Mutual Accountability in Ensuring Aid Governance in the Philippines

Posted: March 26, 2011 in Aid Governance

The Philippine: Mutual Accountability in Ensuring Aid Governance


List of acronyms

ADB(Asian Development bank) / AusAid(Australian Agency for International Development) /PBA(Program-based approach)/ DFID(Department for International Development) / G-Watch(Government Watch) /JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) / NGO(Non-Governmental Organization) / OECD(Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) / PIU(Project implementation unit) / USAID(United States Agency for International Development) and WB(World Bank)

What is Mutual Accountability?

To improve the quality of aid, both donors and partner countries have to fulfill a satisfied level of five dimensions namely ownership, alignment, harmonisation, result and mutual accountability. Among these five dimensions, mutual accountability is believed to play a really crucial role in developing trust and partnership. For instance,  Rebecca recommends that mutual accountability in all levels in Afghanistan be improved and that all aid actors and shareholders should be accountable to one another to achieve greater aid effectiveness (Roberts, 2009).However, this fifth dimension is “the last and probably the least recognised of the five focus areas in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.” (Renzio, 2008). Mutual accountability is also viewed as a mechanism to keep any nations with responsibilities under check while carrying out their tasks (OECD, 2009). More importantly, mutual trust and accountability between donors and partner countries are seen as “a crucial step in getting better development results.” (Ibid.)

On the Third High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, Mutual accountability is defined as:

…a process by which two (or multiple) partners hold one another responsible for the commitments that they have voluntarily made to each other. But it is also more than that. It is a process through which commitment to, and ownership of, shared agendas is created and reinforced by: building trust and understanding; shifting incentives towards results in and openness to external scrutiny for assessing results in relation to goals.” (OECD, 2009) (Figure One)

History to consider:

In an abstract of Accountability Discussion Series of two guest speakers, Professor Aries Arugay and Former Welfare Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, the Philippines became a new nation in a combination of “accountability regime” and “a powerful civil society” after the collapse of Estrada’s administration in 2001. Apparently, Julius Court points out that a mobile phone is the symbol of success for the People Power II revolution in the Philippines since a mobile phone allowed Filipinos to text information about the previous President Joseph Estrada’s corruption, cronyism and incompetence to one another. Amazingly, when the Filipinos acknowledged the message all around the country, they came up with the idea to remove Estrada from his position in just 88 hours of impeachment. This marked the end of the non-transparent and unaccountable administration of the previous leader, Estrada.  Also, the mobile phone technology, which allowed the Filipinos to have a poll to see what should unanimously be done to better their existing situations, marked social strength of civil society in the Philippines. In their abstract for the Discussion Series, Aries and Corazon further emphasize that the pursuits for accountability have become one of the most important country development components for the next leader, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Current status of Mutual Accountability in the Philippines

Based on 2008 survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration, the Philippines is still suffering from its own accountability mechanism in both national and international level in ensuring truly effective aid. Similar to the case of Afghanistan, the Philippines is required to have a stronger or more balanced accountability mechanism at all levels to achieve greater aid effectiveness.

Pinoypress dated March 5, 2008 illustrated that there was an international study which showed that the Philippine lacks transparency and accountability in aid disbursement. Based on the international study, this popular news website confirmed Rodolfo¹ Noel Lozada Jr.’s description about official development assistance (ODA) as a “dysfunctional” system.

Apparently, a sythesis report² from NEDA on preliminary findings in the country level shows that the local government has been committed in understanding both existing and possible barriers to successful implementation of Paris Declaration by attempting to have mutual ODA reviews with Develoment partners. The report illustrates the implementation has often been delayed due to budgetary contrains or tax treatment of ODA funds. In some cases, the whole prject was suspended because of the two extreme contrains.

