Public Policy under the microscope

Putting the fate of policy development and implementation in the hands of untrained and incompetent people is a crime against nation-building.

The creation and development of public policy is an essential function of government to meet and address current and forthcoming social concerns and challenges. The policymaking process is quite exhaustive and rigorous as it involves several phases, from agenda setting to policy maintenance, succession, or termination.

In recent days, however, the policies implemented by the Philippine Executive Branch have been under intense scrutiny for the alleged lack of due diligence and consultation, and for being a mere knee jerk reaction to prevailing social conditions. 

On 1 February 2021, President Duterte signed Executive Order 124 imposing a 60-day price ceiling on pork and chicken products in Metro Manila. While the move considers the best interest of the consumers, hog and poultry industry groups and market vendors have cried foul over the price cap and threatened to stop selling pork and chicken products due to potential losses. On the following day, however, the Department of Agriculture deferred its implementation to 8 February 2021 as a so-called grace period to allow vendors to sell their stocks. It is not clear whether this adjustment was brought about by the immense pressure coming from industry players.

The Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Law (Republic Act 11229) took effect on 2 February 2021, which requires a child restraint system in private vehicles to prevent potential injuries in case of a crash and disallows children 12 years and below to sit in the front seat of a private vehicle. Even with its good intentions, however, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), as well as the education components of the law seem to be weak and unclear. As a result, the new law has created confusion and been met with much apprehension by the public. Furthermore, the period of implementation for the law seems to be ill-timed considering that the purchase of car seats would be too much for middle class families to cover during this pandemic.

Good intentions are never enough in public policy development. There are various stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of a policy; hence the consultation process should be encompassing and all-inclusive. This is following the logic of "what may be good for one may not be good for the other."

The crafting of a clear IRR is paramount to the success of a law. IRRs should be consistent with the law, science-based to ensure that decisions are based on data, and understandable to ensure full public compliance.

There are several ingredients in ensuring the sound development and implementation of policies and laws. Each of the elements in the policy development process is critical to its success; hence policy makers should not take shortcuts in the roll-out of policies and laws.

Most importantly, policymaking is a tedious process which requires the skills of expert professionals. This is the very reason why the appointment of competent public officials is critical in governance. 

Putting the fate of policy development and implementation in the hands of untrained and incompetent people is a crime against nation-building. Think well this 2022!

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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