South Cotabato - Open Government Partnership Commitments
These are the FIVE (5) Open Government Partnership (OGP) Commitments of South Cotabato. Each commitments were formulated through the thorough evaluation of the needs of the public. Certain departments from the Province of South Cotabato, CSOs, and Private Sectors plays a vital role in the accomplishment of these commitments.
Increasing Inclusivity in Public Access to Government Information for Inclusive Growth
Poverty level is still high especially in isolated communities of indigenous peoples. How can the government respond to what people really need when citizens have limited access to government information?
The public will be better able to access government data and provide feedback both online and offline. They can view and save info on programs and services anywhere with Internet. If they have no Internet, a direct community engagement program will record what citizens want to ask the Governor. They will then air the Governor’s response over radio.
Developing and Integrating Transparency Standards and Systems for Increased Accountability and Social Responsibility in Extractive Industries of South Cotabato
People are misinformed about mining activities in the province. They either do not have access to information about such activities, or they are not capable of understanding the information. This has caused tension and conflict within communities affected by mining, and between anti and pro-mining groups. How can the government solve this?
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standards will be integrated. Transparency about mining, quarrying and energy industries in the province will be improved. People will also be better engaged through the systems this commitment will implement.
Enhancing Efficiency and Transparency of the Public Procurement Process
Completion of infrastructure projects are delayed due to problems in procurement, including not enough suppliers/contractors bidding and delays in service delivery by contractors. Problems like these hinder the timely completion of projects. How can the government improve the project procurement process?
This commitment will make the procurement process more open both online and offline. They will then be better able to implement quality infrastructure projects as scheduled. The commitment also allows service delivery that is more effective and efficient.
Open and Participatory Monitoring Towards Quality Infrastructure for Increased
Infrastructure projects sometimes suffer from delayed implementation and completion. There are times when project quality and fund utilization is poor. Ideally, isolated communities should have better access to basic social services while being economically interdependent. Goods, services and mobility should also be improved. How can the government deliver the results they want?
The public will be able to access real-time project monitoring results through an application. They can also give feedback and comments on infrastructure project status. Improved collaboration will help address issues faced in project implementation. Any findings and recommendations will be publicized for better accountability.
Broadening Civic Engagement towards Relevant Local Legislation
Policies affect how localities develop. To reduce poverty, ordinances need to be relevant and effective. The general public must be better engaged for this to happen. Unfortunately, not all legislative measures are open for public hearing. Most people have limited knowledge on these measures. How can the government improve the public’s capability to provide input and propose new legislative measures?
Legislative processes and measures will be distributed both online and offline. Citizens can also be consulted on pieces of legislation over these platforms. This will ensure that the government will pass legislative measures and processes that are relevant.
In order to ensure grassroots-level consultation and participation in the co-creation process, a series of multi-sectoral public consultation meetings and activities were done with different members of the society: CSOs, the business sector as well as the different barangay captains in the province. The six (6) initial commitments, namely: 1) Open Information, 2) Open Monitoring and Evaluation, 3) Open Contracting, 4) Open Mining Information, 5) Open Legislation, and 6) Open Planning and Budgeting, were presented to the different public sectors. A simple voting scheme was done to determine which among the commitments were deemed relevant for the different sectors. Here are the results and analysis of each commitment as well as the reason why the commitment was chosen or not:
Limited information leads to limited knowledge. Limited access to information is an important and timely issue that needs to be addressed. The general public does not have open access to basic data and information on the provincial government. PLGU data are not fully integrated into one database that would be fully available online for easy access. Sometimes, there is also difficulty in gathering data from different offices when there are requests. Giving access to essential and up-to-date data will create an open interaction between the government and the citizens. It will also give way to improve the services and interventions by the government as people will now be aware of their rights to such actions especially those who are living in the remote areas.
