CSOs raise budget standard to 3Ks: kwenta, kwenta, kilos
(Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, October 24, 2014) — Participants of the Good Governance Dialogues in Cagayan de Oro saw citizen engagement in action as civil society organizations (CSOs) pushed for a third “K” to be added to Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad’s “may kwento ang bawat kwenta” mantra. More than kwento and kwenta, there should be also be “kilos,” said a CSO representative during the forum, attended by close to 200 heads of local government units and CSOs from Regions IX, X and XIII.
Previously held in Manila and Cebu, the series of regional fora is organized by the Cabinet Cluster on Good Governance and Anti Corruption, in cooperation with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) and INCITEGov. The regional forum is supported by the USAID-Facilitating Public Investment (FPI) project. It aims to make governance accessible to the grassroots by bringing together national and local governments, civil society organizations, business, academe and development partners for meaningful engagement.
DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad opened the first day of the dialogues yesterday with a presentation on the reforms instituted under the Aquino Administration’s Budget Transformation agenda. Central to these reforms, according to Secretary Abad, is the policy of “spending within our means, on the right priorities, and with measurable results.”
For its part, the USAID-FPI, represented by USAID Mission Director Gloria Steele, expressed its continuing support for the regional forum, as we as overall efforts by the government’s to bring stakeholders together to promote good governance and make government reforms work for the people.
With budget openness framing the dialogues, the panel sessions on the second day focused on localizing good governance and inclusive government by exploring ways by which local government units and CSOs can build linkages towards meaningful and constructive engagement.
The first talakayan session drew out the innovative ways model local governments are localizing good governance and creating inclusive local governments. The panel was composed of Mayor Evelyn Uy of Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte; Vice Governor Ma. Cristina Navarro-Atay of Lanao del Norte; Councilor Melleanette Mercado of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental; and Councilor Kirk Asis of Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur. The session emphasized the importance of empowering CSOs and citizens to take part in the government so programs are responsive to needs, especially of sectors like persons with disabilities (PWD), women and children, and youth.
For the second talakayan session, DBM Undersecretary Richard Moya and Assistant Secretary Maxine Tanya Hamada, Department of Social Welfare and Development Assistant Secretary Camilo Gudmalin, and Marie Labajo of the National Anti-Poverty Commission weighed in on the state of citizen engagement in the current government.
The panelists discussed at length current government initiatives for citizen engagement, such as the award-winning Grassroots Participatory Budget Process and the bigger challenge of sustaining the positive gains in opening the government. Undersecretary Moya emphasized the importance of choosing leaders that will continue the reforms. Assistant Secretary Hamada, on the other hand, raised the urgent need to confront such challenges that have an impact on citizen engagement, such as downloading public funds to CSOs for program implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The government challenge to CSOs is to co-create the solution by coming up with localized commitment plans.
The second day concluded with participants converging to create a commitment plan to localize good and inclusive governance. These plans were presented to the Governance Cluster secretariat to feed into the country’s next Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitment plan.
The next Good Governance Dialogues will happen in Davao City and Baguio City in November. To join the good governance discussion online, “like” GGAC’s page (https://www.facebook.com/goodgovernancedialogue) on Facebook, or follow @goodgovPH) and the hashtags #goodgovPH and #opengovPH on Twitter.