In Dire Need Of A New Public Management Model
By Ruby Ann Kagaoan – Calo
Different Levels of Public Administration in the Philippines
The Philippine Government is a presidential form with a Senate and a Congress and departments that rely on elected officials, i.e., the politicians, for their budget allocations.
Pork barrels have not been abolished; thus, public administration in our country is subject to whatever is the prevailing political climate among the Senate, Congress, and the Chief Executive’s office.
Market Segmentation of Philippine Consumers
My people, the Filipinos, are mostly poor. Only 1% of our population are rich, or what marketers call Class AB. Among the rich, there are three sub-classes, namely, the Established Rich like the Ayala family who owns the Makati Business District – the financial hub of the Philippines, the Smart Rich like rags-to-riches Manuel V. Pangilinan who rose from being poor to becoming an Asian oligarch through diligence and scholarships and a successful climb up the corporate ladder, and the Nouveau Rich who suddenly become rich usually through corrupt means or through large winnings like our phenomenal world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao, who used to be a bakery worker.
The Upper C or Upwardly Mobile Middle Class, that is, those among the middle class who have received good education and have landed in occupations that may enable them to climb out of the middle class segment and possibly join the smart rich sub-class of Class AB, is only 9%.
The Broad C Class, who are characterized as downwardly mobile, meaning, they are getting poorer and poorer as a result of the economic and political instability in our country, is a big 45%. They are the ones who rely on luck to better their lot. Their class are the ones who queue in long lines to make lottery bets and who give the television networks their big bucks as those networks present game shows that thrive on the hopes of the majority of the Filipinos to become sudden millionaires and end their downwardly mobile lives.
We, thus, have a thinning middle class, which is supposed to be the backbone of an economy.
Low-income families and the poor, also called Class DE, comprise the remaining 45% of the Philippines’ consumer population. Class D are the families of salesladies and domestic helpers. Class E are the ones seen on international television features as living off garbage dumps. They are also found living on the precarious sides of railroads and squatting on unused lands.
No longer counted in the consumer classification of the Philippines are the hundreds of thousands of extremely poor who cannot anymore purchase anything. They beg in the streets, rely on the wastes of fast food restaurants for their meals, and live and sleep under bridges or on pavements in sub-human conditions.
Feasting on the Masses as a Revenue Source
The consumer behavior of the Broad C, Class D, and even Class E segments have been fully exploited by the private sector and even by the Philippine Government. After all, these segments comprise 90% of our population. The Government, for example, has made betting a way of life for the Filipinos through lotto, where winnings can go higher than the winnings of world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao.
Even the controversial illegal numbers game called “jueteng,” which has been a major source of campaign funds of several political candidates in the country since the last century, has recently crossed over to becoming legal since it cannot be stopped anyway and it is a sure moneymaking machinery for the Government.
Thus, on a significant scale, our Government earns for its upkeep from feasting on our nation’s poor, low-income, and downwardly mobile citizens whose sheer number in a population of 82 million can turn habitual bets of ten pesos or twenty pesos into millions and billions of pesos.
Our Government and economy are also kept afloat by the billion-dollar remittances of our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), many of whom are doing servile tasks in difficult situations in other nations. Again, sustaining the operations of public administration in our country are sourced from those who are already poor, oppressed, and desperate.
Cost for Public Service
Nationwide, there are public elementary schools and public high schools and public hospitals, but the state of public education and public health services in our country is pathetic in most areas. Only 2% of Grade Six public school students pass the national exams for entry into high school and only 1% of public high school students pass for entry into college.
Our poor die unnecessarily in public hospitals because of inadequate hospital equipment and medical materials. A typical scene in public pediatric wards, for example, are two to four sick babies or children in one dilapidated pediatric bed with the parents sitting on a wooden bench side-by-side watching over their young ones. And this scene happens in infectious wards where there should be quarantined areas and sanitation.
Thus, there may be free education and free hospital service in our country but the high cost is on the lives and futures of our citizens, who suffer bleak futures because of poor public education and unnecessary deaths because of inadequate public health and hospital service.
The figures vary depending on the sources, but all things considered, our national debt figure has gone as high as 6 trillion pesos (US Dollar to Philippine Pesos currency exchange rates these days fluctuate between Php 51 to 52 to US$ 1).
Much of what our Government earns, thus, goes to debt servicing, with little left for public education and public health services.
We have come to a point wherein debt pardon is necessary, at least for the debts incurred dubiously, for example, during corrupt administrations, just so we can channel our budgets more for public service rather than for debt service.
From the point of view of the citizens, the main problem is the dirty politics of traditional politicians. There is no end to election fraud and accusations of election fraud. Until now, the Commission on Elections is unable to get a clean contract to computerize elections, and so vote rigging is rampant. Then there are also politicians in power who bicker and accuse endlessly. Thus, our nation is in a constant mode of being destabilized from all sides – from those in power and those who are not in power.
From the point of view of entrepreneurs or the market, the main problem is graft and corruption in government offices. It has become abnormal not to pay “under-the-table” to get a business permit or a government clearance.
From the point of view of politicians, the main problem is a personality-based politics wherein celebrities without any platform nor preparation for public service win by a landslide at the polls and end up mismanaging their public office and public funds.
From the point of view of public administration employees or civil servants, the main problem is low pay such that they need to earn extra from extortions and sideline-selling to adequately provide for their families.
Relevant Government Statements about Planned Reforms
In the President’s 2006 State of the Nation Address (SONA), she said that the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) has allowed the Government to make medium-term plans of building more roads to connect the many islands of the Philippine archipelago and thereby enhance commerce nationwide. Her reforms have been more in the area of tax collection and public works and highways.
However, the Government still plays an imposing role on the Filipino citizens with the EVAT reform, and this reform is more a stopgap measure rather than a total transformation in public service with a long-term effect.
I have seen an exemplary city, Makati City, which is well run by its mayor, lawyer Jejomar Binay. But because he is vocal about his issues against the incumbent President, he is painted more as an opposition leader rather than a stalwart public servant whose public administration should be emulated.
I have researched on the public school system of Makati City and have encountered up close the management of Mayor Binay’s office and the Makati City Hall, and I can say that the Makati public administration is a beacon in public service.
The Makati senior citizens, for example, are called “seniorito citizens” as they are given more privileges than other senior citizens in the Philippines, like free movie viewing in any theater in Makati City. For Mayor Binay to think of serving in a special way the least of his constituents, the elderly, “the least” in the sense that they are no longer economically productive, shows the mayor’s intent to use his public office for genuine public service.
Top in the priorities of Mayor Binay is public education.
The Makati public schools are laced with IBM computers and audio-visual rooms and are actively involved in community development and the promotion of good citizenship in their respective communities. Also, the Makati public schools are regularly engaged in citywide academic competitions that challenge both the students and the teachers to strive for academic excellence.
So important is public education in Makati that there is a public city college, which has now evolved into a university. Note that this is not a state university but a city-initiated public college. Makati, under the leadership of Mayor Jejomar Binay, is a trailblazer in public education and has not allowed the national state of public education to bring down its own standard in public education.
Key Success Factors
A key success factor in Makati City is a no-nonsense mayor who engages the thriving business sector of his city in sponsoring the development of the Makati public schools, who immediately stamps out corrupt police and engages media in his campaign to rid his city of corrupt civil servants, and who immediately rehabilitated and renovated the Makati City Hall so that it can serve his constituency with the same professionalism as the business sector that operate in his city.
Most importantly, Mayor Binay does not make the poor his main source of city funds and revenues. His city earns enough from the city taxes of the business sector and the rich residents. Instead, he genuinely serves the poor in his city by giving them the best possible public education so that they can have more success climbing out of poverty when they enter the labor force.