OGP Local: Empowering LGUs towards an open, transparent, accountable, and inclusive Bagong Pilipinas



Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Last week, I was thrilled to learn that four of the 55 new members¬ of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Local Program came from the Philippines — the most for any country in the Asia-Pacific Region!

For those who may be unfamiliar, OGP is a broad partnership that includes 75 countries and 104 local governments — representing over two billion people — and thousands of civil society organizations (CSOs). Founded in 2011 by the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the unique partnership aims to promote transparent, participatory, inclusive and accountable governance.

Through the years, the Philippine-OGP (PH-OGP) has upheld our commitment to open government, producing five national action plans, with the sixth being approved and published in December last year. We institutionalized open government through Executive Order No. 31, signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PBBM) in June 2023. This allows the synchronization and complementation of open government initiatives among the three coequal branches of government towards promoting transparency, strengthening social accountability, and empowering citizens.

Several of our commitments have been acknowledged internationally — the last one being the adoption of a bottom-up approach that reflects broad stakeholder input in the co-creation process, according to the latest Independent Reporting Mechanism Results. We showcased our structural reforms on the budget process, digitalization, and amendments to the Government Procurement Reform Act at the 2023 OGP Global Summit held in Tallinn, Estonia in September, where the Philippines was lauded by OGP Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Pradhan as “a country with open government in its DNA.”

Hence, as PH-OGP Chairperson, I proudly welcome our new members to the fold. These are the local government units (LGUs) of Baguio, Larena, Quezon City, and Tagbilaran. I congratulate them for getting accepted by the OGP Local, which is not a small feat considering the stringent application process. I learned that there were 138 expressions of interest worldwide during the call, of which 55 were selected based on the value proposition to join OGP, high-level political commitment, the government’s track record in open government reforms, and engagement with local non-governmental stakeholders. These, aside from other factors considered to ensure a diverse cohort, such as regional balance, type of jurisdiction, and population size, as well as different strengths to complement the overall objectives of OGP Local.

I believe that Baguio City was selected for its commitment to OGP initiatives, focusing on innovation, technology, and citizen welfare, among others. It uses technology to enhance public services, making them more citizen-centric. By engaging with neighboring governments, international organizations, and OGP members, the city will be able to tap into a global network of knowledge and best practices, which enhances civic engagement, fosters transparency, and promotes accountability.

Meanwhile, I was happily surprised by the inclusion of the Municipality of Larena, a fifth-class municipality in the province of Siquijor, in the list. I note that the LGU of Larena wishes to join OGP to improve its services and foster transparency, accountability, and collaboration with stakeholders by instituting open government reforms across policy domains, including participatory budgeting, climate action measures, and digital governance. The local jurisdiction has undertaken a comprehensive Rapid Needs Assessment, engaging with residents across all 23 barangays in the municipality. The assessment findings shape its strategic plans, fostering more targeted, responsive, and community-driven development initiatives for the overall welfare of its residents.

Quezon City, on the other hand, is committed to promoting good governance through policies and programs. By joining OGP Local, Quezon City aims to build an open, inclusive, participatory, and accountable government. The city’s 14-point agenda includes empowering citizens, being a good governance model, and understanding their needs. The city has digitalized nearly 20 services and programs, promoting efficiency and fostering partnerships. The People’s Council of Quezon City is being activated to strengthen the voice of over 5,000 accredited civil society organizations. Participation in OGP Local would help maximize the potential of these organizations and expand policies toward citizen participation.

Tagbilaran City, a third-class component city and the capital of and gateway to the province of Bohol, joined OGP Local to strengthen collaboration with CSOs and the private sector. Its goals are to establish a robust public participation framework in city governance and to promote transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement. The city has a track record of fostering citizen engagement and collaboration with CSOs, including initiatives like the People Participation in Governance Ordinance and the USAID SURGE Project. Participation in OGP Local enhances the local government's visibility nationally and globally, drawing positive attention and support for local initiatives. Tagbilaran City is an integral part of USAID's Cities Development Initiative.

The four LGUs joined South Cotabato, which was accepted by the OGP in 2018, and Borongan, in 2020. With six LGUs now part of OGP, I am happy that OGP is present at the grassroots in the NCR, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. I am positive that this is a big boost to our campaign for open governance. I firmly believe that their commitment to accountability and transparency will serve as an inspiration for other local communities. Thus, I look forward to working with them, as well as more of our LGUs, to make our government more open, transparent, and accountable.

Beyond budget, PH-OGP has been gaining momentum with the full support of PBBM. As its chairperson, I am happy to see that as we engage with the LGUs at the grass-roots, we are encouraging more and more to commit to the partnership. Thus, I hope our co-creators will continue to translate the open government community’s positive energy into lasting policy change and tackle current and future challenges for our Bagong Pilipinas.


(Amenah F. Pangandaman is the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management.)