Good morning and welcome to our Philippine Open Government Partnership Steering Committee Meeting for September 2017.
The 3rd PH-OGP Action Plan has officially ended last June 30. Now, before we move forward with the 4th OGP implementation cycle, we have today the opportunity to reflect on our experiences and look closely at the challenges we conquered in the past two years of our work.
I am pleased to say that we are off to a great start, because one of our country’s open government commitments was recently recognized by the international community. The Citizen Participatory Audit of the Commission on Audit (COA) received the Special Mention Award from the Jury of the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) Awards 2017 on September 13, 2017. This award is an affirmation that we are on the right track in terms of promoting a truly open, transparent, and accountable government.
We will learn more about how we fared in the past two years as we reflect on the findings of the draft End-of-Term Self-Assessment Report for the third PH-OGP Plan later on during our meeting. While we are reviewing the report, let us keep in mind that equally important as our accomplishments are the challenges that we were able to overcome. Lessons drawn from these experiences will help us craft better policies and programs that put our people at the front and center of this Administration’s governance agenda.
Now, as we move forward, I would also like to congratulate everyone for our successful launching of the PH-OGP National Action Plan 2015-2017 as a high-level side-event of our country’s chairmanship of the ASEAN last August 15 in PICC. OGP CEO Sanjay Pradhan has sent a congratulatory email to me a few days after the Conference. He was very happy with how high-level the commitment is to Open Government in the Philippines, as made clear by the strong support of our colleagues from the Cabinet, the Senate, local government leaders, and our partners in the non-government sector during the event. Through this high level event, we have officially made open government a part of the ASEAN agenda and sparked more interest from our regional peers to also join this movement. So again, thank you for your hard work and congratulations to all of us.
Because we have a new plan, I am also glad to meet and welcome today the representatives from our newly elected PH-OGP Steering Committee Members from the Non-Government Sector:
1. Ms. Andrea Maria Patricia Sarenas, elected PH-OGP Steering Committee Co-Chairperson, Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE), representing Mindanao CSOs
2. Ms. Olie Lucas of Unang Hakbang Foundation, representing NCR CSOs
3. Ms. Araw Chavez of the Coalition for Bicol Development, representing Luzon CSOs
4. Ms. Catherine Ruiz of Kaabag sa Sugbo, representing Visayas CSOs
5. Atty. Benedicta Du-Balalad of the Financial Executives of the Philippines, representing Business Groups
6. Ms. Annie Geron of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, representing Public Sector Labor Unions
7. Dr. Francisco Magno of the DLSU-Jesse Robredo Institute of Governance, representing the academe, and
8. Dr. Erwin Alampay of the University of the Philippines – National College of Public Administration, also representing the academe
Let me also take this opportunity to introduce the newest members of our PH-OGP Non-Government Secretariat, Ms. Roselle Yasay, Executive Director of CODE-NGO and her colleagues, Jen Javier and Mhafe del Mundo. You will be with us for the next two years, so I hope for a stronger and more fruitful partnership with our non-government stakeholders as we forge ahead.
As we implement the new OGP plan, we shall tackle later the continuing challenges and take another leap in open governance by way of setting our new directions, especially, with regard to exploring and developing the PH-OGP subnational process.
But before we are kept busy by today’s agenda, I cannot forget to acknowledge as well the presence of former PH-OGP co-chair, Ms. Natalie Christine “Ching” Jorge. We know that it is already way beyond your term, but thank you for being here to help and support the process. You have made OGP not only a professional engagement but a personal commitment, and this has enabled us to build a strong national OGP coalition in the past several years. Through your remarkable leadership as co-chair of our Steering Committee, we were able to tap strategic opportunities that has expanded our advocacy and encouraged more non-government sectors to meaningfully engage in the OGP process. The new batch of elected non-government Steering Committee members from across the country is testament to the fruits of our collaborative efforts to encourage genuine participation of civil society in governance. For all these and more, we sincerely thank you, Ching. This is not the end of our partnership, but nevertheless, I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
So before we officially start with today’s meeting, I would like to invite Ching to say a few words and perhaps share some advice as she passes on the torch to our new set of non-government Steering Committee members now that we are trudging on with the 4th OGP implementation cycle.
Thank you very much and may we all have a pleasant and productive day.