According to Cai U. Ordinario, the Philippines has been far behind all the agreements set in the PDP on Aid Effectiveness. A baseline study undertaken by the government focuses on the government’s performance itself in meeting the 12 indicators set in the PDP. The result of the study reports that the 12th indicator, Availability of Mechanism for Mutual Assessment of Progress, was ignored. As a result, the 2008 survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration recommends that the Philippine establish a system for mutual assessment. (Figure Two)

One of the components of social accountability is access information. By the Philippine’s constitution, the right to information is guaranteed. However, after its 20-year ratification, the Filipinos have been struggling to exercise their own right since the right is at the discretion of government officials (Allana, 2009). Due to the lack of access to information, Cai U.Ordinario realizes that some progress has been made in the 12 indicators in the PDP, but she cautions that the Philippines is still on a long road to better information dissemination and capacity building. She stresses that access to information is needed to achieve the PDP’s objective in attaining transparency and accountability for both donors and the Philippines itself. Moreover, Cai U. Ordinario admits that the Philippines has slightly improved the 3rd indicator, Aid Flows are Aligned on National Priorities. The reason behind the slight improvement is simply related to information dissemination about the aid.

Regarding aid flows, the 2008 survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration has pointed out that the Philippines lacks recording system which leads to inaccurate government estimates of aid flows. This survey recommends to donors, especially the bilateral ones, that they improve efforts in three areas: coordinating aid through PBAs; conducting joint missions and country analytical work; and reducing the number of parallel PIUs. (Figure Three)

Challenges:

  1. Mutual accountability within the Philippines and with bilateral multilateral donors is a very big issue and strongly needed to enhance public service in general, especially aid effectiveness.
  2. As in 2008 survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration, the Philippines has been receiving variable development partner supports. Corruption is the main factor which has been threatening the government’s ability to secure increased donor support (USAID/PHILIPPINES STRATEGY FY 2005-2009, 2005). As a result, the predictability and availability of aid are out of the country’s control.
  3. Corruption is an old story which is deeply remaining in the society. Corruption has been constraining fully competitive market, generating inefficiencies, and undermining public capacity and confidence in the government (USAID/PHILIPPINES STRATEGY FY 2005-2009, 2005). Moreover, corruption has been a long-lasting enemy to good governance³, and therefore, development has been slow.
  4. Human right abuse is closely related to corruption. These two issues hinder donors in their efforts to give more aid to the Philippines. President Barak Obama urged to withdraw military aid to the Philippines due to human right abuse. The US State Department report showed that there has been a persistence of human right abuses under the Arroyo’s regime. Those abuses include extrajudicial and political killings, especially of journalists (Pinoypress.net, 2009).
  5. By constitution, access to information is guaranteed, but it has been remaining at discretion of public officials. Consequently, transparency, accountability and mutual assessment between donors and the Philippines have not been fully established.

Horizontal dimension of accountability in the Philippines

The Philippines is notorious for its corrupt public administration and officials. Therefore, the check and balance approach among and within the internal government institutions is unlikely to improve aid flow and co-ordination between the local government and multilateral and bilateral donors. However, the Philippines is unique since its civil society has had a firm stand in any development process.

Vertical dimension of accountability in the Philippines

Civil society is known as the world most dynamic and participatory development body in the Philippines (Clarke, 1998).  Remarkably, the Civil Society has been effectively generating accountability to some certain extent in the nation. Therefore, the Civil Society has to play a crucial role to act as a bridge between the citizens and the local government in the Philippines and bilateral and multilateral donors in achieving more aid effectiveness. (Figure Four and Five)

A network of Philippine civil society groups has confirmed that it takes a long way forward for the world’s poor to truly benefit from foreign aid (Civilization of Love, 2008). According to Dr Giovanni Tapang, AidWatch Philppines convenor and Chair of the Council for People’s Development and Governance, aid has not yet been effective ever since 2003 despite the signing of Paris Declaration. He mentioned that one of the reasons for the poor performance was that the donors and the recipient country failed to recognise how democratic ownership and human rights can ensure better aid process. From this, it can be infered that both the local government and the donors failed to stick to their individual accountability, or their mutual accountability was unclearly defined. In other words, the donors and the local government should have paid greater attention to how much involvement and what to account for in the aid process in order to avoid miscommunication and overlapping areas of responsibilities during their work process.

