gilbert lumantao policy research office
CFG-PRO Director Gilbert Lumantao delivered the Opening remarks to the Thursday Talks conducted last 29 April 2021 with 138 new and returning participants from the Philippine Congress

The DAP Center for Governance-Policy Research Office launched its Thursday Talks Webinar Series under the 2021 Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff (CBILLS) Program last April 29, 2021. The first installment of the Thursday Talks entitled “Road Towards Herd Immunity: Where Does the Philippines Stand?” had speakers from University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center, the Department of Health, and the Asian Development Bank.

Dr. Marc Edsel Ayes from the UP – Philippine Genome Center described the implications of the emerging COVID variants in public health policies and the current vaccination program of the government. He stressed the need to reach herd immunity thru vaccination as we move forward to live with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concurrent Director of Health Promotion and Communication Service and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the DOH, Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, said that the Philippines could achieve herd immunity by working hand-in-hand with non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. She said that it is vital to have shared ownership in disseminating COVID-19 response strategies and verified information. She cited current examples of online materials and traditional media used to convey information and guides for medical and non-medical heads and local government leaders.

Lastly, Dr. Eduardo Banzon, Principal Health Specialist from the Asian Development Bank shared his insights on the socio-economic effects of the pandemic especially on badly hit industries such as the tourism sector. He pointed out the need to look into the possibility of yearly vaccinations and its impacts on the current vaccination strategy of the country and the COVID-19 situation in five years.

Top L-R: Dr. Beverly Ho from the Department of Health and Dr. Eduardo Banzon from Asian Development Bank. Bottom L-R: Dr. Mark Ayes from UP Philippine Genome Center and Dr. Albert Domingo, a health systems specialist served as the webinar moderator. Photo collage by Natalie Joy Narciso

The Thursday Talks, implemented from June to November 2021, is one of the three components under the 2021 CBILLS Program that aims to broaden participants’ perspectives on key trends in socio-political and economic spheres of the country and deepen their understanding of these impacts on governance.

CBILLS Program learners may access the talks through the Zoom platform while the non-CBILLS participants and the public can participate in the webinar through the live stream from Policy Research Office Facebook Page at – written by Jeannine Tan, edited by Maria Rosario Ablan

The Development Academy of the Philippines, in partnership with the Asian Productivity Organization, conducted the APO Course on Development of Public-Sector Productivity Specialists held virtually on March 1-5. Twenty-nine representatives from APO member countries attended the online workshop. The workshop aimed to introduce concepts, issues, tools, and strategies related to public-sector productivity improvement.

Dr. Lizan E. Perante-Calina, Dean of the Graduate School of Public and Development Management of DAP, rendered the welcome remarks. Dr. Perante-Calina emphasized the role of public-sector organizations in improving the overall quality of life as the world faces many interlocking societal issues. 

Throughout the five-day course, the resource persons shared their expertise and mentored the participants on public-sector productivity. Dr. Shin Kim, Director & Senior Research Fellow of Center for International Public Cooperation of the Korea Institute of Public Administration, talked about the public sector role and global trends in improving productivity, performance management, e-government, and regulatory reform. 

Dr. Brian Marson, Co-Founder and Senior Fellow of the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service in Canada discussed public sector leadership and change management, citizen-centric service, development of productivity improvement plan, and approaches for improving organizational productivity. Lastly, VicePresident Arnel D. Abanto, Productivity and Development Center of DAP, explained measuring public-sector productivity, particularly identifying key considerations and appropriate methodology in estimating PSP.

On November 2013, the Philippines was struck by Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest and most destructive tropical cyclone in Philippine recorded history. The typhoon took 6,300 lives and affected 1.48 million families in addition to causing approximately $2 billion in damages. The resulting destruction in provinces such as Eastern Samar, Leyte, Quezon, Capiz, Iloilo, Aklan and Antique required evacuation operations care of local government units  and intensive relief and rehabilitation operations by the combined efforts of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Office Of Civil Defense (OCD), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), various non-government organizations and civilian aid. The NBI had been charged with handling natural disasters while the Philippine National Police (PNP) is charged with missing persons and human-induced disasters.

