development pointed out his principles in problem-solving

development
program.  This entailed structural policy
reforms and institutional changes, including, trade liberalization,
privatization, and deregulation.  The
Ramos Administration also aimed at improving business environment to bring in
domestic and foreign investments necessary to speed up economic growth.  Ramos traveled extensively abroad to entice
foreign investors.

 

In an interview,
Ramos kindly shared his philosophy in political management in pursuit of the
benefit of the country.  He considers
that leadership, team work and national unity, and national pride and spirit as
the three critical elements that support the foundations of a country, which
can never be outsourced.  Ramos pointed
out his principles in problem-solving when faced with difficulties – to analyze
the situation (analysis must be based on facts), to consult with various
relevant people, and come up with one decision (leader must be decisive, based
on a fair judgment), and never to lose sight of the vision (strategic, backward
planning is critical).

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Initiatives for
Power Sector Reform and the Social Reform Agenda would be relevant cases to
examine how the Ramos Administration has managed development process
effectively.  Both cases meet following
necessary conditions: (1) initiatives regarded as high priority with strategic
importance within the national development (leading to promote sustainable development);
(2) initiatives in which President Ramos’s leadership exercised substantial
influence on their successful output/outcome; (3) initiatives which involve a
range of stakeholders possessing different interests and incentives; and (4)
initiatives which call for adequate institutional mechanisms for coordination
and policy decision making.

 

 

 

The case of the
power sector reform

 

When Ramos
assumed the Presidency in 1992, power shortage hit a peak, with daily brownouts
lasting 10-12 hour.  Root problems could
be traced back to the 1983 foreign debt crisis under the Marcos Regime.  The National Power Corporation (NPC), a
government monopoly in power generation and transmission, could not build new
generating capacity, due to the country’s moratorium on foreign-debt services.  Other root problems come from what is often
conceived as the previous Aquino Administration’s misjudgment in the power
sector management: the Department of Energy (DOE) was abolished and reduced to
an Office of Energy Affairs under the Office of the President. (In light of the
national urgency, Ramos resumed DOE right after he assumed the Presidency.)  In addition, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
(BNPP) project, which was intended to provide cheap electricity, was mothballed
during the Aquino Administration. (While several reasons are pointed out by
various groups for shelving the BNPP, the first thing to be noted would be that
the BNPP was a pet project of the Marcos Regime, and Aquino seemed to have held
suspicion that the project itself was tainted with corruption.)

 

In order to
overcome the national urgency, President Ramos encouraged private sector participation
to build new power generating capacity as quickly as possible.  This shift in strategy called for structural
policy reforms and institutional changes, including privatization and
deregulation.  In order to fast track
administrative process of power projects, President Ramos exercised strong leadership
to push the Congress to quickly pass the following laws in resolving the power
crisis:

·    
The
Electric Power Crisis Act of 1993 (RA 7648)

This Law gave President
Ramos emergency powers that allowed him to negotiate Independent Power Producer
(IPP) contracts thought the NPC, and to “fast-track” government’s approval
process based on “take-or-pay” system.

·    
The
amended Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law of 1994

This law increased
the scope of private sector participation, providing for direct negotiation of
contracts and investment incentives in certain cases.

 

As a consequence
of the power sector reform, power industry has transformed from a government
monopoly, to a highly competitive, private-sector dominated industry.  By December 1993, critical power outages were
eliminated.

President Ramos
made continuous efforts in coordinating and communicating with relevant
stakeholders to overcome the power crisis.

·    
President
Ramos rallied the Congress to approve the Electric Power Crisis Act, and amendments
to the BOT law.  Legislature shared a
sense of urgency and national unity to deal with the crisis.

·    
Ramos
created and fully utilized the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory
Council (LEDAC), a forum for consensus building between the executive and the legislative
on important bills, particularly, economic policy reform measures.

·    
The
Ramos Administration appointed justices that were pro-market and liberal
minded.  In addition, some ODA-funded
technical assistance was worked out for the judiciary in support of a judicial
reform program.

·    
As
previously mentioned, Ramos convened a Multi-sectoral People’s Summit in 1993
to forge a common legislative agenda supportive of development goals.  Social Pact for People Empowered Development
was the covenant.

·    
The
Ramos Administration adopted various measures to reduce social, economic, and
political risks to the private sector and encouraged their participation.

·    
The
Ramos Administration adopted measures to reduce end-users’ burden on the
electric power charge by having the government take over the costs.

 

Such
arrangements, however, may have lead to disadvantageous contracts to the
government, and eventually aggravated the fiscal situation of the NPC, leading to
the path for its privatization.  Despite
such adverse consequence in the future, many people admitted that the power
crisis at the time was highest national urgency situation that Ramos had no
other choice to overcome the situation.

 

The case of the
Social Reform Agenda (SRA)

 

As described
above, President Ramos’s MTPDP (1992-1997) centered on sustainable economic
development and people empowerment as its development objectives, and promoted
Social Reform Agenda as one of the concrete programs of action with the
Administration’s high priority.