Recommendation

Recommendation 1: both access to information be reinforced and a recording system be established  to ensure better aid flows

Arguably, due to lacks or inaccessibility of information on aid flows, the local Filipinos cannot hold their government accountable for what they are doing with the aid from both bilateral and muliteral donors. Dispite the facts that access to information is guaranteed by the constitution, this right has been ignored. The Philippines should take a case of Canada as the example. Newfoundland and Labrador is ranked as the best information leader across the country  (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador-Canada, 2006).  For the success in providing information to its people, Minister Marshall admits that “everyone deserves a pat on the back, however, we (the government) certainly have room to grow and we need to build on this success to ensure we continue to lead the country in providing our citizens with access to information.” Moreover, the Philippines needs to build up a reliable recording system on aid flows as part of improving access to information for both the people and the donors. So far, the Philippines has been giving inaccurate information on aid flows to its donors; as a consequence, the donors in return give variable support which is an another existing challenge to the nation’s development.

Recommendation 2: make the government’s internal insitutions accountable

There have been examples from many countries in which their local people use vertical solutions to deal with horizontal problems related to accountability enhancement.  In Pakistan in 2007, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a chief justice of the supreme court, used his cell phone from his home to call for a gathering of 500 lawyers to protest against the consolidation of power by the Pervez Musharraf’s government who wished to eliminate the opposition. Later in 2008, the chief justice was welcome back to his position which was regarded as a victory to hold the government accoutable to the social facts (Robert Faris and Bruce Etling, 2008). In this case, Robert and Bruce made it clear that the social active participation of civil society and NGOs was crucial in mediating the seperation of power within the government institutions and agencies. Similarly, in the Philippines itself, the civil society has been really dynamic and active in figuring out black or white issues in the government. As the historical examples, the movement of People Power I and II which remove their presidents from the position can be crystal clear that the civil society with assitance from digital technology can truly hold their government accoutable for the development of their country. From the two mentioned examples and others in Robert and Bruce’s work4, it is very likely that the civil society can enhance mutual accountability on aid effectiveness and distribution for their people by promoting transparency and accoutability withing the government’s internal institutions.

Recommendation 3: corruption needs much greater care and attention to deal with

As mentioned above, corruption produces countless inefficiencies, undermines public confidences and trust and hinders mutual accountability on aid effectiveness in the Philippines. Suggested by Larry Diamond, corruption can be controlled, if not completely eliminated. On Building a System of Comprehensive Accountability to Control Corruption, Larry believes that good governance comprising accountability can surely reduce the volume of corruption to some extent. In this regard, the 3rd recommendation can ensured to work best when the 2nd recommendation has succeeded in a certain level. Larry stresses that it takes everyone to sacrifice their own advantage for the sake the whole nation development. In his exact words, Larry states that “ordinary citizens will sacrifice immediate advantages for the longer-term common good only when they believe that their fellow citizens will as well.” He further mentions that when the governement itself attempts to enhance transparency and disciplines, the government can gain more public trust and confidence. In his work, Larry proposed his comprehensive system of accoutability instittutions of accountability of three forms as follows:

Horizontal Accountability refers to a mechanism to hold different government’s agencies accountable to the law and the public interest. One of the primary agencies of horizontal accountability is a counter-corruption commission.

Vertical Accountability would refer to the means by which the people, community and civil society as a whole, from below, to hold their government answerable for their conduct during carrying out their work. He believes that democracy would be an ideal country system to allow such a social movement from the grassroots.

External Accountability is ideally a pressure from international actors over the local government to be responsible for the quality of their governance and the well-being of the people.

Recommendation 4: an international accountability mechanism be full established

Following the idea of Larry Diamond, the Philippines has to consider the “External Accountability” which the Philippines has to hold itself accountable in an interantional stage. To enhance accountabitity, the first step is to identify the right framework (James Droop, Paul Isenman and Baki Mlalazi, 2008). These three authors believe that the international aid agenda and the Paris Declaration should be considered as the “colaborative” framework of accountability. The three authors propose an accountability mechanisms for donor and partner performance in Figure Six.

