The Galing Pook Awards in The Philippines,
For a petite woman, Bulacan governor
Josefina dela Cruz packs a lot of dynamism and passion, not to mention,
sense. Unlike the traditional politicians who want their constituents to
be heard only come election time, Governor dela Cruz is feedback-crazy.
“Ang hirap sa politico, napapaligiran kami ng mga sipsip. Hindi tuloy
namin nalalaman kung ano ang tama. (Our problem as politicians is that
we are surrounded by people who always want to please us. We have no way
of knowing what’s right.),” she says.
These people, she says, understandably
have their own vested interests and agendas. They isolate the
politicians from their constituency, and render policy making a
hit-or-miss affair. “We wanted something more scientific… The sentiment
of those who speak is not necessarily the sentiment of those who choose
to be quiet. So our dilemma is, how do we know what the people really
want?” she argues.
Under the Constituent Responsive
Governance project, the Bulacan provincial government used the survey
research method to get a truly representative citizen’s feedback on
projects. By doing so, chances for costly mistakes are minimized.
Four programs and projects were
pre-tested: the health insurance program, solid waste disposal, feedback
on real property tax billing statement, and the acceptability of a
community radio. In each case, the provincial government found that the
surveys lessened the chance for mistakes.
A case in point is health insurance.
The survey showed only 35% of Bulacan households were aware of what
health insurance was all about yet some were still not insured. This
showed the need for a health insurance system in the province. However,
respondents were concerned about the premiums they have to shell out
every month and the extent of coverage for beneficiaries. Thus, they
were also polled on the price they were willing to pay for health
Based on these findings, the
provincial government launched on February 24, 2000 the “Medicare Para
Sa Masa, Kalusugan Mo Katulong Ako” program. The local government,
however, chose not to heed one of the findings in the survey: for the
province to set up its own health insurance system instead of getting
Philhealth, the national healthcare provider.
Two years after the program was
launched, the provincial government realized the high cost it is paying
for Philhealth premiums. The governor now regrets the decision to go on
with the program against the findings of the survey.
Another poll was on the acceptability
of the community radio station. Through pre-testing, the provincial
government found out that while most Bulakeños get their information
from the radio, they tune in to stations that have music, as well as
news and information. This enabled the provincial government to change
the station’s programming to suit its constituency’s tastes and
Through the survey research method,
Bulacan has placed project planning into a higher plane, one that sets
aside political interests.
“Surveys make decisions apolitical,”
Governor dela Cruz says. Proof that it is not politically costly, she
says, is the fact that “I’m still here.”