Philippines Country Dialogue 2001
July 2, 2001
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, or cooperation between the various groups involved in policy making. To help address this problem, 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.
The 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. As part of the fact-finding visit, IPD conducted about 25 meetings with government officials, NGO leaders, and academics, and chose to partner with AER. Through this approach, IPD played an important role in encouraging diverse groups to work together.
As part of the preparation for the forum, a group of local academics wrote and then circulated a series of working papers, entitled "Yellow Paper II On the Agenda For Reforms in the Post-ERAP era." Economics professors from the University of the Philippines, La Salle University, and Ateneo University worked along with AER and IPD to compose the papers and synthesize them into an integrated framework paper (IFP) with specific policy proposals. The issues covered in the working papers included: fiscal reform, corruption and governance, privatization of electrical utilities, and jobless growth became the basis for the Dialogue.
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.