The three authors suggest four elements to reflect the framework as follows:

Evidence: it refers to a measurement of technical credibility. Basically, this idea measure how much improvement in definition, quality, clarity, independence and transparecy of performance information within the recipient country. Also, this idea can help reflect the current status of accountability in the whole country.

Ownership: it is the key factor a the collaborative framework in ensuring the importance of building and sustaining consent, commitment, credibility, trust and common values between the donors and the recipient countries.

Debate: it involves formal and informal meachansims to provide one another reasiong of the current performance. This would illustrate mutual explanation why  certain development has been made.

Behavior change: it is a mechanism of result from carrying out the three initial dimensions namely Evidence, Ownership and Debate.

Jame, Paul and Baki believe that the four dimensions serve as a reinforcing factors between the donors and the recipient countries when it comes to dealing with holding one another accountable for their individual conducts.

Conclusion

The Philippines is a really potential country to generate aid effectiveness  especially in the area of mutual accountability between the government and the people and its donors since the civil society in the Philippines has been really strong in terms of social voice. The civil society, in the Philippine history, has achieved great victories in removing their presidents from the position due to some misconduct such as corruption, cronyism and incompetence. As now the Philippines is still in time of human right abuse, violation of constitution and corruption within the government’s internal institutions; the civil society has to play a much more crucial role in fighting for social accountability, transparency and justice to ensure social stability and development in the Philippines. The nation will develop dramatically when the above-mentioned social illnesses are paid greater attention to while adequate and timely aids and supports from both bilateral and multilateral donors to the Philippines have been increasing to the proportion of success in achieving a certain satisfaction level of good governance in the whole country.

Footnotes:

¹He is CEO of the Philippine Forest Corporation and is an electronics and communications engineer. He was referred to as a “secret witness” in the senate inquiry on the ZTE deal.

²The evaluation in the report was carried out by Dr Dante B. Canlas Ms Lirio T. Abuyuan and Dr Jaime Z. Galvez-Tan in July, 2008 under NEDA’s authority

³Larry Diamond suggests 5 components of good governance: capacity of the state; commitment to the public goods; transparency and accountability; rule of law; and civic participation. He believes that good governance promotes development.

4-The 11-day protest against the election result in Ukrain in 2004

– The case of Internet-based radio station, Radio B-92, in Serbia

– The case of television stations in Pakistan and Venezuela

– The United States Senator George Allen during his 2006 campaign

– The influence of OhmyNews on the 2002 presidential election in South Korea

– In Cuba, digital information is collected online passes from one person to another using memory stick

– 365 marches organized by a Facebook Group, the largest protest in Colombian history.

– Yochai Benkler’s theory and impact on “networked public spheres”

– Iqbal Quadir’s case for promoting better governance by delegating power from the states to individuals assisted by the information and communication technology

– and etc…

Bibliography

OECD. (2009). Mutual Accountability. ISSUES BRIEF 1 , 1-2.

Renzio, P. d. (2008). Mutual Accountability: Issues and Challenges. Brief prepared for FRIDE Seminars on “Democratic Ownership and Mutual Accountability” , 1.

Juliano-Soliman, A. A. (2008). Accountability Discussion Series. From Protest to Participation to Disengagement. Center for Social Policy Ateneo School of Government .

Court, J. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2009, from http://www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/3147.pdf

Roberts, R. (2009). Improving Mutual Accountability for Aid Effectiveness. Policy Note Series , 1-2.