Photo from
Just two weeks after the incident, almost two thousand bodies had been recovered from affected areas, a number that would continue to increase as relief and recovery operations continued. Majority of the bodies died through drowning or were hit by falling objects from collapsed structures. Retrieval of bodies was conducted with the assistance of the PNP and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), while external examinations, standard data collection, and body identification were conducted by teams from DOH and NBI. Fifty percent of the bodies received in the collection center were examined by the DOH team, while the remainder was processed by the NBI. Only fourteen percent were identified through personal belongings while reports estimate thirty three to eighty nine percent of the bodies have remained unidentified prior to mass burial for sanitation purposes. Failure to identify a huge proportion of the recovered bodies was a massive disappointment to both the public and the families of the victims, which subsequently led to a decrease in public trust in the bureaucracy. This failure was attributed to poor post-disaster management planning, along with the lack of a common database and a single identification algorithm across agencies. The lack of guidelines and procedures in the management of bodies made it extremely difficult to cross-reference information between autopsy details and missing persons reports. These events prompted the creation of a Unified Workflow for the NBI and other agencies involved in Disaster Victim Identification proposed by Dr. Arjay Jeresano, a medico legal officer of the NBI. The Workflow complements the National Policy on the Management of the Dead and the Missing Persons During Emergencies and Disasters. During a disaster, the MDM cluster is activated followed by the deployment of field commanders and post-mortem teams to the affected sites, sampling and collection, identification process, ante-mortem team deployment, matching of identities, and reconciliation of bodies with their respective families. The project earned the title of Most Collaborative Re-Entry Project from DAP.
(Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)
The Unified Workflow of the NBI was applies SECI Model of Organizational Knowledge Creation (Nonaka and Takeuchi 1996) which involves four ways in which knowledge types can be combined and converted: 1) The sharing and creation of tacit knowledge through direct experience; 2) Learning and acquiring new tacit knowledge in practice; 3) Articulating tacit knowledge through dialogue and reflection; and 4) Systemizing and applying explicit knowledge and information. The model is based on two types of knowledge – explicit and tacit. Tacit knowledge is held by individuals and is not readily expressed or transferred such as things we can explain but have not externalized while explicit knowledge is knowledge that has been articulated and expressed, or knowledge that comes from inside and outside the organization that has been combined. The fundamental quality of the SECI Model is the transformation of the two types of knowledge into meaningful information for a specific purpose, best exemplified in this case by the system of post-mortem data collection and identification.  Through this new system, agencies will have a set of guidelines to follow to significantly decrease the number of unidentified bodies in future disasters.
The SECI model (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995).
Knowledge management, along with inter-agency coordination and planning, can save lives and maintain order in times of disasters. The establishment of systems, guidelines and procedures remain crucial in improving organizational productivity, maintaining the quality of service delivery and excellence in any organization.

“The only way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” – Winston Churchill

The concept of the employee suggestion scheme (ESS) is quite simple. Employees are encouraged to share creative ideas for improvement and innovation in the organization. Through the ESS, two-way communication between the employees and the management is established. This increases the productivity and consequently improves the quality of products and services of the organization.

Designed by Pressfoto / Freepik
Acceptable suggestions can be on improvements in own work or of the entire working environment, savings in energy, labor, materials and other resources, improvement in processes and practices, improvement on tools and equipment, and improvement in safety. On the other hand, company policies, compensation and benefits, disputes, and criticisms are out of the scope of an ESS. There are two types of employee suggestion scheme: traditional (top down approach) and kaizen teian (bottom up approach). The traditional way involves soliciting suggestions with high impact and giving rewards to employees who contributed to increased financial performance of the organization. Meanwhile, kaizen teian which literally means “improvement proposal” focuses on small, incremental and continuous improvements. Implementing ESS, however, involves more than just putting up a suggestion box and waiting for employees to drop-in their suggestions. An ESS usually consists of four major components:

