PH Open Governance: Leading the globe to drive meaningful change



Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Last week was a double win for open governance in our country, as we celebrated Open Government Week! 

The first excellent news is that the Philippines has been recognized as a global leader in budget transparency, oversight, and public participation through the 2023 Open Budget Survey (OBS),  the world’s only independent, comparative, and fact-based research instrument that measures governance and accountability. I am thrilled because this distinction is not a minor feat. The OBS, conducted by the International Budget Partnership biennially, is based on a rigorous objective methodology subject to independent peer review. 

Our country secured the top spot for budget transparency with a score of 75 out of 100, making the Philippines the most fiscally transparent nation, not merely in Southeast Asia, but in the whole of Asia. Worldwide, we ranked 15th, significantly exceeding the global average score of 45. Our score climbed seven points, a marked improvement from 68 in 2021. Moreover, it surpassed the government’s target score of 71 under the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028. 

This distinction resulted from the timely and comprehensive publication of the eight key budget documents. The Department of Budget and Management's (DBM’s) People’s Budget series scored 92 out of 100, praised for its comprehensive yet straightforward approach to key budget documents. Meanwhile, the pre-budget statement and In-Year Reports received high scores of 89 and 85, respectively. The OBS further noted the increased budget information availability through the online and on-time publication of the Mid-Year Review. Nevertheless, the OBS recommends sustaining and institutionalizing this publication and enhancing its comprehensiveness to include updated expenditure estimates. 

Meanwhile, the Philippines also maintained its lead in Southeast Asia by providing formal opportunities for meaningful public participation in the different stages of the budget process. We ranked 13th worldwide with a score of 33 out of 100, significantly higher than the global average score of 15.  The OBS noted DBM’s establishment of a council during budget formulation and implementation. To further strengthen participation, it recommends expanding mechanisms for civil society participation in budget formulation and implementation and actively engaging with vulnerable and underrepresented communities. We take these recommendations to heart and will be working on them. 

Further, I congratulate the legislature and the Commission on Audit as the Philippines placed sixth globally for budget oversight with a composite score of 83 out of 100, next to Norway, South Korea, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Brazil, and the United States.  

Indeed, the OBS results are solid proof that the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PBBM) works for and with the people to promote good governance in the country. As the President emphasized during the signing of the 2024 national budget, “In the end, every line in this budget when translated to projects — from roads to schools to hospitals — will transform our country for the better and the lives of our people for the better.”  

Another piece of news that caused great excitement is our country’s election as one of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee’s new members on May 30, 2024.  The Steering Committee is the executive, decision-making body that develops, promotes, and safeguards OGP’s values and principles, including transparency, empowering citizens, fighting corruption, and harnessing new technologies to strengthen governance. As advocates for the Partnership, members play a crucial role in promoting collective action on key thematic issues and other OGP priorities through active participation in high-level OGP events.

The Philippines will join representatives from Brazil, Estonia, Morocco, and the United Kingdom in a three-year term on Oct. 1, 2024, marking the second time the country will hold a seat on the OGP Steering Committee since OGP was created in 2011, the first being a special one-year term from 2014 to 2015. 

I am convinced that our country's election to the OGP Steering Committee resulted from the President's staunch advocacy of the OGP principles as manifested in the historic institutionalization of the PH-OGP through Executive Order (EO) No. 31 and the digitalization of Public Financial Management systems, via the full adoption of the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems under EO No. 29. Further, we are actively promoting the localization of OGP through various initiatives in the country, including “OGPinas!”, a nationwide advocacy campaign, already engaging 1,500 Filipinos in nine provinces in just seven months. Another impactful initiative is the Support and Assistance Fund to Participatory Budgeting which will provide 75 municipalities with access to safely managed and resilient water supplies in a participatory process involving local Civil Society Organizations. We also mobilized one of the biggest delegations to the 2023 OGP Global Summit held in Tallinn, Estonia, showcasing our whole-of-nation support for the advocacy. 

 Thus, as Chair of the PH-OGP, I am truly grateful to be given the rare opportunity to represent the country and show the world that the Philippines is not solely a great example of open government but a bastion of OGP principles. In this regard, I will continue to use my voice and influence, especially through this platform, to mainstream open government globally and domestically, strengthen alliances and partnerships in our community of nations, and most importantly, realize action-oriented commitments in opening governments to the people.

Beyond budget, the Bagong Pilipinas of the PBBM administration underscores the importance of having a budget system that is inclusive, sustainable, transparent, fosters public participation, and has adequate budget oversight.  Rest assured that we, at the DBM, are committed to working toward an open and participatory government as we chair the PH-OGP Steering Committee and as our country becomes an active player globally in building a movement to drive change that benefits not only our people but the rest of the world.

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