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Roundtable on Democratic Renewal:
Making Democracies Stronger Through Openness
September 7, 2023, 10:15 am

Roundtable on Democratic Renewal


To our colleagues from the Open Government Partnership community, a pleasant morning.

Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

The Philippines is the first constitutional democracy in Asia. It was also in the Philippines that the historic People Power Revolution took place 37 years ago.

As a true testament to the Philippines’ thriving democracy, no less than our President, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said at the last People Power Anniversary (and I quote): "I am one with the nation in remembering those times of tribulation and how we came out of them united and stronger as a nation...I once again offer my hand of reconciliation to those with different political persuasions to come together as one in forging a better society—one that will pursue progress and peace and a better life for all Filipinos." I believe this is a prime example not only of political maturity and our President’s strong commitment to unity and peace but also of the true democracy that we are blessed to have in the Philippines.

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, a London-based think tank, the 2022 Democracy Index of the Philippines was 6.73 out of 10, while a local survey conducted in the last quarter of the same year found that a record-high of 89 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with how our democracy works.

These statistics reveal that our democracy, while present, is still a work in progress. We are also happy to note that while a report from the Freedom House says that the global freedom declined worldwide for seventeen consecutive years. The Philippines, however, gained improvements for the past years.

Again, it is still a work in progress. Nevertheless, we are striving to make it the best quality of democracy we can provide for the Filipino people, given our sociopolitical context.

Revitalizing democracy and strengthening democratic institutions require constant effort, especially as we face more complex challenges in these changing times. That is why on our end, we have been working very hard to strengthen open government in the Philippines.

And I am proud to share that our hard work has begun to bear fruit. Last June 20, 2023, our President signed Executive Order (EO) No. 31, which we initiated. This is a landmark EO that—for the first time—institutionalizes the Philippine Open Government Partnership or PH-OGP. This entails the creation of a policy and decision-making multi-stakeholder forum composed of government and civil society representatives. It also formalizes the country’s commitment to open governance through the PH-OGP National Action Plan.

Through this EO, we are transforming the whole-of-government approach into what we can call the whole-of-OPEN-government approach as the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches—in spite of being independent of each other—come together to harmonize our open government initiatives. We also plan to cascade this to the local level, ensuring vertical and horizontal open government integration.

Further, we are now preparing the country's first-ever medium-term OGP National Action Plan, which has a new feature in its design process through a technical intervention that ensures symmetry across commitment designs—from results to milestones—following theories of change.

On top of these, the Philippines remains committed to strengthening democracy and open government ​by having an open budget​, as we publish all our budget documents; open contracting,​ where we encourage open information in all stages of our procurement process; and open dialogue​, where we encourage public participation in policy-making.

We believe democracy is the best foundation for a sustainable and prosperous society—a society that we commonly aspire for in our countries. But, the success of our efforts would only be possible through the support of the whole OGP community. Together, let us scale up our actions in advancing reforms to build healthier and more vibrant democracies for our nations and the generations to come.

Let us truly embody a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Because a democracy without participation is no democracy.

Again, thank you very much. Maraming salamat po.