“…Thirty years ago, they would not have resigned…”, World Bank Country Director, Mr. Motoo Konishi said, referring to Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries of the Japanese Government that would have been involved or suspected in graft and corruption or negligence.
Honor in public service is everything for the Japanese. It was not about the man and his career or ambition; it was about the office he represents. They took decades and dedication to change their political culture that would enable an impressive social and economic development miracle in the region. And that sense of honor is missing in most of the Filipino bureaucrat or politician’s mind. This was one of the issues that arose from the Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development ‘Kapihan’ Sessions at the new World Bank Country Office at the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig last 24 July 2013.
In a white polo barong tagalong, the World Bank Country Director could be mistaken in the streets as one of us, an average Filipino office worker, lest he starts talking and that smooth soulful English tone gives away years of graduate education and executive experience. Humility surrounds his thoughts and his demeanour while being flanked by more than a dozen young professionals from diverse backgrounds in local government, national government, youth networks, civil society organizations, and the academe–eager to openly talk about their opinion or insights of the youth on President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Of the many issues that sprung out from that question and answer exchange, one stood out that could be seen as one of the important topics in development today–Governance. In fact, good governance to be exact is the fundamental battle cry of the PNoy administration, which in turn resulted to several investment credit rating upgrades, and business confidence on an uphill climb. Mr. Konishi added, “Good governance is not supposed to be the end, but the way of life”. For these reforms on good governance at the national level to take root, local government should follow suit. Transparency and accountability have been openly demanded by the people by calling for the passage of a Freedom of Information Act deemed a priority for an open government.
There has been a growing inconsistency of expectations and results between the elected and the governed. That is when good governance plays a crucial role, because the way politics has been handled in the past decades, it created a cycle of patronage that hindered inclusive development. For growth to happen at the poorest level of our society, government must be allowed inclusive mobility in its ranks. This means more participative consultations in policy development, creation of monitoring and evaluation systems that can quantitatively and qualitatively capture program implementation results, develop new aspiring leaders in government through real political parties, and finally resolve all cases of corruption from conviction to sentencing.
Imagine, all of these ideas were shared, contested, and developed in a two hour session with a development institution’s top representative in the country; what if we could do this somehow everyday with our politicians. Maybe then they would listen to the youth and more change could happen.