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To the officials and resource speakers from the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Support Unit, Ms. Shreya Basu and Mr. Jack Mahoney;

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr. Bruce Hutchins and Mr. Randy Ali;

Our co-workers in government, from COA, DILG, DSWD, NEDA, and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS); and co-workers from national agencies;

Members of civil society organizations – NGOs, POs, business groups, international development partners, the media, and the academe;

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you and welcome to the Open Government Dialogues.

Let me begin by thanking the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Facilitating Public Investment Project (FPI) and the Making All Voices Count (MAVC) for their continuing support of the OGP’s projects and activities.

When President Duterte assumed office in June 2016, he promised the Filipino people that change is coming – change in the government and in the way its business is done. In clear and simple terms, the President stated what a real change should constitute: a government that listens to and serves the people, a government free from corruption, and a government that gets things done promptly and properly.

The simplicity and clarity of the President’s terms, however, belie the difficulty of undertaking reforms in government. To achieve real change, we need a revolutionary change in the culture of governance. Part of this is realizing that the government alone cannot effect change. We need allies in and outside of the government who are willing to be at the forefront of this revolution.

Looking at past experiences in implementing governance reforms, we saw that it is essential to sustain our commitment to international initiatives that are aligned with the Administration’s good governance goals, such as the Open Government Partnership or the OGP.

The Philippines is one of the founding members of the OGP, a unique international initiative aimed at securing concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies that strengthen governance.

In October 2016, the Philippine OGP Steering Committee held its first assembly under the administration of President Duterte. From this meeting, the Steering Committee has set the direction of the Philippine OGP in the next few years. Moving forward, we shall be crafting and implementing new action plans and open government programs that have concrete and direct benefits to the Filipino people. And it is in this context that we, the members of the government and civil society, have come together today.

Anchored on the President’s Partnership for Change agenda, the PH-OGP Steering Committee is holding this event as the first of a series of public consultation workshops for the development of the Fourth Co-Created Philippine OGP National Action Plan.

Today’s event aims to contribute to the development of a new open government action plan that will be more responsive to the needs of the Filipino people. By providing a forum that allows dialogue between government agencies and the people it serves, the OGP guides us in constructing an action plan that is attuned with the development and governance goals of the country and its people. A shared responsibility in crafting a national action plan also better ensures commitment by each participant to the achievement of the goals.

During the session, we invite you, the participants, especially the citizens and civil society organizations, to revisit proposed OGP commitments, which include:

1. The Assistance to Disadvantaged Municipalities (ADM)Program which aims to assist distressed municipalities in their mandate to deliver basic goods and services to their constituents by strengthening the Local Development Councils (LDCs) to become more able partners in national development;

2. The Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Iligal na Droga (MASA MASID), which is a community-based initiative to engage volunteers in the fight against criminality, corruption, and illegal drugs;

3. The Project Repeal which aims to address bureaucratic red tape by repealing or amending selected regulatory policies and administrative issuances that hamper the ease of doing business and official transactions with the government;

4. The 8888 Citizen’s Complaint Center, the central hotline where citizens can report their complaints and grievances that will result to an immediate and appropriate government response; and

5. The Budget Reform Bill which aims to institutionalize budget data disclosure, civil society participation in budgeting, and all of the necessary ingredients of a modern budget system.

 After our call for the submission of draft commitments in December 2016, we have received a number of proposals from different government agencies. But to truly gauge which among these programs are desired by the Filipino people, we are now asking citizens through you, the participants in this forum, to review this list and propose new initiatives that you want YOUR government to prioritize in the next two years.

As emphasized by President Duterte in his inauguration speech: “It is the people from whom democratic governments draw strength. That is why we have to listen to the murmurings of the people, feel their pulse, supply their needs and fortify their faith and trust in us who are in public office”. This is what we aim to do today. Through OGP, we will continue to listen to and work hand-in-hand with the citizens in promoting a culture of governance that truly works for the interest of the Filipinos.

This series of regional consultations will lead to the submission of the final PH-OGP Action Plan to the OGP on or before June 30, 2017. By July 2017, we hope to launch and start the implementation of the New Action Plan.

 Ladies and gentlemen: we have a formidable task ahead of us, so let’s get started.

 Maraming salamat at mabuhay!