Good governance and governments

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

The term “good governance” was originally used to describe the proper management of the state, society, and resources of a country and it referred to governments. Over time, it was adapted to general management, particularly in the private sector, because the concepts, ideas, and practices of good governance made corporations, companies, and organizations successful, profitable, and sustainable. On the other hand, countries whose governments did not practice good governance were beset with social problems, slow economic growth, and failing governments. While there are exceptions, like the Nordic countries, New Zealand, Singapore, and even small developing countries, it become an oxymoron to relate good governance with governments.

Good governance is a style, system, and process in management that is participatory, transparent, accountable, and adheres to the rule of law. These four are basic management concepts that have been included in all management books and practiced successfully in many companies. In the 20th century with the advent of large corporations and multinationals, some even larger than certain countries, good governance became the tool to effectively and efficiently manage these large organizations.

Sustainable development can only be attained by good governance, with the management accountable, transparent, and following the law. The other major characteristics of good governance like conflict of interest avoidance, equity, inclusiveness, responsiveness, consensus-oriented, efficiency and effectiveness are actually effects or consequences of good governance. The absence/reduction of graft and corruption and the trust of the employees or citizens in their leaders develop a culture and loyalty that cascades to all and is perpetuated for all times.

A study of the most successful countries and the most successful corporations these days will show that all of them practice good governance. While good governance is not exclusive to democratic countries, since Singapore, and some European countries which are semi-authoritarian countries are successfully practicing them, accountability and transparency are also very pronounced in these countries.

This is particularly true in countries with social democrat governments. Even China, Russia, and some Middle Eastern and Latin American autocratic governments practice accountability and transparency and other semblances of good governance. Sri Lanka, Myanmar, North Korea, and Venezuela are examples of governments that don’t care about good governance.

Good governance in the Philippines is a work in progress. Many of our large companies are practicing good governance and succeeding. I read many annual reports of companies and even if they follow only half of their mission/vision statements, it is already good governance practices. Many smaller companies are also practicing good governance even without knowing it, because they are nearer and more aware of the needs and values of their people, and realize that only by practicing accountability and transparency will their business prosper.

Good governance in the Philippine government is a slow process and inching progress. The Magsaysay years could have been the start of good governance, but there was a lull in the Garcia and Macapagal presidencies when it did not advance or improve. Then the Marcos presidency and the martial law years totally pushed back all good governance with the impunity, rampant graft and corruption, lack of accountability, and abuse of authority.

The Cory Aquino and Ramos years started a revival of good governance and made progress, but the scandals and corruptions in the Estrada and Arroyo presidencies undid previous improvements. The Duterte years were no better with the lack of transparency and accountability in the drug wars and graft of  Pharmally, PhilHealth and other government agencies.

Good governance in the Philippine government now is almost back to square one, with the only forward step having a more aware citizenry, thanks to the IT technology and social media. People are more aware of a lousy government even with government propaganda. If BBM hopes to succeed in his presidency and improve the family name and legacy, he has to practice and implement good governance in the government.


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