  1. Encouraging people at all levels to participate – From the head of the organization to front line employees, each member’s role is crucial to the growth of the organization.
  2. Motivate employees to write proposals – Employees should be empowered to submit proposals regardless of their position in the organization. Every suggestion must be fairly reviewed and evaluated.
  3. Review, evaluate and implement – Identifying who should evaluate the proposals is a critical step. It is not recommended to make the direct supervisor the evaluators of ESS because it might be biased. What most organizations do is to create a committee who reviews the proposals, make decisions on which suggestions should be adopted, and inform the employees of the results of their suggestions.
  4. Award payments and/or commendations – Will you give cash incentives for a helpful suggestion? Cash rewards may be effective but there are also other types of incentive such as vouchers, paid holidays, merchandise (watches, t-shirts, jackets, etc.) Regardless of what type of incentive it will be, it should be enough to encourage the employees to contribute towards productivity and innovation.Successful implementation of an ESS highlights a culture committed to building collaboration, teamwork and worker empowerment by focusing people. To guarantee the success of an ESS, the following factors have to be considered:
  •  Obtaining the management buy-in;
  • Forming an ESS committee, and defining its roles and functions;
  • Defining the suggestion process;
  •  Promoting the suggestion system to all employees; and,
  • Establishing an evaluation and awards systems.

Designed by fanjianhua / Freepik

Total Quality Management has its roots in industrial engineering disciplines. The concept originated when Walter Shewhart developed the statistical process control and applied it to product quality control. It was adopted and further developed in Japan in 1940s when Edward Deming and Joseph Juran visited the country and applied the method to increase the quality of products while also involving everyone in the organization. Shown below is Deming’s idea of TQM: The successes of TQM in various sectors are well documented. In recent years, TQM has been attracting attention among public sector organizations as citizens become more demanding of governments to do more with less. In Japan, for example, the government has adopted the PDCA (plan, do, check, action) cycle and it has since become part of the policy formulation process. TQM is a holistic management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction. The focus is on improving the quality of outputs, either goods or services, through continual improvement of internal processes. Apart from implementing new methods and software solutions, TQM also requires a change in culture.  However, many organizations are unable to start this transformation unless they are faced with a disaster or are forced by their customers. There are five basic principles of TQM.

  1. Quality oriented – The mission and vision of the organization must be balanced with its own needs and of the citizens. The leadership must have a political will to establish policies that are supportive of TQM.
  2. Customer focused– One of the goals of TQM is to ensure that you meet and exceed customer’s satisfaction. In defining its processes and functions, the organization must always consider its customers’ point of view.
  3. Total employment involvement – Top management support is imperative and is pivotal in the implementation of TQM. In addition, the role of the employees in TQM is very different from the traditional view. TQM employees are empowered to make decisions, and their suggestions and contributions are highly valued by the management.
  4. Continuous process improvement – TQM revolves around the philosophy of never ending improvement. Since the customers’ expectations are always changing, there is a need to always improve results in all aspects of work, to harness the capabilities of the employees, and to enhance processes and technology.
  5. Performance measures – An organization should manage its TQM initiatives based on facts and not on gut feelings. There must be an established baseline to assess the results from improvement.

In implementing TQM in the public sector, factors such as political environment, financial limitations, and old paradigms must be addressed first.  The focus should not be on short term but on long term goals with cohesive vision of systemic change. Most importantly, the success of TQM hinges on the improvement of the whole organization and not just the performance on selected components.

In this era of continuous change – where technological, societal and economic changes are accelerating at an exceptional pace—there is a rising challenge for sustainability in the uncertain future. While technological advancements escalate, traditional strategies and processes fall behind. The public sector needs to shift its stance from reactive to proactive in able to surf the trends and exploit opportunities to better serve its citizenry.

