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Development of Public Administration in the Philippines 349

installed Aquino government undertook massive and wide-scale reorganization of the bureaucracy, which brought about dislocation and discontinuities.

The Aquino government, on its assumption to power, promptly directed and implemented a reorganization of the bureaucracy, as part of the efforts to “de-Marcosify” the government, and to remove all vestiges of the Marcos’ regime. As Carlos (2004: 43) points out, “one of the first things that the Aquino administration did was to rationalize the bureaucracy.” A Presidential Commission on Reorganization (PCGR) was established and, accordingly, submitted a report in June 1986 seeking among others, the streamlining of 3000 offices attached to the Office of the President, and the privatization of 87 government-owned and controlled corporations, and the abolition of 38 non-financial corporations (Carlos, 2004). Consequently, the Aquino government also adopted an administrative code that spelled out the structure and functions of various government agencies and approved the enactment of a law that would serve as the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees.

This law, as provided for under Republic Act 6713 and approved in 1989, stipulated the norms that public officials and employees, whether appointed or elected, should observe. Thus, such norms as patriotism and nationalism, commitment to public service, transparency, and similar ideals were embodied in law. The Aquino government also sought to decentralize the government and put into law a Local Government Code in 1991, a year before Aquino relinquished office. The code provided for greater local autonomy and to a large extent empowered local government units.

The succeeding administrations of President Fidel V. Ramos (1992–1998) and the abbreviated administration of President Joseph E. Estrada (1998–2001) likewise adopted their own respective initiatives to reorganize the bureaucracy, which in effect sought to enhance civil service performance, contain corruption, and introduce reforms to enhance efficiency. In 2001, Estrada’s vicepresident, Gloria Arroyo, took over the reins of government following another relatively bloodless people power revolution. Arroyo’s government also sought to introduce measures to rationalize the bureaucracy, but in itself, got embroiled in charges of massive and wide-scale corruption. As a result, officials of the bureaucracy were again implicated in conspiring with high government officials in defrauding the government by way of misusing public funds.

17.9 Administrative Values in the Philippines

It is perhaps safe to say today that public administration in the Philippines observes and pursues administrative values that are a mixture of three major sometimes compatible, sometimes conflicting influences. The first major influence is the impact of the larger societal culture where bureaucracy must operate. The wider Filipino societal culture in part shapes and influences the values found in Philippine bureaucracy. Thus, such cultural values (identified and loosely translated) such as, amor propio (self-respect), delicadeza (propriety), hiya (shame), utang na loob (debt of gratitude), and pakikisama (friendship or familial ties) reflect on bureaucratic behavior and the exercise of official functions. Superimposed on these values are such accepted norms of behavior as social acceptance, the respect for authority/elders, and the influence of religion. The result of these can be both positive and negative, and expressed in terms of refusal to engage in confrontation or outright conflict or compromising policies and procedures to avoid disagreements or differences. Likewise, such values as respect for senior officials or persons, or in many cases, of favoritism, paternalism, and nepotism can serve to compromise the exercise of official functions and duties. Special treatment in government transactions can also be accorded to relatives or even province mates (Varela, 1996).

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350 Public Administration in Southeast Asia

Secondly, the formalities dictated under the norms of Weberian bureaucracy remain equally strong in Philippine bureaucracy. Merit and fitness, competence, and qualifications persist as standards in recruitment and appointments even if disrupted at times by patronage and spoils. It can be said perhaps that these values are the ones observed or upheld first, depending on the degree of influence of cultural or political forces. The system of rules and procedures likewise are generally observed, but can be set aside either because of the intervention of a politician or because of the demands and pressures of cultural values and ties.

Thirdly, the influences of the colonial periods continue to influence administrative behavior, again in positive and negative ways. The American values of merit and fitness and competitive examinations continue to hold sway and enjoy acceptance in the bureaucracy. But such negative traits as refusal to initiate innovations (no se haga novedad) or weak or indecisive compliance of rules (obedezco pero no cumplo) continue to impair Philippine bureaucracy, though not as rampant as during the colonial era.

As such, bureaucratic behavior and the values pursued by the Philippine bureaucracy today could be viewed as having adapted and adjusted to the vicissitudes and vagaries of its environment and its past. Bureaucratic values and behavior in Philippine public administration can thus be viewed as a web of influences and a curious blend of indigenous social forces, implanted norms, and colonial legacies. These are adapted and suited according to the demands of particular situations.

17.10Reflections on the Origin of Public Administration as a Study in the Philippines

Public administration in the Philippines today is thus a product of the colonial era, adapted to the idiosyncrasies of indigenous cultural traditions, values, mores, and norms. From these, Filipino public administration practices and processes would evolve into a complex art of adaptation and improvisations that would reconcile the characteristics of Weberian models with that of Filipino values. It is a composite blending of influences and vestiges of past practices and processes derived from colonial times and at the same time made to apply to the vagaries of Filipino values and norms. The American system has been somewhat the dominant influence, insofar as the system, rules, structures, and formalities are concerned.

