Governance, whose responsibility?

Dr. Conchita L. ManabatIn a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of.

In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.


A forum speaker once shared a story that goes this way:

When God created the world, He specifically considered the Philippines very special. He made it a tropical country, endowed it with rich natural resources, planned its history with various interventions from the different rulers of the world, provided its people with good intellect and features, and gave the people free will. After several centuries and turn-over of presidents (in the last four decades, from dictator to housewife/first woman president, to military man to actor to economist-politician, to son of the country’s first woman president), beset with a lot of crises and problems, the Filipinos prayed so hard and asked God for good government. In His usual gentle manner, God replied, “You are so special that I provided you with all the things you need. I am sorry but governance is the only thing you have to do!”

Funny as it may seem, but the story has a lot to say. We have used and abused our natural resources. It is because of this that we have caused a lot of maladies. From the different foreign rulers, we learned the bad habits and chose to keep them. We got the religion but do not practice it. We got the education and the intellect but selfishly use them to the detriment of the majority. Patriotism is a strange thing.

I remember in one of my trips, I was seated beside a bureaucrat from Taipei. He relayed to me that in the 1960s, he made his first trip to the Philippines as his government’s delegate to an international meeting. He was amazed at the Philippine development then. He thought the organizers of the meeting extremely valued his presence that they arranged for glass doors to open and close as soon as he approached the front doors of the venue of the meeting. He had his first paper napkin from Philippine Airlines and embarrassingly asked for some more from the stewardess so that he could share them with his colleagues back home. The Filipinos could manage English very well and could be at par with the world’s top businessmen. The Philippines seemed to have everything.

Now, he said that his country has more than automatic glass doors and paper napkins. I died a little when he compared our development to Taiwan’s, a jurisdiction that once looked up to the Philippines.

Yes, we have wealth, yet it is with a few. And, yes, we have poverty among the majority of the populace. We just celebrated our independence day. As a people, we should discern more and work together for our dear country, the Philippines.  It is the only country we have.


Dr. Conchita L. Manabat is the president of the Development Center for Finance and a trustee of the Finex Research and Development Foundation. A past chairman of the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes, she now serves as the chairman of the Advisory Council of the said organization. She is also a member of the Consultative Advisory Groups of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants. She can be reached at


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