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South Cotabato, Philippines

Access to Information (COT0001)


IRM Review

IRM Report: Pending IRM Review

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Pending IRM Review

Relevant to OGP Values: Pending IRM Review

Potential Impact: Pending IRM Review

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review


Thematic Area: Open Information
Increasing Inclusivity in Public Access to Government Information
31 August 2018 – 31 August 2020
Lead Implementing Agency/Actor: Provincial Government of South Cotabato – Provincial Information Office
Commitment Description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Among other factors, limited access to government information greatly hampers the delivery of the right services and interventions that would respond to the real needs of the people. Having access to the right information has a direct and reinforcing relationship in ensuring the delivery of the right interventions and services to the public. For instance, having limited access to the right information from the government, the public tends to get these information from secondary sources that are not always right, hence, they only get to access services or projects that they “think” are only available for them even if these are not relevant to address their real needs. Similarly, many remote communities without access to radio, television, internet or other means of communication have limited knowledge on government data, projects and services that could help empower them to become self-sufficient. Similarly, while the provincial government has the relevant programs and information to bring about lasting results and achieve economic progress to reduce poverty at the household level, the majority of the general public especially those without access to radio, television, internet or other means of communication has limited knowledge of government interventions, and on how these can be accessed and maximized to improve the quality of their lives. In addition, there is also limited formal mechanisms for providing feedback on government services and programs. Currently, the general public is able to access provincial government data by requesting through the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) or directly through the concerned department or office supported by a written letter of request. For walk-in clients, requests are being recorded though a Logbook. The Socio-economic Profile of the province is also available through a provincial government published book that can be bought at a very affordable price. Due probably to the inconvenience in accessing information and limited knowledge on how to access the information, only 83 formal requests for data were made through the PPDO in a period of five (5) years from 2014 to date where 72 of these or 86% have been provided by the PPDO while the remaining 11 have been referred to appropriate offices. Further, in a rapid survey conducted by the Provincial Information Office during the first quarter of 2018 on Audience Research and Listenership in South Cotabato, about 42% of the 7,252 sample respondents in the entire province (with a projected population of 969,599 in 2018) listen to the radio everyday while about 27% do not own a radio or has no access to other means of communication. Out of the 42% who listen to the radio, almost half or 47.29% are not aware of, hence, are not listening to the provincial government’s radio program where the local government’s programs, projects and services are being broadcasted for public information. About 81% of those who listen to the provincial government’s radio program feel that it is a good source of information about the programs and projects of the province. Among the reports in the radio program, the top 6 information that the respondents find useful are on agriculture, health and sanitation, social services, education and scholarships, barangay/sitio assistance and livelihood programs. It is also useful to note that aside from radio, people get much of their information on government programs and services from other people or through word of mouth (22.53%) and through barangay announcements (22.37%). Ultimately, it is hoped that increased access to government information through both online and offline channels will significantly contribute in further reducing poverty incidence in the province recorded at 19.8% in 2015, especially in the geographically-isolated and disadvantaged communities.
What is the commitment?
The commitment aims to establish both online and offline channels to expand public access to government information, and to enable citizens to give feedback on government programs and services. More and improved quality of information will be disclosed to include not only those required under the Philippine’s Full Disclosure Policy and basic data on the socio-economic profile of the province, but also information on programs/projects/ services and project monitoring reports. It entails the development of an interactive online platform for the general public to access, view, save and print government data and information on programs and services right at their homes free of charge, with a special feature for the general public to provide their feedback on government services and programs. Part of the commitment includes the conduct of workshop to develop a mechanism for responding to feedbacks from the public. To further utilize the information from the processed feedbacks, the commitment shall be expanded in the second cycle for the feedbacks to inform development planning, budgeting and program implementation. The commitment also entails localizing the national government’s Freedom of Information (FOI) policy through a provincial ordinance, institutionalizing the people’s right to information.
As an offline mechanism, a direct community participation program shall be launched for communities without access to internet, where the citizens’ questions to the Governor will be recorded during the weekly conduct of the Outreach Program to poor and remote communities where the provincial government brings some of its services directly to the communities, and the Governor’s responses to these questions will be recorded and aired through the province’s official radio program on a weekly basis and on a specified date that will be announced to the community. Capability-building and public engagements shall be conducted to popularize the people’s right to information and how to access these information.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
The development of the interactive online platform for people to access government information and communicate their feedback/opinion on public services right at their homes, which will be further advanced by the enactment of the FOI ordinance, will provide the people with the right information they need for better decision-making for their economic, social, and institutional development. The commitment will also ensure that the feedback loop is closed by designating a staff who would immediately respond to comments or by coordinating with the appropriate offices in addressing the communicated feedbacks in order to help improve public services and influence government decisions. Further, through public consultations during the regular conduct of the Provincial Outreach Program in the different villages, questions and messages of the citizens especially from remote communities without access to internet shall be recorded and responded to by the Governor through the radio, in addition to posting the responses through South Cotabato’s Facebook Page and the OGP Facebook Page. Increased inclusivity for access to right information will engage and empower people at the grassroots.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
Increased inclusivity in public access to government information is relevant to transparency. The commitment shall employ technology through the development of an interactive online system for the public to access information right at their homes.