Beneath the layer of professional conduct and the formal structure configured following the Weberian model, as found in Western systems, would emerge a sub-culture that would be reflective of Filipino culture and its idiosyncrasies. In his analysis of public administration in the Philippines, de Guzman for instance pointed out that the bureaucracy in the Philippines exhibits the structural features of the Weberian model, such as aspects of division of labor, specialization and spheres of competence, hierarchy, recruitment based on merit, and similar characteristics. He maintains, however, that “family, kinship, religious, socioeconomic, and other factors impinge on the performance of government agencies” (de Guzman, 2003: 4–5). The dynamics and practices of the administrative system are conditioned likewise by cultural factors, mores, and norms that influence bureaucratic activities.10

The discipline or the field of study was introduced in 1952 by American scholars as part of American rehabilitation efforts of the country following its devastation from World War II and the grant of independence in 1946. Like Philippine bureaucracy and its administrative system,

10A more extensive discussion on Filipino culture and its impact and relevance on public administration is provided in Varela (1996, 2003).

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Development of Public Administration in the Philippines 351

the study and teaching of Public Administration11 in the Philippines was heavily influenced by the Americans, which established what could now be acknowledged as the first school of Public Administration in the country, and perhaps in Asia, the IPA in the University of the Philippines. The institute was set up under a technical agreement between the University of the Philippines and the University of Michigan.

Unlike American Public Administration, the discipline in the Philippines was not shaped as a result of fission from Political Science or any other social science discipline. It did not experience difficult episodes of struggling and justifying its legitimacy as a scholarly or academic discipline. It did not have a politics and administration dichotomy tradition, as its American counterpart. Rather, it came to the country as “an assembled product,” the discipline evolving as a product of “a natural response to a felt need,” as described by Lederle and Heady, who were part of the American team of scholars who started the IPA (Lederle and Heady, 1955: 8; also cited in Reyes, 2003a: 54). One scholar who helped establish the IPA in the Philippines, observed that public administration in the Philippines “combines to an exceptional degree the institutional patterns and behavioral characteristics of both Western and non-Western administrative systems” (Heady, 1957: 45).

It was a discipline that was introduced to meet the demands of a critical era that needed intervention and was thus designed to assume a service function to address the problems of Philippine bureaucracy at the time of its inception and it did not experience the painful crisis of identity, crisis of confidence or thought as that of the American Public Administration (Reyes, 2003a; 1993). Given that, the field of study in the Philippines assumed an eclectic or multi-disciplinary character.12 Public administration study in the country has been based on the influences of knowledge, techniques, and methods adopted from such other older disciplines as Political Science, Law, Economics, Sociology, and History among others. There is now a growing and respectable collection of literature that chronicles and examines the historical development of public administration in the Philippines, its bureaucracy and the civil service, and the influences and impact of the past (Reyes, 2003; Corpuz, 1957, 2003; de Guzman, 2003; Endriga, 1978, 1995, 2003; Delagoza, 1991; Tancangco, 1991; Abueva, 1988; Veneracion, 1988; De La Torre, 1986).

But perhaps the most salient feature of public administration, the profession and its practice, and that of Public Administration, the discipline or field of study in the Philippines, is that they came during critical periods of transition. The civil service in the Philippines and the bureaucracy that serves it was shaped following the end of the Filipino-American war at the turn of the twentieth century. This was a period of continuing pacification and consolidation as the American colonial government introduced a civil government. Likewise, the discipline emerged at a time of reconstruction and rehabilitation when the country had a full agenda toward national recovery and restoration of its institutions.

Today, public administration and the bureaucracy that practices it in the Philippines remains a vibrant and dynamic institution. It suffers, as in most bureaucracies of other countries, problems and perceptions of inefficiencies, incompetence, and corruption. These may well be impressions of citizens frustrated by negative experiences in their transactions with the bureaucracy, with all the rules, procedures, and processes that are imposed on them. More often, consumers’ expectations

11For convenience, this study adopts the distinction started by Waldo in 1968 where the discipline or the field of study is denoted by capital letters while the processes, practice, and the profession are put in lower case. Thus “Public Administration” refers to the discipline or field of study, while “public administration” to the processes and the dynamics. It should be noted that his earlier works did not use this as can be seen in the succeeding citation (see Waldo, 1968, 1975). See also Stillman (2000: 17, fn) and Reyes (1995: 57, end notes).

12More detailed discussions on the development of the discipline of Public Administration in the Philippines are also provided in Reyes (1995, 2003a), Alfi ler (1998), and Endriga (1995).

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352 Public Administration in Southeast Asia

of the bureaucracy are high. But it should also be acknowledged that the bureaucracy in the Philippines suffers from severe cases of understaffing, with an estimated 1.5 million civil servants servicing a population of over 82 million people.13 As it is, the bureaucracy also suffers from lack of funds, resources, and facilities in the performance of their functions.

17.11 Conclusions

This chapter has briefly presented the history, evolution, and context of the development of public administration practice and study in the Philippines. It has endeavored to present a discussion of the shaping of Philippine bureaucracy and the various influences that guided it into its present form, from the pre-colonial era to the colonial periods up to the present. In order to provide a better appreciation of the development of bureaucracy as an institution in the country, the milieu and context by which this development shaped has also been presented. The geographic location and demographic character of the country was discussed to provide a brief, perhaps passing, appreciation of the country as a whole. The prevailing values and norms practiced by the bureaucracy in the Philippines were also discussed to account for what the public administration in the Philippines has become and the forces that shaped it into becoming the institution it is in its present form. This account is by no means comprehensive, but it provides a quick reference of Philippine public administration today.

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