Philippines

Although the Philippines has one of the largest and most vibrant civil societies in the world, there had not been significant engagement in policy dialogue within the population. To help address this problem, the Intiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD) hosted a Country Dialogue with its partner, Action for Economic Reforms (AER) in July 2001. The Forum, entitled "The Post-Estrada Agenda," included perspectives from a diverse group of stakeholders, including academics, civil society organizations, senior government officials, including former and present ministers and members of Congress, and political party representatives. Participants evaluated policy challenges facing the new Arroyo administration, proposed concrete policy alternatives, and established a diverse public dialogue on the issues.

This Country Dialogue had its roots in a November 2000 IPD fact-finding mission, an exercise that was part of its "Asian pilot technical assistance" project, funded by the Ford Foundation. This project became the basis for IPD's first country dialogue in the Philippines. To stimulate national dialogue, a group of local academics circulated a series of working papers, entitled "Yellow Paper II On the Agenda For Reforms in the Post-ERAP Era." Philippine academics worked with IPD and AER to synthesize these working papers into an integrated framework paper with specific policy proposals addressing fiscal reform, corruption and governance, privatization of electrical utilities, and jobless growth.

With these policy proposals as a basis for a national dialogue, IPD held a forum including academics, political representatives, and civil society groups. The ensuing discussions revealed a large disjuncture within the public on economic reform. The dialogue also succeeded in drawing the attention of the government to the debate over the handling of national reforms. Repeated and prominent news coverage of the forum moved discussion of policy alternatives to the center of the political agenda.

The forum's success can be measured by the participants' intention to continue working together to promote policy dialogue and to develop a program of more extensive civil society involvement. As part of the Yellow Paper II Group's desire to foster policy dialogue and enrich the policy debate, the group has maintained the "Yellow Pad," a weekly column in Business World that mirrors the Yellow Paper process that took place during the IPD dialogue. The column features discussions and opinion pieces on issues of relevance to the Philippine economy, and serves as a good medium for popularizing technical concepts. In addition, AER continues to invite groups to hone the dialogue that was initiated with Yellow Paper II and the Country Dialogue. For a full review of the policy debates please see the full Philippines Country Dialogue Notes.