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Governance is a two-way street

/ 06:11 AM May 25, 2013

Periodic elections like the May 13 vote affirm whether the people are satisfied with their duly elected leaders.

But the citizen’s duty doesn’t end with exercising the right of suffrage. There has to be a continuing engagement between the government and the people.

Parameters of good governance include transparency, accountability and people’s participation.


The sum of these three actually spell the sound use of taxpayers’ money for basic services and policies that serve the public good.

In a modern democracy, the division of people during an election is necessary so everyone can be heard. The leader backed with the greatest number wins through the ballot.

The divisiveness during an election sometimes lasts until the next exercise, which is unhealthy and can even get vicious.

Perhaps a test of the maturity of our democracy is how rival parties, neighborhoods and interest groups accept defeat with honor, and for the victors to be magnanimous.

It’s important that everyone appreciates that elections are far more civilized than the gladiator battles of the past or sabong (cock fights) – where the winner takes all, even the carcass of the loser. Election is not binihagay.

Ideally public service is not even about entitlement of power, but a limited mandate to use the vast powers of the state for public good and welfare.

Flaws in our elections are not enough reason to reject a democratic process. There are control mechanisms to compensate for the imperfections. A loser can file an election protest based on evidence, not on pricked ego.

Victors are not untouchables. Elected local government officials are subject to a check and balance mechanism of recall. The anti-graft court is always open to complaints of wrongdoing based on evidence.


The challenge now is for the citizenry to sustain its engagement with duly elected officials. Now is the right time to develop these engagement strategies.

Citizens should hold winners to their campaign promises of service, and all the specific commitments of projects for their welfare.

We can also ask newly elected officials to give time and space for any Juan and Juana to contribute his and her views and suggestions on how to ensure good governance.

That would only be fair.

They owe it to the people to be more attentive now after the public spent 45 days listening to campaign rhetoric and rewarding them with votes.

After noon of June 30, it’s time for the winners to deliver.

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