Last February 18-22, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) hosted the Open Government Partnership (OGP) country visit in the Philippines. Members of the international OGP Support Unit namely, Asia Pacific Lead Shreya Basu, Senior Regional Coordinator Alan Wu, and Partnerships Consultant Ivygail Ong, met with different OGP stakeholders and attended the High-Level Philippine-OGP Steering Committee chaired by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
According to the OGP Support Unit, the Philippines is a priority country for technical assistance for 2019, as it currently undertakes activities related to the development of its next OGP National Action Plan.
The OGP is a unique, multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and subnational governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
The Philippines is one of the eight founding members of the OGP, which is presently composed of 79-member countries. Country visits are routinely undertaken by the staff of the OGP Support Unit to better build an understanding of how best to assist participating countries to meaningfully participate in the OGP process.
As part of the visit schedule in DBM, members of the OGP Support Unit had separate courtesy meetings with Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Undersecretary Laura Pascua, and Undersecretary Lilia Guillermo on February 19.
During the meetings, Secretary Diokno updated the Support Unit on the progress of the Philippines’ National Action Plan (NAP) for 2019-2021 and discussed upcoming activities in the Philippines’ OGP timeline.
According to the Secretary, the next Philippine OGP NAP will be the first action plan to have proposed commitments from non-government organizations at the beginning of the process.
In the past four action plans, the process has largely been government-driven, beginning with a call for commitments to various government agencies. After which, CSOs were consulted regarding the design of the commitments.
Under the new PH-OGP planning process, CODE-NGO, the PH-OGP Non-Government Secretariat, led the conduct of regional consultations with non-government sectors last November to December 2018, to identify priority commitments that can be proposed to government for inclusion in the next National Action Plan.
The result of these consultations is the OGP Citizens Agenda which was submitted to the Government Secretariat at DBM in January 2019.
“As government, we are now looking into how we can address the priorities outlined by our citizens, and rest assured that we will respond,” Diokno said.
Secretary Diokno also highlighted the participation of the Philippines in the annual celebration of OGP Week on March 11-17, 2019. He signalled as well the return of the Open Government and Participatory Governance Regional Dialogue Series, the annual Open Government Roadshow jointly organized by DBM, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and various non-government partners, which is slated to begin in May.
In turn, members of the Support Unit affirmed the Philippins’ status as a regional leader in the Asia Pacific Region, and relayed their intent to return to the Philippines for the country’s celebration of OGP Week.