Today is: Wed, May 22, 2013
The Philippines faces significant challenges in democracy and governance, particularly in strengthening rule of law. In the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, the country continues to underperform especially in fighting corruption and in safeguarding the independence and integrity of the judiciary. Strengthening Philippine democracy and governance would require greater transparency and accountability, increased political competition and an effective judicial system.
USAID engages a diverse set of stakeholders for a broad range of democracy and governance programs in the Philippines. USAID supports electoral reform, judicial reform and the rule of law, anticorruption, local governance, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-trafficking.
USAID's strategic approach to these challenges seeks to achieve results in these areas:
Judicial Reform and the Rule of Law
Local Governance and Conflict Resolution
Anti-Trafficking in Persons
Electoral Reform: USAID supported the first nationwide automated elections of the Philippines on May 10, 2010. USAID assisted the Commission on Elections in administering the national and local automated elections through training and exposure to international standards. Through USAID support, over 380,000 quick guides on election-day operations and troubleshooting were distributed to poll workers in all 76,000 precincts. USAID also supported voter education and mobilized more than 400,000 election monitors to cover the entire country. . To assist in resolving disputes under the new automated voting and canvassing procedure, USAID funds were used to train over 1,000 prosecutors and judges. Very recently, Freedom House described the May 2010 elections as one of the few noteworthy gains in a year in which global freedom suffered its fifth consecutive year of decline.
Judicial Reform and the Rule of Law: USAID supports the Philippine judiciary in promoting access to justice, improving the quality of justice, and strengthening judicial integrity. It supports the small claims court initiative, mandating more than 1,100 regular courts to hear small money claims in a speedier manner. Small claims courts resolve civil cases amounting to less than PhP100,000 (about $2,300) in a one-day hearing and without the need for lawyers. Through training and the provision of legal tools, USAID helps the Philippine judiciary in improving efficiency and the quality of justice. Guidelines for speedy trial, the uniform application of criminal sentences, bench books on all Philippine laws, and code of conduct for prosecutors and public attorneys are distributed through the court system with USAID support. USAID also provides office furniture and basic equipment for courts in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which are challenged by a serious lack of resources. USAID assists the Supreme Court in strengthening its whistleblowing policy and internal investigation capacity to detect corruption and abuse of judicial discretion.
Anti-corruption: USAID assists anticorruption offices in improving detection and deterrence of public sector corruption, and supports media and public vigilance. Technical support is provided for the improvement of records management and case tracking systems for greater transparency in the resolution of corruption cases. Support for research activities is helping shape debates in amending the bank secrecy, asset forfeiture and other anticorruption laws. Because fighting corruption requires coalition-building, USAID supports the cooperation of independent accountability offices (including the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit) for an inter-agency approach to investigation, audit and prosecution of corruption. USAID also contributes to building greater public awareness on corruption issues by supporting www.transparencyreporting.net, a web portal for responsible media reporting of corruption and various accountability efforts of civil society groups.
Local Governance: USAID helps local governments in Mindanao, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, improve fiscal responsibility, practice transparency and accountability, and deliver public services. USAID assists civil society organizations in engaging their local governments on decisions over the formulation, allocation and spending of local budgets. Support is also channeled to the leagues of municipal and city mayors for greater information and technology sharing and coordination. USAID sponsors policy fora to foment discussions and enhance policies to strengthen decentralization in the Philippines.
Conflict Resolution: In conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, USAID helps its partners in strengthening community-based dispute resolution mechanisms, which extend justice services to the poor and prevent clan disputes from escalating into violent conflict. In the last seven years, more than 11,000 volunteer mediators, trained with USAID support, have been mobilized. USAID also promotes the role of women in peace building, which is traditionally assigned to men. Close to a third of the trained peace advocates are women.
Human Rights and Anti-Trafficking: USAID funding for the promotion and protection of human rights is creating greater understanding in the judiciary and among human rights organizations of special remedies made available by the Supreme Court, such as the writs of amparo and habeas data, which allow victims of human rights abuses and their relatives to seek justice. USAID is strengthening the capacity of hundreds of prosecutors and judges to prosecute and adjudicate human rights cases, particularly those involving extra-legal killings and forced disappearances. USAID is also supporting the Commission on Human Rights to more effectively monitor and investigate human rights violations. In anti-trafficking, USAID supports the operation of eight halfway houses dedicated to rescuing and helping victims. To increase the government’s effectiveness in anti-trafficking enforcement, USAID provides training support to judges, prosecutors, private lawyers, and social workers. To promote public awareness and build public support against trafficking, USAID funds various media campaigns at the national and local levels.
Chief, Office of Economic Development and Governance
Tel. No. 301-6000; Fax No. 301-6213
DEMOCRACY and GOVERNANCE
- Success Stories
- Electoral Reform
- Judicial Reform and the Rule of Law
- Local Governance and Conflict Resolution
- Human Rights