Monday, December 11

Good Governance: Salient Features of RA 3019 And RA 6713

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A. RA 3019 – Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

Recently the terms “governance” and “good governance” are being increasingly used in development literature. Bad governance is being increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within our societies. Major donors and international financial institutions are increasingly basing their aid and loans on the condition that reforms that ensure “good governance” are undertaken (www.unescap.org).

One of the essential characteristics of good governance is an accountable and transparent government.As defined in the Wilkepedia Encyclopedia “[a]ccountability is a concept in ethics with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as answerability, enforcement, responsibility, blameworthiness, liability and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in both the public and private worlds.”

The salient features of RA 3019 are:

Accessibility of Public Documents

RA 3019, Section 3(f) provides that “[n]eglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time” is a corrupt practice and is punishable.

What the present government must realize is that democracy is quintessentially about the adherence of government to the will of the people. This basic accountability is impossible unless the present government not only champions of legislation, but also commits itself to open and transparent governance. What is needed now is a spirited, informed public that creatively and constructively engages with government in policy making and a government which treats the right to information as the bedrock of good governance working together to forge a better future for our country (Sanjana Hattotuwa).

Promotes Accountability and Transparency in Governance

            Politicians have hijacked democratic institutions in Philippines by turning elected offices into vehicles for political violence and corruption. As a response to the public’s clamor, Congress enacted RA 3019 to promote accountability and transparency in governance.

Provides a Framework for a more Efficient Government

            Making the best use of proximate and available resources to maximize the output achieved is also a key ingredient of a community governance system (efficiency). The statute helps hasten the delivery of public services to the Filipino people.

Punishes and Removes Delinquent Public Officials

                The law provides for the dismissal due to unexplained wealth as provided in Section 8, which sates that “[i]f in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act Numbered One thousand three hundred seventy-nine, a public official has been found to have acquired during his incumbency, whether in his name or in the name of other persons, an amount of property and/or money manifestly out of proportion to his salary and to his other lawful income, that fact shall be a ground for dismissal or removal. “ Moreover the next section provides the penalties for other violations.

Strengthens the Filipino Society

            In good governance we strengthen the responsiveness of state and local governments, improve the ability of national government institutions to secure peace and social justice, and build a stronger democratic institution in the arenas of international economics and security.

B. RA 6713 – Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials

What properties does a well-drafted code of conduct have? American philosopher of law, Lon Fuller considered this question with respect to law. Fuller provided one of the most influential-and plausible-answers. It is an answer that is also applicable to codes of conduct. In Fuller’s view:

… there can be no rational ground for asserting that a man [sic]can have a moral obligation to obey a legal rule that does not exist, or is kept secret from him, or that came into existence only after he acted, or was unintelligible or was contradicted by another rule of the same system, or commanded the impossible, or changed every minute. It may not be impossible for a man [sic]to obey a rule that is disregarded by those charged with its administration, but at some point obedience becomes futile as futile, in fact, as casting a vote that will never be counted.(66)

The salient features of RA 6713 are:

Set forth the Norms of Conduct for Public Officials

The Code requires the observance of  the following as standards of personal conduct in the discharge and execution of official duties:

a. commitment to public interest;

b. professionalism;

c. justness and sincerity;

d. political neutrality;

e. responsiveness to the public;

f. nationalism and patriotism;

g. commitment to democracy; and

h. simple living.

Advocates a Clean and Accountable  Government

Section 2 of the law adheres to the policy that the State shall “promote a high standard of ethics in public service. Public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives, and uphold public interest over personal interest.”

Fortify the Pillars of the Philippines Society

We are now in the quest for a better Philippines. This code of conduct is one step in this journey. This is, however, an essential step and one that can be delayed no longer.

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