The presidential business of (mis)educating Filipinos

Like any voter looking for answers to the most pressing issues of the day, I sat in front of our television for ninety minutes, anticipating a lively exchange among presidential candidates for the May polls. I expected that apart from saying something civil about each other’s conduct, performance, and platform of government, the candidates would be more straightforward on issues like corruption, indecisiveness, incompetence, inexperience, and human rights violations linked to each one of them. But as it turned out, I watched with a wrong set of expectations. What transpired was a modified quiz bee that talked a little bit about what can be expected of the candidates when elected. I would learn later that the ‘debate’ was patterned after the Republican debates in the United States. “No wonder it was lousy,” said Rain, our seven year old boy, upon learning about the format.

I was hoping that a question on education would be among the first to be thrown in, especially so that the first leg of the debate took place in Mindanao where, based on Philippine Statistics Authority’s records, three of its regions—ARMM, Socsargen, and Davao—registered consistently the highest combined dropout rate among elementary and high school students since 2007. The ARMM’s 14 percent, Socsargen’s 12.3 percent, and Davao’s 12.2 are in fact higher than the national dropout rate of 10 percent. I understand how and why the framing of the debate highlights the precarious peace situation in Mindanao, but it is utterly disappointing that the discourse on education is conveniently sidelined in favor of soundbites, none of which came out blazingly from either one of the candidates. Debates over issues on education would have provided the lens from which the audience could view and discern the compelling and the competing narratives that tend to confuse rather than enlighten people on the so-called Mindanao issue.\

Six years ago at an education conference I attended at the Capitol University, where the first leg of the presidential debate was held, delegates from all over the world came to participate in a variety of thematic sessions designed along the overarching question on how to make education truly inclusive and for all. Against the backdrop of sinking budgets in education in the Philippines and elsewhere at that time, we confronted questions such as on how our respective governments and institutions both public and private are responding to the urgency of meeting the Millennium Development Goals as well as the Education for All agenda five years from then, in 2015. Today is February 2016, a good two months after the deadline lapsed. To the best of my recollection, we have not fully achieved our own national targets. As you are reading this piece, there are 124 million out of school youth and 150 million children between the age of five and 14 have been forced to enter into the labor force in different parts of the world.

I reckon that in 2010 we were at the crossroads, uncertain of where the next leadership will lead us but constant in our faith and commitment as to where our common advocacy in education should be headed. On Sunday, the same realization dawned upon me as I was watching the debate where aspiring presidential candidates tried but failed to impress us with their mediocre understanding of things that really matter to us, voters or not. Again, they say, it’s the format.

If people are keenly aware, we are in transition from the current administration to the next. To some, this is no big deal as this happens every six years. However, there is always a danger in belittling the importance of such period. Isn’t it we thought that when the Marcoses fled, and with Mrs. Aquino at the helm of our newly-restored democracy in transition, everything would be fine? Of course, we inaugurated the 1987 Constitution with the accompanying hope that that sacred document would prevent the rise of a new dictator. True enough, we have not seen a Marcos 2.0. But what we have in our midst are the mini Marcoses, mini-dictatorships that deformed our institutions and political system. Thankfully, a fitting question about these finally popped up in the debate between the vice president and Senator Miriam Santiago. It was about political dynasties, of which the vice president’s family belongs and even proud of it and for which issue Sen. Santiago wanted to address by proposing an enabling law on the Constitutional prohibition of political dynasties. But as fate would have it, hers and the various anti-dynasty measures filed in both houses of Congress have not seen the light of day for why would dynastic members of Congress legislate their eventual extinction.

We have come to accept the fact that the transition from dictatorship to democracy was a double edged-sword. While we shun centralist decision-making, we installed replicas of authoritarianism in many parts of the county. What facilitated this anomaly, if not abhorrent regression, is the failure of our education system to produce the kind of citizens that are not only conscious of attempts at revisionism but are ready and committed to resist the return of authoritarianism in its many guises. While we have produced vast amounts of knowledge and information in the last thirty years, unfortunately these were not enough to equip us with wisdom, foresight, and critical thinking that would have guided us in those crucial transitions that many of us care less for their seeming ordinariness.

There is another transition across the Pacific, as the Americans will go to polls in November. Whether we like it or not, the results of their election not only will shake the Washington establishment; they send tremors across the Pacific, the Atlantic, and virtually all parts of the known universe as Washington dominates the shaping of the global agenda on education and development and the associated funding and resource mobilization. In the face of these transitions, where do we stand? What needs to be done?

The answers to questions beyond shortfalls in the Millennium Development Goals, for one, could not wait until the second leg of the debate moves to Cebu City, or until someone fully explains to the candidates why we are moving to Sustainable Development Goals 2030. I believe the public has waited long enough that any delay in the answer to their questions would be viewed as an evasion if not an outright refusal to address those issues. Which reminds me of the word the vice president loves to describe his leadership style: decisive. When the Senate summoned him to finally air his side on allegations of corruption against him and several members of his family, he suddenly found the courage to be indecisive for reasons only Jejomar Binay Sr. knows.

It would have been beneficial if the presidential candidates were asked on our transitioning from the MDGs to SDG 2030 not just because it is the global buzzword of the moment but precisely to probe deeper into how much thinking they put into their campaigns as far as building and aligning, or deviating even for more context, their education agenda to the national, regional, and global goals in education. It is easy to write lines upon lines of a detailed platform of government with emphasis on issues closer to a candidate’s heart. But until they demonstrate clearly how they are going to do it and where they will get the money for it, it is best to take their statements as promises, as Sen. Santiago loves to call it.

It also escapes me why despite the education sector getting the highest budget for 2016 the debates or its organizers did not find education something worthy of top billing. There is a wealth of discussions around education themes, especially that the Aquino administration is now in the final stages of full K-12 implementation with the rollout of senior high school.

We have seen a steady rise in the budget allocation to education, which should be construed, and rightly so, as a testament to our commitment to invest in the future of our children. This allocation is in sync with the government’s social protection program that keeps school-age children rightfully where they belong—in school, or in alternative arrangements where meaningful instruction can be delivered to them. The synergy in these mechanisms produce some outcomes, the interpretations of which may vary in range from frustrating, interesting, and  encouraging, depending on which way you look at it. For these alone, the candidates would have had enough for two hours’ worth of debate. (I shall not burden readers with statistics as they can easily refer to official and alternative sources).

The reform initiatives in the basic education sector undertaken in cognizance of the MDGs and underpinned by inclusion are worth the candidates’ attention, whether they affirm or discredit them. For one, there are gaps that need narrowing. There remains a lot of work in terms of improving targeting to reach out more marginalized families, sustaining funding and mobilization of resources, and crafting of data-driven and equity-based policies to achieve a truly universal access to education for every learner. But there is no denying we have done well our part in our bold attempts at making education inclusive. Whether what we have done is inclusive enough and sustainable is another story altogether. That would have been the point for candidates to make.

When they gather in Cebu for the second leg of the debate, the presidential candidates, courtesy of their advisers, may have already mastered their ninety-seconders to mesmerize their audience once more into buying their promises. Yet the presidency is more than mastery and preparedness as some presidential advisers and academics wanted to make it appear to prop up their favored candidate’s abundance or lack of it. We have elected presidents who were not only reluctant but also largely unprepared. The same can be said of President Aquino, who despite being unprepared is able to accomplish something in his singular vision premised on anti-corruption. The presidency, for all its perceived power and sophistication of office, is also about arranging priorities, or rearranging them when necessary, and aligning all forces within its power to move towards their achievement. The arranging and rearranging of priorities, the presidential candidates must be warned, demands defending and building on the gains of the past administration and never diminishing them that only those who fully understand what inclusive and sustainable mean to governance and education will do at all cost.

 

In search of a ‘losing’ candidate

With less than 50 days before election day, the camps of the 5 presidential candidates are now on overdrive. And if the second presidential debate in Cebu City was any measure, it is easy to surmise who the losers and the gainers were.

However, we don’t settle for the easy stuff of referencing post-debate online polls to assign winning and losing bets, because what’s at stake is not only our personal preferences but the nation’s fate as well in the next 6 years. It is in this light that we need to disturb our collective mind with both the basic and complex questions that ought to confront not just every voter but more appropriately, the 5 presidential candidates who have offered to lead us. But lead us where?

Except perhaps for one, the 4 presidential candidates have drafts of what read and sound like a platform of government ready for the prying public to go over, section by section. These are important documents in the campaign for they inform voters on the kind of administration they can expect from a candidate.

Some camps are able to attract the best legal minds into their core team of campaign advisors, including some of the country’s top economists, whose thinking is reflected in those drafts. Other camps are not as lucky, populated by people perceived by the public as recycled has-beens who have been around too long but have never added value in political discourse and in actual governance.

Painful truth

While having the right team lends credibility to a campaign, the painful truth remains: the ability to govern, to lead, first and foremost, is a direct function of the winning candidate.

Traditionally, candidates surround themselves with the best expert advisers, yet the decision to act on their advice rests solely with the candidate. This is the simpler way of explaining what leadership is and should be. This is true in the presidency, or any important office for that matter.

While in this hypothetical instance, the role of advisors is underscored, if not overly emphasized in the case of amateur candidates, the president’s ability to decide is more critical. During the campaign, a candidate can flip-flop on important issues in as many times as fuel prices fluctuate. But after the winner is proclaimed, there is no more room for high school-type experiments on decision-making – not when we decide to remove constitutional barriers to attract more foreign investments, and certainly not when our sovereignty is being challenged by a regional giant.

Before we cast our sacred vote for any of them, there is an urgent need to probe further and deeper into each of the candidate’s innate abilities beyond acquired skills, foresight beyond sloganeering, vision beyond verbosity, and spontaneous responses and unguarded actuations beyond staged affection and token charity.

These qualities are equally important, if not supremely important, than the candidates’ track record and experience in previous positions for it is more convenient to pander to what is pragmatic and doable than to pursue a course of action that is morally discernible and sustainable.

The demands above are difficult, if not entirely impossible, for most of the candidates to meet. For some, meeting these would mean losing; most of them would rather play to the gallery than tell people they came to listen to them with the wrong expectation. (Lest we forget, we, as voters, are confronted with the following dilemma: If my candidate wins, can she or he govern? If my candidate can govern, can she or he win?)

Convenient strategy

Winning should not be so difficult especially for candidates who consistently lead in opinion polls and who have a better grasp of the pulse on the ground. But governing is. The “win first, govern later” is just a convenient strategy for political managers who preside the rise or demise of their principals’ candidacy and who get paid regardless of the result. We know the strategy is not necessarily the right one; not even a good one.

Campaigns and elections are not about strategists, although they or the strategies they employ have a bearing on the success or failure of their candidate. It’s about the candidate and her or his party, or lack of it, and what they can all bring to enlighten political discourse and to push for broader reforms when they assume power.

When then Vice President Joseph Estrada launched his presidential bid in 1997, the fate of his presidency and the nation’s as well was already sealed – at least for the duration of his term, which was interrupted, thankfully, by the people disillusioned by his misrule.

To Mr Estrada, it was all about winning everyone – the masses, his movie fans, local political kingpins, religious organizations, and some say even the so-called Binondo central bank that allegedly financed partly his bid. His campaign, bearing the singular message,”Erap para sa mahirap (Erap for the poor),” so endeared him to voters they sent him to Malacañang with more than 10 million votes. It was winning at all cost.

‘Winning is about losing’

The winning part, many forget or refuse to acknowledge, should start way before favorable opinion polls and hefty campaign contributions come trickling in; the winning is to be found in the clear language and agreement on what the candidate and the voter can work on together and be held accountable for later on.

Winning is not derived on promises, nearly all of which are written in thin air. Nor is winning guaranteed by that piece of paper filled with sophisticated language in climate change adaptation and renewable energy generation, among other beautifully sounding programs and strategies but which leaves everyone perplexed as to how these will be funded.

Winning is about losing the accustomed comfort of being praised all the time for brilliance, composure, elegance, humility, simplicity, bravery, and preparedness in exchange for taking all the manure for being slow but tenacious in sticking to what is right and good for everyone.

In the Cebu leg of the debates, Mayor Duterte forcefully told the audience that anyone seeking to be president should be willing to kill and get killed; otherwise, she or he is not up to the office. In fact, the good mayor is adamant about ending crimes and the drug menace within the first 6 months of his presidency. But anyone seeking to be president should also be willing to lose the claim that long experience in governance is enough to bring the country to where it should be headed, as well as the illusion that youthfulness and inexperience bring energy and new perspective to managing the affairs of the state.

Unless we all agree that the Philippines is one humongous barangay located somewhere in the South China Sea, then everyone can start running and winning the position of the president at all cost. Unfortunately, the presidency is greater than what is demanded of it.

 

Link to Rappler: http://www.rappler.com/views/imho/127052-search-losing-candidate-philippine-elections 

Language-in-education policy: Gaps and challenges in the mother tongue based multilingual education (MTBMLE) implementation in Philippines basic education

 

Introduction

This paper shall discuss the gaps and challenges in the policy implementation of the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBMLE) as reflective of the language-in-education policy in Philippine basic education.

This paper shall use Susan Malone’s framework in the assessment and analysis in the hope of offering a better understanding of the issues and demands pertinent to policy implementation of strong MTBMLE. As a complement, Jessica Ball’s Spheres of Influence framework shall be taken briefly.

The paper shall trace the evolution of the language-in-education policy in the Philippines. However, its focus of discussion is the current iteration of the policy as embodied in existing laws and instrumentalities that serve as the legal and operational framework for its implementation. These policies include pertinent provisions in the 1987 Constitution, Republic Act 10533 and its implementing rules and regulations, and the Department of Education Order No. 74 s. 2009. It must be stressed that aside from national policies, the Philippines’ language-in-education policy is also cognizant of the various international conventions, standards and practices that influence and dictate directly or indirectly the form and substance and the course and outcomes of our education programs, chief among these the 1990 UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child (Articles 28 and 30).

Finally, this paper hopes to offer insights on the dynamics and synergies involved as well as the context of the language-in-education policy that is currently in place in terms of how it got to where it is right now and what are the prospects and possibilities moving forward.

The Evolution of Language in Education Policy

The Philippines’ language-in-education policy has evolved with the structures of the state and its institutions over a long period of time. By and large, the policy in place has always been reflective of the desire of the government or administration in power and embodied in its fundamental law:  the Constitution. During the Spanish colonial period, our school system had Spanish as the official medium of instruction. The use of Spanish language, being the language of the colonizer, is extended to civil service and business. During the short-lived first Philippine Republic, the 1899 Malolos Constitution, interestingly, made Spanish still compulsory in public and judicial affairs. During the American period, English replaced Spanish as the official State language and as the language used in commerce and trade. Eventually, the post-war establishment of the Philippine Republic precipitated also a shift in policies—foremost among them the language-in-education policy. But as early as the Commonwealth period, former president Manuel L. Quezon had already envisioned a national language based on Tagalog, the language of his region and his mother tongue. Article XIII, Section 3 of the 1935 Constitution provides:

“The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.”

In response, the First National Assembly approved in November 13, 1936 Commonwealth Act No. 184, mandating the creation of the National Language Institute. The goal of the Institute was to recommend one of the existing native languages to be used as the basis for a national language. Not long after, in December 30, 1937, President Quezon signed Executive Order No. 134 s. 1937 proclaiming the national language of the Philippines based on Tagalog language as recommended by the members of the National Language Institute. The said executive order would precipitate initiatives for the full institutionalization of a language-in-education policy, in this case, a national language that is based on Tagalog. The institutionalization of the Tagalog-based national language, then called Pilipino, found traction during the Japanese occupation when it was used as part of the propaganda, thereby bringing the language to areas where it was not spoken, much less understood. Yet the institutionalization of the national language was not without opposition as there were more non-Tagalog speakers in the Philippines at the time than Tagalog speakers.

The so-called ‘language divide’ that pervaded for decades was left unresolved even after the passage of the 1973 Constitution. The otherwise benign provision on Article XV, Section 3 (2) which provides that “the Batasang Pambansa shall take steps towards the development and formal adoption of a common national language to be known as Filipino” did not do much to quell the protest and resistance of the majority non-Tagalog speakers over the non-feasibility of the measure because Filipino as an artificial language lacked “both native speakers and a literary tradition to help propagate it.”

In light of the 1973 Constitution, the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) released DECS Order No. 25 s. 1974, entitled “Implementing Guidelines for the Policy on Bilingual Education,” which served as a basis for the institutionalization of bilingual education policy in basic education. The Bilingual Education Policy (BEP) “aims at the achievement of competence in both Filipino and English at the national level, through the teaching of both languages and their use as media of instruction at all levels.  The regional languages shall be used as auxiliary languages in Grades I and II.  The aspiration of the Filipino nation is to have its citizens possess skills in Filipino to enable them to perform their functions and duties in order to meet the needs of the country in the community of nations.” Furthermore, the goals of the BEP shall be the following: (1) enhanced learning through two languages to achieve quality education as called for by the 1987 Constitution; (2) the propagation of Filipino as a language of literacy; (3) the development of Filipino as a linguistic symbol of national unity and identity; (4) the cultivation and elaboration of Filipino as a language of scholarly discourse, that is to say its continuing intellectualization; and (5) the maintenance of English as an international language for the Philippines and as a non-exclusive language of science and technology. Filipino and English shall be used as media of instruction, the use allocated to specific subjects in the curriculum as indicated in the Department Order No. 25 s. 1974.

The 1987 Constitution, while additive in character as far as the provision on language-in-education policy goes, nevertheless upheld the designation of the artificial and still Tagalog-based Filipino as the national language. Article XIV, Section 6 provides:

“The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.

Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.”

However, Section 7 of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution provides for the inclusion of regional languages as auxiliary official languages that can be used as an auxiliary media of instruction. Section 9 of the same Article XIV even underscores the promotion, research, development, propagation, and preservation of Filipino and other languages. In light of the new Constitution, the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports released DECS Order No. 81 containing the Alphabet and a Guide for Spelling in the Filipino Language. The Order stipulated that the Filipino alphabet is composed of 28 letters comprised of the original 26 letters of the English alphabet, plus the letters Ñ and Ng. The order also provides instruction on how to read the letters. On August 25, 1988, then President Corazon Aquino signed Executive Order No. 335 enjoining all government offices to take steps necessary for the purpose of using Filipino language in official transactions, communications and correspondence.

On August 14, 1991, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act 7104 creating the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), which is tasked to “undertake, coordinate and promote researches for the development, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages.” On May 13, 1992, the KWF under Ponciano B. P. Pineda passed Resolution 92-1, describing Filipino as a native language, spoken and written in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, and in urban centers in the archipelago where it is used as a language for communication among ethnic groups. Like any other language, Filipino is in the process of development through loans from other native Philippine languages and non-native varieties of the language and through use on various social situations by speakers of different backgrounds for conversations and for scholarly discussions.

