In-depth

presidential send-off
President Aquino and UN Resident Representative Badcock at a send-off event for over 150 ranking government officials participating in a UNDP-sponsored HRBA workshop. (Photo: UNDP Philippines)


UNDP assists Philippine government to nurture a culture of human rights by fulfilling commitments to international treaties; mainstreaming rights-based approach into local, gender-sensitive plans; and building the capacity of government, including the security forces, to protect and promote human rights.

It helps uphold environmental rights to enhance access to justice for the marginalized, especially those most vulnerable to climate change and extractive industries. It supports democratic reforms through political party legislation and multimedia voice channels, to strengthen local democracies and empower citizens, especially in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

UNDP promotes integrity across water, health, and education sectors, by fostering citizen participation in public finance processes, and building a corruption-intolerant society to achieve development goals.

To foster democratic governance, UNDP focuses on three strategic reform areas adopted in previous cooperation:

  • Justice and human rights, which underscores a sustained and harmonized reform within and among the five pillars of the criminal justice system – law enforcement, prosecution, courts, corrections and community;
  • Public administration, which emphasizes administrative reforms, anti-corruption measures, effective capacity building for national and local bureaucracy and partner institutions, and aid coordination; and
  • Political development, which focuses on the enhancement of democratic political institutions, a responsive and effective process of legislation, credible and efficient electoral process and other political reforms.

The strategy emphasizes the progressive realization and implementation of the standards of human rights and institutionalization of reforms for democratic governance. This “rights-reforms” approach is grounded locally where interventions are directed not only at the national level but also, more importantly, demonstrated at the level of LGUs and grassroots communities.

The human rights approach underscores rights as entitlements of the people as “claim-holders”, particularly the women and disadvantaged sectors. The human rights approach emphasizes the trinity of state and non-state obligations to respect, protect and promote people’s rights. It calls to task the “duty-bearers” and capacitates them to perform their obligations in providing the enabling environment for expanding opportunities for human freedoms and human development. The approach for democratic governance involves reforms in the areas of policies, structures, programs and processes towards achieving more accountable, transparent, gender-sensitive and participatory governance institutions and processes.

To ensure the rights of the citizens, especially women and the disadvantaged sectors, in all governance reforms, UNDP supports efforts to empower the citizens and provide them opportunities to engage in governance processes by:

  • Enhancing their awareness and understanding, knowledge and analytical skills on policies, programs and mechanisms;
  • Increasing their access to public information;
  • Providing venues for policy dialogues;
  • Creating and expanding opportunities for networking and linkage-building; strengthening their capacities to monitor government and non-government’s performance and practices; and
  • Building their capacities to engage and represent their constituents in governance structures and processes.

In pursuit of reforms and institutionalization in the three strategic reform areas, UNDP supports initiatives that strengthen capacities of government and non-government entities to enable them to perform their mandates and obligations effectively to address the needs and rights of their constituents, including concerns related to women’s empowerment and gender-equity.

Justice Reforms


Under justice reforms, programme interventions are directed to achieve more accountable and rule-based institutions to enhance access by the poor to justice and human security. It strives to enhance the capacities of institutions such as the courts, prosecution, law enforcement agencies, the correctional and legal support groups by supporting:

  • the development, institutionalization, implementation of policies and mechanisms including indigenous practices, gender sensitivity approaches and alternative dispute mechanisms to address problems of the poor, especially among women, to gain greater access to justice;
  • efforts to ensure that the critical justice agencies increase their awareness and enhance their capacities in respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of the citizens, particularly the poor and disadvantaged through programs such as free legal assistance, education, and enhanced information and communication technologies; and
  • rationalization, linkages and synergy among the various agencies under the five pillars of justice at all levels through inter-agency coordinative bodies and mechanisms like the National Council on the Administration of Justice and the barangay justice system; and (iv) efforts to strengthen and expand the stakeholder networks and partnerships among government, civil society, academe, church, private sector and media and their initiatives to advocate, review and monitor reforms in the justice and human rights sector.

Public Administration Reforms


Under public administration, UNDP supports government reforms directed towards a rationalized, efficient and effective bureaucracy, effective use of ODA, corrupt-free practices and ethical behavior at all levels. It strengthens the capacity of oversight government bodies to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate cases while engaging civil society organizations and media to monitor government projects and transactions, promoting initiatives to build a human rights and gender-balanced culture and exact performance and excellence in the public sector. Through these reforms, the access by the poor to quality and affordable social services shall be enhanced and expanded.

