The Following is a letter written by Founding Chairperson
Ralph Guzman. It was published by the
Philippine Daily Inquirer on 31 December 2002,
and was printed on the Philippine Star on 5 January
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crucial part in good governance
Judging the current state of the nation, the country may not be able to
expect substantial recovery by 2003. It will continue its rough sailing. The
administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will have to contend
with the worsening poverty. It will need to go beyond figures, and truly
bring socio-economic reforms down to the grassroots. It will have to
continue wrestling with the growing budget deficit and foreign debts. Add to
these the endless destructive squabbling among politicians, and the dropping
popularity of the present administration, which is just the tip of the
iceberg. Many wish to forget 2003, and in hindsight, are just waiting for
the 2004 elections.
At the every core of all these concerns are the Filipino people, who are on
the receiving end of governance. As no stability is yet in sight, it is not
such a surprise that fingers are pointing to the present administration.
Clamor for good and effective governance persists and continues to grow, in
the desire to get this nation's act together. What many, however, still do
not realize is the vital role of the public in making this possible.
Take for example the country's budget deficit, which has reached a new high
in 2002. Although the tax collection system of the Bureau of Internal
Revenue needs a major upgrade, it is highly disturbing to note recent
figures indicating that shortfalls in tax collection are due to
non-remittances or inaccurate remittances by the professional sector and
many businessmen. As reported by this newspaper, the country lost over 600
billion pesos in the 1990s, which is almost a third of the country's debt,
and as big as the budget in 2000.
Would the country really have this big a deficit had the people paid their
taxes? Is it then surprising that about 47 percent of the nation's budget
goes to debt servicing instead of vital projects? Is it surprising that the
government needs to rely more on indirect taxing schemes, and may now have
to consider the International Monetary Fund's proposed tax on text
While corruption should be blamed and be eliminated, the public's
responsibilities cannot be overlooked. Good governance will only be possible
with good citizenship. Merely changing presidents and Cabinet members will
not amount to anything if ordinary people will not do their part. Corruption
among government officials does not give the public any license to go above
the law. Good governance starts with each individual, who is also a
stakeholder in governance, and is as accountable as a government official.
Hence, we call on the government to take action. We call for the continued
and immediate strengthening of agencies, particularly the Bureau of Internal
Revenue and the Commission on Audit. We call on the public to take action,
to take part in governance, and to take responsibility for the welfare of
the nation. Lastly, we call on the mass media to actively and consistently
use its resources in the interest of nation-building, in calling for good
citizenship, and in enjoining the Filipino people to take part of the
Each Filipino has a stake in good governance and is called to do his duties.
The government should not be left alone to shoulder this obligation.
--RALPH PASCUAL GUZMAN, chairperson, UP Communicators for Good
Governance, College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines,
Diliman, Quezon City