Designed by fanjianhua / Freepik
While the Philippine government has established systems to identify and manage risks, another dimension that needs to be looked into is actively taking advantage of prospects and developments. Future thinking not only requires recognizing risks and opportunities, but rather anticipating and embracing change. In enhancing an organization’s agility, flexibility and adaptability to deviations, scenario planning identifies the driving forces, critical uncertainties, and forward inferences to develop plans for multiple scenarios. As Peter Schwartz, author of The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, said, scenarios are a tool for helping us take the long view in a world of great uncertainty. Strategic foresight explores these uncertainties and formulates potential pathways or strategies. It has three approaches to developing scenario sets: (1) Deductive Approach; (2) Incremental Approach; and (3) Inductive Approach. Deductive approach constructs a matrix from two uncertainties and uses the axes as driving forces to deduce four scenarios for four quadrants of the matrix. Incremental approach alters a few key variables of a definite future and identifies alternatives. Lastly, inductive approach clusters various uncertainties to formulate stories and possible futures.
Designed by fanjianhua / Freepik
Being the sole provider of basic citizens’ services, governments should be at the forefront of change in order to deliver in the best interests of the citizens. Moving from traditional planning to prospective analysis and scenarios, strategic foresight strengthens public sector organizations to promote good governance, innovation, strategic evaluation, and proactive shaping of the future. Truly, foresight is key to sustainable productivity.

Majority of the Filipino populace have only achieved a secondary school diploma or a technical vocational education and training certificate, with only 20.83% of the labor force having a college degree as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority in its 2016 Labor Force Survey. The minute percentage of enrollees and graduates in tertiary education is caused by its high financial and opportunity costs. While Filipino families may value education, the pressing burden of expenses outweighs the advantages of investment in further studies. Unfortunately, this not only decreases the opportunity of economic progress for the family through better employment and higher income, but it also affects the country’s capacity and productivity.

Photo credit: Business World Philippines
In an effort to reach the unmet demand for education, the province of Albay initiated a gallant investment of PHP 30 million annually to its Education Quality for Albayano (EQUAL) scholarship program in 2nd district of Albay Representative Joey Salceda’s vision to have a college graduate for every Albayano family. The program paved way for the introduction of a sustainable higher education funding system for its citizens with proven results of poverty reduction. House Bill No. 5315 and No. 2771 was later introduced in the House of Representative to operationalize the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) which was then signed into law on August 13, 2017 as Republic Act No. 10931. Aiming for equitable providence of all Filipinos for quality tertiary education in both private and public educational institutions, it prioritizes academically-able students coming from poor families. The act contains five key components: (1) Free higher education in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs); (2) Free higher education in Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs); (3) Free technical-vocational education and training in post-secondary Technical-Vocational institutions (TVIs); (4) Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for Filipino Students; and (5) Student Loan Program (SLP) for Tertiary Education. The PHP 40 billion addition to the budget of the education sector is an investment for the future. For education’s direct link to employment and productivity curtails how it is a critical determinant for upward mobility and forthcoming overall standard of living. The investment made today will reap exponentially for every Filipino.