In 1994, then President Ramos signed into law Republic Act No. 7722 creating the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). In 1996, the Commission issued CHED Memorandum Order No. 59 s. 1996, which states that “in consonance with the Bilingual Education Policy underlined  in DECS Order No. 52, Series of 1987, the following are the guidelines vis-a-vis medium of instruction, to wit: (1) language courses, whether Filipino or English, should be taught in that language. (2) At the discretion of the HEI, Literature subjects may be taught in Filipino, English or any other language as long as there are enough instructional materials for the same and both students and instructors/professors are competent in the language. Courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences should preferably be taught in Filipino.

Between 1995 and 2009, there have been numerous attempts in Congress to strengthen and make English as the medium of instruction in all levels. In the 13th Congress, for example, the House of Representatives passed on third reading the so-called English Only bill by Cebuano congressman Eduardo Gullas. However, the Senate failed to act on the Bill as its members were already busy preparing for the 2007 midterm elections. The English Only bill was intended to supersede the bilingual education policy that was still in place since 1974. But neither of the so-called English Only bills came to fruition and in July 14, 2009, the Department of Education issued DepEd Order No. 74 s. 2009 mandating the institutionalization of the mother tongue-based multilingual education in Philippine basic education.

In 2010, President Benigno Aquino III undertook a major education reform by introducing the K12 program and in 2011, he signed into law Republic Act No. 10533, which put in place the K12 system in Philippine basic education. RA 10533 embodied the MTBMLE provisions of DepEd Order No. 74 s. 2009 in Sections 4 and 5.

Models for Assessing

The framework by Susan Malone (2003) is a useful tool in the assessment and analysis of MTBMLE policy implementation. Malone contextualizes MTBMLE within the fold of Education for All (EFA), which requires that new models of development and language and education policies that are integrative in character and operation be put in place to ensure sustainability of education programs that governments undertake.

It is Malone’s view that a strong MTBMLE program owes much of its strength to research where baseline information such as language and education situation are ascertained and factors such as challenges and difficulties in program implementation are obtained and carefully analyzed. Social acceptance or buy-in is also crucial for a program where stakeholders are adequately informed and educated about certain initiatives that are likely to affect them. Higher awareness levels often result into greater mobilization for program support in its various phases. Meanwhile, bringing in the right people into the program is an equally crucial component and by the right people, it means those who are competent, motivated, respected, and passionate, too, about the program. The orthography is another major component required of a strong MTBMLE. However, its development has always been contentious and marred by protests from linguistic communities whose members believe that some agencies of government have effectively stripped them of ownership of their very own orthography because they are less or not involved at all in the process of developing it.

Curriculum and instructional materials are a given in any learning environment. The curriculum and learning materials are, and should be, materials that enable learners to build strong foundations of the first language (L1) and a good bridge to additional languages. The materials should be responsive, contextualized, and localized and enable learners to improve performance and achieve education goals. The learning materials should also be appropriate, interesting, challenging, and engaging. As with any public policy program, a monitoring and evaluation component is necessary to allow implementers and key program stakeholders to make adjustments and to draw lessons and best practices from it. In many cases, it is through monitoring and evaluation that some flaws inherent in program design are discovered. Funding is another major component in Malone’s framework. It should be regular, available, and sustainable. Finally, a supportive policy environment is what provides permanence and strength to a program to survive in the long term.

In a paper commissioned for Unesco, Jessica Ball (2010), explains how education programs and policies are influenced by certain factors in spheres. The framework is useful in terms of how much each factor influences policy and implementation. Ball’s framework relates closely with Malone’s (training, research, policies and funding); the programs sphere may correspond to Malone’s curriculum and learning materials (graded). The sphere for macrosystem values may be what we often refer to as the ‘big picture,’ something that relates well to understanding policy formulation within the policy system model.

It must be noted though that the presence of all the variables or components in either framework does not guarantee success in MTBMLE implementation. The success would depend largely on the kind of as well as the relationship and interdependence between the variables present.

The Pre-MTBMLE Language-in-Education Policy

There are three (3) questions that guide this section, namely:

  1. Why is the issue/problem urgent and be given government attention?
  2. What is the extent/magnitude of the problem?
  3. What has been done on the problem/issue?

Aside from the usual classroom shortage that has become a permanent column fodder, poor attendance and high dropout rate among school-age children is what drives a lot of interventions and innovations in schools, the curriculum, pedagogy, and even the incentives system for teachers and school administrators.

Based on National Statistics Office’s (NSO) Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) of 2004, six percent of the cohort of 12.6 million school-age children aged 6–11 years old (elementary) are not attending school; for aged 12-15 years old, 11 percent of the cohort of 7.9 million children. That’s a lot of school-age children out of school for so many reasons. By income groups, the same data tells us that dropout is highest among the poorest quantile, with non-attendance rate of 35 percent at the elementary level and 28 percent at the secondary level for the bottom 20 percent income group. On the other, for the top 20 percent of the income group, non-attendance rate is recorded at four percent at the elementary level and five percent at the secondary level (PIDS 2010).

The dropout phenomenon is both an economic and equity issue. Economically, dropout means loss of potential productivity and this will have adverse impact on families at the lowest strata. In terms of efficiency in the education sector, dropout also impacts the goal of achieving a targeted proportion of the population having some level of schooling. Dropout impacts human capital formation, the lack of quality, if not the plain lack of it, impacts on labor and market strength on the macro level. On a micro level, the sadder reality about dropout is to be seen in the never-ending cycle of intergenerational poverty transmission wherein poor children are likely to lead a low-income trajectory in the future. Hence, the dropout phenomenon is a serious economic, equity, and education policy issue that the government must address.

While poverty appears to be the dominant factor for dropout, a study also pointed out school-related reason for what the author calls school-leaving, among them loss of interest and lack of motivation. Teacher factor, family and peers, inaccessibility, adjustment problems, and school readiness are also factors that induce dropout (Nava 2009). While the study points out physical inaccessibility as inductive of school-leaving, there is another form of inaccessibility in many schools that may have contributed to dropout—the language or the medium of instruction used (emphasis mine).

The emphasis on loss of interest, lack of motivation, and teacher factor relates well to issues of content and context in instructional materials that teachers deliver in the classroom. While a responsive language-in-education policy may not or may never address poverty-related nonattendance, it confronts at least a major hurdle in improving attendance by keeping school children interested in their lessons because these are now accessible as these are delivered in the language they understand. A survey of the wealth of research reports on the use of language in education revealed that using the learner’s mother tongue facilitates literacy, learning of academic content, acquisition of a second language (enabling learners to be bilingual) and overall academic achievement (Kosonen 2005). Kosonen also noted that parents are more involved and teachers are able to assess learning achievement.

Although the dropout phenomenon is more pronounced in some areas or regions, it is undoubtedly nationwide in scale and therefore requires a policy action on that level. This is not to say that the government was completely inept so as not to respond. In fact, as discussed in Section II of this paper, there have been numerous attempts to address a myriad of problems plaguing the basic as well as the higher education sector, the dropout phenomenon included. Yet, those interventions did not seem to deliver what was thought to be a transformative reform, if at all. The Human Development Network (HDN), in a 2010 paper written by a group of academics led by Prof. Cynthia Rose Bautista, noted that while the Philippine government has undertaken a series of initiatives in reforming the basic education sector, some things, if not a lot of things, remain the same. Among the major reasons that hinder reform in basic education, in the DepEd itself, is the failed language-in-education policy (Bautista 2010). The paper is categorical in saying the language-in-education policy is out of sync with research evidence.

A closer examination of previous policies and by looking at researches on responsive language-in-education policy, the Bilingual Education Policy (BEP) that was in place before MTBMLE, was a dismal failure as evidenced by its products, many of them teachers who are still teaching who, according to Bautista, “have been reported as greatly deficient in their English language skills (emphasis mine).” The deficiency in the second language (L2) is a default in the BEP because there was no emphasis in the mastery of the first language (L1) of the learners as a condition to acquiring with proficiency a second or third language later on. We have to reiterate the point that using the learner’s mother tongue facilitates literacy, learning of academic content, the acquisition of a second language enabling learners to be bilingual, and overall academic achievement.

In sum, Bautista identified four major points that hinder reform in language-in-education policy. First, the DepEd formulated a weak policy on bilingual education that does not stand on strong theoretical grounds; second, the DepEd surrendered the power to decide on the language of schools rather than advocate research-based policy; third, exacerbating the loss of efficacy in determining the language policy is a seeming lack of serious effort on the part of the DepEd to explain the crucial role of language to policy makers; and finally, the DepEd has yet to negotiate a shift from structural learning paradigms to more socio-constructivist methods of teaching and assessing language and literacy learning.

Furthermore, Bautista identifies institutional factors that hinder reform initiatives in language-in-education policy and in the DepEd itself as an institution that is supposed to possess the capacity to introduce reforms from within. The factors include externally induced reform, pilot project mindset, marginal reform projects from within, untapped project lessons for setting policy directions, constraints beyond DepEd’s control, and cultural barriers.

The externally-driven reforms instigated by foreign donors raise the  question whether DepEd has the institutional capacity to eventually initiate and sustain them and also if the Department can introduce new ideas into its practices and policies given the dependence to foreign assistance. The pilot project mindset tends to miniaturize bigger problems offer solutions without completely understanding the full scale and contexts of the issues involved. The project mentality also tends to view solutions on a short-term. Reform projects initiated at the margins of DedEd tend to bring more issues than contribute to their reform targets. Projects such as Educational Development Project Implementing Task Force (EDPITAF) involved large amounts of money that many non-project staff at DepEd never got to benefit because of the preference of projects to engage people or staff outside of DepEd and detached from the realities of the Department. The non-operationalization of the research, innovation and policy evaluation system within DepEd foregoes institutionalization of lessons culled from programs and projects that will have set the Department’s future policy direction. There, too, are admittedly constraints beyond DepEd’s control especially those involving dealing with other executive agencies of the government such as the Department of Budget and Management. Finally, aside from institutional barriers, there are also cultural factors that hinder reform, among them the resistance to change.

It may be recalled that in 2009, the Department of Education issued DepEd Order No. 74 s. 2009 institutionalizing MTBMLE. The issuance of the Order was at first unanticipated because of at least one reason: President Arroyo was supportive of the Gullas’ English Only Bill as it feeds into her agenda of expanding the BPO sector where frontline service workers need to be proficient in the English language. (In fact, as recently as the 16th Congress, Mrs. Arroyo, now representative of the 2nd District of Pampanga, filed House Bill No. 311 seeking to enhance the use of English as the medium of instruction in Philippine schools). This explains why the so-called ‘counter’ bill on MTBMLE shepherded by Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo of the 2nd District of Valenzuela City could not get any traction.[1] Yet the growing movement advocating for MTBMLE and aided by research evidence could no longer be ignored and so in August 2009, the DepEd issued what was thought to be a response to the clamor for reform. The issuance of the Order precipitated some sort of paradigm shift among a growing number of teachers aside from scholars from the academe and advocates from civil society organizations. DepEd Order No. 74 calls for the institutionalization of the fundamental educational policy and program department-wide in the whole stretch of formal education including pre-school and in the Alternative Learning System (emphasis mine). There was some amount of enthusiasm in the policy and there would be more in the ensuing activities in support of its institutionalization. Between the issuance of the Order and until the next key DepEd officials settled in their respective offices, the MTBMLE as embodied in the Order enjoyed growing popularity and support although there were also those who opposed it, notably academics who belong to the so-called ‘doctrinal left,’ whose nationalist-democratic notion of language-in-education policy is akin to China’s one-language policy. Yet the DepEd was unfazed and even launched a nationwide retooling program to bring early grades teachers up to the task of implementing MTBMLE. Graded materials based on contextualized curriculum were produced at the community level. There was also support from various local government units as well as technical assistance from numerous rights-based nongovernmental organizations involved in literacy and child welfare. Both traction and momentum were present in duration of the program.

In 2010, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III undertook a major reform in education via introduction of the K-to-12 (now called K12) program to enhance the basic education sector. By 2011, RA 10533 was signed into law. RA 10533 embodies the salient points of DepEd Order No. 74 in Sections 4 and 5 of the law. However, the strong MTBMLE provisions in RA 10533 are diluted in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the mother law. Prof. Ricardo Ma. D. Nolasco of the UP Department of Linguistics called the dilution of the MTBMLE provisions “castration” in his opinion piece in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, arguing that the devolution provision in curriculum and learning material development and production is weakened by escape clauses such as “when appropriate” and “in accordance to national policies and standards,” leaving this provision as well as other provisions mere option rather than an imperative.

As the DepEd slowly rolls out the new curriculum under K12, it also puts a brake on all capacity-building initiatives undertaken in view of DepEd Order No. 74, regardless whether these were beneficial to teachers implementing MTBMLE. The unwarranted disruption was not only a form of discontinuity; it was also a waste of resources because the millions of pesos that DepEd spent on capacity building will have less or no return as the knowledge and preparedness gained by those who underwent such trainings were either underutilized or unutilized at all.

In the pre-K12 MTBMLE, the teachers were oriented on the full breadth and principle of MTBMLE, and the conditions for its successful implementation. It was inculcated among them that MTBMLE is not a mere strategy or pedagogy.  It is a shift in paradigm. MTBMLE is, and could have been, the fundamental education reform that the Philippines has been waiting for decades. In fact, according to Dr. Edilberto de Jesus, Professor Emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and former DepEd Secretary, the only thing new and innovative about the Philippines’ K12 program is its MTBMLE feature.[2]

Gaps, Challenges, and Difficulties in MTBMLE Policy Implementation Under RA 10533

As it stands today, the ‘castrated’ MTBMLE is reduced to being a bridge, a tool for reading proficiency. In the trainings conducted by DepEd for K12, MTBMLE is assigned the lesser regard and role as just a tool for improving reading skills. Beyond perspectives and ideological divide, the current regard for MTBMLE policy and practice, while it does not diminish its own principles, is unhelpful in advancing learning in the early grades and improving education outcomes for the country. By regarding MTBMLE as just a tool for reading skills improvement, the education leaders are missing the whole point in limiting the potential of what it can contribute to improving learning outcomes. If DepEd‘s policy posture were to be discerned, there is less or no prospect to exhausting the full potentials of MTBMLE. A longitudinal study spanning 11 years and involving a total of more than 210,000 students in both urban and rural schools in the United States did nothing to move DepEd to remove the escape clauses in the IRR of RA 10533. The study showed that students with the longest exposure to their mother tongue outperform the average native English speaker, and students who had an early exit in their mother tongue education performed poorly in the latter years (Thomas and Colliers 1997).

While it is true that RA 10533 lends MTBMLE permanence until another law repeals it, it also makes the challenges and difficulties a long term affair until an honest program reorientation creeps into the minds of those who decide its fate. For one thing, there is no more funding allocation for MTBMLE trainings and materials development or any activity that pertains to MTBMLE. The very limited funds that teacher may access come from the allocation of the IPED, or the Indigenous Peoples Education fund. Section 5 of RA 10533 provides for contextualization of curriculum and learning materials yet funding to flesh out this provision is not made readily available by the DepEd. A lot of teachers who have gone through contextualization workshops had to unnecessarily spend their own money to cover expenses that otherwise should have been provided for by the DepEd. This happened in South Cotabato, in Sarangani, in North Cotabato, in Sultan Kudarat, and in Cotabato City. This also happened in Bukidnon. It is fair to even assume this happens all over the country. This form of minoritization of a mainstream education reform initiative is what happens also in the retooling program of teachers as they were being prepared for the full implementation of K12. In the mass trainings for teachers conducted between 2013 until the recent batch in the summer of 2015, which are normally delivered in five (5) days, only a measly two (2) hours is devoted to MTBMLE. The time allotment brings about questions of quantity and quality.

An ongoing UP-CIDS-supported research in selected areas in eight regions nationwide reveals preliminary findings such as the lack of learning materials and funding to undertake contextualization.[3] The absence of graded learning materials in the language of the users has created an opening for another potential problem: resource materials from Luzon (in Tagalog and Ilokano) are translated for use in Visayas and Mindanao. Offhand, a lot of people see nothing wrong with the practice. However, in the provisions of the law and in the principle of MTBMLE, that’s something irregular, if not anomalous. The practice of issuing out-of-context and culturally-insensitive learning materials to learners in the early grades is driven not by necessity but by convenience and therefore reflects the broken policy implementation of an otherwise noble reform program.

Concerned people in the education reform community could not help but ask if there is corruption going on in the circulation of ‘inappropriate’ learning materials, considering that the government has the resources to procure the former in glossy print but could not finance production of the same in its humbler yet contextualized and culturally-sensitive form at a cheaper acquisition cost. (This paper shall not provide answers to these questions; in may do so in another venue).

Another critical area in MTBMLE is in orthography development, of which RA 10533 is silent and for which some individuals and organizations are trying to take advantage to forward their ideological agenda at the expense of the program and meaningful learning. Due to the demand for contextualization of learning materials, a newfound challenge in rewriting them using a widely-acceptable spelling system has surfaced as word usage, whether spoken or written, indeed vary from one community to another within the same province or region. Differences in spelling usage can be serious, and some users of the same language but spelling could not be brought to an agreement. This difficulty of agreement did not escape the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), whose simplistic prescription is to standardize all Philippine orthographies based on the so-called Ortograpiyang Pambansa for the sake of unity and uniformity. Ironically, the trend worldwide in orthography development of a particular language community is moving away from an expert or linguist-driven process. Rather, the preferred mode is community-based and participatory process where the linguist only serves as a “midwife”or a facilitator where speakers of the language themselves come together in a workshop to discuss both the linguistic and non-linguistic issues that comes with orthography development such as standardization, representation, transparency, acceptability. They then propose a plan of action to meet commonly shared desired outcomes. The study in Zambia, for example, shows that such model may be challenging and complicated and yet community participation can still happen. This will promote a sense of ownership and custodianship over their own orthography (Bow 2012). So far, we have noted two examples of a policy response driven by convenience and not necessarily by research evidence: (a) the supply of translated resource materials because there are no materials available in the language the users need and (b) the standardization of all Philippine orthography based on the Pambansang Ortograpiya for uniformity and unity.

In Section 4 of RA 1074, the law that created the KWF, the Komisyon is mandated to “undertake, coordinate and promote researches for the development, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages and which shall be directly under the Office of the President.” According to people involved in orthography development in several regions, the Komisyon, or its Chair, Virgilio Almario, is doing the exact opposite of what it is mandated to perform. Imposing standardized orthography is nowhere near coordination, or promotion and the actions of the KWF through its chair are neither backed by researches on standardization.

