How can we the Filipino youth today define “good governance?”
We could give meaning to this term using these words: transparent, accountable, inclusive, transformative, and more adjectives we can think of to describe how our government or our leaders should ideally be.
But the problem, for me at least, is that I find these words so abstract. I cannot define the terms as comprehensively and accurately as I can without witnessing it myself.
But let me give it a try.
Looking back, our history tells us so much about good governance.
It freed us from foreign conquerors and helped us establish a country we can finally call our own. It taught us discipline to ensure our safety and security. It also taught us how we can exercise and defend our rights. It gave us the fruits of development that we now enjoy. Ultimately, it provided us more opportunities for a better life.
As good governance continuously bore good fruit, it also eliminated harmful elements that could hinder its further growth. For instance, good governance tested the loyalty of our leaders to this country and its people, prosecuted the wrongdoings of officials we mistakenly called our leaders, and hindered anything that could hamper the country’s progress.
Simply put, in the course of Philippine history, good governance made sure that our lives would become more abundant, safe, and productive, and it also made sure that no thief would rob us of all these.
Now, in the age when we give meaning to every detail of our lives via status updates, tweets, memes, hashtags, videos and selfies, how can the Filipino youth define good governance?
I think social media gave life to the idea best when the controversy of the misuse of government funds by some officials and private individuals – better known as the ‘pork barrel scam’ – was exposed two years ago. Filipinos went to social media to vent their frustrations on the misuse of the government funds which they gave through taxes.
They eventually called for collective action, which resulted in massive rallies across the nation. Afterwards, cases have been filed, trials are ongoing, and netizens still keep their eyes peeled on the unfolding events in what was said to be the most fraudulent act in the country’s modern history.
Social media has also seen other forms of good governance no matter how people contextualize it. Some selfies showed our local leaders huddling with the masa. Some memes would say the strictest forms of discipline – to the point of being ‘Martial Law’-like – should be implemented for effective law enforcement and crime elimination. Some tweets challenged our leaders to stand firm on their mandate of implementing the law no matter who is involved in any violation. And nowadays, some photos and videos showed how frustrated netizens were over inefficient government service, the alarming wave of criminality and the “evolution” of modus operandi, and even threats to convenience in our daily lives (e. g., traffic).
The outgoing administration believed that good governance was an uphill battle against corruption, and an overwhelming journey toward a more open and trustworthy leadership. However, such principles of good governance were challenged when people questioned the sincerity of the leaders and the credibility of some of the government’s programs and projects.
Election season may have just started in the Philippines. We, the youth in particular, will soon be asked to redefine good governance as we will be set to choose a new set of leaders.
We should start asking ourselves: How should our country or our communities be like in the next six years or so? What do we want in our leaders? How can we make them more open and responsible?
Finally and most importantly, how can we take part in making sure good governance will be practiced continuously?
Online and offline, good governance has been continuously shaping our country’s past, present and future. It has challenged the capacity of this country to stand on its own feet. It has tested how this nation remained firm to its principles whatever obstacle thrown its way. At times, it has reversed the people’s cycle of convenience. It has seen how we as a nation, not just our leaders, worked so hard to achieve it.
Defining the phrase “good governance” seems to be an open-ended question. It is up to us to give meaning to it by thought, by word and by deed.