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Philippines Design Report 2019-2021

The Philippines’ fifth action plan contains a strong focus on citizen participation, from public monitoring of schools and infrastructure to increased participation in local governance. Admirably, a highly collaborative, bottom-up co-creation process led to a Citizens’ Agenda that informed action plan design. While individually, most commitments are not ambitious, the action plan’s focus on participation may be a foundation to address civic space issues more broadly in future action plans.

Table 1. At a Glance

Participating since 2011

Action plan under review: Fifth

Report type: Design

Number of commitments: 11

Action plan development

Is there a multistakeholder forum: Yes

Level of public influence: Collaborate

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values: 11 (100%)

Transformative commitments: 1 (9%)

Potentially starred commitments: 1 (9%)

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. The Philippines joined OGP in 2011 as one of the co-founding members. Since, the Philippines has implemented four action plans. This report evaluates the design of the Philippines’ fifth action plan. Please note that the Philippines’ submitted a revised action plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised action plan includes updated commitment milestones and extends the implementation period until 2022. This report reviews the original action plan submitted in December 2019.

General overview of action plan

The Philippines’ fifth action plan seeks to deepen and further institutionalize citizen participation in government processes, local development and planning, and other areas of government. Despite evidence of shrinking civic space and threats toward civil liberties brought about by the government’s anti-drug campaign, the PH-OGP platform created a safe, productive space for government and nongovernment partners to forge a collaborative and meaningful partnership in developing the action plan.

For the first time since its participation in the OGP, the Philippines adopted a bottom-up approach to identify commitments. NGO Steering Committee members ensured that public feedback on past commitments and current government programs were collected to build the OGP Citizens’ Agenda. The forum was also able to extend participation to include multiple sectoral and regional consultations due to grants awarded to the Caucus of Development NGO Networks by the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund, United States Agency for International Development, and the United Nations Development Program. Moving forward, broad consultations should be balanced with expert technical review to ensure that citizen priorities translate to ambitious commitments that have a strong alignment between the policy problem, activities, and proposed solution.

This action plan marks the first participation of several organizations and government agencies, including the Department of Education, Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. In the previous action plan cycle, some agencies were involved in the co-creation process, but expanded outreach enabled by donors and heightened government participation allowed for participants beyond the usual suspects.

All 11 commitments included in the action plan are relevant to, and consistent with, the OGP value of citizen participation, cross cutting different sectors, organizations, and policy areas. It is also important to note that all commitments were deliberately designed with gender-sensitive programming and an emphasis on inclusivity. This materializes through activities such as ensuring participation of disadvantaged groups, publishing gender-disaggregated government data, and introducing gender audit tools in monitoring and evaluating government data and activities.

Potentially starred commitments have transformative potential, are relevant, and verifiable. According to these criteria, the Philippines’ has one potentially starred commitment:

  • Commitment 6: Freedom of Information Law and Local Freedom of Information Program

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle
Commitment 4. Participatory Infrastructure Monitoring: DBM will use citizen feedback submitted through the Project DIME portal to validate large infrastructure projects The Department of Budget and Management could use Project DIME as a benchmark for participatory monitoring of government projects and replicate it in other policy areas and/or expand the scope to include infrastructure beyond big-ticket projects. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
Commitment 6. Freedom of Information Law and Local Freedom of Information Program: Pass the FOI Bill, conduct outreach, and support FOI implementation at the local level The Presidential Communications Operations Office could develop an evidence-based report on implementing the Freedom of Information Executive Order to respond to privacy and personal information security concerns with the FOI law as well as to mobilize public and political support for the bill. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
Commitment 8. Nutrition and Sexual Health Participatory Action Research: Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino recipients will use PAR to engage local government and shape nutrition and teen pregnancy programming


Revisit existing regulations regarding the Pantawid Pamilyang program and identify how the same participatory research could be institutionalized and replicated for issues beyond malnutrition and teenage pregnancy to guarantee local government action. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.


IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan. Please refer to Section V: General Recommendations for more details on each of the below recommendations.

Table 3. Five Key IRM Recommendations

Improve the policy design of commitments to align better with the solution to the public problem identified
Hold workshops and/or create guidelines to gather experiences, best practices, and challenges from locally focused commitments
Incorporate a strategy to engage legislators to pass the Freedom of Information Bill
Collaborate with civil society to ensure civic participation is deepened and sustained across government beyond commitment implementation
Enhance commitments with a focus on government responsiveness to citizen input


Comments (1)

Dan J. Reply

Still no FOI law. The chances of that passing are up there with the anti-political-dynasty law.

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