SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2013 - 12:00am

It’s a standing joke around the editorial conference table that a concert by the Cascades – the group whose members were supposed to have perished in a plane crash many years ago but who have miraculously resurrected to hold several sold out concerts in Manila in recent years – is a bigger deal to our resident GOM (grumpy old men) than performances by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Maroon 5. It certainly is a big deal that the Cascades – popular in the days nearly half a century ago when our GOM were, as F. Scott Fitzgerald describes, in their “younger and more vulnerable” years – can still sing a full concert, and that the audience of dual citizens – Filipino and senior – can actually sit through the two hours or so fully awake. But I jest, of course.

A different kind of cascade, or cascading, has in recent days entered my vocabulary, and it is neither musical nor geriatric. It refers to the filtering down through the ranks of the bureaucracy of the best practices and policies of good governance that more and more government agencies are adopting. These policies, under the Performance Governance System (PGS) that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, often painstakingly and sometimes tediously formulated, sound good but mean little if they are not carried out by the entire organization. Thus the need for effective cascading. I like that term because the image it conjures – water falling abundantly down over steep rocks – so aptly describes what must happen in our bureaucracy: reform towards good governance must flow in abundance through all levels of government, watering down boulders of resistance, permeating every nook and cranny so that doing what is right is a matter of course.

The evaluation teams of ratings agencies who visited the country recently to validate our upgrade to investment grade – we have so far received one such upgrade; hopefully the others will soon follow – had reportedly expressed concern over the sustainability of reforms, whether good governance will take root rather than burn out like the proverbial ningas cogon. The answer to that will depend on how successfully all these reforms are cascaded down to the cop walking the beat, the taxman going over the books, the committee evaluating bids, the health worker dispensing medicine.

Cascading is not an easy task: Presenting the programs is the easy part; having everyone in the unit “buy in” and take ownership of the initiative is a lot more complicated, and it takes time and commitment. Having worked with agencies like the Philippine National Police on the PGS, I am encouraged by the commitment of the leadership, through changes of chiefs, to making good governance reforms integral to the organization, and by the openness to change of people down the line. There have been some resistance and rough times during cascading missions to the various units and offices, but like the cascades thundering down, the reforms will, hopefully, be unstoppable, and smooth out the rocks in its path towards a just and prosperous society.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place, and gave him the name that is above every name. Philippians 2:3-9

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