Additional information
President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued Executive Order No. 02 (series of 2016) or the Freedom of Information Order to institutionalize the people’s right to information as enshrined in Article III of the Philippine Constitution on the Bill of Rights. This operationalizes in the Executive Branch the people’s constitutional right to information and state policies to full public disclosure and transparency in public service. Freedom of Information or FOI is part of the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan under "Ensuring People-Centered, Clean, and Efficient Governance" specifically on “Subsector Outcome 4: Citizenry fully engaged and empowered”.
The commitment localizes the Freedom of Information (FOI) by passing the Provincial FOI Ordinance and making information accessible through both online and offline platforms, expanding it to include not only demand-driven information but makes readily accessible all available data and information on the provincial government programs and services. Hence, the Presidential Communications Operations Office – the lead agency for the implementation of Executive Order No. 02, is the lead partner of the provincial government in the implementation of this commitment, particularly in terms of providing both technical guidance and financial assistance. The commitment will contribute to all the 17 SDGs but particularly on Sustainable Development Goals 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), 4 (Quality Education), 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
Milestone Activity with a Verifiable Deliverable
Roll-out of “Chikaha si Gobernadora”, an offline transparency initiative where the Governor will regularly respond to recorded questions from the general public especially from remote communities) through the radio as well as through South Cotabato’s Facebook Page and OGP Facebook Page. Provincial Information Office
Source of Funding: PGO-PIO
July 2018 – August 2020
Conduct of workshop on information management and needs for producers, users and custodians. Identify data/information for disclosure, information that are part of the exceptions in the Data Privacy Act should be included in the agenda. Specify mechanisms to ensure that feedback mechanism is established for the delivery of programs and services, and to ensure that these are immediately responded to for enhanced public service delivery.
Provincial Information Office (PIO)
Source of Funding: PGO
November 2018- November 2018
Development and operationalization of the Interactive/Web-based Database where the public can access, view, save and print provincial data and information right at their homes. This web-based automated system will be called Interactive Socio-Economic and Programs Profile System (iSEPPS). This shall be the Central Provincial Online Database. This includes system programming, encoding of socio-economic profile data and digitization of other PLGU documents and records based on the workshop outputs. Information on citizens’ data needs and government programs/ projects/ services, plans and budget, procurement, financial, legislative, etc. shall be prioritized.
Source of Fund: PPDO
January 2019 – December 2019
Conduct of consultation and updating of provincial government services and programs with the 199 barangay captains through the “Usaping Integridad Kasama si Kap” at least once a year.
Source of Fund: PGO
August 2018 – December 2020
Enactment/Passage of Provincial Freedom of Information (FOI) Ordinance.
Presidential Communicatio ns Operations Office (PCOO),
Office of the Vice Governor/ SPO
October 2018-December 2018
Conduct Multi-stakeholder fora on the proposed FOI Ordinance (c/o Hivos)
Sangguniang Panlalawigan Office (SPO) and Office of the Vice Governor
Office of the Vice Governor/ SPO
September 2019-2019

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