Findings and Conclusions

This section shall be guided by the following question:

  1. Were the measures undertaken effective? Why or why not?

There are four major findings in the paper’s discussion of the language-in-education policy exemplified in the policy implementation of MTBMLE in Philippine basic education within the K12 system.

Firstly, there are gaps in policy and practice. Whereas the policy says this, the practice or implementation does that. There are at least three examples we can mention: (a) funding, (b) curriculum and learning materials development and devolution, and (c) the transition provision. There is a cost of MTBMLE implementation, among them teacher training, learning materials development and contextualization. While the law provides for funding of these activities, the DepEd as the chief implementer of the program under K12 either withholds or totally removes funding. Funding for MTBMLE activities are sourced not from MTBMLE fund pool but from IPED. As provided for in Section 5 of RA 10533, the development and approval of learning materials are devolved to the regions but this is not the case. The escape clauses in the IRR rendered these provisions spineless. The MTBMLE transition program for grades 4 to 6 as provided for in Section 4 is also not being done by DepEd.

Secondly, there are flaws in the policy itself. The provisions in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10533 are riddled with escape clauses that virtually weaken the intent of the mother law. Section 5 (f) of RA 10533 provides that “the curriculum shall adhere to the principles and framework of MTB-MLE,” and that “schools can localize, indigenize, and enhance the curriculum based on their respective educational and social contexts,” and that “the production and development of locally produced teaching materials shall be encouraged and approval of these materials shall devolve to the regional and division education units.” However, in the IRR, escape clauses like “when appropriate” and “in accordance with national policies and standards” were inserted to effectively do away with devolution.

Thirdly, there is interference in both policy and implementation by other state agencies whose official actions are not sanctioned by its mandates. The KWF, whose mandate is to “undertake, coordinate and promote researches for the development, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages and which shall be directly under the Office of the President” does not have in its mandate the power to impose standardized orthography on Philippine languages.

Finally, there are ambiguities in the relationships and synergies of institutions involved, directly or indirectly, in the policy and implementation of K12. The interference of KWF, for example, in the development of orthographies undertaken by DepEd in collabrtation with language users and speakers while sidelining qualified linguists from the academe raises questions on the competence and credibility of the Commission through its chairman. All stakeholders have each role to play and clearly in this case, there is confusion if not deliberate manipulation to not involve some parties in effective policy implementation.

To render a fair assessment it is paramount to recall the frameworks that Malone and Ball proposed and examine if there is correspondence between the frameworks and the processes involved in MTBMLE policy and its implementation. To examine this correspondence requires availability of baseline data. Fortunately, the ongoing UP-CIDS study may provide some preliminary information to help in the analysis.

There is no doubt that multilingualism, the language-in-education policy in place, has gone through the process of development which can be traced back to 2009 with the issuance of DepEd Order No. 74. What this implies is that the basic demands of policy formulation (and implementation) have been met although we have to caution that compliance does not always assume quality. In this view, our language-in-education policy has the semblance of correspondence to what Malone demands of a ‘strong’ MTBMLE. Preliminary research, awareness raising and mobilization, recruitment and training, orthography development, curriculum and instructional materials development, development of graded learning materials in each language, monitoring, evaluation and documentation are activities that were undertaken at various junctures in the development of the MTBMLE policy. Funding was also provided and a ‘supportive policy environment’ facilitated the passage of the so-called K12 law which embodies our language-in-education policy.

However, as observed in the study that examines the synergies in the implementation of MTBMLE in view of the provisions of RA 10533, there appears to be some serious gaps in the policy implementation of MTBMLE. The most common and complained about across areas covered by the study is the lack of (a) instructional materials in users’ languages, (b) graded learning materials, and (c) funding for contextualization of the learning materials. There is also an issue with orthography development with several languages with no spelling system in place. As mentioned earlier, the KWF’s prescription of standardizing orthographies did not go well with speakers of these languages, much less claim credibility in terms of the existing practices. Monitoring and evaluation is something that has not been underscored or may not have been fully understood and this is reflected in the difficulty of obtaining baseline information, hence the proposal and approval by UP-CIDS to undertake the study and in the process collect valuable data and information useful in setting future policy direction. Training correlates with funding, the availability of which determines the kind and quality that teachers get. In terms of acceptance, much remains to be desired in terms of mobilizing the other key stakeholders within the policy ecosystem, including local government units and their respective chief executives. There is value in mobilizing LGUs and fully involving them because, as demonstrated in many areas, they can mobilize resources and generate funds to support implementation. There, too, remains much to be desired in terms of involvement of local higher educational institutions (HEIs), specifically teacher education institutions or TEIs, in the areas of action research and collaboration with other key stakeholders. There’s only a handful of TEIs whose constituents are actively involved in continuing studies to promote and strengthen MTBMLE and hopefully to inform policymaking.

Finally, the language-in-education policy in place is not a failure, although there is some degree of difficulty in trying to answer the black-or-white question of whether it is effective or not in the absence of complete data and information. Generally though, the policy maybe considered to be less effective given the gaps and challenges and the inherent flaws in the policy itself. Certainly, it does not measure up to the demands of strong MTBMLE. Not yet. But if there’s one lesson that can be discerned out of Malone’s framework, it is the fact that MTBMLE as a policy and as a program has to navigate the ‘treacherous’ policy ecosystem whose ‘temperament’ can only be tamed not by some external force—external forces are part of the ecosystem, as in Jessica Ball’s macrosystem values imply—but by the consensual act of their agents. There has to be some common grounds on which the policy and implementation is rested and where every stakeholder can claim access and ownership to some degree and this can only be accomplished by continuing examination and self-reflection among stakeholder themselves.

Recommendations

The full implementation of the K12 Law, which embodies the provisions that underpin the MTBMLE, is initially thought to cure the deficiencies in the policy implementation. However, since there are inherent flaws in the policy, or at least in its IRR, the following specific measures are recommended to improve implementation.

Closing the gaps between policy and practice. The policy-practice gaps in funding, curriculum and learning materials development and devolution, and transition provision can be closed by the DepEd by making funding available for MTBMLE related activities, subject to the usual provisions of accountability, transparency, and modesty in the use of public funds for public purposes. The contravening provision in the IRR on devolution of development and approval of learning materials should be clarified either by policy issuance or amendment to the said IRR. The MTBMLE transition program for grades 4 to 6 as provided for in Section 4 has to be undertaken by DepEd immediately.

Amendatory policy clarification. The escape clauses in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10533 have to be removed in order to have a clear-cut policy in keeping with the clear provisions of the mother law.

Dialogues among stakeholders and institutions. Agencies involved in the policy implementation of MTBMLE, whether directly or indirectly, should discuss strategies and points of convergence as well as their respective mandates to determine and correct overlapping functions, if any, so as to avoid interfering on each other’s functions.

Clarification of roles of institutions and stakeholders. The role of each agency, organization or institution involved directly or indirectly in the governance of MTBMLE has to be spelled out clearly and the rules of engagement be set in an unambiguous language to avoid interference and discourage manipulation in the processes and procedures pertinent to the policy implementation of MTBMLE.

Alternatively, advocates in the academe and civil society, among other sectors, should come together and discuss how to strengthen the program and ensure that its implementation is guided by the principles of effective and successful MTBMLE and that its implementation is well within the provisions of the law. They should form their own monitoring body or a watchdog if working with the DepEd and its partner agencies proves not viable. The monitoring body may also conduct research and program assessment either independently or in cooperation with the DepEd or with the academe or with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to fill in the gaps and to further enrich the practice and implementation of MTBMLE. Finally, in all those proposed assessments, it would be beneficial to all interested parties to make use of the frameworks of Malone and Ball by incorporating the variables therein in the survey instrument.

In the long term, the academe should play a more active role, especially in the conduct of a longitudinal study in specific areas in the Philippines to provide a more independent, reliable, and credible information that will inform and set direction for future policymaking. Our policymaking should strive for sustainability. Therefore the more evidenced-based research are undertaken, the better it would be for us and for the policymakers to determine the so-called enablers as well as the constraints of sustainable MTBMLE.

 

References

CONSTITUTIONS

The 1899 Malolos Constitution

The 1935 Constitution

The 1973 Constitution

The 1987 Constitution

REPUBLIC ACTS

Republic Act 7104, An Act Creating the Commission of the Filipino Language, Prescribing its Powers, Duties and Functions, and for Other Purposes

Republic Act No. 7722, Higher Education Act of 1994

Republic Act 10533, An Act Enhancing the Philippine Basic Education System by Strengthening its Curriculum and Increasing the Number of Years for Basic Education, Appropriating Funds Therefor for Other Purposes

HOUSE BILL

HB No. 311. An Act to Strengthen and Enhance the Use of English as the Medium of Instruction in Philippine Schools

INTERNATIONAL DECLARATION

The 1990 UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child

DEPARTMENT ORDERS/MEMORANDUM/CIRCULARS/RESOLUTIONS

CHED Memorandum Order No. 59 s. 1996

Retrievd here http://www.ched.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/CMO-No.59-s1996.pdf

DECS Order No. 25 s. 1974, Implementing Guidelines for the Policy on Bilingual Education

Retrieved here

DECS Order No. 81, Assistance to Private Madrasah: An Incentive to Adopt the Standard Curriculum as Authorized Under DepEd Order No. 51 s. 2004 and Total Mainstreaming of Madrasah Education as a Component of the National System of Basic Education

DECS Order No. 52, Series of 1987

DepEd Order No. 74 s. 2009, Institutionalizing Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MLE)

KWF Resolution 92-1

JOURNAL ARTICLES

Ball, J. (2010). Enhancing learning of children from diverse language backgrounds: Mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education in the early years: Literature review. UNESCO, International Mother Language Development. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002122/212270e.pdf

Bautista, C. R, Bernardo, A. I., and Ocampo, D. (2010). When reforms don’t transform. Reflections on institutional reforms in the Department of Education. Quezon City: Human Development Network.

Bow, C (2012). Community-based orthography development in four Western Zambian languages. Writing Systems Research, 2012. Routledge. Taylor and Francis

Kosonen (2005) Education in local languages: Policy and Practice in South-East Asia. First Language First: Community-based Literacy Programmes for Minority Language Contexts in Asia. UNESCO, Bangkok

Malone, S (2003). Education for multilingualism and multi-literacy in ethnic minority communities: the situation in Asia. Plenary Presentation at the Conference on Language Development, Language Revitalization and Multilingual Education in Bangkok Thailand, November 2003. http://www-01.sil.org/asia/ldc/plenary_papers/susan_malone.pdf

Nava, F. J. (2009). Factors in school leaving: Variations across gender groups, school levels and locations. Education Quarterly, Vol. 67 (1), 62-78

Thomas, Wayne C. and Virginia Collier. (1997). School effectiveness for language minority students. National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.

Newspaper article

Nolasco, Ricardo Ma. D. (2013/09/13). ‘Castrated MTBMLE. Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Retrieved from http://opinion.inquirer.net/61025/castrated-mtb-mle

Policy brief

Orbeta, A. (2010), A glimpse at the school dropout problem (Policy Brief 4-2010)

Retrieved from http://dirp3.pids.gov.ph/ris/pn/pidsbrief04.pdf

 

Endnotes

[1] Interview with Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo at the sidelines of the 1st Philippine Conference-Workshop on Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education, February 18-20, 2010, Cagayan de Oro City.

[2] Remarks in a speech at the AIM-Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Policy Forum on Inclusive Education, February 15, 2011, Discovery Suites, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

[3] “A Study of the Implementation Synergy of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education in Schools and the Broader Community in View of RA 10533” is a research funded by the University of the Philippines-Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP-CIDS), with assistance to proponents extended by Unesco-Bangkok, covers eight regions of the Philippines (Northern Luzon, Bicol, Central and Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Western Mindanao, Central Mindanao, Southern Mindanao) and runs from May to December 2015.

Philippine Bureaucracy and the Persistence of Political Dynasties: A Discussion Paper on Political and Institutional Reforms

INTRODUCTION

The interplay between bureaucracy and political dynasties is an interesting topic in the study of public administration and governance. For one, the parallel development of bureaucratic expansion and political dynasty entrenchment share an identical timeline in history, demanding fuller understanding and critical analysis of the implications that bureaucracy and political dynasties, or vice versa, have on each other and how their relationship influences policymaking and governance in the course of our history.

The discourse on political dynasties cannot but confront the very basic social unit or structure where all the extended discussions emanate—the Filipino family. (McCoy 1994). McCoy asserts that the family is a more effective political unit than an individual as its reputation, loyalties, and alliances are deemed transferable where one family member shares the traits of the others without necessarily innately having them. In the other sections of the book, McCoy calls the family a kinship network whose mutuality in terms of relationship extends to even non-family members.

This paper presents the issues and challenges in the evolution of Philippine bureaucracy parallel to the beginnings and entrenchment and perpetuation of political dynasties. Sections on the different modes of perpetuation as well as the issues surrounding political dynasties are also presented. One important issue that relates closely to the phenomenon of political dynasties—term limits—and which has a provision in the 1987 Constitution is also presented. Finally an anaysis on the dynamics of political dynasties as the bureaucracy is also attempted.

THE PHILIPPINE BUREAUCRACY

Evolution of Philippine Bureaucracy

The political structure in the precolonial Phiilippines provided the most rudimentary service to the people.  This local institution, known as the barangay, was headed by chief called a datu or rajah and was assisted by a council of elders who were responsible for the maintenanc of internal peace and defense, tribute collection, and administration of justice (De Guzman, 1998). Kinship defines authority and the datu is considered the chief of the barangay. He performs the role of a judge, lawmaker and implementer of laws (Rebullida and Serrano, 2006).

During the Spanish period, a highly centralized colonial administration was established on the widely dispersed and community-based system of government (De Guzman, 1998). The once independent barangays are now at the bottom of the hierarchy, subsumed under the pueblos that were under the provincias. There was no separation of church and state, allowing intervention of state affairs by the clergy. The traditional datus’ power was also subsumed. The Spanish colonial period also gave rise to the principalia, the local political and economic elite who have access to both civil and church authorities. Spain’s three centuries of colonization resulted into institutionalized values and traits that influence public administration, among these pakikisama, utang na loob, and hiya. It is argued that these values partly explain the rise of graft and corruption, nepotism and favoritism, and patronage. These values are in direct contrast to Weberian’s characteristic of a bureaucracy (Rebullida and Serrano, 2006). A civil service was established with people performing integral executive, legislative, and judicial functions. However, the bureaucracy under Spain was perceived to be corrupt. Civil servants are said to be seldom paid but allowed instead to retain a percentage of taxes they collected. Under Spain, there were only five main departments, namely the Army, Navy, Justice, Finance, and the Directorate General of Civil Administration.

The 1896 Revolution installed the Malolos Republic. Following the declaration of independence in Malolos, a representative and democratic form of government with executive, legislative and judicial branches was established. Accordingly, the most important document produced during the period was the Malolos Constitution of 1899, outlining the form of government that is said to be parliamentary in structure. A Council of Government was created under a president and composed of seven departments each headed by a secretary: Foreign Affairs, Interior, Finance, War, Army and Navy, Public Instruction, Public Communications and Works, and Agriculture, Industry and Commerce (De Guzman, 183).

When the Americans gained control of the Philippines, they retained the centralized form of government but added a few departments and, more importantly, introduced the principle that public office is a public trust, making civil servants accountable to the people they serve. While remnants of Spanish-style governance can still be observed, the Americans introduced modern bureaucracy characterized by accountability for public resources. The Philippine Commission was then established and among its first acts was the passage of Act No. 5, 9 September 1900, An Act for the Establishment of an Efficient and Honest Civil Service in the Philippines. The reform Act places all government positions below a bureau director under the civil service, and covers national and local positions. A system of merit and qualification was introduced underscoring competence, independence, and integrity in public service. There were six government departments during this period, namely: Finance, Justice, Public Instruction, Interior, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Commerce and Communications.

In 1935, the Philippine Commission was established and a constitution was approved in that same year (De Guzman, 183) that contained a separate provision on civil service. The 1935 Constitution contained a separate provision stipulating that all appointments to government positions should be made only based on merit and fitness to be determined in a competitive examination. There were three additional departments created during this period.

The advent of the Second World War put the Philippines under the Japanese occupation, during which time the bureaucracy was kept relatively small with only six ministries: Foreign Affairs, Finance, Justice, Agriculture and Commerce, Public Works and Communications, and Education. An all-Filipino civil service was in place led by the Philippine Executive Commission.

After the war, the Philippines began to restructure its bureaucracy and the regular departments during the Commonwealth were augmented by the creation of a Department of Foreign Affairs. Between this period until the middle of the 1950s, tales of graft and corruption and incompetence were common as more unqualified personnel were brought in by the appointing powers of the time. It was not until 1954 when administrative reforms were initialized by the creation of the Government Survey and Reorganization Committee, followed by the Reorganization Committee in 1956. However, the reorganization intent of the Committee was rendered ineffectual because laws were passed exempting agencies from coverage (De Guzman, 184).

With the growth and expansion of government came the large-scale spoils system that characterized succeeding administrations. In 1965, upon his assumption to the presidency and against the backdrop of an oversized and inefficient bureaucracy, Marcos asked Congress to effect a reorganization anchored on simplicity, economy, and efficiency in government (De Guzman, 184). Three years later, in 1968, Congress approved the Reorganization. But it was not until 1972 that Congress approved the Integrated Reorganizational Plan without modification. The plan, adopted entirely by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1 during Martial Law, had intended to streamline the bureaucracy saddled with duplicative agencies. But the plan encountered difficulties in the implementation in the absence of an open consultation between decision-makers and the implementers (De Guzman, 185).

The Philippine bureaucracy has evolved over a period of time. From the Post-war era until the current administration of President Benigno Aquino III, a lot of reforms have been introduced all intended to make the bureaucracy respond to needs and the demands of the citizenry. The bureaucratic structures and models have undergone a series of changes and a lot of innovations and reforms, both substantively and superficially, yet some of the things remain the same. It is as if all those initiatives undertaken barely scratched the surface of the problem.

Issues and Challenges in Philippine Bureaucracy

De Guzman identified more than a dozen major trouble spots in Philippine bureaucracy that confront the civil servant, the public service end-user, and the policymakers. These troubles will persist until hard decisions are taken to bring about difficult but necessary changes in the form and substance of our bureaucracy (De Guzman, 197). We can start with the centralization versus decentralization. Until Marcos misappropriated it, centralization did not project a specter of a totalitarian regime. The Marcos regime started politicizing the bureaucracy, subverted public interest, gave rise to crony capitalism, incurred huge public debts, and consolidated economic and political power through Martial Law that is credited for numerous human rights violations and corporate takeovers by the state. As a result, the government of the first Aquino administration presided over the difficult period of transition and redemocratization, and shepherded the passage of the new Constitution and the Local Government Code to guide the massive rebuilding and reorganization. The 1987 Constitution underscores empowerment by devolution, ushering in reforms in governance in the delivery of social services by engaging civil society and the grassroots (Rebullida and Serrano, 2006). Yet, the ensuing decentralization suffered infirmity because much of the devolution pertains only to powers and functions and not resources, resulting in a myriad of unfunded mandates in our laws.

Duplication and overlapping of functions in personnel and agencies are noted, resulting in more inefficiency and waste of resources. Inadequate coordination between and among agencies in government cost both lives and resources. The latest example of this would be the event in Mamasapano, Maguindanao wherein 44 PNP Special Forces operatives were killed in an encounter with members of the rebel group MILF all because of the lack of coordination between and among leaders in the PNP and the AFP.

Graft and corruption seems to be a permanent fixture in Philippine bureaucracy. This problem is too huge it earns its own mystique. The scale is grand. Judging by the daily headlines and the number of congressional inquiries on corruption cases involving bureaucrats one can definitely say that corruption has already become an essential part of our culture, or our values system.

Red tape and inefficiency are inseparable and correlate even to graft and corruption. While we have already an anti-red tape law in place, a lot remains to be done in terms of enforcing the policy and incentivizing people to encourage efficiency, on the part of the public servants, and vigilance among the public as end-users. Cumbersome and complicated procedures when transacting with government agencies have stymied not only investors from doing business in the country. More importantly, it discourages citizens’ engagement and participation. Surveys after surveys churn out unfavorable results in terms of ease of doing business in the Philippines, at least generally. The Citizen’s Charter, however, is an important initiative to improve public service delivery but a lot of people are not aware of it.

Ineffective administration of public enterprises brings back headlines on abuses of discretion among officers and officials in government-owned and controlled corporations. The latest to banner the dailies is the so-called DBP “wash sale” or the illegal buying and selling of securities where no real change of ownership takes place. The Napoles scandal reminds us of the weaknesses and the many loopholes in our bureaucratic process despite its projected rigidity. Of course, corruption plays a major part in those allegedly multibillion-peso anomaly involving high officials of the government.

The inadequacy of the communication system in the bureaucracy maybe understood on two levels: on the level of human skills and on the level of hardware or technology, or the absence of either one or both. The practice of creating adhocracies, or the penchant for creating extrabureaucratic structures within the bureaucracy not only confuses functions and powers but also bears on the resources of an agency. Yet the creation of this adhocracies are couched in sophisticated technocrat’s jargon that decision-makers are inclined to favor without giving thought to the possibility that its creation is to mask the lack of planning, if not bad planning, that left a lot of unanticipated needs.

Problems in personnel administration are probably a lifetime concern of the bureaucracy. Even with the ongoing government-wide rationalization plan, reports of overstaffed yet undermanned agencies are all too common, especially in areas where political patronage is high. The areal versus sectoral planning and management dilemma will continue to linger until our planning philosophy is able to strengthen the coordinative mechanisms at various levels of government. Equally important, too, is the political leadership that can provide a sense of mission and direction so that all government planning are directed and dedicated towards its accomplishment.

Development commitment among civil servants is such highly volatile topic as it related to ethics, accountability, performance, professionalism and, of course, incentives. But it helps to bring up the principle that public office is public trust as an entry of a values formation program in the civil service, of which the Civil Service Commission is doing already. What is needed perhaps is a strong monitoring program and regular assessment to check whether values formation initiatives answer the organizational needs of agencies.

Finally, citizen’s participation in governance, while messy, is an effective counterpoint to the inefficiencies of bureaucracy. Citizen’s participation can be a double-edge sword, so it works either to one’s advantage or disadvantage. Citizen’s participation is enshrined in the Constitution as a reactive measure to the Marcos dictatorship. Participatory governance, in its various forms and expressions, has improved delivery of basic social services especially to areas where government has very limited presence. The Community-Driven Development approach, for example, used by the government in its KALAHI-CIDDS program has shown encouraging results (Mangahas and Arroyo, 2014).

POLITICAL DYNASTIES IN THE PHILIPPINES

History

Pre-Colonial Period

Scholars commonly trace the beginnings of political dynasties to as early as the pre-colonial times, in the days of the datu, of the maharlikas, our own version of royalty that predates the federal system of government, a system we copied poorly, if not wrongly, from the Americans. The small villages of yore were virtual kingdoms each ruled by a datu, whose reign and succession is guaranteed by his heirs—his family, his son.

Colonial Period

The Spanish colonial times gave rise to the principalia, an emerging class that embodied the new form of local elite. The Spaniards relied on the clergy for the administration of the islands and never established a strong centralized State. Instead power was dispersed amongst various elite families in the provinces. These families were granted the right to hold land, vote, and serve in positions of local political power (Querubin, 2010). The principalia rose from playing puppets to Spanish authorities to become rulers later on. They evolved from being clerks and trusted servants of the Spanish power holders to become power-wielders themselves over time. From attendants of vast landholdings of the Spanish Crown, they became landlords (hacienderos) themselves. And so after four centuries, the principalia finally established its own foothold in the economic and political affairs of the state. They would become the new ruling class. The principalia, along with a handful of Chinese traders were on to become the oligarchs of the time. They were the new maharlikas. The local principalia would further consolidate their power during the American colonial period.

American Period

The Americans needed a partner and loyal ally in the local elite who controlled the lands and even forces that once fought against the Spaniards for them to “govern” the islands. As a concession, the Americans introduced elections (Querubin, 2010), the qualifications of which were quite steep only the local elite could satisfy, such as literacy and property, and rightly so because they were only the ones who could send their children to school. It should be noted that under President Taft, voting and electoral participation were limited to the propertied class, which at that time constituted less than one percent (1%) of the population (Tuason, 2010). Many of the propertied class were descendants of the same local elite who gained concessions during the Spanish period.

Predictably, in the elections that were held in 1901 and 1907, majority of those who emerged winners were mostly coming from the ranks of the local elite. So while education and suffrage were introduced, access and full exercise—meaning to elect and be elected—was not only limited but also exclusive to a certain class. This clearly contributed to the rise of family power, of the local elite. These elite families whose influence cut across business and politics would continue to receive special favors and concessions from the Americans that allowed them to expand their businesses and advance their political ambitions (Tuazon, 2010).

Post-war Era and Post-Edsa

In the post-war House of Representatives (1946 Congress), of the 98 congressmen elected, 61 or 62% came from families with elective position from 1907 to 1941. This proportion of dynastic share of congressional seats continues to this day, even higher according to the AIM study (Mendoza et al, 2013). Yet the expansion of political dynasties may be traced back to the American colonial period when the principalia was able to consolidate their power and control over the political and economic affairs of the state.

A cursory look at the names of Philippine political leaders and administrators during and after the American period reveals that the same families that control business and politics are very much around, although some of their kin opted out of politics in favor of concentrating in business. The most enduring example of a family or clan that is able to withstand several political transitions yet maintain its formidable position in both politics and business is none other than the family of the incumbent president. The president’s clan has produced two presidents, five senators, a handful of congresspersons, and several governors. On the business side, the president’s relatives are still perched on top of their respective industries. In terms of consolidated interests in business and politics, the Lopezes, who are major beneficiaries of rent seeking (McCoy, p. 20) and who control media conglomerate ABS-CBN and power utility monopoly Meralco may have been a perfect example had the family decided to keep politics within and beyond their traditional turf in Western Visayas. The clan has produced a vice president in Fernando and a few congresspersons who have since retired.

During the Marcos years, political dynasties were dormant, deferring to the soon-to-be-consolidated and now-returning Marcos-Romualdez dynasty. The reason was simple: Marcos had most of the political dynasties under his clutches. The way to describe it today is a centralized dynasty, with President Marcos at the top.

After Marcos’ ouster, and upon Corazon Aquino’s assumption into power, the once dormant political dynasties slowly wormed back themselves into power. And by the time the first Congress post-Edsa opened, the once sidelined political dynasties found themselves reunited in the halls of Congress and in provincial capitols nationwide. It was even estimated that in 1987, 80% of the members of the House of Representatives belong to political dynasties.

The succeeding congresses saw a dismal reduction in the number of political dynasties occupying seats in the Lower House, which in the 15th Congress had a 67% share. This is according to a study by the AIM Policy Center. The 15th Congress has 234 regular members and 55 party-list representatives, or a total membership of 289. This means that 157 representatives in the 16th Congress belong to political dynasties. The AIM Policy Center is currently working on the results of the May 2013 elections. But some preliminary reports indicate almost similar shares of seats at around 70% in the 16th Congress, which translates into 164 dynastic members of the Lower House. While some political dynasties suffered setbacks in the May 2013 elections, notably the Jalosjoses (Philippine Star, May 14, 2013) in the Zamboanga region, the Singsons of Ilocos Sur were able to wrestle more power than in the previous election of 2010.

Glaringly in the Senate, the Cayetano sibling act is now complimented by the entry of Jose Victor “JV” Ejercito, who shares the same father with Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Manila mayor and former president Joseph Estrada, whose wife Loi is a former senator herself and who shared three years of her term in the Senate with her son, Jinggoy. The Senate in the 16th Congress nearly had a father-and-son tandem had Jack Enrile made it, who would have shared three years of the remaining term of his father, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

While Senator Nancy Binay does not have a relative in the Senate, she’s in the limelight for the simple reason that her father is Vice President Jejomar Binay, whose two other children themselves wield power in the country’s premier business capital, Makati City, where daughter Abigail is the first district representative and son Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay is the city mayor.

The examples tell us one thing: that after 1986, there was “massive democratization” of political dynasties. Overall, political dynasties prevailed (Philippine Star, May 18, 2013).

THE PROBLEM WITH DEFINITION

Article II, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution says “”The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” The key phrases here are prohibit political dynasties and as may be defined by law. In plain language, the provision is tentative and non-self-executory. This only means one thing: the need for a legislated definition, an enabling law, to breathe life to the provision. The definition bears the mark of a masterful trademark of politically expedient work on the part of the crafters of the 1987 Constitution who left the burden of defining what constitutes political dynasties to those who will be affected by the provision: the dynastic members of Congress. Hence, from 1987 until 2015, the constitutional prohibition of political dynasties remains unenforceable. In a first test case ever filed against members of political dynasties from the different parts of the country seeking various elective positions in the 2013 midterm elections, the anti-dynasty advocates used Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s own definition of political dynasty in Navarro versus Ermita as a “phenomenon that concentrates political power and public resources within the control of a few families whose members alternately hold elective offices, deftly skirting term limits.” The respondents belong to what is considered “an obvious case of political dynasty.” The case was dismissed by the Comelec and eventually by the Supreme Court, again, in the absence of an enabling law.

The struggle against political dynasties is actually a struggle for a legislated definition for no amount of public shaming will disqualify the so-called dynastic candidates from seeking elective position. The same provision in the Constitution that “prohibits” political dynasties “guarantees” the political rights of everyone to vote and be voted upon, including members of political dynasties. The struggle for the passage of an enabling in Congress is now 28 years old and has gone though several congresses already, starting with the first post-Edsa Congress. And for the first time in 27 years, an anti-dynasty bill reached the House plenary in 2014. Understanding the difficulty in passing an anti-dynasty provision is no rocket science as people are cautioned not to expect dynastic members of Congress to legislate their own extinction. In a house dominated by political dynasties, it is unthinkable that an anti-dynasty measure could even hurdle past the committee. Yet, it is now in the Plenary. But while the measure has gone that far, the question is now on the content. Advocates can only hope that the debate should now center on the definitions as to who is covered and whether they should pass an anti-dynasty measure at all.

But to understand and appreciate better the issue of political dynasty and why is there a need for a law to define it, it is good to revisit previous attempts as well as some definitions proposed for legislation. Senate Bill No. 2649, authored by Senator Miriam Santiago, defines political dynasty as existing when:

“(a) a person who is a spouse of an incumbent elective official holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent elective official within the same province or occupies immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective official.  It shall also be deemed to exist where two (2) or more persons are spouses or related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective office within the same province, even if neither is so related to an incumbent public official.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, the Makabayan coalition also came up with their own version. And very much like the Santiago bill, it shares the same prescribed limitations and never saw the light of day in the 15th Congress.

Outside of Congress, several advocacy groups and political parties have come up with their own proposals, notably the Kapatiran Party and the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM). In contrast to similar bills pending in Congress before (and also now), the version of Kapatiran Party that gained support from numerous civil society groups covered national positions. Additionally, Senate Bill No. 412 filed by Senator Sergio Osmeña III during the first regular session of the Thirteenth Congress in 2004 also covered national positions. Note that both the Santiago and Makabayan bills conveniently left out the national positions. The decision to include national elective positions is on the realization that consolidation of power takes place not only at the local, provincial level but also at the national level. In fact, national elective officials had a hand in the perpetuation of political dynasties by dispensing undue favors to relatives occupying top local positions and more significantly, by their refusal to enact an enabling law to prohibit political dynasties.

To illustrate the effect of the legislated Kapatiran Party bill, for example, Senator Alan Cayetano would have been prevented from seeking reelection while his sister is incumbent. If the law were in effect, it would have prevented the senator’s brother’s candidacy for congressman and his sister’s candidacy as mayor of Taguig City. Unfortunately, all the Cayetanos who ran in 2013 got elected, except for the eldest sister, Pia who is serving her remaining three years in the Senate. One version that is now in the Committee of Sen. Pimentel allows only one family member to run and covers the post of a barangay councilor. Most versions so far are for legislative action. For all those bills to move an inch outside their committees, the President has to certify them as urgent bills requiring priority legislative action.

MODES OF PERPETUATION

Vertical and Horizontal Expansion

According to The New Oxford American dictionary, perpetuation is to “make something, typically an undesirable situation or unfounded belief, continue indefinitely.” The persistence of political dynasties is something that only the members desire its perpetuity. According to Mendoza, the most common form of perpetuation is my succession, also called horizontal perpetuation, or expansion. This is the case of generational transfer of political power within the family that in some cases spans a generation. The transfer of power form one family member to the next is mainly due to term limits, for which our Constitution provides. For positions other than the President down to senators, a three-year term is allowed which means a total of nine years if a candidate is elected consecutively. Mendoza calls this mode of perpetuation a thin type of dynasty.

Another mode of perpetuation is the horizontal perpetuation or expansion. This happens when two or more members of the family simultaneously occupy positions. Dynasties in this category are referred to as fat dynasty. By this type of definition, the family of Vice President Binay could easily qualify, him being a vice president, who was succeeded in office as mayor by his son, whose two sisters are members of Congress, one a senator the other a representative of her district. It would have been fatter if the vice president’s wife occupies another elective post whether locally or nationally.

Geopolitics

In the guise of better public service, political families ventured into gerrymandering as a form of consolidating political power in the provinces. There were several cases that can be discussed but among the famous ones is that of the Villafuertes in Camarines Sur. The proposal to carve a new province out of Camarines Sur came from four lawmakers representing the province at that time at the House of Representatives, Reps. Arnulfo Fuentebella, Luis Villafuerte Sr., Diosdado Ignacio “Dato” Arroyo and Rolando Andaya. They authored House Bill 4820, which was approved by 229 House members in August 2011. But according to insiders in Camarines Sur, the context of dividing the huge province is that Luis Sr. was looking for a district where he could continue to represent in case he lost the battle for governorship to no other than his grandson, Miguel. Comelec records will show that in fact Luis Sr. lost to his grandson who succeeded his father L-Ray as governor of Camarines Sur in the 2013 mid-term elections. And Luis Sr., having no district to run, is now out of office.

Another strategy for perpetuation is by expanding the family political power outside of its traditional bailiwick that is akin to a franchise. This is what happened to the Jalosjos political dynasty that is traditionally based in Zamboange del Norte but expanded to the rest of the Zamboanga Peninsula, including Zamboanga de Sibugay as well as Misamis Occidental. But as the 2013 Comelec records will bear, the Jalosjos dynasty suffered a major setback with only two family members elected: Romeo’s son Seth Frederick as representative of the first district of Zamboanga del Norte and elder sister Rosalina Jalosjos-Johnson as city councilor of Dapitan.

PROBLEM WITH POLITICAL DYNASTIES

Distortion of Political Institutions

Acemoglu and Robinson (2012) offered some explanations on why nations fail in terms of attaining economic development. Nations fail because they don’t have the right political and economic institutions that facilitate and sustain growth and development. They maintain the view that democratic political and inclusive economic institutions are indispensible for sustained long-term development. Acemoglu and Robinson defined and made clear distinction of institutions as either inclusive or extractive. Inclusive institutions are those that allow and encourage participation of a broad segment of the population in both the process and outcomes of development. On the other hand, extractive institutions concentrate and perpetuate political and economic power and confine the benefits of production in the hands of the few, of the elite at the expense of the many, or the masses. North Korea, some sub-Saharan African states, and Russia before and shortly after the fall of the Soviet empire have such institutions. It may be contentious to some but China exemplifies an extractive institution as the Central Communist Party remains the largest beneficiary of the country’s massive economic expansion, the benefits of which did not trickle down to the ordinary village people in the world’s second largest economy. The Chinese economic expansion only serves to widen the gap between the rising number of millionaires and the hundreds of millions of poor in rural villages.

Political dynasties, generally understood as the concentration of political power in the hands of a family or clan, are an example of an extractive political institution. By concentrating and perpetuating power in families or clans, political dynasties prevent the emergence of broad-based political and economic institutions. In fact, political dynasties in the Philippines have become part of life, an ideology in itself even. Political dynasties take the place of political parties—the very political institutions entrusted with the task of setting the development agenda in legislature. Political dynasties may not be invincible, but they are unavoidable and anyone who entertains the temptation of getting into elective politics has to deal with them. There is no escaping them; they are everywhere—in the Senate, the House of Representatives, in the provincial, city, or municipal governments. Even in the barangays! But equally important to note is the presence of some of its members in key executive positions in the national government. But that would be another point.

