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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 2003.

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 Our 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 messaging?

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 nation's governance.

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