Policy and Practice for Developmental Leadership

New Asia Foundation book on the politics of economic reform in the Philippines


The Asia Foundation, supported by USAID and AusAID, today launches an important new book, documenting the politics of some significant economic reforms in the Philippines.  Built on Dreams, Grounded in Reality: Economic Policy Reform in the Philippines is a collection of analytical essays by leading development analysts and some of the participants in each of the reform processes. The book has a foreword by Adrian Leftwich, the Director of Research for the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP). The key theme of the book is the role played by ‘developmental entrepreneurs’ in the politics of reform and it illustrates through a number of cases how and why difficult battles were fought and, in some cases won, in pursuit of reform. 

Each chapter has as its focus the political battles surrounding each of five reforms that have been widely hailed as successful: introducing competition and liberalization in sea transport, civil aviation, and telecommunications; instituting the privatisation of water service in metropolitan Manila; and passing a property rights law allowing faster administrative titling of residential lands. It also investigates two long-running but less successful reform efforts: improving tax administration, and reforming the National Food Authority.

The book will contribute to the wider international debate around aid effectiveness and institutional reform by focussing on the inevitably messy, political realities of the reform processes. Institutional and policy change is never simply a technical or administrative matter, but is always also profoundly political, and the international community needs to learn how it can support the agents and agencies of reform if any of its wider social, economic and political aspirations are to be met. 

According to the DLP’s Adrian Leftwich: 

“…if the international community is looking for innovative ways of working for progressive institutional or policy change that can promote growth and political stability, reduce poverty, and extend inclusion, then there is no better place to start than where, when, how, and under what circumstances it can act to support the emergence or activities of local developmental entrepreneurs, leaders, and coalitions. This book offers an important set of illustrations of just how that has been and can be done.”?

The book is edited and introduced for The Asia Foundation by Jaime Faustino and Raul Fabella and contributors include the editors plus Bruce Tolentino, Beulah Maria de la Peña, Karl Kendrick Chua, Enrico Basilio, Calixto Chikiamco, Maria Cherry Lyn Salazar-Rodolfo and Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos.

A second book, jointly produced by The Asia Foundation and the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP), analysing cases of the politics of social reform in the Philippines, is currently being researched and will be published in 2012.

Download the full book.

Or for more information, please visit the Asia Foundation’s website.