Self-Perpetuation, Self-Persistence, Undue Advantage and the Rise of Low-Quality Politician

The logic of persistence of political dynasties lies in the very structure of our political system that is still very much rested on a client-patron arrangement against which cosmetic reforms failed to even scratch its surface, so to speak. The symbiotic elite-mass, landlord-tenant, patron-client, and candidate-voter relationship will probably linger much longer than political reform initiatives are designed to address them. One theory that explains persistence is the theory of exchange that postulates that consensus and peaceful exchange under the law is what characterize politics within the territory of a state (McCoy, p. 46). This theory, in effect, makes elections a free-for-all exercise with only those who have the means to win, including vote buying, likely to emerge as victors. The succeeding paragraphs shall examine how theories of perpetuation and persistence are validated by case studies at least in the Philippine context.

Dal Bo et al. (2009) investigate whether political power is self-perpetuating, that power begets power. Self-perpetuation is defined as a power-treatment effect, whereby holding political power increases the probability that one’s heirs attain political power in the future regardless of family characteristics. Focusing on the transmission of political power, they conclude that power, indeed, is self-perpetuating and that power augments the political capital that is transmitted within a family, creating an advantage of a cumulative, rather than fixed, nature (Dal Bo 2009). The longer one’s tenure, the more likely one is to establish a political dynasty and that this relationship is causal (emphasis mine).

On the other hand, Querubin (2011) has done an exhaustive analysis on political dynasties in the Philippines. His analysis on dynastic persistence yields the following findings:

  • there is an evidence of self-perpetuation in power by political dynasties in the Philippines (in affirming Dal Bo)
  • the results of his research demonstrates that those who serve as congressmen or provincial governors are four times more likely to have a future relative in office than a candidate who run and lose
  • this effect is not driven by unobserved characteristics of candidates and their families; rather, there is a causal effect from holding political power on the electoral success of future relatives. This is called incumbency advantage (also in Dal Bo).
  • in the Philippines, dynastic candidates are 22% more likely to win an election than individuals without any previous relatives in office. (Twenty-two percent may be minuscule, but compared to zero probability is significant).
  • the political system may create new powerful families because non-dynastic individuals who access office are more likely to create political dynasty of their own.
  • the political system itself creates persistence.
  • societies that draw its leaders from a small set of families could end up with politicians of lower quality. I believe there is no need for me to elaborate this point.

Anomaly in Modernizing Democratic Society

The prevalence and expansion of political dynasties is a continuing anomaly in our modern, democratic politics. And rightly so because of our pretension that the emergence of organized parties with strong ideological orientation as well as the growing population of young people can take care of our so-called democratic deficits. But a report of the Bertelsmann Foundation, part of which was carried by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, was not the least damning as it was brutally frank. Oligarchy, we realize, is what we are and we continue to be unless we do something fundamentally difficult but necessary steps. And that calls for the dismantling of oligarchy and political dynasties “to make politics and economics more transparent and competitive (in PDI, April 17, 2014).”

What makes the situation more anomalous is the reluctance, if not blatant refusal, of the Aquino administration to make the passage of deep political reform measures a priority of this government. There could be no other reason for the unwillingness of the president to upset the imbalance except that he wants to perpetuate the system for pragmatic considerations.

Ethics and Accountability Issue

When the fate of a barangay, municipality, city, or province is discussed and decided over family lunch or dinner, accountability is in danger. Accountability and the system of checks and balances are imperatives for good governance. News of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada realigning his pork barrel, which was just ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, to the City of Manila where his father is the Mayor had the public confused. The public could not help but ask if the pork barrel was ruled illegal, why not just return it, just like what majority of senators did. What added controversy to the realignment is the idea that the P100M fund could have been spent in more needy areas in Mindanao. Why Manila, which is far from a needy LGU, is everyone’s question at that time.

While there is no study that established causality between dynasties and corruption, the daily headlines have something to tell. Besides resources, the other and more potent form of corruption is that of political corruption where accountability is difficult to extract from the perpetrators.

Problem with Term Limits

Meanwhile, Querubin’s study on term limits yields the following conclusions:

  • term limits do not effectively increase the turnover of incumbent families in Congress and provincial governorships in the Philippines
  • term limits may change “stance” in Congress in terms of social policies legislation, but unlikely to change the fundamental interests represented in the democratic system
  • father anti-RH, successor son pro-RH
    • term limits do not affect in any sense the fundamental sources of political power of dynasties which include control over land, employment, and violence in their respective provinces (3Gs of election; clientilism, patronalistic)

Querubin (2011) concludes that “reforms that do not alter the underlying distribution of political power will not succeed in substantively changing the political equilibrium because incumbents will adapt and remain powerful under the new set of institutions.” He added that “while term limits may allow quality politicians to remain in office for a longer period of time, it may also exacerbate the dynastic nature of Philippine politics by providing incentives for incumbents to bring additional members of their family to power and thus control several offices simultaneously.” This is the case with the Cayetanos and the Estradas, and at some point, the Zubiris of Bukidnon.

Weak Bureaucracy and Strong Political Families: The Lethal Mix

 

McCoy (1994) traces two key elements that contribute to the rise of political dynasties that in turn weakens the bureaucracy: the rise of rents, or popularly referred to as rent seeking and the diminished central government control over provinces. Rent seeking is a form of monopoly where markets are restricted through numerous regulations with the intent of awarding access to favored constituents (McCoy, p. 11). Rent seeking characterized Philippine politics as the country emerged from the clutches of its last colonial masters. The emergence of the Philippine Republic is what provided the impetus for heightened rent seeking such that politicians at that time won their posts in elections largely funded by local elite. As a form of payment, concessions were made to favor the elite political supporters from one administration to the next, and these favors would encroach into the realms of appointments in the civil service. The unabated concessions of the government to local political and business elite left impacted the state’s resources thereby weakening the bureaucracy and in effect strengthening political families, reinforcing the view that Philippine bureaucracy has long been penetrated by particularistic oligarchic interests, which have a firm independent economic base yet rely heavily upon their access to the political machinery in order to promote private accumulation. Because the state apparatus is unable to provide the calculability necessary for advanced capitalism, one finds instead a kind of rent capitalism based, ultimately, on the plunder of the state apparatus by powerful oligarchic interests (McCoy, 1994, p. 13). The weakening of the state bureaucracy can be traced back then to as early as the American period when the American administrators, in trying to correct the perceived excesses of the Spanish colonization, introduced local autonomy and elections that opened access to political power to the local elite.

DYNASTIES AS THE BUREAUCRACY

The concepts of dynasty and bureaucracy, presumably, are far apart in literatures either in political science or public administration yet their origins and convergence seem inevitable probably because these concepts are intertwined, if not interlocked, especially when discussed in the Philippine context. For a starter, bureaucracy is understood as a specific form of social organization for administrative purpose and for dealing with the activities of a large number of people in a way similar to the family (De Guzman, p.181). The framework by which we can understand the interlocking relationship and their implication on each is the client-patron arrangement. Rocamora (2008) uses as example the case of then Makati City mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay to illustrate how a budding dynasty at that time could parallel or alternate, if not totally replace the functions of a bureaucracy and how it is done ‘efficiently’ such that it benefits the patron, in this case the former mayor, and the clients themselves, the underprivileged Makati constituents. In my own province, Bukidnon, before the advent of socialized health insurance and other aid programs the name Zubiri is synonymous to a hospital, a market or grocery, a funeral parlor, and an ATM machine (although ATMs were not yet popular at the time, especially in Mindanao, much less Bukidnon). The Zubiri patriarch, incumbent Governor Jose Maria Jr., is the chief political patron and kingmaker of the province even to this day, whose political career is built on patronage but not violence. Even before he became an assemblyman, his first foray into politics, Joe as the governor is fondly called, is a magnet for ‘charity,’ which he shrewdly converted into political capital by distributing goods and cash whenever opportunity presented itself. Like Binay, Joe Zubiri saw the lack of government response, if not ineptitude, to the needs of his constituents and the absence of readily accessible services. In a sense, the distribution of patronage is efficient, but it was hardly inclusive because not all needy residents have availed of the manna from sugar cane, as Joe Zubiri’s funds were mostly personal and drawn from his income in his sugar business, at least according to the patriarch himself.

The tales above may not illustrate the more graphic examples of how dynasties not only alternate or replace government or its essential functions but turned their constituents captive in an unequal client-patron relationship. Anecdotally, some political dynasties in Mindanao behave like monarchs in a democratic, republican country.

THE WAY FORWARD

Insulating Bureaucracy

The classic Weberian bureaucracy is sought in the face of politicization of our administrative system. While a politics-free bureaucracy is utopic, its professionalization may approximate what many desire to be an independent civil service with well-informed and economically self-reliant members who are immune to political pressure within and outside of their workplaces. It is a widely held belief that the economically independent class are free from the dictates of politicians. In some cases, the reverse is true. The current efforts, or rather the cumulative undertakings of the government, in professionalizing the civil service may have fallen short in strengthening our bureaucracy. However, no efforts can and should be taken as stand alone tools or solutions in insulating bureaucracy. The passage of supporting measures is highly desirable such as further rationalization of performance incentives and bonuses to inspire higher performance in the public sector.

CONCLUSIONS

Article II, Section 26 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” It sounds neat, but not really. This provision is non-self-executory in the first place and therefore requires an enabling law to take effect.

Unfortunately, the task of defining political dynasties as provided for in the Constitution is essentially left to Congress, which is a lair of political dynasties. The Congress is therefore a wrong place and a wrong choice for legislating a defining of political dynasties. It is wishful thinking to expect Congress to legislate its own members’ eventual extinction! This explains why after 27 years, Congress has failed to enact an anti-dynasty law, and the simple and obvious reason is that such a law would go against the interest of a majority of its members.

The discourse on political dynasties in relation to the development or degeneration of our bureaucracy hopefully will never lose academic and research value as we continue to analyze and scrutinize the logic that undergirds such relationship as well as prod on to search for ways to improve governance and administration against the specter of this continuing anomaly.

From an advocate’s perspective, there is no easy way to succeed in what the Bertelsmann Foundation prescribes as the dismantling of the oligarchy and political dynasties to make politics and economics competitive. That statement was made from a position of comfort because the realities on the ground so far remain to be perfect haven for dynastic expansion and mini oligarchy. Until we began addressing the underlying problems that underpin the issues at hand, we are only trying to scratch the itch and not kill the virus.

Finally, the parallel development of bureaucratic expansion and political dynasty entrenchment share an identical timeline in history, demanding fuller understanding and critical analysis of the implications that bureaucracy and political dynasties, or vice versa, have on each other and how their relationship influences policymaking and governance in the course of our history.

RECOMMENDATIONS

There are two levels of recommendations I wish to make in this paper: the academic and research level, and the programmatic level.

For academic and research interest purposes, it is worthy to pursue studies looking into the history of policy prescriptions of those perceived to belong to a political dynasty in terms of policy impact on public interest as well as their own. This should target those elected and appointed officials for the last 15 years. The length of time is three times more than the usual cycle for policy reviews. This is to allow policy corrections in cases of policies running in conflict with existing laws and provisions in the Constitution or in cases where such policies have become untenable therefore needed reform. The study should also look at the cost and quality of those policies.

Another point of investigation is the economics of political dynasties, as SALNs of members have proved to be unreliable indicator of one’s wealth. The interest here is on ethics, accountability, and integrity of publicly elected (and appointed) officials although some may contend that this function properly belongs to the Commission on Audit.

On the pragmatic side, but still within the domain of the academe, a continuing conversation on the issues in terms of the latest in legislative efforts and constraints are strongly encouraged. The engagement and full participation of civil society organizations and the youth sector are strongly encouraged to hear their inputs to be considered for any future course of action.

Bringing around the issue to the grassroots is a worthy yet expensive undertaking. It is therefore encouraged that the Internet and social media be utilized to disseminate informational and educational materials for the public, and specific target audience, to gain a deeper understanding on the issue.  Again, the academe should lead in terms of formulating a common point for convergence for all sectors to come together and agree and propose a unified action such as pressuring Congress to pass not only an anti-dynasty bill but also the FOI, the competition, political party development, party list reform, budget reform, and electoral reform bills.

It is paramount that advocates of anti-dynasty find common ground with those in the different reform advocacies and complement each other because all these measures coming from different groups will all lead towards improving the same locus or ecosystem where we operate.

Finally, the combination of the preceding recommendations are thought to bring together the public, having familiarized with the issue at heart, into action which can be a form of pressure on Congress to legislate a definition of what constitutes political dynasty.

 

 

References

Journals

Mangahas, Joel V., and Arroyo, Dennis (2014). Improving Local Service Delivery through the Community-Driven Development Approach. Asian Review of Public Administration 25(1), pp. 56-73.

Dal Bo, Ernestro, Dal Bo Pedro, and Snyder, Jason. Political Dynasties in Review of Economic Studies (2009) 76, 115–142.

Books

Acemoglu, D. and J.Robinson. 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. New York: Random House.

Acemoglu, D. and J.Robinson. 2006. Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Book Chapters

De Guzman, Raul P., Brillantes, Alex B., and Pacho, Arturo G (1988). The Bureaucracy. In Raul P. De Guzman and Mila A. Reforma (Eds), Government and Politics of the Philippines (pp. 180-206). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rebullida, Ma. Lourdes G. Genato, Serrano, Cecilia (2006). Bureaucracy and Public Management in Democracy, Development, and Governance in the Philippines. In Noel M. Morada and Teresa Encarnacion Tadem (Eds), Philippine Politics and Governance (pp. 217-248). Quezon City: UP Department of Political Science

McCoy, Alfred W. (1994). Anarchy of Families: The Histiriography of State and Family in the Philippines. In Alfred W. McCoy,  (Ed), Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines (1-27). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Fegan, Brian (1994). Entrepreneurs in Votes and Violence. In Alfred W. McCoy,  (Ed), Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines (41-52). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Rocamora, Joel (1995). Classes, Bosses, Goons, and Guns: Re-imagining Philippine Political Culture.In Jose F. Lacaba (Ed), Boss: Five Case Studies of Local Politics in the Philippines, Pasig: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

Published Articles

CENPEG Issue Analysis, Policy Study, Publication and Advocacy. No. 08 S. 2012

Mendoza et al, “Political Dynasties and Poverty: Chicken or the Egg” (2013). Makati City: Asian Institute of Management.

Querubin, Pablo (2011). Political Reform and Elite Persistence: Term Limits and Political Dynasties in the Philippines, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, October, 2011.

Querubin, Pablo (2010) “Family and Politics: Dynastic Persistence in the Philippines”, mimeo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tuazon, Bobby M (2010). Six Centuries of Political Dynasties: Why the Philippines Will Forever be Ruled by Political Clans? Quezon City: Center for People Empowerment in Governance.

Other Sources

The 1987 Philippine Constitution

HB 3413, Fifteenth Congress of the Philippines, First Regular Session.

Senate Bill No. 2649

The Philippine Star, May 14, 2013.

Websites

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/308899/news/nation/phl-political-dynasties-winners-losers-in-may-13-elections).

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/293487/news/nation/anti-political-dynasty-group-seeks-to-disqualify-six-candidates

http://business.inquirer.net/192967/wash-sales-said-to-be-common-practice

http://www.rappler.com/nation/57370-anti-political-dynasty-bill-house-plenary

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/276411/news/specialreports/the-great-divide-the-politics-and-economics-of-splitting-camsur.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/57370-anti-political-dynasty-bill-house-plenary and committee records

www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/293487/news/nation/anti-political-dynasty-group-seeks-to-disqualify-six-candidates

Review of Mendoza’s “Fairness and Equity in Public-Private Partnerships: The Case of Airport Infrastructure Development in the Philippines,” in the Philippine Journal of Public Administration, Vol. XV Nos. 1-2 (January-December 2011)

 

Prof. Mendoza’s “Fairness and Equity in Public-Private Partnerships: The Case of Airport Infrastructure Development in the Philippines” is a helpful reading in understanding fairness and equity in the context of public-private partnership, in this case the development of NAIA Terminal 3 and the ensuing controversy that hounded the Philippine government for years.

Mendoza’s assertion that “fairness and equity have always been implicit principles in administering public services,” rooted in Frederickson’s idea of good administration, sets the tone for discussion as it puts into scrutiny the processes and procedures undertaken by all parties concerned in the development of NAIA Terminal 3.

The author offers a range of perspectives in understanding fairness and equity and in applying these concepts in the appreciation and assessment of the NAIA Terminal 3 case. Her survey includes ideas from the Standing Panel on Social Equity (SPSE) of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) which defines social equity as “the fair, just and equitable management of all institutions serving the public directly or by contract; the fair, just and equitable distribution of public services and implementation of public policy; and the commitment to promote fairness, justice, and equity in the formation (sic) of public policy.“ Note that equity is equated here to social equity. However, as the article pointed out not until the 1960s has social equity became the concern of public administration, which marks the rise of the New Public Administration.

Another perspective in understanding fairness and equity is offered by Johnson and Svara, proposing that “fairness means that all should be treated consistently following the same standards and procedures without bias or favoritism and that justice means all are treated fairly and get what they deserve. Equality means that no favoritism or arbitrary denial of rights to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness regardless of the group which one belongs.” While it adds perspective, there is potential vagueness in the preceding definitions because these do not clearly answer the question “what does consistency imply?” and “what does it mean to be treated fairly?” Meanwhile, Svara and Brunet recognize vagueness and contradictions in the preceding definitions and move to identify, instead, the four dimensions of equity, i.e. (a) procedural fairness, (b) access, (c) quality, and (d) outcomes.

Accordingly, procedural fairness or equity involves the examination of problems and issues in terms of (i) procedural rights, (ii) treatment in procedural sense, and (iii) the application of eligibility criteria for existing policies and programs. Meanwhile, access equity involves a review of current policies, services, and practices to determine the level of access to services or benefits, and the analysis of reasons for unequal access. It is concerned with who receives the benefits or services. Quality equity is a review of the level of consistency in quality of existing services delivered to groups and individuals while outcomes equity involves an examination of whether policies and programs have the same impact for all groups and individuals served.

These dimensions of equity serve an important purpose in the assessment whether the case in point—the development of NAIA 3 Terminal—passes the fairness and equity test that the article attempts to analyze and assess. By procedural equity, the author invokes the Constitutional provision and guarantee of due process and just compensation as conditions. Again, these points have important bearing in the appreciation of the NAIA 3 Terminal case as analyzed in the article.

So far, the definitions borrowed from different sources serve to confuse more than enlighten readers on the definition(s) of equity. The proliferation of concepts, while it enriches the discourse, only adds more confusion than understanding, hence the author’s proposed unified definition, combining the thoughts of Svara and Burnet, Holmes, as well as the definition offered by NAPA-SPSE. Equity is now defined as “the fair, just, and equitable administration of public policies, decisions, programs, services, contracts, and the like. It requires respect of the rights of all stakeholders concerned and the promotion of their interests, whether public or private, by practicing due diligence, observing due process, and justify compensating parties that may be aggrieved or deprived of their interests when used or taken over for public purposes.” This definition, in effect, becomes the benchmark, the basis upon which the policy in question—the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the NAIA 3 Terminal development—shall be assessed.

