In search of good governance & ethical leaders

By Jess Lorenzo

Posted at Feb 03 2013 10:36 AM | Updated as of Feb 03 2013 06:36 PM

Over the past few months, I have entered a few user groups on the internet and found that we as a people dwell in loathing towards politics and distrust over government leaders. I also found that there is a deep desire and longing for good leaders. At the same time, I also notice a large divide in the expectation of ethical leadership as well as the definition of good governance. Too often, the disdain is fueled by unrealistic and unfulfilled standards.

On some instances, people would try to sell good leadership patrons who take supporters to pilgrimages, out-of-town trips, and flights abroad. But often, these are not much more than a cleverly disguised junket at the expense of tax payers.

A big part of the reason for existence of Kaya Natin is to strive to communicate the idea of Good Governance and Ethical Leadership at different levels of our society. This is not easy. We found that many people have varying and perception based expectations- if not intangible measures of effective, empowering, and ethical leadership.

At Kaya Natin, we run numerous caravans in schools where we bring in Good Governance champions to talk about their struggles and ethical leadership practices. However, we found that we cannot just talk about Good Governance. We realized that we need to create an immersive experience for people to understand. We run community development programs like the Kaya Natin Senior Wellness program in Nueva Ecija where the participants will also learn about good governance as they appreciate the improved health services of the city. (If you wish to see the Photoblog, follow me at facebook and see

Recently, we launched the Kaya Natin-MSD Health Governance Awards where we hope to highlight Local Government Units and leaders. This effort continues to translate good governance by creating incentives for local leaders to improve public health in at the primary level.

The objective of this initiative is to recognize top performing LGU’s in implementing relevant public health programs. In this initiative, we hope to emphasize that relevant programs mean that they are not just for show. It means that initiatives would entail metrics to measure performance. It must address specific needs of the community that is identified through forums and public discussions.

The Health Governance Awards promise to share these practices with other LGU’s. Kaya Natin hopes to do this by running Champions For Health Forums with LGU’s in partnership with the Ateneo School of Government and the Office of Senator TG Guingona. The winning entries will be highlighted and will be included in our tour of the country as we engage other local government leaders. (If you would like to see one of the forums in Cebu, follow me at facebook and go to

The initiative aims to promote good governance in health at the public level in order to let people develop a growing understanding of what good public management is. As Harvey Keh, lead convenor of Kaya Natin said, “The uniqueness of this award is the good governance perspective.” As we choose the winners, we will be looking for innovation from the leaders in how they associate their programs as good governance practices. This would inevitably require them to be diligent in upholding transparency and accountability as they run the programs. By doing this, we hope the local chiefs will deepen their efforts towards integrity and ethical leadership. And we purposely pushed this health awards program at the local level because we believe we need to build good governance constituency in the country.

Through this initiative, we also hope to encourage participative programs that compel the local leaders to avoid dole-outs. In many rural areas, many politicians have trained their constituents to be dependent on them. As a result, many of the families are relegated to what I call, “Antay-government o antay nalang ng antay kay mayor, congressman, o governor” This program will highlight leaders that nurture a transformative learning environment with their constituents to slowly empower them to be accountable. As Mayor Sonia Lorenzo, Kaya Natin Co-Founder and Champion said, “We need to encourage accountability from the bottom-up. This means we need to create an enabling environment for our constituents to have a growing capacity to be accountable to their own needs and priorities.”

Finally, we also hope to use this program as a platform to increase the awareness of our leaders in the deep need to improve public health. If you wish to learn more about this program, visit In the site, you will find more detailed requirements in nominating your local government. The site also includes the registration form and the deadlines. You will also meet the people and our partners behind this program.

MSD (Merch Sharpe & Dohme) is one of our strong partners in our engagements in promoting good governance in public health. We have an existing program with them to engage health leaders. This endeavor is in partnership with Cong. Bolet Banal to improve Maternal Health Services in District 3 of Quezon City. (Watch a short video about HL4M at

As MSD partners with us in the Health Governance awards, under the leadership of Country MSD President, Sanjiv Navangul, they send a strong message that MSD’s thrust is to improve public health governance in the country. In his message, Sanjiv said, “One of MSDs core value is commitment to the highest standards of ethics and integrity. That is why we are glad to partner with Kaya Natin! Movement, the Ateneo School of Government, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Health in honoring the excellent performance of community health programs among our local health officials. We believe in our role to work in partnerships with key people & institutions.”

This engagement with MSD is also aware of bringing in the right partners in order to work on the national consciousness in improving public health at the local level. In the coming months, we hope to magnify stories of innovative leadership efforts that improve basic services in health.

Karen Villanueva, MSD External Affairs Director says, “MSD shares in the objective of the Champions for Health Governance Awards to honor top performing LGUs for excellent and efficient implementation of its local health programs and to promote good governance in health at the local level. This partnership highlights MSDs strong commitment in helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals in improving child & maternal health, and fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.” MSD’s engagement with Kaya Natin prescribes specific measures for the local government leaders in order to have clear handles to define good management and good programs that make up good governance. Karen mentions, “We want to be able to expand our presence into other local governments knowing that there are more than 1,500 municipalities. We want to play a role in developing accessible, affordable, efficient delivery of health services in the country. We believe that primary health services are very important.”

Dino Badilla, MSD Policy & Government Relations also reinforces Kaya Natin’s philosophy when he said, “MSD recognizes the important role of the inspiring men & women in the cities and municipalities in providing the highest possible quality of healthcare to their constituents. Good governance becomes real & meaningful for the ordinary Filipinos if they have healthy communities.”

Just like most of us in the country, we are also in search. We also share the disappointments and often disgust of corrupt leaders and politicians. But we choose not to remain in disdain. We deeply believe there are more good leaders in the country than there are bad ones.

To seek them, we Move towards Good Governance and Enable Ethical leaders.

Hope you can journey with us too.


Comments are welcome at [email protected] or private message through Facebook. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jesslorenzo for stories of good governance.

Jess Lorenzo is currently the program director of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership's public health initiatives. @kayanatin on Twitter

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.