 

Prior to 1992,
successive administrations had fought against poverty, because the struggle for
poverty alleviation has been a continuing struggle for social reforms in the
Philippines.  In fact, the Aquino
Administration’s MTPDP (1987-1992) aimed at poverty alleviation as one of the
national development goals.  However, the
series of coup attempts by military rebels threatened the political stability
of the country, and natural calamities aggravated the economic situation.  President Ramos possessed a strong sense of
urgency and regarded poverty as “another form of tyranny” and vowed to “wage
against it the moral equivalent of war”.  Hence, the Ramos Administration emphasized on
the peace process and sound economic fundamentals. (The Ramos Presidency and Administration, Record
and Legacy).

 

As such,
President Ramos strongly committed himself to fight against poverty and in
August 1992, created the Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty (PCFP), which
was tasked to formulate strategic government program to address poverty issues
featuring the Minimum Basic Needs (MBN) of poor and disadvantaged sectors.  Ramos also created the Presidential Council
for Countryside Development (PCCD), which sought to focus on the poorest provinces
to prioritize and deliver programs and projects.  However, even with such initiatives, it was
difficult to achieve results.

 

Hence, President
Ramos adopted the Social Reform Agenda (SRA) in 1994 to vigorously push forward
social reforms.  The SRA is a
comprehensive package of reforms that would address the issues on poverty and
inequity, social injustice and abuse of power, indifferent local governance and
uncaring attitude toward the environment. 
In fact, the SRA is the country’s first integrated set of reforms
against poverty in a systematized way.  The
SRA is regarded as the centerpiece anti-poverty program of the Ramos
Administration, which is the result of a wide range of consultations that
underscored the partnership between government and civil society.  Actually, Ramos himself initiated and
participated in range of consultations with the poor people in formulating/implementing
the SRA.

 

The SRA’s three-point agenda seek
to address the following areas of inequity:

·    
Access
to quality basic social services

·    
Access
to productive assets, livelihood and other economic opportunities

·    
Capability
building for communities and people’s organizations to enable them to
participate in local development and governance

 

Unlike that of
the power sector reform, the outcomes of the SRA is rather difficult to assess
– social reform takes time to produce outputs and outcomes, and it would be
difficult to single out the Ramos’s SRA initiatives from other poverty
alleviation measures under the other administrations.  At any rate, the SRA succeeded in building
foundations to the country’s social reform initiatives in the succeeding
administrations especially in terms of three major aspects: (1) capacity to
institute reforms, (2) the ability to focus resources for poverty reduction,
and (3) the capability to develop institutions for anti-poverty and people empowerment.

 

President
Ramos’s leadership and political will to promote Social Reform Agenda

 

It should be
noted that President Ramos took the initiative in adopting a new approach to
fight poverty – putting the marginalized Basic Sectors back in the center of
human development.  As a result, the way
poverty is defined has changed, and SRA has called for institutional changes.  In fact, many people share the view that the SRA
was the most consultative, policy reform-oriented, well-budgeted, clearly
delineated, well-targeted anti-poverty program in the recent history in the
Philippines.  Some of the distinguishing
features of the SRA can be summarized as follows:

·    
The
SRA manifests a clear vision as contained in Philippine 2000, and identifies poverty
reduction targets.

·    
Programs
under the SRA adopt the Minimum Basic Needs (MBN) approach by determining the
actual needs of families and targeting to them. 
MBN checklist of 33 indicators were developed corresponding to survival
needs (health and nutrition, water and sanitation), security needs (income
security, shelter, peace and order), and enabling needs (basic education and
literacy and participation in governance). 
Hence, the definitions of poverty have changed. (For reference, previous
definitions were pegged on an income threshold – the minimum income required by
a family to purchase a basket of goods and services).  The SRA approach was localized to serve the
actual needs of the poor and disadvantaged people – it was not a bureaucracy
driven, but demand driven initiative.

·    
In
making policy decisions, bureaucracy was mobilized effectively.  Institutional mechanisms such as Social
Reform Council (see below), LEDAC (see above), and Cabinet Cluster System (see
below) etc. were heavily utilized for coordination among relevant stakeholders.

·    
The
program under the SRA ensured Basic Sector participation for policy formulation
and implementation. (see below for SRC membership) Representatives from farmers,
fisherfolks, indigenous cultural communities, urban poor workers (especially in
the informal sector), and other disadvantaged groups (such as women, persons
with disabilities, youth, disadvantaged students, elderly and victims of disasters)
were the important part of the initiative. 
Efforts have been made to enhance coordination, interface and feedback
system among Basic Sectors and between Basic Sectors and the government.

·    
In
order to secure accountability of programs under the SRA, feedback mechanisms
were developed to facilitate continuous monitoring.  To promote shared vision on social reform and
to disseminate its objectives, significance as well as achievements of the SRA,
Ramos visited countryside frequently wearing hats and jackets with the SRA logo
mark, getting a lot of media exposure.

 

Experiences and the lessons from
the Ramos Administration suggest that the key elements necessary for effective
leadership are: proper vision, strong political will, and decisive action.  People may pose a fundamental question that President
Ramos just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and any
President would have done the same thing given the country’s emergency
situations.  The real assessment of
President Ramos’s leadership would be done by imagining what would happen in
the Philippines were it not for President Ramos.  We do not have another Philippines to compare
with so this is impossible.  But we
should pay due attention to people’s remarks in response to these questions: “Nobody could have managed better than
President Ramos – if Ramos stayed longer, the outcome must have been
different.”

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