Where is transparency in gov’t metrics?

By: Solita Collas-Monsod - @inquirerdotnet - Columnist/Inquirer.net | September 12,2020 - 08:00 AM

As I reported to you earlier, Reader, the Philippine Development Plan 2017-22, whose priorities admittedly (by President Duterte himself in its foreword) were guided by his 0+10 point Socio-Economic Agenda, has an accompanying Results Matrix.

The Philippine Statistics Authority issues the Statistical Indicators on Philippine Development (StatDev), which is published July every year, where the performance of the government is evaluated with respect to its Plan targets. The Duterte administration is now in its fifth year. Before the advent of COVID-19, i.e., as of the end of 2019, its performance, according to the StatDev, was mediocre.

No, StatDev wasn’t that direct. In fact, for 2019, it did not make a finding (the first time since 2005, when it began). It said the evaluation was preliminary. But it showed its calculations: 46 percent of the Plan’s sectoral targets had a high likelihood of being achieved (greater than 0.9), 43 percent of the targets had a low likelihood of being achieved (less than 0.5), and 11 percent of the targets had a medium likelihood (0.5-0.9). The sectors least likely to achieve their targets were agriculture, social protection, human capital development, justice, and governance. So you make the judgment, Reader.

You would be impressed if you read the PDP, Reader. It has overall goals and targets, and then it has 16 sectors/chapters, classified under three “Pillars”—Malasakit, Pagbabago, and Patuloy na Pagunlad—together with an enabling and supportive economic environment and built upon strong foundations for sustainable development.

Under enhancing the social fabric (“Malasakit”), there is governance, administration of justice, and Philippine culture and values. Under inequality-reducing transformation (“Pagbabago”) are included agriculture, industry and services, human capital development, social protection, and shelter/housing. Under increasing growth potential (“Patuloy na Pagunlad”) are the demographic dividend and science, technology, and innovation. All with separate chapters.

That’s not all: Under an enabling and supportive economic environment are sound macroeconomic policy and national competitiveness. And under foundations for sustainable development are included a just and lasting peace, security, public order and safety, infrastructure development, and environment.

Quite a mouthful, huh, Reader? All of them, except for two chapters, have separate targets contained in the Results Matrix that accompanies the Plan. You have to hand it to this administration. It knows how to talk the talk. But from the above results as reported by StatDev, it has failed to walk the walk.

What makes the above statements more problematic is that the two sectors which have no published targets are Ch. 17, “A Just and Lasting Peace,” and Ch. 18, “Ensuring Security, Public Order, and Safety.” The reason given for this lapse is that these involve issues of national security (!), so presumably only the military, the Philippine National Police, and President Duterte can be in the loop. I kid you not, Reader. That’s the reason given. And yet, these two chapters, per the PDP, “constitute the bedrock of the 0+10 Socioeconomic Agenda of the administration.”

Which naturally leads to the next question: If it is the bedrock, and if we don’t know how strong that bedrock is, how can the administration claim any success at all, without any metric to measure it against? Where is transparency?

Let’s get down to brass tacks. In Ch. 18, which covers the President’s drug war, the PDP, using Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency data, talks of a baseline (2016) of 4 million drug users, 47 percent of barangays being drug-affected, and three illegal transnational drug groups. Wouldn’t it have been rather simple to determine how many drug users there were in 2017, 2018, 2019? Or how many illegal transnational groups there are now? Just to find out whether the money we are spending has been put to good use. What are the national security issues involved?

And the PNP now has a proposed budget of P196 billion. How can we be sure its performance on criminality and drugs is improved if it refuses to share with us the measures of its success or failure, on the grounds of national security? Are we throwing good money after bad?


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