In reviewing the PPP policy, Mendoza provides both the theoretical and historical contexts that gave rise to this new form of administering public service. She offers four arguments upon which the concept and practice of PPP are rested. She explains that one of the drivers of PPP is the crisis in the public sector wherein governments had to search for other sources of funding aside from what it usually collects from citizens such as taxes. Conversely, while there was crisis in the pubic sector, there was an increased mobility in private capital, which tilts the balance and relationship between the state or government and private capital in favor of the latter. As the government continues to expand, its operations became more complex with its functions overlapping that of the private sector, hence, the need for collaboration. Finally, the dominance of neoliberal thought in the 1970s and well into the ‘80s such as the New Public Management and the rise of movements on reengineering and reinventing government serves as the prime mover of PPP.

To add more context, the 1970s and the 1980s were a difficult period in both the Eastern and Western blocs, notably Britain and the United States. As the oil crisis that affected much of the world in the 1970s did not seem to end at the close of the decade, a specter of nuclear war had governments of developed economies spending on building nuclear arsenal and deterrence way beyond their capacity to generate funds to finance their weapons program. While the results varied, one thing was common: governments were left cashless after spending too much on defense. The most tragic example as an aftermath is what happened to the former Soviet Union that built a massive military industrial complex that left its government bankrupt even before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

There, too, are the valid assumptions used to argue for PPP. The first is that government lacks technical expertise and resources, as well as experience, for example, to design, build, and operate infrastructure projects such as an airport and an airport terminal. Secondly, government is largely seen as inherently inefficient. This view is complemented by the neoliberal thought that holds that the market is a better allocator and distributor of social values, and even goods. And so in the 1980, privatization, liberalization, and deregulation were not only buzzwords; more critically, these defined the political economies of world powers whose influence affect the policy and market directions of developing countries including the Philippines. Our own experience with liberalization, privatization, deregulation, and decentralization must have intensified in the 1990s at the start of the first Aquino administration and sustained during the Ramos administration.

The article also presents the different meanings, models and forms of PPP. Accordingly, PPP is essentially a public procurement arrangement between the public sector and private business where risks, rewards, and responsibilities are shared. The author also explains what Linder calls the six meanings of PPP: (a) management reform or an innovative tool that changes the way government functions; (b) problem conversion or transferring trouble shooting of the problem attending public service delivery to the business sector; (c) moral regeneration that gets government managers to be involved as market participants; (d) risk shifting, which is a means to respond to fiscal stringency on the part of government and of getting the private sector to sign on; (e) restructuring public service by adapting administrative procedures and coping with the demands from the sector’s employees through partnerships; and (f) power sharing to include ethos of cooperation and trust, mutual beneficial sharing of responsibility, knowledge, or risk, and give-and-take and negotiating differences. In sum, the six definitions imply an institutionalized form of cooperation between public and private actors toward achieving joint, common goals where both parties accept risks and share the costs and benefits.

The article also lists the different forms, types, and options of PPPs, which is important because much of the adverse public perception against certain PPP project stems not from the projects themselves but from the lack of understanding on the nature, mode or type upon which certain PPP projects were contracted. The author lists the options as either (1) supply and management, (2) turnkey, (3) leases, (4) concession, and (5) private ownership.  The turnkey model is mostly availed of for infrastructure facilities. Typically, a contractor, selected through a bidding process, designs and builds a facility for a fixed rate, or a total cost, and assumes risks involved in the design and construction phase. This is also known as the design-and-build type of PPP where private sector investment is low and there is no strong incentive for early completion as noted by the author. In the lease agreement, the operator is responsible for the operation and maintenance of an infrastructure facility and services but no large investments are required from the operator. The build-rehabilitate-operate-transfer model is also used in combination with the lease type PPP.  For concessions, the government defines and grants specific rights to an entity to build and operate a facility for a fixed period of time and the government may retain ultimate ownership of the facility and/or right to supply the services. Payments under concession type can take place two ways, that is: the concessionaire pays the government for concession rights and the government pays the concessionaire to make projects commercially viable or to reduce the level of risk. While discussion of the different modes, types and options of PPPs are informative, it would have been more helpful if examples of each type of PPP scheme were provided for better understanding.

A section on PPP policy in the Philippines is also discussed, with the legal basis to be found in the Private Sector Participation Program provided for in RA 6957, otherwise known as the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, and its subsequent amendment in 1994, the RA 7718, which introduced and defined new variants of private sector infrastructure participation schemes. The additions are build-own-and-operate (BOO); build-lease-and-transfer (BLT); build-transfer-and-operate (BTO); contract-add-and-operate (CAO); develop-operate-and-transfer (DOT); rehabilitate-own-and-transfer (ROT); and rehabilitate-own-and-operate (ROO). The amendment also includes modalities such as service contracts, management contracts, lease, or concession agreements.

Yet the main discussion in the article centers on the case in point: the BOT concession agreement in the NAIA Terminal 3 project, which is the subject of assessment as far as fairness and equity in the PPP are applied.

The NAIA Terminal 3 project was undertaken under a BOT scheme after it was established that the old NAIA Terminal 1 was operating in excess of its design capacity and that a new airport terminal was necessary in response to an expanding economy during the administration of President Ramos. It was conceived originally as a joint project of the six Filipino taipans under Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp. (AEDC), which submitted the proposal in 1993. However, through a Swiss challenge, the Philippine Air Terminal Corporation’s (PIATCO) predecessor, the Paircargo and Associates Consortium’s Swiss challenge bid of P17.5B won over AEDC’s P135M. Paircargo had partnered with Fraport AG, a German company. Fraport AG and Paircargo later became PIATCO and contracted in 1997 by the Philippine government to undertake construction and subsequent operation of the then proposed Terminal 3. PIATCO, by that time, was wholly owned by Fraport AG, Security Bank and Trust Company, Equitable Banking Corporation, Chuah Huh Holdings Company, and the Philippine Airport Ground Services.

The concession agreement between the Philippine government and PIATCO stated that construction of the Terminal 3 should start on June 2001, to be completed 30 months thereafter. But it was not the case, as records now tell us. While negotiations and concession process started during the Ramos administration, the construction commenced late during the term of President Estrada. Then in 2001, upon her assumption into the presidency, President Arroyo ordered a review of vital infrastructure projects, including PIATCO’s Terminal 3 project. There was legal back-and-forth that ensued and concluded with presidential adviser Gloria Tan Climaco’s findings of objectionable provisions in the concession agreement entered into by and between the government and PIATCO.

As a result, the administration of President Arroyo offered to buyout PIATCO for US$400M, to which Fraport AG agreed. Before the completion of the terminal, the president formed a committee to evaluate the agreement to buy out Fraport AG, which yielded negative results against PIATCO that led to the government’s abrogation of the agreement.

The subsequent Senate investigations finally led to the Supreme Court ruling the concession agreement null and void. Then the Solicitor General expropriated the airport terminal in favor of the Philippine government. The Court then ordered the government to pay PIATCO an amount of P3.0B that paved the way for the government to take over the facility and to work on its completion and full operationalization. However, Fraport AG brought a case of ‘unjust’ compensation against the Philippine government before the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and before the Singapore-based International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration, where PIATCO demanded US$564M from the Philippine government. Fraport AG’s counterpart claim was set at US$425M, pursuant to a Bilateral Investment Treaty provision that the Philippines and Germany have recourse to. The ICSID subsequently dismissed Fraport AG’s claim in 2007, about three years from the government’s takeover of Terminal 3 in 2004. Not long after, the ICC in Singapore also dismissed Fraport AG’s claim due to the illegality of the five contracts. But it was not the end for PIATCO and Fraport’s pursuit of just compensation because in 2010, a new body at the ICSID called Ad Hoc Committee on Annulment voided an earlier ICSID ruling on the ground that PIATCO/Fraport AG “was denied due process allegedly because the earlier ICSID arbitral tribunal did not allow the latter to comment on the evidence proferred by the Philippine government before the Department of Justice that PIATCO and Fraport AG violated Philippine laws.”

The new round of renegotiation was on and in 2011, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court ordered the Philippine government to pay a total of US$175.79M as just compensation to PIATCO, a fraction of the US$864.4M claim of PIATCO and Fraport AG. In total, the Philippine government paid PIATCO and Fraport AG an amount of US$242M.

The PIATCO/Fraport AG experience, if anything, exposes the labyrinthine process of contracting private services for big-ticket public infrastructure projects. The exercise confronts us with the question of fairness and equity on so many levels and dimensions that contracting parties, especially the government side, should pay close attention to, anticipating prospective legal questions while at the same time conscious of the necessity of getting the project on the ground lest the economy suffers further and the people dissatisfied with government.

Procedurally, the author’s assessment that the due process was observed is fairly informed. The laws in place at the time of the concession agreement was reasonable, as laws should be, in the sense that these does not reward one party and penalize the other for the consensual act they (PIATCO/Fraport AG and Philippine government) both committed. What the author asserts as deviation in an otherwise rational law was the interpretation of the law in amending provisions of the original agreement to suit to the interests of some parties involved. What is not clear in the narrative, however, is whether due diligence was performed and accountability checks were undertaken. If these were done, the concession agreement with PIATCO/Fraport AG would not have happened in the first place if, early on, government auditors found out that the partner firms’ predecessor Paircargo did not have the financial capacity to undertake such project. The disparity in the bid amounts alone should have piqued curiosity if not right away raised red flags already. Why was a red flag not raised? One possible answer to the question can be taken from the basic assumption or argument for PPP: that the government is inherently inefficient, which may correlate with incompetence of government representatives involved. But then the author’s argument that the infancy of PPP may explain a lot of oversight errors on the part of government as far as the conduct of due diligence goes may hold scrutiny, given the corollary fact that its private counterpart in PIATCO/Fraport AG have already mastered the game of private contracting. But to argue naïve gullibility on the part of government representatives who, as the author proposes, banked on the good faith of the private investors is a bit problematic, if not totally naïve an argument for the plain reason that while private investors came to bring money, they’re not going to leave anytime soon without bringing more money with them. Thus, the burden of safeguarding public interest is not the primary duty of the private partners of government; it is the government’s.

As for the ensuing decision on the cases brought against the Philippine government by PIATCO/Fraport AG both the ICSID earlier ruling and the ruling of ICC are justified from a purely legal viewpoint. While ruling in favor of the Philippine government in 2003 and 2004, the Supreme Court was mindful of the fact that the NAIA Terminal 3 building was almost complete and that regardless of the defective agreement, PIATCO/Fraport AG had spent funds on the project, hence the just compensation requirement is hereby observed. The Court’s judicial activism as implied by the author has yet to be established in the context of violations by PIATCO/Fraport AG of several Philippine laws governing contracting. The Court’s decision, in fact, has to be seen as an act of balancing public interest and maintaining goodwill with foreign governments and their enterprises. It was a win-win situation with the government taking over the project but paying the developer what generally was agreed as a just compensation. If these are what it takes the Supreme Court to be an activist Court, then let it be an activist Court for always balancing public interest and international goodwill in its subsequent rulings.

Just compensation is quite a struggle to define because more than mathematical figures and computations, ethics and accountability are also involved although they do not have monetary value in the agreement. Also, the parties involved bring with them to the court their own system of valuation and computation. Yet the basic questions persist: Can just compensation be demanded by PIATCO/Fraport knowing that it entered into an onerous contract with to the disadvantage of the Philippine government? If the contracts were fair, how come the Supreme Court found objectionable provisions and thereby ruled against these as unconstitutional? PIATCO/Fraport could not insist on good faith, especially after it allowed amendments in 1998 that were later on found to be onerous and disadvantageous to the Philippine government. Therefore, the RTC’s explanaton in 2011 of its ruling justifies largely the amount of US$242M as just compensation, which pertains only to the cost of the facilities taken over by the Philippine government after the Supreme Court declared the agreement between the Philippine government and PIATCO/Fraport AG null and void.

There are several lenses from which to view the NAIA Terminal 3 PPP project, one of which is that of a neoliberalist investor’s. By going back to one of the basic assumptions or arguments for PPP, which is that “governments and inherently inefficient,” it would seem clear that PIATCO/Fraport AG did not enter into an agreement with the Philippine government in good faith. It may be futile to define good faith but the records will bear that the concession agreement was indeed riddled with objectionable provisions. When the agreement was later on amended, the said objectionable provisions remained, if not rewritten to disadvantage more the Philippine government. One must not be too smart to know that PIATCO/Fraport AG did not organize their venture for charity; they were here to make money and in those days of opaque governance during the Estrada years, it is not easy to ascertain many a government conduct as protective of public interest and welfare. The public perception on the Estrada presidency was something that did not escape the minds of lawyers of PIATCO/Fraport AG when amendments were made during the deposed president’s term. While this is more fiction than fact, again, the records and the findings of presidential adviser Gloria Tan Climaco and the subsequent Supreme Court ruling supported the view that there were provisions inserted that were deemed unconstitutional. Yet all of these are assumed part of the game, of the risk that the other party should take in adapting this new model of delivering public service. The principal goal, at least superficially, is the availability of the new world-class airport terminal at whatever cost, which may have been attained if irregularities were left uncovered. This sounds rather unusual if not downright irregular but this is how neoliberalism such New Public Management works.

Finally, this reappraisal of a PPP case is timely as the second Aquino administration embarks on big-ticket PPP projects that are estimated to cost P600B starting next month, June 2015. (http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/08/06/1354233/govt-roll-out-18-ppp-projects). This time, though, the stakes have never been higher as the projects are way too late in their delivery, if they can be delivered at all before the Aquino administration bows out of office next year. There is also the perpetual public perception—which is another PPP—that big-ticket projects are but sizable election tools employed by the incumbent to influence election results in its favor. But the bigger collective challenge these days is to implement PPP projects in a more transparent, equitable, and fair manner that benefit not only the facilitators and investors as well as select constituencies of the administration but more importantly, the vast majority of the Filipino people.

Review of Co’s “The Long and Winding Road to Infrastructure Development and Reform,” in the Philippine Journal of Public Administration, Vol. LIV Nos. 1-2 (January-December 2010)

“The Long and Winding Road to Infrastructure Development and Reform” presents a comprehensive discussion for broader understanding of “vulnerabilities” in the Philippines’ road works system which is present in all phases of road works, starting from pre-implementation phase, implementation phase, and until the post-implementation, in the evaluation phase. Vulnerabilities are defined as “the points, functions, or processes within or without the road works system (and by extension the entire infrastructure development system) that result in some organizational dysfunctions, such as cost overruns, project delays, over or underdesign of road works (and other infrastructure), poor quality, and what is essentially called “corruption.”” While the paper pertains to vulnerabilities in the road works system, it dissects the larger, all-encompassing issues of corruption in the state infrastructure development process whereby reforms in procurement, implementation or execution, and assessment and evaluation have been sought and for which the paper offers some initial first-steps as measures to be put in place by policy and direct civil society participation.

Prof. Co prefaces her presentation with comparative figures on infrastructure investment that clearly locates the Philippine’s hardly enviable rank within the region, with a meager 2.5 percent, and with road development expenditure at only 0.7 percent, of the country’s GDP. These basic figures are an important reference in both understanding the sorry state of our infrastructure and in laying the premise for reform, which the paper articulates well with some ideas of change from within and without the executive agencies.

The many players in infrastructure development as identified in the paper is indicative of a complex network of delivery system where demand for transparency and accountability prove to be challenging. Nevertheless, the analyses presented here are fairly valid and sufficient enough guide in (1) understanding the scope and magnitude of ‘corruption’ in the infrastructure development process, and (2) the crafting of anti-corruption programs to plug the so-called ‘leak.’ The interest in scope and magnitude of the programs and the accompanying leak in public funds, it must be pointed out, should go well beyond that of a typical sensationalist media tendency to make mountains out of a mole although we also concede that our free and sometimes irresponsible coverage on corruption issues in the past have resulted in ‘successful’ conviction of those who were suspected to have enriched themselves while in power, while serving government.

Aside from the principal agency for infrastructure development that is the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the paper identifies the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Metro Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), and local government units (LGUs) as among those involved in infrastructure projects. The line-up of agencies mentioned already indicates something chaotic in the infrastructure development process as the paper correctly observed. But what compounded to the already chaotic system is the addition of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) as another set of implementers and the participation of the Legislature in infrastructure development. Among the GOCCs mentioned are Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), National Development Company (NDC), and Philippine National Construction Company (PNCC).

The participation of the legislature, specifically of senators and congressmen, effectively blurs the classical administration-politics dichotomy wherein the executive and legislative function freely encroaches into each other’s territory, adding more difficulty in demanding transparency and accountability. As the paper correctly pointed out, most of the time it’s the legislators venturing into the executive function of policy implementation that makes the system of delivery and accountability chaotic and dysfunctional. The participation of senators and congressmen in infrastructure development, in some cases involving legislators having ‘full-access’ to the entire process, only adds up another layer of difficulty in addressing vulnerabilities. Unsurprisingly, some legislators’ propensity to (mis)appropriate executive function has resulted in so many cases of questionable big-ticket, multibillion-peso infrastructure projects. One such example of projects embroiled in controversy is the still unresolved ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ scandal that continues to hound former president Arroyo and her allies  (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/293618/arroyo-execs-pocket-p15-b-from-bridge-scam).

The discussion of vulnerabilities in each phase of infrastructure development provides for a framework for further understanding corruption. More importantly, this frame-by-frame, phase-by-phase analysis provides for a clear, specific, defined, focal areas for demanding transparency and exacting accountability in the otherwise labyrinthine procurement process. Stories of bid rigging, collusion and even stringent prequalification process in the pre-implementation phase of infrastructure development program, for example, expose the inherent weakness of the procurement system in place and therefore invite innovative ideas to be infused in the reform process. The pre-implementation phase is critical because it is where anomalies are ‘instituted.’ This is the phase where infrastructure projects are approved but would later found to be overdesigned and therefore overpriced, among other anomalies.

