â€œWhat is government, but a Trust committed by all, or the most, to one, or a few, who are to attend upon the affairs of all that every one may, with the more security, attend upon his own? Honesty, diligence, and plain sense, are the only talents necessary for the executing of this Trust; and the Public Good is its only end.â€
-- Thomas Gordon, Cato's Letters, no. 38
The authority to exercise political power is conditional upon the sustained trust of the public. These political authorities who hold positions of public trust should account for their actions to the people. It is the confidence of the people that directs and empowers authorities to perform their duties and obligations in accordance to what they ought to deliver to the people who put them in position. This trust can only be maintained through open, honest, accountable and transparent government, fundamentally through good governance.
Perhaps good governance is one of the most overused words in the government circle nowadays. Former Finance Secretary Dr. Jesus Estanislao, who now serves as the Director of the Institute of Corporate Affairs for Asia (ICD) and the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), defined good governance as â€œthe use and exercise of public authority only for the public welfare and common goodâ€. This description puts good governance opposite of corruption, the use of power for personal gain. Good governance, he said, is simply good government.
According to Dr. Estanislao, the core principles of good governance can easily be remembered. It is because these principles can be pieced together as f.i.e.s.ta., which is the countryâ€™s traditional celebration of the feasts of patron saints. The word f.i.e.s.t.a. stands for fairness, integrity, effectiveness, solidarity, and accountability.
Dr. Estanislao states that â€œfairness is giving to everyone what is due them; integrity is consistency i