Ordinario, C. U. (2008, February 26). Retrieved September 24, 2009, from IBON Europe: http://ibon.be/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=45

Pinoypress.net. (2008, March 05). Retrieved September 24, 2009, from Pinoypress: http://www.pinoypress.net/2008/03/05/philippiness-problems-with-aid-go-beyond-lack-of-transparency-accountability/

Organisation For Economic Co-operation and Developmet. (2008). Retrieved September 24, 2009, from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/53/59/41952105.pdf

Pinoypress.net. (2009, February 27). Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.pinoypress.net/2009/02/27/obama-urged-to-withdraw-military-aid-to-philippines-due-to-human-rights-abuses/

Robert Faris and Bruce Etling. (2008, summer). Madison and the Smart Mob: The Promise and Limitations of the Internet for Democracy. Vol.32:2 , 77.

Diamond, L. (2003). Building a System of Comprehensive Accountability to Control Corruption. 4-6.

Dr Dante B. Canlas Ms Lirio T. Abuyuan and Dr Jaime Z. Galvez-Tan. (2008). Evaluation of the Implementation of the Paris Declaration: Case Study of the Philippines. NEDA.

Clarke, G. (1998). The Politics of NGOS in South-East Asia Participation and protest in the Philippines. Great Britain: Routledge.

Civilization of Love. (2008, March 03). Retrieved September 26, 2009, from http://frjessie.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/aidwatch-philippines/

(2005). USAID/PHILIPPINES STRATEGY FY 2005-2009. USAID/Philippines.

James Droop, Paul Isenman and Baki Mlalazi. (2008). Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness: Study of Existing Mechanisms to Promote Mutual Accountability (MA) between Donors and Partner Countries at the International Level. Oxford Policy Management.

Annexes

Figure One: Language used to describe roles in accountability relationships

Agent being held accountable Agent asking for answers and enforcing sanctions
A B
Supply-side Demand-side
Duty-bearer Rights-holders
Accountee Accounter

Source: UNDP Voice, Accountability and Civic Engagement by Bhavna Sharma

Figure Two: Challenges and priority actions for the Philippines

DIMENSIONS 2007 CHALLENGES PRIORITY ACTIONS
Ownership High Fiscal limitation to implement development plan; reforms not evenly adopted across government Government to prioritise actions and continue mainstreaming reforms
Alignment Moderate Large portion of aid not recorded on the budget as some aid flows do not require appraopriations; progress needed on predictability, untying and reducing parallel PIUs. Improve information sharing and capture on aid; continue reforms to improve public financial management (PFM) and procurement systems
Harmonisation Low Variable commitment to PBAs; slow progress toward joint evaluatioins Bi-lateral donors to increase aid through PBAs; major donors to increase joint missions
Managing for results Moderate Lack of clarity of management of new systems; monitoring and evaluation processes not fully developed Complete roll-out of new systems; develop further monitoring and evaluation processes where necessary
Mutual accountability Moderate Development partner support variable Establish a system for mutual assessment

Source: 2008 survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration

Figure Three: Progress since 2005 and Priorities for 2010 in summary

INDICATORS 2007 2010 TARGET
1 Operational development strategies Not available Not applicable
2a Reliable public financial management (PFM) systems Not available Not applicable
2b Reliable procurement systems C B
3 Aid flows are aligned on national priorities 51% 85%
4 Strengthen capacity by co-ordinated support 89% 50%
5a Use of country PFM systems 68% 70%
5b use of country procurement systems 64% Not applicable
6 Strengthen capacity by avoiding parallel PIUs 33 31%
7 Aid is more predictable 78% 85%
8 Aid is untied 46% More than 63%
9 Use of common arrangements or procedures 32% 66%
10a Joint missions 21% 40%
10b Joint country analytical work 33% 66%
11 Results-based monitoring frameworks Not available Not applicable
12 Mutual accountability No Yes

Source: 2008 survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration

Figure Four: civil society as a representative for the Filipinos

Figure Five: Main accountability structure in aid relationships

Source: ODI Promoting Mutual Accountability in Aid Relationships by Poalo de Renzio

Figure Six: Mapping accountability mechanisms for donor and partner performance

Source: Final Report on Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness: Study of Existing Mechanisms to Promote Mutual Accountability (MA) Between Donors and Partner Countries at the Internatinal level by James Droop, Paul Iseman and Baki Mlalazi

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