Productivity is simply measured by the ratio of outputs over inputs, and the level of productivity is a fundamental determinant of performance. This translates to the everyday standard of living based on the country’s nationwide performance, or the quality of public goods and services delivered grounded on the government’s productive use of tax collected. Recognizing the significance of productivity, in 1961, the Philippines joined seven other Asian countries in establishing the Asian Productivity Organization which aims to contribute to the sustainable socioeconomic development of Asia and the Pacific through enhancing productivity. Since then various productivity programs were introduced, an annual observation of National Quality and Productivity Month in October was celebrated, and Executive Order No. 395 Approving and Adopting the National Action Agenda for Productivity (NAAP) and Creating the Philippine Council for Productivity was signed in 1997. This was continued by the Medium-Term National Action Agenda for Productivity (MTNAAP) in the early 2000s with the Philippine Quality Award (PQA) institutionalized by Republic Act No. 9013. While the concepts of productivity were introduced in the Philippines in the 1970s, its Total Factor Productivity (TFP) ran an overall negative growth from the period of 1970 to 1990 and only became positive for the period of 1990 to 2013 with an average growth of 1.1%. While the productivity outlook of the Philippines is incrementally increasing, it is still lagging behind its neighboring countries. Several productivity challenges deter the country’s growth, and these are categorized as systems, technology, workforce, equipment, and governance. Complicated structures and burdensome regulations require systems reengineering and process improvement. Aligning to international standards and maximizing cross-functional coordination responds to a more customer-centric process and result to a more efficient and more seamless transaction. The anemic use of productivity enhancing technologies also hinders the opportunities of the digital age to harmonize service delivery and innovate for value creation. This era of change demands modernizing job competencies and increased measurement of productivity performance coupled with the development of knowledge productivity and innovative capacity. The surge of technologies and equipment also strain the necessity for an escalated productivity and quality consciousness and a new form of leadership and policies. As the productivity movement in the Philippines began in 1960s with its official declaration of commitment to productivity improvement, it has then created institutions, built partnerships, introduced program initiatives and developed frameworks and policies in the pursuit for increased national productivity. Up to this day, productivity is treated as priority indicating a Subsector Target Outcome of “Seamless Service Delivery Achieved” under Chapter 5 of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 with the following strategies: (1) adopt a whole-of-government approach in delivery of key services; (2) implement regulator reforms; and (3) improve productivity of the public sector. Together with various national agencies and high impact productivity and innovation programs, the Philippine government aims to be responsive to the needs of its people by efficiently and effectively delivering public goods and services. Good public service results in citizen satisfaction and public trust and confidence thereby ultimately improving competitiveness and nationwide performance.

“Our people, through their taxes, provide the lifeblood of the government. They are the reason for the government’s very existence.”

– President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the National Budget for FY 2017

  On July 20, 2012, Executive Order No. 80 directed the adoption of the Performance Based-Incentive System (PBIS), a nation-wide, integrated incentive system emphasizing individual performance and contributions to the accomplishments of agency targets, computed based on percentage of individual salary in the form of either Performance Based Bonus (PBB) or the Productivity Enhancement Incentives (PEI). Formalized through Administrative Order No. 25 s. 2011, the defining nature of the PBIS is its goal of building foundations of a performance culture and a habit of excellence, and to recognize and reward delivery units based on performance results. The system aims to restore confidence of the Filipino people in the capacity of public servants to make people’s lives better, safer and healthier.

PBB Orientation with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)
Entitlement to performance-based bonuses is determined through the Results-Based Performance Monitoring System (RBPMS), a unified system to integrate the efforts of the government agencies relative to the five key result areas set by the President.  The bonuses and incentives are sourced from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) after accomplishment of the PBIS eligibility criteria and submission of accomplishment reports to the task force. The rankings are done by unit heads, with objective templates to be filled out and collated for evaluation. The implementation of the PBIS is handled by the AO 25 Inter-Agency Task Force chaired by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and co-chaired by the Office of the Executive Secretary. Members of the task force include the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DOF) and partner agencies responsible for implementation, with OP and DBM as lead. Monitoring of agency compliance and performance scorecards are made available online. Since its implementation in 2012, the PBIS has been subjected to several phases of development, with performance indicators and targets reflected in the Organizational Performance Indicator Framework (OPIF) Book of Outputs. Through the PBIS and RBPMS, the government sought to strengthen performance management through the harmonization of existing performance monitoring, establishment of appraisal and reporting systems, veering away from across-the-board bonuses and linking incentives with results that matter to citizens. Within five years, the number of participant agencies increased from 184 out of 191 agencies in 2012 to 273 out of 307 agencies in 2017. This includes government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), state-owned universities and colleges (SUCs), and other executive offices (OEOs). PBBs are granted on the condition that physical targets, conditions for good governance, and performance management conditions are met. Physical targets include priority program targets, major financial outputs, support to operations and general administrative support services; conditions for good governance which include the establishment of a transparency seal, posting of bid notices and awards on the website of the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS), liquidation of all cash advances of officials and employees, and the establishment of a Citizen’s Charter or its equivalent. The third condition, performance management, involves the cascading of targets, System of Rating and Ranking (SRR) and communication and change management. The eligibility of an agency to be entitled to the PBB system includes considerations such as the Major Final Outputs (MFO) Targets under the Performance Informed Budget (PIB) of the GAA, Targets for Support to Operations (STO) and the General Administration and Support (GASS) Targets which include the Budget Utilization Rate (BUR), compliance to the Public Financial Management (PFM) reporting requirements of the COA, and ISO-aligned documentation of at least one core process. In the future, the government hopes to further refine the PBIS by introducing tighter requirements on performance incentives, conduct review and validation processes, increase collaboration between agencies, streamline government transactions and most important of all, to build the capacity of public servants. All these share the goal of reforming culture and mindsets on government work and delivering meaningful results to citizens.