Open Monitoring and Evaluation
Infrastructure projects sometimes suffer from delayed implementation and completion. There are times when project quality is poor. Ideally, isolated communities should have better access to basic social services while being economically interdependent. Most of these projects are unable to hit the supposed standards and are thesefore have poor quality. Mobility of people, goods and services should also be improved. During PDC meetings, the Provincial Project Monitoring Committee (PPMC) raised a number of isssues concerning project implementation. If only access to project monitoring results would have been done in real-time, such issues would have been resolved. Hence, there became a need to keep the Open Monitoring and Evaluation commitment to resolve such problem. The Public access to near real – time project monitoring results will significantly reduce incidence of poor implementation of projects. The public can also give feedback and comments on infrastructure project status. Improved collaboration will help address issues faced in project implementation. Findings and recommendations will be publicized for better accountability.
Increased engagement of CSOs, business sectors and most especially the people, will be attained upon the implementation of this commitment. Giving them enough access will be beneficial as they can track the projects and raise concerns met along the way, from planning until the completion of projects. The projects to be conducted can now be done within its time-frame unlike when these are left unchecked. Presentation in a manner where it is easily understood by the people is also the key to the success of the commitment. When done properly, this commitment can lead to lasting growth in putting to life the significant and timely projects for the people.
Open Mining Information
Since mining is one controversial topic yet in need of righful actions to be properly understood by the people, it was decided that Open Mining Information will be retained as a commitment. Misconceptions and allegations surrounding the platform of mining lead people to being skeptical on whats, whys and hows of such activity. The Provincial Environmental Management Office (PEMO), as the lead implementer, has the leadership capacity, manpower and resources to ensure the success of the commitment. A co-ownership between PEMO and its CSO partners (PH-EITI, Bantay Kita and BanToxics) in the implementation of this commitment is also already assured. This commitment’s success rate is high and will lead to the resolution of conflicts between the opposing sides of mining. Not only will the people benefit on this but as well as the government, for it can be a platform where discussions and concerns are much welcome that it will be before.
Open Legislation was selected as a commitment because there were some issues identified concerning citizen participation in the local legislation process. Lack of participation from the citizen in creating and evaluating the policies and ordinances leads to unsuccessful implementation and sustaining of such protocols. Word of mouth is the most common source of legislative information that results in additional and deducted data; but with this commitment. The public will now have access and participation in formulating and assessing policies and ordinances. Providing an accessible platform for the people will definitely increase their interest to take part in this interactive process that can pave way for a brighter future.
Open Planning and Budgeting
While the commitment on Open Mining Information has consistently ranked last in both the voting conducted with the SCIC members and the village chiefs, further discussions with the lead implementing actors of the commitments lead to the decision of dropping the commitment “Open Planning and Budgeting” from the five priorities to be submitted for the first cycle of OGP implementation (2018 – 2020). Feasibility of the commitment would require a wide range of manpower for online and offline tasks, tedious process to generate, process and conduct voting of the submitted budget proposals, and sufficient budget to fund the prioritized proposals. Given the time frame of 2018 – 2020, it would not be feasible to implement the commitment within such period since the Annual Plan and Budget for 2019 was already finalized. Further, ownership of the commitment cannot be handheld by a single governing body – either the Provincial Budget Office (PBO) or the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) cannot take full responsibility in implementing the commitment since PPDO will already be the main implementing office of the OGP as the secretariat while PBO cannot solely work for the commitment without PPDO. In addition to its secretariat and coordination functions to the implementation and monitoring of OGP commitments, the PPDO also is the lead implementer for two (2) more commitments – Open Information and Open Monitoring and Evaluation. This absence of a lead implementer that would fully own the implementation of the commitment would hinder the implementation success of the commitment considering OGP’s standards and timeliness. However, despite its removal from the commitments to be submitted to the OGP, the provincial government will still pursue its implementation but outside the guidelines, standards and timeframe of the OGP since manpwer and financial requirements of the commitment will have to be considered.