Saturday, April 4, 2009

Comparative Development Administration:Marikina

By Prof. Sofronio “Toti” Dulay, DPA student, UP NCPAG

As a student who was never late nor absent in the class of Dean Alex Brillantes, I have the privilege of listening to all group reports. Out of several reports, I decided to write on topics that the class finds interesting, even tried to documents the reactions of the class.

The report of Student Regent Candidate Dr. Joey Montemayor and company talks about the “Study of Development Administration: Origins and Rationale, Key Concepts and Approaches”. The group defined public administration as the body of skills needed by those implementing decisions for proper governance of the modern state organizations. Public administration involves processes, hierarchies and products on the system of governance. The group defines government as an organizational machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and perform functions. The group picked up Tadaro’s definition of development which is a multi dimensional process involving the reorganization and reorientation of the entire economic and social system for the improvement of human lives. Then it picked up the definition of G. F. Gant for development administration which is the focus of administration on the support and management of development. The reaction of the class on their report, by me particularly and later expounded by Mayor Dindo Garciano, is: among the different and varied definitions the group presented, which definition is the “official” or the one they are recommending. These questions triggered the celebrated heated argument between Dr. Joey Montemayor and Mayor Dindo Garciano, both defeated congressional candidates in the last elections. I tried to define development administration in a very generic and simplistic way that an ordinary guy can use it in a normal conversation. Grammatically, development administration should mean; administration of development, but doctoral students, especially of UP, will look you down if you define it this way, as lacking of intellectual rigor. (Yeah right, but full of common sense.) Well, using the terms of the reporters and well, common sense, it says that development is a holistic improvement of a system or subject. And administration is a body of skills needed by those who implement decisions. Combining the two, development administration, in a generic sense, is an application of a body of skills needed to improve a system or a subject, or to be exact, Tadaro’ human lives.

The report of the group leaves a lot of us wanting for more…basically because it was peppered by a heated debate, but otherwise, some of us need clarity. It forces some of us to read more, for clarity. What is the point having a lot of confused concepts in mind that you can not even tell in one sentence and in simple English to your son. One good thing about this is that the next group, the group of Awele and company, whose topic “The Concept of Development Administration: Political, Economic and Cultural” - attempted to be precise. Their operational definition of development is the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) by 2015 plus the improvement on the quantitative index as a measure of development. The index they are referring is the Human Development Index (HDI). Well, that is a lot common sense. If MDG’s are wrong after a lot of things they has gone through to arrive at, then, what else is correct? The second group seems to have learned a lesson or two from the experience of the previous group by skirting confusion and be as direct and specific as possible. The group enumerated the 8 MDG’s and assessed which among them are about to be successfully addressed globally. (It was noted that if you as the Philippine government if it can attain its MDG’s, it will answer yes.) One thing nice about the group report is that from specific, they were able to venture into the realm of a wide array of development theories like the classical economics of Adam Smith, the Malthusian theory, Keynesian theory, Rostow, structuralisms and world system theory, institutionalization, neo-classical economy, and human development theory.

The next group is the group of Rey Chang and company which talk about “Enhancing Effectiveness through Targeted Interventions: Alternative Approaches to Development.” I was privy to the preparations of the group including the internal power struggles of the members by virtue of my availability to listen to the woes of my classmates. The group talks about global development trends: economic development, sustainable development, and good governance, and now, local economic development. It also talks about the building blocks of development: growth and structural change, distributive equity, modernization, political transformation, demographic characteristics, education and health, employment, etc. Then the group talks about a topic that interest me a lot, Hernando de Soto’s Mysteries of Capital. I contributed my piece in support of the topic, that after Bayani Fernando gave titled homes to 11,000 Marikenos, these former squatters gained economic weapon – they can now go to a pawnshop and collateral their title for a sum to be used for education. The Dean asked me if the Fernando’s are aware of the concepts of Hernando de Soto. I said that maybe yes, but it is also probable that Bayani Fernando just used common sense. A student Mike de Jesus said that De Soto actually visited the Philippines and was once an adviser of President Fidel V. Ramos. Then came the presentation of ex-Mayor Dindo Garciano of Baras town of Rizal Province about his approach in governance. What is pointedly revealing is the question of Dean Brillantes on why does this Garciano lost in the election and what now is the prospect of the sustainability of his programs. Garciano said that he lost because his opponent, his former vice mayor, has a bigger clan and he thinks that his program will never be sustained by the new mayor. So, it is not about programs after all in politics. Also, one thing that will not be continued is his vision mission statement because it has the acronym of D.I.N.D.O.

Another group that I like is the one that reported about “The Elements of Development Administration: Structural Dimension” by Ines Basaen and company. The group talks about centralization, decentralization, federalism and unitary form of government. The topic becomes hot because of Cha Cha and the move for federalism being pushed by some quarters.

My group which talked about “Behavioral Dimension: Alternative and Roles of Development Administrators”, was the first group to bring a resource speaker in the class: Mayor Marides Fernando of Marikina City. The Dean later summarized her talked by saying that she is practicing politics by cosmetics: you have to show people something for them to change behavior in return.

The last group of Bengson and company talked about “Leadership and Development: Context, Theories, Dimensions and Dilemmas.” They talked about the quadrant of thinkers: the technocrats, the administrators, the people person, the visionary and the holistic guy. The group brought Tony Meloto as the resource speaker which I found to be very paradoxical and credible. The Dean noticed one of the paradoxes: to be powerful is not to seek for power.

As a whole, I learned a lot from this of the best class I ever had in DPA in terms of rigor.

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