are represented).

The NCDDP has achieved relative success as a community empowerment and poverty reduction tool. At least 4 bills in Congress (House Bill Numbers 4407, 4470, 4764, and 5250) that seek to institutionalize it are now being deliberated.

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