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Insights on the Philippines’ 4th National Action Plan: Co-Creating our Governance Outcomes

Nino Verzosa|

Together with its broad constituency of advocates and champions across the country, the Philippines will officially launch its 4TH National Action Plan (NAP) on 15 August. Two significant milestones have been reached at this point – the launch of the NAP itself and continuing the work on OGP under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. The continued commitment to OGP by the new administration is not about government alone. It is also the result of the persistent work of the bureaucracy and civil society actors. Since Philippines became a founding member of OGP back in 2011, the platform has fostered a symbiotic relationship in which both the state and civil society support each other and share accountability in making government more open.

Evolving OGP advocacy

Even before the transition to a new government in 2016, civil society reached out to all Presidential candidates to elaborate their positions and secure their commitment to the open government agenda. Soon after the June 2016 election, civil society and other non-government champions in OGP in the Philippines quickly organized themselves, and with the assistance of the OGP government secretariat and other bureaucrats, reached out to the leaders of the  new administration. Would the new administration continue its commitments to OGP was the prevailing  question at the time. It was a litmus test for the strength of the platform in the country and what it had achieved in its first phase, and  both local and international partners and observers awaited the outcome with much anticipation.

The process was not easy. Regional and domestic events were used to garner interest and support from key Ministers in the new administration, and a constructive dialogue at the the OGP Philippines Steering Committee convened at the end of the first quarter of the new administration’s term helped in ensuring that the partnership withstood the political transition. It took many, many dialogues and relentless work by the bureaucracy and civil society, proactive outreach to the new leaders and middle-level agency chiefs and finding areas of common ground to work on through the platform. It took honest evaluation and learning from previous actions plans and IRM reports.

Through the strong support of the Philippines’ Department of Budget and Management, the United States Agency for International Development – Facilitating Public Investment project, an intensive country-wide consultation was held for the development of the fourth NAP, and a formal documented process has been institutionalized by both the government and non-government secretariat. In the space of a year, the non-governmental CSO-Co Chair, headed by the International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance or INCITEGov, was able to establish and sustain a functional non-government secretariat with development partner support from Making All Voices Count. This secretariat was able to establish a more formal process of nominating and electing non-government representatives in the Steering Committee, learning from the first nationwide “non-gov” election held in March 2016. It is a big leap and achievement for advocates and champions for OGP.

Looking ahead

The fourth NAP, titled “Co-creating Governance Outcomes with the Filipino People” contains 12 commitments, five of which are commitments carried over from the third NAP. Seven are new commitments. One of the innovations introduced in this new plan is the inclusion of sub-national commitments initiated by the provinces of Bohol, Albay, and Surigao del Norte.  In a nutshell, of the 12 commitments and initiatives, 10 of these address the values of Open Governance on Access to Information, 9 commitments push for Public Accountability, 8 commitments address Technology and Innovation, and almost all (11 of the 12) promote Civic Participation. These commitments speak to the work of the constituency and champions of OGP in the Philippines.

The milestones of the PH-OGP platform should begin to show concrete results in the first year of implementation. The NAP has concrete and measurable outcomes to bring governance to the next level and enhance the lives of those in the peripheries. The story of OGP continues at this new juncture. We hope that close engagement with this platform will help bridge the gap and deepen the development outcomes set by national and local governments, as well as citizens and civil society organizations. OGP offers our citizens, communities, and organizations a seat at the table,  as well as an avenue to influence the policy agenda, and a place to voice their demands to improve accountability in government. We can take a moment to pause and celebrate OGP passing the test of the political transition, but the ultimate success of the partnership will be in ensuring that the promises made in this fourth NAP are delivered.

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