Written by Aries A. Arugay.
The Aquino Administration would like to believe that it has made strides in improving transparency and accountability. While there is empirical support for this, corruption is not the only gripping problem of Philippine democracy. There is also a need to improve government responsiveness, political inclusion, and popular participation. There is reason to believe that current political leadership has not paid attention to these dimensions of democracy. With this in mind, the 2016 elections should be an opportunity for the new administration to explore instituting political reforms by amending the 1987 Constitution.
Existing assessments of Philippine democracy reveal a current state of stagnation. Democratization, a process that was rebooted in 1986, seemed to be trapped in suspended animation. One study attributed this to the inability of the democratic regime to integrate different groups within society to the electoral process as well as policy-making. The long-list of identified challenges relate to dynastic politics, costly elections, clientelism, weak political parties, and the absence of meaningful public participation. The deficits, if not addressed, could worsen into a full-blown crisis of representation as seen in other countries, some of which descended into a downward spiral of polarization and instability.