In fighting corruption, UNDP supports initiatives that contribute to greater transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior in public service. It strives to support:

  • Executive and legislative tracks adopted by the national government to rationalize government functions, structures, and systems to make it more focused, accountable, transparent, efficient and effective through policy and structural reforms;
  • Institutional reforms initiated by local and national agencies and anti-corruption bodies and mechanisms such as the Solana Covenant and the Executive Anti-Corruption Plans;
  • Use of information and communications technology in government for more transparent, efficient and accountable transactions and systems;
  • Passage of anti-corruption bills such as strengthening the capacity of the Ombudsman to investigate and prosecute, protection of whistle-blowers, and the ratification and localization of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC);
  • Strengthening the career executive service system and implementation of an education and advocacy program to include values formation and codes of conduct among professional groups and government executives; and
  • Institutional and collective efforts of civil society, media, academe, the private sector, and unions to review and monitor government’s performance and advocate for a corruption-free and corruption-intolerant society.

In reforming local governance for more effective decentralization, UNDP supports initiatives that strengthen capacities of local institutions and LGUs. Support is extended to:

  • Enhance capacities of local government units and LGU leagues to address effectively to human rights and gender concerns;
  • Localize MDGs through policy-analysis, formulation, planning, budgeting, programming and resource mobilization;
  • Mobilize and capacitate regional schools of public administration as governance learning and resource centers for LGUs and local communities;
  • Address the challenges and opportunities of decentralization and local governance such as generation of local revenues, fiscal administration; anti-corruption; local justice system, political participation of the disadvantaged sectors especially women in decision-making;
  • Replicate best practices, enhance local legislation, planning and implementation of services and programs especially on the MDGs;
  • Strengthen inter-LGU partnerships, convergence and network-building to develop collective solutions to problems in the delivery of social services, protection of the environment, and resolution of conflicts;Conduct local policy dialogues that allow the voices of all sectors in local communities to be heard and seriously considered; and
  • Engage local civil society organizations, academe, media and business sector to advocate, review and monitor LGU performance in the administration of justice, social services and political exercises.

UNDP recognizes that the achievement of the MDGs in the Philippines relies partly on effective aid management. Therefore, UNDP supports building the capacity of its planning department, NEDA, which is a key agency in the government's ODA management system. UNDP extends its assistance in building government’s capacity to design the MTPDP and the Medium-Term Philippine Investment Plan and ensure that MDGs are fully integrated in the planning and investment programming processes. Specifically, support is extended to NEDA to enhance its capacity in decision-making on how national investments can maximize contribution to the achievement of the MDGs and other development goals of the country.

Political Reforms


Under political reforms, UNDP’s support seeks to institute legislative, electoral and other political reforms to enhance democratic governance and increase the participation of the poor and disadvantaged especially among women in political processes. These reforms are pursued to strengthen capacities of political institutions such as Congress, Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the various political parties and policy support institutions to promote democratic policies, processes, structures, and practices. Areas of support include:

  • the conduct of policy studies and conferences that provide for sound analyses of current challenges and trends, and present options and alternatives that provide sound and lasting solutions to address political issues including Constitutional reforms;
  • enhancement of capacity of the electoral body to undertake electoral modernization, raise the level of political discourse, and educate the people on citizenship and the right of suffrage;
  • the passage of critical political reform measures such as the anti-dynasty bill, campaign financing, political party system and amendments to the Omnibus Election Code and Party-list law;
  • strengthening the capacity of the Special House Committee on the MDGs tasked to shepherd the process of review, formulation, budget appropriation and passage of MDG-supportive measures;
  • increase and strengthen the participation of women in electoral processes and political structures; and
  • other initiatives that expand and deepen the understanding, analytical and problem-solving skills of political institutions to effectively address the critical challenges that face the country today.
Contact UNDP in the Philippines
Emmanuel Buendia

Team Leader
Democratic Governance
Email: emmanuel.buendia@undp.org
Phone number: (632) 9010225
Fax Numbers: (632) 9010200, (632) 8897177