Political the Marcos Regime (1965-1986) ended and restored

Political leadership plays an important role
as the driver of policy shifts and administrative reforms.  While the fundamental government structures
may stay unchanged within a country, results and outcomes of policy reform
initiatives, institution building, and development management would differ
significantly, under different political administrations with different
political leaders.

 

In the Philippines, it is widely viewed
that, among successive political administrations, the Ramos Administration
(1992-1998) showed a development orientation and political expertise very
effectively.  Despite initial challenges,
the Ramos Administration successfully realized political and economic stability
which is necessary for growth and development, and deepened economic and social
reforms.  Such achievements were, in a
large way, said to be attributed to the leadership and management style of
President Ramos, and the emulation of these by the people who worked with him.

 

The Government
structure in the Philippines

 

The Philippines has adopted the current
Constitution in February 1987, after the Marcos Regime (1965-1986) ended and
restored democracy through the People Power Revolution in 1986.  This new Constitution established under the
Aquino Administration (1986-1992) restored a presidential form of government
comprised of three branches – executive, legislative and judiciary.  The Constitution assures separation of the
three powers – Filipino people have a sense of strong vigilance toward
presidential dictatorship, which is a bitter legacy from the Marcos Administration.  The President, elected to a term of six years
without reelection by direct voting, exercises the executive power.  The elected Congress, composed of the Senate
(24 members) and the House of Representatives (not more than 250 members), exercises
the country’s legislative authority.  The
Supreme Court and lower courts exercise the country’s judiciary authority.  One of the noteworthy features of the
Philippine government is that the Congress has strong control over the executive
branch, typically in the budget process, which often leads to the marginalization
of the role of economic technocrats.  In
fact, the executive branch has often times been challenged by legislative
intervention.  In addition, the Ramos
Administration confronted judicial activism in economic policy making.

 

Comparison of
three successive political administrations in the Philippines

 

When comparing
the three consecutive political administrations (i.e., Marcos, Aquino and
Ramos), main features can be described as follows:

·    
Marcos
Administration (1965-1986) can be characterized as a dictatorship government.   President
Marcos created a centralized administrative body for development planning – the
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).  This centralized system, however, was
utilized only as a means to maintain his dictatorship.  As a result, power was limited to, and
amassed by the technocrats and cronies who faithfully obeyed his word.

·    
Aquino
Administration (1986-1992) can be considered as a revolutionary government
aiming to normalize the country.  President
Aquino put an end to Marcos’s dictatorship and initiated a democratization
process following the People Power Revolution in February, 1986.  Initially, people’s support for Aquino was
very wide and diverse.  However, the
coalition unraveled almost immediately after realizing that she could not meet
people’s expectations due to inexperience and inability to articulate a clear
vision and political will.  As such,
Aquino Administration was often view as weak and fractious government, and was challenged
by a series of military coup attempts. 
On top of this, the Administration was struck by natural calamities
(major earthquake, volcanic eruption, typhoons, and drought) and energy crisis
that aggravated the situation, and weakened government base.

·    
Ramos
Administration (1992-1998) can be regarded as a reformist government.  President Ramos initially confronted with
such challenges as political instability, internal and external insecurity, and
judicial activism in economic policy making. 
However, he was able to overcome such challenges and successfully
realized political and economic stability, and accelerated reform efforts
initiated by the Aquino Administration. 
In fact, it was the Ramos Administration that further institutionalized
administrative functions that President Aquino has initiated, and made the
system actually work.

 

Early life and
professional background of President Ramos

 

President Ramos’s professional
background – the combination of engineer and military service, trained in West
Point (US Military Academy) – seem to have an impact on his way of thinking and
working style.  Ramos served the Marcos’s
authoritarian regime for more than 20 years in the military, as the Vice Chief
of Staff of the Armed Forces.  When he
realized that the Marcos Regime was about to collapse, Ramos changed allegiance
and sided with Aquino.  He played a key
role in the People Power Revolution in 1986, and became the living symbol of
military defiance against Marcos.  After
Aquino assumed the Presidency, Ramos served as Chief of Staff of the Armed
Forces by her appointment, and later became the Secretary of National Defense.  Ramos assumed the Presidency at the age of 64
– the oldest person to become President of the Philippines, but he was
considered to be uncharismatic and untested as a political leader.

 

Initial
challenges of the Ramos Administration (1992-1998)

 

The Ramos Administration was able to
advance reforms effectively despite its initial confrontation with various
challenges as described below, under the volatile political and economic
situation:

·    
Weak
support base (a minority President at a staring position)

Ramos won the
presidency with just 23.6% of vote against 6 other candidates, the lowest
plurality in the country’s history.  As
such, he had to initiate coalition building and solidify his Administration’s
political base in the Congress.  He also
had to deal with confrontations from the judiciary – the activist court.

