To NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar, PLLO Secretary Adelino Sitoy, CHED Chairperson Prospero De Vera, DILG OIC Eduardo Año, Mr. Jeffrey Lehrer, Director of the Office of Economic Development and Governance of USAID Philippines, Mayor Herbert Bautista;
Fellow workers in government, members of civil society organizations, participants from various business groups, to our international development partners, the media, and the academe;
Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.
I am pleased to welcome you to the first cluster of our Luzon leg of the Open Government and Participatory Governance Regional Dialogues. This is the fourth of a series of our townhalls and serious conversations with citizens on key priority programs of government. In recent weeks, we have had very productive discussions in the Cities of Bacolod, General Santos, and Zamboanga. I hope that this cluster’s dialogue will be as productive as the previous ones.
Let me begin by sharing some good news: the Philippines is making waves in the international scene for openness in governance. We are now number one in Asia, and number 19 in the world in terms of Budget Transparency.
I am happy to share with you the results of the Open Budget Survey 2017, a global assessment of budget transparency based on the amount and timeliness of budget information that governments make available to the public. For the 2017 round, 115 countries were evaluated, and based on the survey results, the Philippines was assessed to be the MOST fiscally transparent country in Asia, followed by Indonesia, Jordan, Japan, and South Korea. The Global Average is 42. The Philippines’ score is 67.
We are very proud of this achievement. In surpassing our Asian neighbors, we have further cemented our position as a global leader in Open Governance.
Furthermore, I am also proud to share that in the 2017 FOI Annual Awards, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was awarded as the sole FOI Champion Department for its outstanding commitment in ensuring transparency in public service.
In line with the administration’s commitment to FOI principles of transparency and accountability, the DBM is committed to the Philippine Open Government Partnership (PH-OGP), which is now implementing its 4th National Action Plan (2017-2019). One of the objectives included in this Action Plan is the passage of legislation on access to information, with the FOI as its benchmark program.
With his promise of real change, the Filipino people elected the country’s first Mindanaoan President—Rodrigo Roa Duterte. For the first time in a long time, Filipinos have voted for someone from the periphery to become the 16thPresident of our Republic last May 2016.
Coming from Mindanao and from his decades-long local government experience, the President knows what it is like to be set aside, to call for help only to be left unanswered—he knows what it is like to get left behind.
So now, we have a strong President who vows to ensure that the promise of real change will be felt by all Filipinos all over the world. To make this happen, he knows that working with our citizens is an imperative. Given the sheer extent of corruption and red tape in the bureaucracy, we know that changing the way government works will not be possible without the effective mobilization of civil society and sustained demand from the very citizens we are accountable to.
And so, in May 2017, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 24 that reorganized the Cabinet Cluster System and created the Participatory Governance Cluster of the Cabinet or PGC. He also created the Office of Participatory Governance under the Office of the Cabinet Secretary through EO. No. 9.
This is an administration that truly recognizes the value of citizen engagement in governance. Moving forward, we will continue to strengthen our international commitment to making government more transparent, accountable and participatory through the Open Government Partnership or the OGP platform.
Through various citizen engagement programs, we are making sure that governance is not limited to government alone. We are opening up government by providing citizens with a seat at the policy table, and giving them a legitimate voice and vote in what the government does and plans to do in the years to come.
Today is yet another milestone in the way that we practice open and participatory governance. With the joint effort of national and local government, civil society organizations, business groups, and with the support of USAID, our main development partner, we have organized another leg for this series of Dialogues.
We have set out to present the various participatory governance initiatives of the Duterte Administration and to encourage more citizens to help us in the implementation and monitoring of these programs.
We also wish to consult various stakeholders on the proposed new initiatives to be included in the Participatory Governance Cluster Roadmap 2017-2022. We aim to develop a Roadmap that highlights the inclusion of sectoral policies and program goals that will directly impact the lives of the Filipinos at the grassroots. We believe that the impact of any government undertaking will be better felt by citizens if we also broaden the focus of participatory governance towards access to and delivery of basic public services in the most effective and least bureaucratic way.
There is also a need to engage key actors beyond the Central government and toward subnational government. Later, OIC Año and his colleagues in the DILG will set the tone for our discussion on how we can effectively localize open and participatory governance. We shall discuss our plans to improve local governance and feature selected best practices on open government that are being spearheaded by some of our most progressive local chief executives.
Later in the afternoon, we will have a Talakayan Session on Open Government Practices with featured Local Chief Executive Towards a Sub-National OGP Plan. A Subnational Plan can go a long way as a means of advocating, building capacities, and securing commitments on open government at the local level.
As part of our outreach efforts to promote fiscal openness in the bureaucracy, we will also be presenting to you the National Budget for FY 2018 and the Budget Reform Bill tomorrow.
On another note, officials from the Department of Finance, and key business leaders are also joining ustomorrow to discuss the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, which I strongly support. Instituting a progressive tax regime, along with more effective tax administration, is of utmost priority for the Administration. We have successfully passed package 1 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), signed into law last December 19, 2017.Tomorrow, we will be consulting with you on the second package of tax reform measures.
The next two days will be packed with interesting sessions and exchanges, and so I would also like to take this opportunity to ask for your active participation. Through this forum, we hope you can help us set the direction and build the narrative of participatory governance in the Philippines. Let your voices be heard. Be at the frontlines of public sector reform work. Be part of the change you want to see in our country.
The Duterte administration is serious in its commitment to expand citizen engagement work. We are looking forward to having deeper conversations and reflections with you on this through more of the sessions slated in the next two days. Various sectors are represented in this hall—from national and local government, to civil society, academe, public sector unions, business groups, and the media. Having said this, I urge you to network and get to know each other better. For many of us who are not new to this kind of work, let’s continue engage constructively with one another.
Continue mobilizing. Continue engaging the government and pushing it to change. Let’s keep the pressure on. The challenge for us is monumental because we are being asked to do things that we’ve never done before--to go beyond business as usual. But together, we can be a strong force. With our shared goals and our heart for public service, let us come together and push for real and genuine change in our country.
Thank you very much and may we all have a fruitful and productive dialogue.