‘Beyond elections’: Economist calls for strengthening institutions, Philippine governance

Christine Joyce Paras - Philstar.com
âBeyond electionsâ: Economist calls for strengthening institutions, Philippine governance
Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao

MANILA, Philippines — Renowned economist Jesus Estanislao launched Friday his Philippine governance trilogy entitled “Governance of the Philippines: As a Republic, 1946-2021,” calling for Filipinos to strengthen institutions.

Estanislao said he aimed for a “continued governance advocacy” as he focused on “looking beyond the events of today” and highlighting governance in building the future of the country.

“Based on the work that I did for the Spanish colonial period and the American colonial period, I found out that instead of focusing on the events of today, but looking at these events and looking beyond them, I suspected that there would be a number of ‘governance’ that we can learn which we can apply in the current duties and responsibilities that we have of building the Philippines for the future,” Estanislao explained during his virtual book launch.

“I’m sure enough as I looked at our history, our historical experience, I found out that perhaps many of the concerns that we focused on a day-to-day basis would be slightly different from the ones that governance actually highlights,” he added.

Estanislao said there are positive things that can be done besides engaging in social debates and criticisms. He cited examples back from his experience as the former secretary of finance.  

“Beyond elections, there is a much longer period and a critical period, and that is our duty as responsibilities citizens. Other than criticizing the person in Malacañang, engage in quite a lot of endless debates about various types of issues. Those issues are very important. But secondly, there are positive things that we can do than just talk, then just criticize and observe,” he said.

“I used to be secretary of finance. And the Bureau of Customs at that time was regarded as the most corrupt agency in government. And it looks like that was so for many years after I left. But now they’re transforming themselves. They’re cleaning themselves up and they’re getting due recognition not only from Filipino citizens but also from international organizations. So I think what you need to do is to tell the story of cities like Baguio, agencies like the Bureau of Customs, hospitals like the Philippine Heart Center and convince as many Filipinos as possible. You can do it, these Filipinos have done it,” he added.

He then expressed his apologies to his readers for not reaching their expectations. 

“I’m really sorry. I may be disappointing most of you or many of you. Because in this book, there are no functions. People might be expecting comparing presidents, that is not what governance is. Governance is less about personality, about who is the leader. But is the travel of the whole nation, of your whole people, as we face up two: the basic concerns and the strategic priorities that we have to confront,” he emphasized.

Estanislao called for giving importance to strengthening and building institutions rather than the tendency of “running them down”. He expressed his optimism in transformation through institutions. 

”We do not give much importance to the importance of institutions. They are not giving enough importance to the strengthening of its institutions. As a matter of fact, our tendency is to have run them down. In fact, this is something that we have to do. Build and strengthen institutions one at a time,” he said.

“And with show all the years, many institutions have shown that transformation is possible. That they can become world-class. And we have one class or any sessions that have in fact acknowledged that certain Philippine institutions have attained world-class status. It can be done,” he added.

Estanislao extended his gratitude to the contributors of this trilogy namely, former National Security Adviser and National Security Council Director-General Jose Almonte, award-winning economist Vaughn “Bong” Montes, retired Brigadier General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Fermin de Leon Jr., former Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Linda Valenzona, People Power Volunteers for Reforms in CARAGA Regional Chairperson Concepcion “Chit” Asis, and Philippine Foreign Service Career Minister Juan Dayang Jr.

He is the chairman of the Center for Excellence in Governance. He has been honored for his numerous accomplishments through awards such as MAP Management Man of the Year in 2010, the Outstanding Filipino Award in the field of good governance in 2012, the Hernando de Soto Award for Democracy in 2013, among others. 

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