The vulnerabilities in the implementation phase are assumed to exist for at least two reasons. Firstly, the approval or clearance system in the pre-implementation phase failed to detect and weed out anomalous proposals from questionable contractors for so many reasons. As a result, the issues that should have been resolved in the pre-implementation phase are left open during its implementation, again, for so many reasons. Secondly, there are persistent long-running issues that affect implementation. One major issue is right of way acquisition (ROWA), which continues to pester the DPWH in dozens of its projects. This is one problem that the DPWH alone could not possibly resolve as it involves some political decision and intervention whose logic often defies technical and economic considerations as the article correctly pointed out. An example of this would be the DPWH’s stalled flood control project in Metro Manila that involves relocation of settlers along riverbanks.[1] In principle, the state can set aside funding for relocation in view of the controversial Lina Law which seeks to protect slum dwellers from random demolition. In reality, political leaders are unwilling to carry out relocation as it means loss of constituency in an electoral contest. Also, counterpart funding in the implementation phase is beyond the Department’s sphere of influence. Those in the know say that this is the point where some legislators overextend their ‘power of the purse’ too much for themselves and too little for the project and the public.

The vulnerabilities continue to manifest in the post-implementation phase of infrastructure development programs. In complex systems, where infrastructure development resides as configured deliberately under our procurement system, monitoring and evaluation is more of a ‘guessing game’ if not a gaming-the-system game. The anomalous proposals that didn’t get flagged in the pre-implementation phase are routinely approved and implemented and therefore have to be ‘evaluated.’ The ‘monitoring’ is assumed to be performed until the stage at which evaluation takes place with presumption of regularity, until something wrong is discovered. The complexity in infrastructure development process, from all indications, is not a default system nor a natural configuration but rather a deliberately elaborate, or elaborately deliberate, mechanism to skirt the long and arduous process of transparency and accountability. Under a cloud of doubt, reportorial process is therefore assumed to sustain the anomalies in the pre-implementation and implementation phases, and serves only to justify the persistence of vulnerabilities.

As a counterpoint, the article presents a two-pronged approach to reforming the concerned executive agencies and at the same time strengthening civil society participation in the complex infrastructure development process. Within the agencies, measures such as online bidding, strike 3 rule, elimination of prequalification requirements to open up bidding process to greater competition, civil works registry, and capacity building and integrity development programs, streamlining, and rationalization are proposed to at least realistically minimize vulnerabilities. From without, the article puts premium on industry self-regulation and oversight alongside strong civil society participation.

However, the proposed measures need some kind of a leg to stand on. Civil works registry and civil society participation, for example, are meaningless measures if these are not rested on a law on transparency that guarantees freedom of access to vital information on multibillion-peso public works contracts whose otherwise hidden provisions may, for example, prove to be disadvantageous to the government and the public as end users. In the absence of a law, such as the proposed Freedom of Information Act, access to vital documents of public interest is extremely limited if not totally impossible. The proposed measures are better off tied to a rational incentives plan to be adopted both by the public and private sectors to not only discourage malpractices but inspire performance and integrity in and out of the workplace. Also, the Strike 3 Rule is not exactly a fair policy because a lot of disqualified bidders, in fact, have tendered bids that offered more value than those by the winning bidders.

A word of caution though about civil society participation: not all civil society organizations (CSOs) are created equal. This implies that some CSOs are not transparency-driven; a lot of them are there or exist for the wrong reasons. Code NGO, for example, noted that the government’s bottoms-up-budgeting (BUB) is having a rough sailing because there is not enough number of organized and credible civil society organizations as partners in the program in many areas around the country. Given this difficulty, the government through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are left with no choice but nominate certain groups that are allies of the administration to participate in the process even if their participation is essentially government-instigated.[2] The resulting relationship is beyond awkward; it may actually be anomalous if not downright unethical.

The whole discussion about vulnerabilities and corruption are central to studies in ethics and accountability and governance. The kind of ethical model and orientation that governs official conduct in government is always suspect because the strong public perception that those in government who are engaged in infrastructure development are in one way or another corrupt has not been effectively falsified. Attempts to reverse public opinion and perception failed many times over because what the people are seeing are the excesses and irregularities in many government transactions ranging from purchase of office supplies to big ticket projects such as the proposed new railway system or the new international airport in the south. The same vulnerabilities remain uncorrected although those in the administration, for example, are likely to paint a totally different picture of the public procurement system. Finally, issues bedeviling the public infrastructure development process surely can be explained in a dozen different approaches and models in ethics and accountability but what is more critical, it must be reiterated, is the absence of a rational incentives mechanism in both public and private sectors as a measure to minimize, if not totally stamp out, vulnerabilities in the infrastructure development process.

 

Endnotes

[1] From an interview with DPWH Project Management Office OIC sometime in February 2013.

[2] From an interview with CODE-NGO officer and a DBM Undersecretary sometime in October 2014

Executive No. 80 and the Case of ‘Manufactured Readers’ in Philippine Public Schools

INTRODUCTION

Background

The assessment of EO 80 and its implication on school performance and learning outcomes comes at an opportune time as the policy is generating interest and public inquiry into whether the Performance-Based Bonus, which is an innovative addition in the Performance-Based Incentive System (PBIS), is effectively driving higher performance in schools that translate into improved learning outcomes among students in the early grades, at least. The delays in the release of PBB, particularly to teachers in the Department of Education, make it an imperative for more public inquiry into the policy’s implementation and the underlying mechanisms that support it. However, it may be beyond this paper’s scope to fulfill the latter. Nevertheless, a preliminary assessment on this concern shall be attempted.

The discussion of EO 80 is relevant because issues on welfare of state employees are paramount in public administration and likely to be column fodders and subject of heated political debates in the months leading to the general elections in 2016.The PBB itself is hounded by issues such as delays in its release and the circuitous process of its availment. But beyond delays and questions of equity, however, are concerns on integrity, ethics and accountability inherent in a system where performance-reward relationship exists such as the PBB in EO 80.

Rationale

In February 2015, during the 15th International Mother Language Day, the UP College of Education held a lecture forum attended by language and education advocates and students who had gathered to listen to a lecture on Mediations in Reading. The lecturer, Ms. Filomena Sanchez Pilonggo, shared in her lecture valuable insights on remediation strategies in reading culled from her dissertation she’s working on and whose respondents include stakeholders in Region III. In the same lecture, a public high school teacher from Pangasinan, who is deployed by Teach for the Philippines, a non-governmental organization with global affiliation and working closely with the Department of Education, shared a rather sad and equally revolting story of how ‘improper,’ if not unethical, his fellow public servants were when it comes to availing the PBB. Teacher Raymond[1] was assigned by his principal to collate the teacher performance scorecards for evaluation by the DepEd Division Office. When he showed the records to the principal, the latter noticed there were “non-readers” in the early grades as reflected in the reports of his fellow teachers. Right away, the principal ordered him to change the report to reflect “no non-readers” in the early grades, which means learners from Grades 1 to 3. Teacher Raymond was astounded, but he followed the principal’s order anyway.

The story of Teacher Raymond is not an isolated one. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of similar stories around but many of them are unreported, unheard of. I found out that similar incidence also occurred in Bukidnon, Cotabato, the Ilocos Region, Bicol region, and elsewhere in the Visayas. According to people familiar with DepEd operations, the incident was common all over the schools in the Philippines. Thankfully, Teacher Raymond was courageous enough to have shared his story so that it can be documented and the policy that undergirds the program can be studied further and improved.

The experience of Teacher Raymond tells us so much about realities in Philippine basic education, with emphasis on teachers as potential (mis)educators, or mal-educators as some opinion writers prefer to call them. The experience is also instructive of the state of language-in-education policy in the Philippines, the legal foundation of which is found on Article XIV, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution, which declares that:

The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages. Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.

What quoted provision implies the institutionalization of Filipino as the medium of instruction in the educational system. However, Section 7 of Article XIV mentions about regional languages as auxiliary official languages in the regions:

For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.

The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.

Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.

Section 9 of the Charter sets the stage for the institutionalization of Filipino in an explicitly inclusive process of national language development:

Section 9. The Congress shall establish a national language commission composed of representatives of various regions and disciplines that shall undertake, coordinate, and promote researches for the development, propagation, and preservation of Filipino and other languages.

The above provisions may stand on their own leg. However, the universe of learning has its own language that no Constitution can dictate which language it should use. The Philippines has gone through changes in language-in-education policy from one colonial master, and from one administration, to the next. During the Spanish colonization, our great grandparents were forced to learn the language of Queen Isabela. During the American period, we were taught in English. The short-lived Japanese occupation did little to make us think and speak in Nihonggo and follow the way of the Samurais. In the ensuing independence from our colonial masters, the Philippines readily warmed up to Tagalog as the preferred language for national unification, an aftermath of Quezon’s nationalist posturing and passionate promotion of his own regional language—Tagalog. To their credit, the framers of the 1987 Constitution recognized that Filipino, which to this day remains overwhelmingly Tagalog, is an evolving language, effectively doing away with Pilipino as being too puristic. Amidst debates over which language is dominant, Section 9 above provides the framework from which our language-in-education policy should be rewritten.

In 2009, the Department of Education issued Department Order No. 74, which mandates the institutionalization of mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBMLE) in public schools. The policy issuance was a victory for advocates of multilingual and multicultural education movement, which has a long history of struggle for meaningful and effective learning among students in the early grades.

Objectives

This paper analyzes problems and issues surrounding EO 80, specifically the implications of PBB implementation on the quality of learning outcomes in the basic grades, as well as the management and administration of public schools. The paper also explores issues of accountability involved in the implementation of PBB. Moreover, the paper assesses whether EO 80 indeed motivates higher performance that logically should result in improved learning outcomes among learners in the early grades. It also assesses whether the policy or least parts of it is effectively implemented and acceptable to stakeholders, and if the policy can stand ethical inquiry. Finally, the paper hopes to inform policy making on the need to review the rewards system especially as it impacts quality of learning outcomes in the early grades.

Scope and Limitation

The discussion in this paper covers Executive Order No. 43 s. 2011 in relation to EO 80, specifically the PBB and its implication on the quality of learning outcomes in the early grades. Also, discussions on ethics and accountability among implementers or adapters of PBIS, specifically PBB, in the DepEd are attempted. In passing, this paper discusses some provisions of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, specifically Sec. 4 (c) on Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees, to highlight the need for public officers to be accountable all the times. The paper also discusses MTBMLE in relation to remediation in reading, which is the main issue in the case of the manufactured readers.

Methodology

This paper employs the case method, analyzing EO 80 in its various dimensions, with emphasis on PBB as it impacts remediation in reading in particular and the quality of learning in the early grades in general.

The qualitative character of the case method limits this paper’s use of statistical surverys such as opinion polls as regards PBB. Rather, in-depth interviews with education stakeholders, experts as well as advocates were conducted in a rather unstructured but guided conversations. This is so because stakeholder-interviewees had to be made comfortable in responding to questions that otherwise would not earn their valuable response and insights. It is hoped, however, that the arguments offered in this paper should influence policy making to the extent recrafting EO 80 to make the incentives and rewards in the civil service more motivating and responsive to the unique character and operation of each agencies in government.

DISCUSSION OF ETHICAL THEORIES

There is no singular ethical theory or principle that drives the administration to initiate reforms in the civil service such as EO 80. What underpins reforms is a combination of several ethical theories and principles whose varying definitions intersect and at times clash with each other. There are at least two theories that can be employed in describing and assessing the policy, specifically the PBB implementation in the DepEd: teleological and pragmatic ethics.

Results-based performance-management system, by its description alone, denotes results, outcomes, or in the language of the corporate world and civil service, accomplishment. This is the framework upon which EO 80 is crafted in keeping with the provisions of EO 43, which defines five Key Results Areas (KRAs) in governance, namely: (1) transparent, accountable, and participatory governance, (2) poverty reduction and empowerment of the poor and vulnerable, (3) rapid, inclusive, and sustained economic growth, (4) just and lasting peace and the rule of law, and (5) integrity of the environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Furthermore, EO 43 mandates all government programs, projects, and activities be oriented in the pursuit of the five KRAs. The PBB, which is the only significant innovation in the PBIS, is a top-up mechanism to motivate higher performance in the public sector and reward such performance accordingly. By its purpose and definition, PBB is outcomes-driven and results-oriented, hence teleologic or utilitarian in nature. In teleology, also consequentialism in some literatures, the consequences of an act are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of such act. If the goal is morally important enough, then any method or means towards achieving such end is perfectly acceptable and moral.

The issuance of EO 80 is the act, the consequence of which is higher performance in the public sector, which is the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of wrongness of EO 80. The goal, in the case of EO 80 higher performance in the public sector, is morally important enough that any method or means in achieving such end (consequence), in this case the rationalization of incentives via PBB, is perfectly acceptable or moral, or the best morality.

Pragmatism, in ethics or politics, serves many institutions well, including governments. The very nature of our politics, which can be best characterized by way of a famous quote attributed to Lord Palmerstone that goes “we have no permanent allies or enemies; we only have our perpetual interests,” demands certain flexibilities in our policies and even in our vision, assuming the latter is demandable of our administration past and present. It can even be argued that the Aquino administration does not have a clear vision; what it has is a strategy, the Daang Matuwid. Pragmatism is flexibilities, or vice versa. In pragmatic ethics, norms, values, principles, priorities, and even moral criteria of today may be different from what they were before, and there is the possibility that these will change in the future. The change, it must be noted, is not whimsical nor capricious, although this is possible in despotic regimes and in failed states where there is no effective control of government as in some parts of Iraq and Syria where non-state actors such as ISIL rule. Rather, the change is a product of a continuous search for innovation, for improvement of the current system. The change that pragmatic ethics identifies with is guided by reason, and is sometimes disruptive but nevertheless innovative. Innovations are disruptions. For clarity, Caroline Howard, in an article in Forbes explains the distinction between innovation and disruption:

“People are sometimes confused about the difference between innovation and disruption. It’s not exactly black and white, but there are real distinctions, and it’s not just splitting hairs. Think of it this way: Disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors — in the same way that a square is a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares. . .

Innovation and disruption are similar in that they are both makers and builders. Disruption takes a left turn by literally uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day.”[2]

Our own government’s attempt at innovation in governance and administration can be exemplified by the creation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP. DAP was by all means innovative except that our existing policies do not seem to provide the necessary support for legitimacy. Another innovation in governance is the zero-based budgeting and its accompanying process, the bottoms-up budgeting or BUB. Even the vaunted Conditional Cash Transfer or CCT or of the Aquino administration that is ongoing but is about to end can be considered an innovation in governance, although this was started by the administration of former president Arroyo. Its expansion or modification, however, is another innovation.

The above governance innovations may not have been in place before and these could be displaced in the future, depending on the results of continuous inquiry and innovation that may yield better results. The idea is that government should be guided by some kind of pragmatism as a form of mechanism for coping change.

POLICY OVERVIEW (EO 80)

In July 2012, President Aquino signed Executive Order No 80 s. 2012 (EO 80), directing the adoption of a performance-based incentive system for government employees.

The principle that underpins EO 80, which is spread out in the “Whereas” clauses of the policy, is the rationalization of the existing across-the-board bonus system in government. The Aquino administration is of the belief that the existing bonus system does not encourage or motivate higher performance and greater accountability in the public sector. The administration believes that with this policy, “the service delivery by the bureaucracy can be improved by linking personnel incentives to the bureau or delivery unit’s performance and recognizing and rewarding exemplary performance in the public sector.”

Another driving principle in the issuance of EO 80 is the accomplishment of commitments and targets of the five Key Result Areas (KRAs) defined in EO 43 as well as the goals and objectives in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. EO 43 effectively reorganizes the Cabinet into operational clusters. The Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster found in Section 6 of EO 43 explains thus:

The Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster shall promote transparency, accountability, participatory governance, and strengthening of public institutions. It shall also work to regain the trust and confidence of the public in government. In particular, the following goals shall be pursued:

  1. Upholding transparency in government transactions and our commitment to combating graft and corruption.
  2. Strengthening of the capacity of government institutions to link their respective budgets with performance outcomes and enabling citizens and civil society to monitor and evaluate these;
  3. A professional, motivated and energized bureaucracy with adequate means to perform their public service missions;
  4. Improvement of public sector asset and resource management and revenue performance; and
  5. Establishing an improved policy and regulatory environment that will reduce the cost of doing business in the country and improve competition.

EO 80 is thought to strengthen performance monitoring and appraisal systems based on existing systems like the Organizational Performance Indicator Framework (OPIF) used by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to measure agency performance, the Strategic Performance Management System (SPMS) of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) which links individual performance to organizational performance, and the Results-Based Performance Monitoring System (RBPMS).

In terms of authorship, while the policy is a product of collaborative interagency work, the common perception points to Sec. Florencio Abad as the ‘brains’ behind the reforms embodies in numerous policy issuances, notably the crafting of good governance and anti-corruption provisions in EO 43.

Significant Policy Developments/Amendments

So far, the only article or document available about policy amendments pertains only to the National Achievement Test or NAT. According to DepEd, NAT is a standardized test designed to determine the achievement level, strengths and weaknesses in five key curricular areas—English, Filipino, Math, Science and Araling Panlipunan—of students in grades three, six and fourth year high school (or grade 10). NAT is used as a key performance indicator (KPI) in the PBIS, and forms part of the basis for PBB allocation to the DepEd workforce, including the thousands of public school teachers.

As far as the no non-reader KPI goes, the Official DepEd line is that ‘no such indicator is used.’[3] In an interview with a ranking DepEd official, I was flatly told that no such instrument or indicator exists. The official even challenged of sort that I document the case and other cases or practice so he and the DepEd could act on it appropriately. There are at least two possibilities why the DepEd official was insistent somehow that no such practice occurred. One is that the DepEd higher ups are not aware of the practice on the ground, considering that officials in the department oversee the operations and attend to the concerns of the largest bureaucracy on a daily basis. The other possibility is that officials have ideas somehow that something was going on but they didn’t have the means to verify, or that only a few cases are reported to them and therefore do not reach an alarming level requiring immediate attention.

Yet the story of Teacher Raymond is quite compelling and the only problem with validating his claim is the absence of “report card” as an instrument and evidence that the no non-reader KPI was indeed used in order for teachers to receive their PBB. Teacher Raymond, in “good faith” did not keep a copy of the report maybe because he did not see any probative value in keeping such document. But suffice it to say that the story of Teacher Raymond is not an isolated one.

Significant Provisions and Salient Features

Sections 2, 3, and 4 of EO 80 contain the most significant provisions of the policy. Section 2 sets the guidelines that govern the PBB and defines the criteria that units and personnel within the organization must meet to avail of PBB. Section 3, meanwhile, sets the rates of incentives subject to change in the future upon recommendation of the Interagency Task Force (IATF) and approval of the President. Below is the current PBB matrix:

Performance Category Best

Performer

Better

Performer

Good

Performer

Best Bureau 35,000 20,000 10,000
Better Bureau 25,000 13,500   7,000
Good Bureau 15,000 10,000   5,000

The matrix does not include a poor rating scale, meaning that when a bureau or unit’s rating is poor, its employees will receive no PBB at all. Accordingly, bureaus and individuals who receive a Below Satisfactory performance rating will not be qualified for the PBB.