In line with the spirit of innovation and good governance, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) pilot-tested the Strategic Performance Management System (SPMS). It was developed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), approved on March 04, 2011 through CSC Resolution No. 1100224, and implemented through DOLE Administrative Order No. 114, s. 2011. The SPMS was made effective beginning March 28, 2011 and is currently being implemented in other agencies as well.

Photo from Dole Ilocos Region
The SPMS is a core performance management tool aimed to improve the efficiency and productivity of DOLE employees through performance monitoring and feedback, in line with the Aquino administration’s 22-point labor and employment principles. The SPMS synchronizes the evaluation of individual and organizational performance and provides performance-based allowances and incentives based on this evaluation. The system aims to: 1) Institutionalize a scientific and verifiable basis in assessing organizational performance and the collective performance of individuals within the DOLE; 2) Concretize the link of the Department’s Strategic Plan and Organizational Performance Indicator Framework (OPIF) with the performance of its offices and individual employees; and, 3) Use one platform to link performance management with other HR systems.
Photo from Dole Ilocos Region
The system essentially focuses on individual performance in relation to the outputs/outcomes of the organization, rewards good performance and provides employees opportunities for improvement. The resulting impact of effective implementation is a more responsive, impactful, transparent, and streamlined operations. The SPMS cycle follows four steps, namely: planning and commitment, monitoring and coaching, review and evaluation, and rewarding and development planning. SPMS is only one of three performance management systems implemented by DOLE such as the OPIF of the Department of Budget and Management which measures agency performance, and the Results-Based Performance Management System (RBPMS) which serves as the basis for determining entitlement to performance-based allowances and incentives, linking organizational performance to societal goals Performance evaluation teams were created to spearhead the implementation and set the targets of SPMS in the agency, and a performance validation teams to evaluate and report on submitted ladderized evaluations incorporated in the Individual Performance Commitment and Review, Division Performance Commitment Reviews and Office Performance Commitment Reviews. These evaluation tools serve as basis for determining competency gaps among offices and employees and for identifying offices and individuals to be nominated for DOLE-wide, CSC and Career Executive Service Board (CESB) award nominations. Performance measures captured by the OPCRs measure the three dimensions of performance which include: effectiveness/quality, efficiency, and timeliness. These tools serve to provide feedback on employees for their work during the year, such that performance-based bonuses are given to performers and those with unsatisfactory ratings are entitled to opportunities for improvement. Following the issuance of DOLE’s SPMS guidelines, a series of detailed orientations were conducted followed by implementation, monitoring and evaluation.  DOLE initiated an action plan and provided for the facilities and resources needed to implement the system in all DOLE services, bureaus and attached agencies. Employees were briefed on the scoring and monitoring system prior to the year-end evaluations and appraisal. Review of the SPMS and other performance monitoring mechanisms are also conducted for continuous development.