·    
Weak
institutions

Ramos Administration
had to take appropriate measures to address issues on bureaucratic inertia and
strong control by interest groups.  Such
groups pushed for particular interests, giving no thought about the general
welfare of people, and undermined sound institutional base.

·    
Political
instability

Ramos
Administration had to confront with internal security problems concerning three
insurgency groups within the country – rebel soldiers, communist party members
and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members.  The previous Aquino Administration was
challenged by a series of military coup attempts (seven times), and had
difficulty dealing with such rebellious groups. 
The Ramos considered peace and order as a precondition for economic
development.

·    
Macroeconomic
instability

Ramos
Administration had to deal with macroeconomic challenges inherited from the
previous Aquino Administration – a large budget deficit, high inflation rates,
current account imbalance, balance of payments crises, and sudden exchange-rate
adjustments.

·    
Poor
state of the country’s infrastructure

Ramos
Administration had to tackle with structural bottlenecks to economic growth.  The poor situation of the physical
infrastructure at the time was the result of misguided public policies form the
past.

·    
Power
crisis of 1990s

Ramos
Administration had to resolve serious power outage problems caused by the
misjudgment in the previous Aquino Administration.  The peak of the crisis happened in 1992, with
daily brownouts lasting 10-12 hour. 
Ramos assumed the Presidency in the midst of the national emergency
situation.

 

Development
vision of the Ramos Administration – Philippines
2000

 

The development vision of the Ramos
Administration is manifested in Philippines 2000.  Philippine 2000 seeks to place the country on
its way to become a newly industrializing economy (NIE) by 2000.  President Ramos looked at the East Asian NIEs
as the main models toward modernization and industrialization, but he made sure
that reform would be pursued through a democratic process – never to repeat
Marcos’s authoritarian regime.

 

Philippine 2000
is grounded on the two pillars: sustainable economic development, and people
empowerment.  The seven points in
platform are: political stability, economic growth, people empowerment,
effective bureaucracy, environmental protection, responsible foreign policy,
and moral recovery.  The Administration
has set measurable guideposts as follows:

·    
Raising
per capita income to at least U$1,000 by 1998 (from less than U$800 in 1992);

·    
Achieving
GDP growth by at least 6 to 8 %;

·    
Reducing
poverty incidence (% of number of household) down to 30% by 1998 (from the base
figure of 39.9% in 1991).

 

Medium-Term
Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP 1992-98) as a concrete program of action

 

The Medium-Term
Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP 1992-98) specifies the concrete program of
action to bring Philippine 2000 to realization. 
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is the
government’s central economic planning agency in charge of preparing MTPDP,
among its other tasks.  President Ramos
delegated authority to the NEDA for inter-agency coordination in the MTPDP
preparation process.  The MTPDP under the
Ramos Administration is generally regarded as more cohesive than other Plans under
other administrations.  It firmly
reflected the underlying themes of sustainable economic development and people
empowerment – the two pillars of Philippine 2000.  It was prepared in a highly consultative
way.  Bottom-up, and participatory
approach was taken up at every step and at every level to provide inputs in the
course of the preparation process.  It
adopted comprehensive, cross-cutting view of development, which showed that intensive
coordination among different department, agencies and relevant stakeholders has
duly taken place.  The targets included
in the Plan were more realistic, taking into account of projected constraints
and the actual situations.  Major reform
agenda reflected in the MTPDP to realize development vision and philosophy are
as follows:

·    
Realizing
political stability

·    
Opening
up economy and competing in the world market (trade liberalization as well as
financial and capital market liberalization)

·    
Developing
a business-friendly environment

·    
Promoting
privatization and competition, and bring down inefficiency

·    
Breaking
up monopolies and cartels, and to eradicate crony capitalism

·    
Promoting
of Social Reform Agenda

·    
Fighting
against corruption

·    
Restructuring
bureaucracy and facilitating cooperation between government, business, people’s
organizations and NGOs

·    
Strengthening
tax and customs administration

·    
Reforming
legal and judicial system

 

Distinguishing
features of President Ramos’s leadership style

 

As mentioned
above, President Ramos adopted participatory, consensus-building approach in the
policy process.  Ramos considered policy
making process as important as policy decision itself.  Such approach gave a sense to people that
they are being consulted and are part of the whole process.  This enabled him to win political support
from different stakeholders, and facilitated his development-oriented visions
to realize.  Distinguishing features of
President Ramos’s leadership style commonly pointed out are as follows:

·    
Inclusivity

Ramos opened the
door to and created institutional mechanisms for the poor/marginalized people
to participate in policy making and implementation process

·          
Collaborative

Ramos enhanced
effective mechanisms for relevant stakeholders to collaborate and facilitate
reform with shared development vision from cross-cutting, holistic viewpoint.

·    
Reformist

By carefully
maintaining security and political stability, Ramos carried out various reforms
in many fronts: political, economic, social and institutional.

·    
Accountability
for results

Ramos prompted
changes in people’s way of thinking to be more responsible and accountable for
their work.  He required results on the
ground and insisted on getting quick feedback or report on the actions taken by
concerned agencies.

·    
Complete
Staff Work (CSW)

Ramos made quick
and firm policy decisions based on CSW. 
He delegated authority to the NEDA for inter-agency coordination in
making policy decisions, and expected that any agenda item brought to the
Cabinet for approval to have been subjected to inter-agency assessment.

 

In fact, President
Ramos’s working style exerted influence on its development management.  From NEDA’s perspective, Ramos’s
disciplinary, “hands-on policy” effectively mobilized people to be
action-oriented for results and to be accountable to people.  Cabinet members and people around him were
happy to work with him – Ramos gave people a strong sense of commitment for
reform and confidence.  A NEDA officer at
the time of the Ramos Administration recalled that “Ramos Administration was the best time in bureaucracy.  He was a competent political leader not only
to influence policy and mobilize people, but to capture imagination of
bureaucracy.”  In fact, the NEDA
provided a strong supportive role to President Ramos to make the plans
work.  The NEDA played a significant role
in facilitating inter-agency coordination for decision making in important
policy agenda.

 

President Ramos
himself admits that his background as a military man by training and an
engineer and builder may have affected his way of thinking and working
style.  Those who closely worked with him
during the Ramos Administration widely acknowledge that following management
style and way of thinking that he adopted have contributed to advance major
policy reforms despite initial challenges and weak starting position he had to
confront with.

·    
Democratic
minded and open to new ideas

Ramos demonstrated
that he was committed to every important initiative, and was visible at all
levels of reform process.  People could clearly
identify who was responsible for what task, and identify channels that lead to
Ramos’s policy decisions.

·    
Delegated
authority to Cabinet Secretaries and relevant stakeholders

Ramos gave
confidence to Cabinet Secretaries and relevant stakeholders by delegating
authority effectively – he was in full control of them.  Ramos knew the need for greater continuity in
the Cabinet, and thus, stable Cabinet with minimal replacements was realized.

·    
Complete
Staff Work (CSW)  (see above as well)

Ramos expected
that outputs that have gone through the CSW process have following
characteristics: well-researched, properly coordinated and validated, analyzed
extensively, provides options and recommendations especially for contentious
issues, provides the proper action documents to implement decisions, simple and
well-written, with ideas chronologically and logically sequenced, and with
follow-up action such as monitoring and reporting to the superior.

·    
Fast
tracking

Recognizing that
bureaucracy may stifle economic growth and development, Ramos was able to fast
track projects.  He instituted and made
full use of Administrative Orders, which he had the power over, in order to
facilitate approval process and to reduce transaction costs, particularly with
power sector projects in confronting a national emergency situation.

·    
Consensus
building

Ramos himself
was a good coordinator to advance major policy initiatives by making conscious
efforts for consensus building among various stakeholders.  For example, he established the LEDAC
(Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council) that served as platform
for consensus building between the executive and the legislative on important
policy decisions.  Peace talks with
rebels would be another example.  As a
consequence of aggressive peace talks with the MNLF, the Ramos Administration
succeeded in signing the peace accord. 
In addition, Ramos convened a Multi-sectoral People’s Summit (1993) comprising
of representatives from the executive, Congress and the private sector to come
up with a common legislative agenda in support of development objectives.

·    
Coalition
building

Because Ramos
won the Presidency with only a small majority in the election, it was highly
critical that he build and solidify his Administration’s political base in the Congress.  For example, Ramos took advantage of the “pork
barrel funds” to win political support of the Congress.  Pork barrel funds are allocated to each
legislator, in which the President possesses its approval authority.  Pork barrel funds allow individual
congresspersons to allocate public funds to personally selected
expenditures.  This fund is regarded as
the source of the power behind their interventions to the executive branch.

·    
Work
ethics giving sense of urgency to get things done right away

Ramos succeeded
in establishing work ethics to get things done right away and to produce
outputs.  He was esteemed not only as a
visionary and a planner, but also a doer. 
He has closely followed-up various reform initiatives to get both
process and results right.

·    
Facilitated
private sector participation and utilization

The Ramos Administration put great reliance on
private initiatives for economic