Section 4 prohibits the grant of new and additional bonuses and incentives other than those authorized under SSL III and any increase in the existing and authorized rates as contained in the Order. It also enjoins GOCCs to harmonize their bonus system with the PBB as defined in EO 80 pending the formal implementation of the Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS) for GOCCS as mandated under RA 10149.

Section 5 also provides that GOCCs’ funding for PBB shall be taken from their respective corporate funds. The provision in Sections 4 and 5 may be interpreted as measures to prevent GOCCs again from paying their officers with excessive perks, as in the heydays of MWSS when its officers receive bonuses the amounts of which Sen. Franklin Drilon calls obscene.[4]

Current Implementation Arrangement: Implementing Unit, Secretariat, Funding Source

The PBIS is within the RBPMS framework, which is set in place via Administrative Order No. 25 s. 2011, which provides for an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) chaired by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and co-chaired by the Office of the Executive Secretary. Its membership includes the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), and the Department of Finance (DOF). It is composed of a technical working group with the following members: Civil Service Commission (CSC); Commission on Audit (COA); Office of the Ombudsman; Commission on Higher Education (CHEd); Career Executive Service Board (CESB); National Competitiveness Council (NCC); Governance Commission for the Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GCGOCC). The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) serves as the Technical Secretariat and Resource Institution of the AO25 IATF.

The IATF is tasked, among other functions, to set the good governance conditions for compliance by all bureaus and service delivery units under the DBM as well as GOCCs under DBM pending the formal implementation of the Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS) for GOCCS as mandated under RA 10149.

As provided for in Section 5, funding for departments, bureaus, and agencies, including State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), the necessary funds shall be charged against the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) while funding for GOCCs shall be charged against their respective corporate funds, subject to the approval of their respective governing boards in accordance with applicable laws.

POLICY FINDINGS AND ASSESSMENTS

Policy Accomplishment and Success Factors in the Effective Implementation

In terms of accomplishment, the most common standard of measurement is compliance. According to postings of the IATF Secretariat on its website (which is accessible at http://www.dap.edu.ph/rbpms/agency-performance/), there seems to be a one hundred per cent compliance by all agencies, including GOCCs that are covered by the DBM. This is, however, a quantitative way of assessing success of accomplishment. Qualitatively though, measuring success of policy and its implementation requires multiple case studies to really determine whether the processes and procedures undertaken were fair and if performance targets were realistic. This paper, for example, relies heavily on anecdotal evidence of what can be commonly described as deliberate manipulation of performance results such as in the story of Teacher Raymond.

Factors affecting ‘effective implementation’ are built right into the policy itself. The policy’s driving force are the scales of incentives available for the taking provided the unit or bureau meets certain required performance rating. It helps also that funds for both the PEI and PBB are guaranteed in the GAA for regular agencies and the corporate funds in the case of GOCCs. But the overall success of the policy’s implementation is hinged on a lot of factors. Aside from the monetary guarantees, the management and/or leadership of units and bureaus, for example, play a crucial role in achieving their performance targets. Relationships and the way they are managed may also have an effect on the performance of individuals in a unit or bureau, hence the importance of managing relationships. And this is one of the more critical functions of an agency head and his alter egos down the bureaucratic line. There are also external factors such as adverse or favorable public opinion or perception about certain units or bureaus that directly or indirectly impacts its performance. Also playing a role are pressure groups and civil society organizations whose constructive engagement with certain government units or bureaus bring about positive results that translate into improved performance. Finally, there is the perennial ‘big picture’ factor that continues to hound not just units or bureaus but the entire Philippine government to excel in good governance and anti-corruption initiatives because the country needs to upgrade its credit ratings and project an image that is attractive to more foreign direct investments. In short, the overall climate of governance must improve to also improve our standing before the international community.

Constraints and Areas for Improvement

While EO 80 offers top-up incentives in the form of PBB, it also presents some ethical issues that confront civil servants on a daily basis. For one, the specter of not getting anything from a range of incentives offered in the PBB because what is ultimately evaluated is the aggregate unit or bureau performance and not individual accomplishment could be in itself a form of “disincentive.” While it works both ways, the PBB scheme seems to deprive an individual of his reward for his accomplishment. Teamwork is desirable, but in reality workplace ethic is more complicated than what the authors of the policy anticipated. In reality, there is really no such thing as equal output, equal skills, and equal competencies. What can possibly be derived and observed in the workplace are comparable outputs, skills, and competencies.  There, too, is the disparity in outputs, skills, and competencies. Given these realities in the workplace, how can performance targets reconcile and balance such disparity? By simply averaging? But the problem with averaging especially when written on performance scorecard is that it does not tell us the actual output of an individual, which by the way is ‘immaterial’ in an aggregated evaluation system. As a result, it often gives us misleading impressions, assumptions, and information.

In terms of implementation support and feedback mechanism, there is a concern on transparency in terms of the details of assessment of agency performance. Section 2 (c) of EO 80 mandates that “there shall be appropriate communications strategy and publication of performance targets and accomplishments in the department and agency websites and the website for the RBPMS to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of the PBB scheme.” To illustrate the point, what you are shown when visiting the RBPMS website are mere generalized agency-level scorecards bearing almost generic indicators. An inquiry with the IATF Secretariat on the availability of performance indicators used by the basic unit of an agency—a school level indicator in the case of DepEd—reveals a negative answer[5]. Therefore, it may help clarify if Section 2 (c) will be more explicit whether the transparency and accountability clause refers to an internal agency procedure whereby only employees of the agency may have access to it, or if it extends to the general public who demands to know how and why the agency’s employees bring home P35,000 each as bonus despite the agency’s poor delivery of public service.

Policy Assessments

The implementation of PBB in the DepEd produced varying results. While it provides an opportunity for rewarding ‘performing schools,’ as performance results are aggregated and cascaded up for a top-down evaluation, it also raises doubts about the integrity and accuracy of vital information the Department through its service delivery units provides to the DepEd Central, the DBM, the policymakers and the general public. Also, the ‘performer’ as an individual is gone because the measured unit now is the school. The school then as the sum of all parts becomes suspect.

At the school level, the use of ‘no non-readers’ as a performance indicator measured on a regular cycle presents some difficulty, pedagogically and otherwise. A non-reader is one who does not read, or who cannot read, or slow in reading. Different schools of thought are divided on the definition of a non-reader. While some educators contend that there is no such thing as non-readers at the end of the basic grades, the results of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) 2014 say otherwise.[6] Interestingly, the assertion that there is no non-reader at the end of the early grades “may have been associated with the real classroom practice such that as a rule of thumb you don’t really fail students at all.”[7]

The case of ‘no non-reader’ being used as key performance indicator has raised quite an issue, the more common of which would be question on “what kind of school officials administer our public school system?” The deliberate manipulation of performance scorecard, for one, does not serve to improve the image of our public school system where teachers are known these days not so much for excellence in their craft but for selling merchandise such as cooked vegetables inside the classroom despite issuance of DepEd Order No. 8 s. 2007 prohibiting such kind of activity.[8] The thing is that the DepEd is barely recovering from the fallout of the controversy surrounding the administration of the National Achievement Test or NAT, the cumulative results of which the Education Secretary himself is not happy about reporting, acknowledging the many problems in the Test as well as the need to review its framework.[9] Then, here comes another issue involving inflated ratings for the sake of PBB. While there is no solid proof of this phenomenon being widespread, anecdotal evidence indicates the problem is not only confined to that school in Pangasinan where Teacher Raymond is still teaching. And as far as accountability is concerned, Section 4 (c) Justness and Sincerity of RA 6713 may be applicable in the case. It provides that (emphasis mine):

Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest. They shall not dispense or extend undue favors on account of their office to their relatives whether by consanguinity or affinity except with respect to appointments of such relatives to positions considered strictly confidential or as members of their personal staff whose terms are coterminous with theirs.

The policy’s ethical basis deserves a more critical assessment. Instead of motivating higher performance and awarding it accordingly, EO 80 seems to encourage manipulation and cheating on performance scorecards inasmuch as ‘no non-reader’ is retained as a key performance indicator. If some educators were to be believed, there is no such thing as non-reader once a learner breezes through the early grades. They claim that, as a rule of thumb, and as mentioned earlier, teachers are not inclined to flunk students because, as they say half-jokingly, they don’t relish seeing the same faces of non-readers in the next school year. More profoundly, though, EO 80 tends to produce more non-readers as it conveniently sets aside the arduous reading remediation because there is the more convenient scorecard manipulation. Like NAT, the PBB performance scorecard can be manipulated, according to Teacher Raymond and some other teachers from different schools divisions. Besides, the ‘rule of thumb’ in graduating students to the next level rather than spending extra hours in remedial reading sessions with them is more convenient..

Another point of inquiry is that if there were no non-readers, how come the Early Grade Reading Assessment of 2014 tells us otherwise? In its summary of findings, EGRA 2014 observes the following:

About 10% of children could not identify any letter sounds and 11% of children could not answer any listening comprehension questions correctly in Filipino. For English, 6% of children could not identify any letter sounds, 45% could not answer any listening comprehension questions correctly, and 37% could not answer any reading comprehension questions. Analysis of the top performers indicates that children who are strong readers in Filipino also tend to be strong readers in English, except in the area of English reading comprehension, where even the top performers in all other skill areas are still only averaging 55% comprehension.[10]

The utilitarian intent and character of EO 80 is driven by results, which means profit in neoliberal capitalist sense. The government as corporation treats its agencies and bureaus as units of production and therefore must perform to achieve company targets. But even in the cutthroat corporate competition, individual performance is justly compensated more than the collective accomplishment. In this sense, EO 80 is a confused, unjust rewards system. Teamwork or collective performance is good, but it may not be suitable in all situations, in so many contexts even in a highly homogenized civil service environment. There still exist functions that are best done individually as there are types of work that are best accomplished collaboratively.

But there is actually one significant reason why teachers do not just flunk students: there is remediation in reading. There maybe dozens of remediation strategies but among the most effective is the use of the mother tongue in learning. Kosonen (2005), for example, found that using the learner’s mother tongue facilitates literacy, learning of academic content, acquisition of a second language, enabling learners to be bilingual, and overall academic achievement. Parents are more involved and teachers are able to assess learning achievement.[11] Meanwhile, Benson (2010) notes that in African countries, the use of the mother tongue has positive implication for social development. More girls are able to enter school, repeat classes less frequently and that they stay in school longer.[12] Also, Malone (2003) argues that mother tongue-based learning is an imperative that requires new language and education policies affecting language, culture and communities. It requires new models of development that meets the needs of all segments of society that encourage integration rather than assimilation.[13]

The impact of the policy on the administration of public schools as well as the quality of learning outcomes especially in the early grades cannot be underestimated. Our quality of education—in both basic and higher levels—is already suspect and any reform policy should contribute to its enhancement and competitiveness. But with a flawed incentives system like PBB and its rather loose implementation in terms of transparency, accountability, and monitoring and evaluation, we are in effect manufacturing what scholars of popular culture call zombies or learners who can read a few words in either Filipino or English, and hopefully can sing the National Anthem correctly. Reading is just one thing; comprehension is another. The same EGRA report tells us that comprehension among readers is well below the expected level of ‘proficiency’ among selected participants. But the more serious implication of PBB-driven scorecard manipulation is that we are crafting more reform programs and policies based on erroneous, if not anomalous, data sets. Therefore, estimates and assumptions derived out of those data sets become unreliable and are effectively rendered useless. The sad thing is that the government is spending hundreds of millions of pesos of taxpayers’ money for such policy. Not only then we are wasting taxpayers’ money but we also trying to address the problem withby adding another problem and not offering a workable solution. What EO is actually doing is further irrationalization of the incentives system insofar as the implementation of PBB vis-à-vis improving reading ability of learners in the early grades with no non-reader retained among KPIs is critically assessed. There is no doubt that, at least on paper, the PBB improved learning outcomes. Conversely, the improved learning outcomes on paper merited a PBB.

The rosy figures then—if one is moved to believe it hook, line and sinker—about improved readership among learners in the early grades should be subjected to further validation for the simple reason that the data sets where figures are based may have been manipulated. The effectiveness, therefore of the EO 80 implementation is but tentative. Some agencies may have maximized the program while others were unfortunate to not receive a single centavo. The PBB, therefore, may have been effective only in teaching public school officials and teachers in the early grades how not to improve learning outcomes and reading ability by not resorting to the more effective yet difficult remediation using mother tongue-based multilingual education.

SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS

Summary

The implementation of EO 80 in the DepEd produced varying results. The PBB, as its name implies, motivates higher performance in the public sector and rewards such performance accordingly. EO 80 also provides a scale of incentives to peg performance appraisal and rewards. On the other hand, the emergence of a practice of manipulating performance scorecard or record is noted especially in the quest to avail of the PBB in the PBIS. The manipulation—explained in this paper in the form of removing the “non-readers” on school reports to reflect good performance—does not seem to be an isolated case as anecdotal evidence points to areas other than Pangasinan where the same practice is noted.

The implementation of EO 80 also presents some legal, administrative, and ethical challenges. Ethical theories and principles were discussed to better understand the issue in the implementation of PBB in relation to quality of learning outcomes in the basic grades. Also, the role of mother tongue-based multililngual education is discussed and emphasized as an effective remediation in improving reading ability of learners in the early grades.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The reform initiatives in government are a difficult but necessary endeavor in bringing back public trust once lost to corruption and bureaucratic excess and inefficiency that characterized our public institutions for a time. However, the institutionalization of reforms is not without serious challenges as the very mechanism that underpins such reforms are riddled with undetected flaws that endanger the little gains in good governance of the administration in the pursuit of its commitment to the people. It is incumbent, therefore, upon government to protect the gains in civil service reforms, however little there is, and sustain and expand the effort to create an impact.

Moving forward, it is imperative that a review of EO 80, specifically the PBB, be undertaken to determine the gaps between policy and implementation and address these gaps either operationally or by policy reform. The review should look into disbursements against performance gains to have a better appreciation of the policy. There is also a need to tighten control, monitoring, and evaluation as this is where manipulation could have been detected. A check with the Inter-Agency Task Force reveals that the monitoring function of the policy implementation is fully embedded in the respective implementing agency, hence the absence of an external verification. Random checks on indicators and on-the-spot verification of performance reports or scorecards can minimize instances of cheating and manipulation and generally thought to encourage transparency in reporting.

Aside from conduction surveys and opinion polls, the engagement and participation of civil society in terms of giving feedback on agency performance may be useful in validating and triangulating agency scorecard ratings. The flexibilities granted on agency heads and some types of organizations as provided for in EO 80 have to clarified more by defining the limits of applicability. Further rationalization of the policy should lead to reforms in pertinent laws such as the procurement law whose so-called “blind provisions” make it difficult for those involved in procurement to meet their own performance targets.

Finally, the Department of Education should be more deliberate in its language-in-education policy and program implementation of mother tongue-based multilingual education. A lot of the criticisms against the K to 12 Law is not so much against the law itself but in the manner and preparation of its implementation. While it is desirable for DepEd to improve its remediation program especially in reading, it is more beneficial in the long-term if reforms in the basic education sector can be calibrated together with reform initiatives in the higher education sector, especially the teacher education institutions, and the Commission on Higher Education.

 

 

REFERENCES

Laws and Executive Orders

DepEd Order No. 74 s. 2009 Institutionalizing Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MLE)

Executive Order 43 s. 2011 PURSUING OUR SOCIAL CONTRACT WITH THE FILIPINO PEOPLE THROUGH THE REORGANIZATION OF THE CABINET CLUSTERS

Executive Order 80 s. 2012 DIRECTING THE ADOPTION OF A PERFORMANCE-BASED INCENTIVE SYSTEM FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

RA 10533  An Act Enhancing the Philippine Basic Education System by Strengthening its Curriculum and Increasing the Number of Years in Basic Education, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes

RA 6713 Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees

Journals Articles

Benson, Carol (2010). How multilingual African contexts are pushing educational research and practice in new directions. Language and Education, 24(4):323-336

Kosonen, Kimmo. (2005) Education in local languages: Policy and Practice in South-East Asia. First Language First: Community-based Literacy Programmes for Minority Language Contexts in Asia. UNESCO, Bangkok

Malone, Susan (2003). Education for multilingualism and multi-literacy in ethnic minority communities: the situation in Asia. Plenary Presentation at the Conference on Language Development, Language Revitalization and Multilingual Education in Bangkok Thailand, November 2003.

Reports

Philippine EGRA Results 2014, available for download at:

Websites

https://www.eddataglobal.org/documents/index.cfm?fuseaction=pubDetail&id=513

http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2013/03/27/you-say-innovator-i-say-disruptor-whats-the-difference/

http://www.dap.edu.ph/rbpms/agency-performance/

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/08/31/10/drilon-25-months-bonus-mwss-obscene

http://www.philstar.com/cebu-news/2014/09/15/1369326/deped-wont-sanction-5-teachers-principal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahgK90tQfMo

Endnotes

[1] Pseudonym, to protect the identity of the teacher who is still on his tour of duty

[2] in Forbes Magazine online, accessible at http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2013/03/27/you-say-innovator-i-say-disruptor-whats-the-difference/

[3] in an interview with Asec. Jesus Mateo, DepEd Programs and Policies Division, March __, 2015

[4] From http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/08/31/10/drilon-25-months-bonus-mwss-obscene

[5] Based on three separate phone conversations with three different IATF Secretariat staff between February and May 2015

[6] 2014 Philippines EGRA Results

[7] Consolidated interview with an education professor from the UP College of Education, a linguistics and language professor from the PNU, and a former DepEd Regional Director who once headed the K-12 TWG in the Department of Education.

[8] From http://www.philstar.com/cebu-news/2014/09/15/1369326/deped-wont-sanction-5-teachers-principal

[9] From the proceedings of the DepEd Midterm Report to Congress, March 15, 2015, available at the DepEd YouTube channel, accessible at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahgK90tQfMo

[10] 2014 Philippines EGRA Results

[11] Kosonen, K. (2005) Education in local languages: Policy and Practice in South-East Asia. First Language First: Community-based Literacy Programmes for Minority Language Contexts in Asia. UNESCO, Bangkok

[12] Benson, C (2010). How multilingual African contexts are pushing educational research and practice in new directions. Language and Education, 24(4):323-336

[13] Malone, S (2003). Education for multilingualism and multi-literacy in ethnic minority communities: the situation in Asia. Plenary Presentation at the Conference on Language Development, Language Revitalization and Multilingual Education in Bangkok Thailand, November 2003.