The mantra of the Aquino administration is “tuwid na daan”. It has promised to govern with integrity, efficiency, transparency, and citizens’ participation. Such a promise has buoyed hopes and given inspiration to the country. Have our hopes been fulfilled? Has the Aquino administration delivered its promises? The Movement for Good Governance (MGG), a coalition of individuals and organizations that was organized in 2008 contributes to the effort of assessing how the administration has remained faithful to its contract with the Filipino people. MGG believes in empowering the citizens through an objective assessment of the performance of elected public officials based on their platforms.
MGG started benchmarking the performance of the Aquino administration in 2010 using a scorecard system. Results of programs are assessed based on data and not on perceptions, impressions, and anecdotes. The extent to which the President’s promises have been delivered is measured using a scorecard.
MGG looks at the performance of government in 2014 and in the first months of 2015 with referrals to how it performed in the past years since 2010. The areas where performance was assessed are economics, public finance, health, agriculture, and governance.
MGG is encouraged by the promise of the administration to be accountable to the people. Accountability is only possible if performance is measured objectively. The scorecard is a tool that can track program implementation. It can direct attention to strengths as well as gaps that need reinforcement. The assessment study is meant not to be a critique but a tool for identifying successes and alerting government on areas that need strengthening and improvement.
The MGG notes with favor the success of the Aquino administration in employment generation, in maintaining macroeconomic stability, the rapid expansion of the National Health Insurance Program , reduction in the incidence of mortality rates for malaria and tuberculosis, and increasing subsidies to the poor to obtain health care. The initiatives to increase transparency through the mandatory disclosure of budget information by national government agencies, the continuation of the performance incentive scheme for local governments under the Seal of Good Local Governance, and the significant strides in the fight against corruption are commended. The benefits of the Pantawid Pampamilyang Pilipno Program (4Ps) to the poorest households were noted in terms of their increased per capita consumption of food, clothing, and education. The MGG acknowledges the qualitifed success of the administration in providing universal pre-schooling for all Filipino children, the expansion of government assistance to private education through increasing budgetary support to Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GATSPE), the construction of more schools, and the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education.
Lower scores were given in the government’s performance in the economy due to the drop in growth rates, inability to increase exports relative to the target ( export/GDP ratio was 45.9 9 in 2014and target is 64.3% in 2016), increase in poverty incidence from 24.7% in 2013 to 26.8% in 2014.
MGG notes that deficit management was brought largely through underspending which contributed to the inability of government to meet growth targets and inadequate service delivery in health and support services to farmers. The tax effort barely inched up to 13.6 percent of GDP in 2014 compared to 13.5 percent in 2013. Revenue collection in 2014 reached P1.91 trillion but was below the targeted collection of P2.28 trillion. While BIR collection kept pace with the increase in income and prices, the growth of BOC collection did not even match the 8.0 percent increase in imports. MGG notes the empowering potential of the Bottom-up Budgeting but notes the need for greater transparency in how the projects proposed by communities get to be approved.
Lower score was given to the provision of health due to the unequal distribution of health care personnel with a ratio of about 3 health personnel for every 10,000 of the population. The 587 percent increase in the incidence of HIV cases is alarming, as well as the inability of government to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Health targets. There are still regions where under-five mortality rate is at 30 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to the national average of 22 deaths per 1,000 live births. Lack of affordable services, lack of transportation, unavailability of facilities, as well as the lack of information on the benefits of health insurance coverage, were cited as the reasons why Filipino mothers do not seek consultation in health care facilities.
Very little progress, if at all, is noted in the agriculture sector with growth slowing down to 2.1 percent annually compared to 2.8 percent during the Arroyo administration. The yield from coconut declined by 1.5 percent annually and livestock production grew at a snail pace of 1.5 percent annually. The focus on rice sufficiency has deprived other products with better market and income prospects with needed support and resources. The Philippines is noted as the worst performer in productivity in coconut and sugarcane in the ASEAN. The Philippines continues to have the lowest level of agriculture exports in the ASEAN at US6.1 billion compared with US$47 billion in Thailand. The inability of the administration to provide agriculture with the needed and strategic support largely affects the very limited success of government to reduce poverty in the rural areas.
The gains in the fight against corruption are notable resulting to a marked improvement in the Philippine ranking in the Transparency International Corruption Index. The Philippines ranked 85 out of 175 countries in 2014 up from 105 in 2012 and 94 in 2013. The score of the Philippines in the Economic Freedom Index moved up to 62.2 in 2015 up by 2.1 points compared to 2015. However, corruption issues continue to be a serious cause for concern especially in the bureaucracy and the judiciary.
MGG raises the issue of timing in the adoption of the twelve-year basic education cycle. The full roll-out of the additional two years will only be realized in full by school year 2017-18 or well after the administration has stepped down from office. The huge volume of enrolment for grades 11 and 12 may not be met by DEpED and a clustering strategy may be adopted. This implies that not all public high schools will be able to open their own senior high school departments and students who wish to go on to senior high school will have to go further to a catchment senior high school. This will add additional burden and cost to students. These catchment senior high schools are urban based which will disadvantage rural students. Additionally, the additional two years of senior high school will mean that universities and colleges will have no freshman intake for two successive school years and will have a major impact on the financial viability of these schools and will have a direct effect on the employment of faculty members.
MGG identifies the very large shortage of early childhood teachers, the limited support for madaris education, the continuing problems in the quality and prompt delivery of instructional materials, the strengthening of math and science programs in regular high schools, as well as the need to build new schools instead of just building classrooms in already overcrowded schools.
In environmental management, the remaining months of the Aquino administration can be focused on protecting what remains of the forest cover in the country. EO 23 which imposed a comprehensive restriction on logging all over the country has been criticized for loopholes in the sense that it has not revoked or categorically banned commercial logging. Lobbies have been successful in labeling natural and residual forests as plantation forests to secure an exemption from the ban. A plan to stop the continuous desecration of marine resources amidst the geopolitical standoff at the Panatag shoal and West Philippine sea needs to be implemented. Decisions need to be made on the legislation of the amendments to the Mining Act as well as the efficient enforcement of the National Renewable Energy Program.
The overall score of the Aquino administration in 2014 is 5.81 which is lower than its rating in 2013.
To read the assessment paper in full or to download a copy, please click here.
Note: Originally titled “MGG gives Aquino administration grade of 5.93,” this post has been updated with the rating on education, which brought down the overall score to 5.81.