Reactive governance is not good. It is worse in a system of weak implementation of laws, rules, and regulations.
The case of fireworks factories particularly in the towns of Bocaue and Sta. Maria in Bulacan appears to be an example of reactive governance.
Last week, a fireworks factory exploded in Sta. Maria, Bulacan and two persons were killed and six were hurt in that incident. Last month, a fireworks store and warehouse also exploded in the town of Bocaue, which also claimed the life of two persons and injured about 20 more.
While these incidents may be categorized as “accidents,” they are not unavoidable.
The actions taken relative to said “accidents” clearly illustrate that they could have been avoided if concerned government agencies, particularly the concerned local government units, consistently applied or implemented the applicable laws, rules and regulations. The actions taken were mere remedial.
One of such actions was the temporary closure of fireworks stores in the town of Bocaue to allow the inspection of the same and ensure that their operations conform with existing laws, rules and regulations.
Such action clearly shows that no regular monitoring of compliance is being done.
The same is true with the action taken on the Sta. Maria, Bulacan incident. The Chief of the local police unit announced that investigation would focus on what violations were committed by the factory owner and personnel, which caused the explosion.
Such after-the-fact investigation with that focus also shows that concerned authorities do not consistently ensure compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations and seem to be concerned about compliance when accidents happen. The license to operate of the concerned fireworks factory was reported to have expired in June this year.
The fact that said factory was able to operate without a license speaks loudly of the governance problem we have in our country.
Remedial interventions, in the context of implementation of laws, should only for factors or elements that laws failed to provide for and not for their weak or non-implementation.
One governance reform that is obviously needed in our country is stronger accountability mechanism or system.
Government officials and employees should always account and be made responsible for their actions and inactions.
When similar accidents happen, the first order of business is not to determine which laws, rules and regulations were violated but who among concerned government officials and employees failed to enforce the law.
(Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate)