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VIIIth Academic Days on Open Government and Digital Issues
November 8, 2023

My heartfelt greetings to our fellow champions and advocates of open government and good governance!

Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

I am Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman, Chair of the Philippine Open Government Partnership.

It is my pleasure to deliver this keynote, albeit remotely, for the Eighth Academic Days on Open Government and Digital Issues. I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the organizers of this conference for this platform to discuss open government and digital transformation—two of my top advocacies and priorities as Budget Secretary. Much more so, to share this message not only with my fellow Filipinos but also with professors, experts, and practitioners from around the world.

I cannot emphasize enough the crucial role that the academe plays in promoting a country’s social development and economic growth. Strengthening knowledge networks and platforms empowers our citizens and enables them to engage more in what we, in government, are doing.

I firmly believe that achieving a genuinely transformative and open government requires a whole-of-society approach—one that involves collaboration and co-creation among the government, the private sector, the academe, and civil society. Hence, the Philippine Open Government Partnership, or PH-OGP, has taken great strides to establish mechanisms to achieve this.

The Philippines is in fact one of the eight founding members of the Open Government Partnership or OGP, although even before joining the OGP, the Philippines had already facilitated high levels of engagement between the state and civil society.

But the OGP presented us with the opportunity to formalize efforts in opening up the government and mobilizing coalitions to bring issues that matter on the ground to the government’s attention.

This has resulted in various reforms with impactful outcomes.

For instance, the Citizen Participatory Audit Program of our Commission on Audit, which opened up the state’s auditing process to citizens, resulted in greater efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources and was hailed as an OGP Bright Spot Awardee in 2013.

In 2015, when the Philippines committed to the reform of reducing bureaucratic red tape in doing business in its 4th National Action Plan (NAP), the country’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report improved. From 138 out of 189 countries in 2013, our rank went up to 108 in 2014 and 95 in 2015. More significantly, investments increased by 10 percent over the same period.

In 2016, we were recognized to be the first among over 50 countries to have achieved satisfactory progress in implementing the 2016 Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative Standard.

During the pandemic, the Philippines was one of the four countries and the only Asian country to have achieved an adequate level of accountability in its early COVID-19 fiscal policies driven by the Fiscal Openness Program of the Department of Budget and Management.

Alongside this, the country’s score in the 2021 Open Budget Survey remained above the global average, positioning the Philippines within the top 30 among over 120 participating countries. I am proud to share that the Philippines is considered a leader in the ASEAN Region in budget transparency.

Beyond these accolades, for me, the most momentous win for open government in the country has been the institutionalization of open government. With the support of our President, President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., we now have Executive Order (EO) No. 31, series of 2023. This is a landmark EO through which the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches—despite being independent of each other—will now work closely to synchronize and complement open government initiatives.

On top of EO 31, we continue to advocate for open government through the following:

  • We are bringing PH-OGP to the local level through our Open Government National Advocacy Campaign to Strengthen Public Participation, which we call OGPinas.
  • For the youth, we have conducted the first-ever National OGP Consultation with Adolescents and Children.
  • Towards digitalization for open government, our President, PBBM, has also signed Executive Order No. 29, which provides for the digital transformation of the bureaucracy through the full adoption of the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems.
  • We are also reforming our 20-year-old Government Procurement Reform Act to include a public participation mechanism wherein at least two observers—one from the private sector and the other from a Civil Society Organization—will be invited to sit in procurement proceedings.
  • We were also one of the selected countries to receive the grant from the 2023 Lift Impact Accelerator Program of the Open Contracting Partnership.

Finally, we are currently preparing our 6th PH-OGP National Action Plan, the country's first-ever medium-term open government action plan.

With all of these initiatives and endeavors, I hope that we can live up to the kind words of OGP Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Pradhan at the OGP Global Summit in Tallinn, Estonia wherein he lauded the Philippines for being [and I quote] "a trailblazer in open governance not only in Asia but also within the partnership."

We still have a lot to do in terms of open government but with your invaluable support—our fellow champions and advocates from different parts of the world—it is our fervent hope that we can write an OGP story that ends with a dream come true: a government that is inclusive, transparent, accountable, responsive, and truly open.

Thank you very much. Wabillahi Tawfiq Wal Hidaya, Wasalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.