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Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

As Asia’s oldest democracy, located in the world’s most economically dynamic region, and filled with incredible human and natural resources, the Philippines should be far more stable, prosperous and well-governed than it is. In 2011, the United States Government (USG) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) joined in a new Partnership for Growth (PFG), a combined effort by all elements of the USG to work with the GPH to transform the country by addressing its most serious constraints to development and growth.

Growth remains constrained by ineffective governance, including a poor regulatory environment, rampant corruption, and weak rule of law, among other issues in health, frequent natural disasters, education, and job growth.

Corruption is consistently cited as the most serious problem underlying the lack of development in the Philippines. Reducing corruption, both within and outside government, and addressing its related underlying causes, will substantially increase economic competitiveness and produce much higher levels of domestic and foreign investment. A focus on governance cross‐cuts nearly every element of USAID’s strategy.


Reducing Level of Corruption
USAID’s anti-corruption activities focus sharply on those aspects of corruption that most greatly reduce economic competitiveness.

  • USAID supports efforts to strengthen corporate governance and reduce tolerance for bribery, tax evasion, and smuggling.
  • USAID has established dedicated channels for corruption reporting.
  • USAID strengthens third‐party monitoring in infrastructure contracting and expands civil society budget oversight to ensure resources are channeled to expenditure priorities.
  • USAID emphasizes anticorruption initiatives that widen fiscal space, enhance national revenue administration and improves expenditure management.
  • USAID seeks to strengthen private sector integrity, particularly in business interactions with the government, such as tax compliance and procurement.

Improving Judicial Efficiency
Delays in resolving cases, the high cost of litigation, the long and arduous legal process, and inconsistent judicial decisions have diminished public trust in the justice system. The Philippines has a backlog of approximately 550,000 cases and it takes five to six years on average for cases to be adjudicated.

  • USAID supports the GPH in identifying priority areas for court decongestion implementing a comprehensive docket cleansing effort.
  • USAID strengthens the capability of justice institutions to resolve commercial disputes and financial crimes, assists the GPH in improving contract enforcement, enhances alternative dispute methods, and improves accountability in the justice sector.
  • USAID helps the GPH address biases in the treatment of female lawyers, judges and litigants.

Enhancing Governance, Accountability and Engagement
USAID increases civic engagement for peace and development in Mindanao by building the capacity of civil service organizations to serve constituents and engage with local government units to represent public interest and share responsibility for development. USAID supports measures to:

  • Increase transparency and accountability in local governments and civil service organizations
  • Improve government service delivery and ability to generate own sources of revenues
  • Increase public participation in local governance processes that strengthen civil service organization
  • Increase involvement of youth and adults in civil society and community development activities
  • Increase citizen engagement and satisfaction

Other Activities

  • Support for free and fair elections and for broadening political representation has long been an important part of USAID’s efforts to promote good governance and reduce corruption in the Philippines. USAID will continue to assist the Commission on Elections and other civil society organizations to strengthen election administration.
  • USAID continues to support efforts to combat trafficking in persons, which is a direct result of poverty. Lack of economic opportunity prompts Filipinos to migrate, weak enforcement allows free movement and operation of traffickers, corruption hinders prosecution, and judicial inefficiencies and a lack of victim aftercare impedes justice.