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Open Gov Week 2024 Opening Ceremony
Luxent Hotel, Quezon City

OGP 2024 Ceremony

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

Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh. 

First, I would like to thank the Philippine Open Government Partnership (PH-OGP) Secretariat, headed by no less than DBM Assistant Secretary Rolando U. Toledo; PH-OGP Steering Committee Members; our commitment holders; representatives from the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM); our development partners; Mr. Christoph Wagner, our Head of  Cooperation of the European Union (EU) delegation to the Philippines; Dr. Selva Ramachandran, our Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); fellow reformers; policy experts; youth leaders; and civil society advocates for joining us in this endeavor and making this event a success.

All across the globe, we are facing a web of crises in the form of immense economic challenges, inequity, geopolitical shifts, a growing climate crisis, and the additional layers of complexity brought by new and emerging technology. 

Despite this, a ray of hope shines through with the government and civil society working together to co-create ambitious and impactful reforms that transform our communities through the Open Government Partnership (OGP). And so, for this year’s Open Gov Week, we are called to “Meet the Moment. Raise Ambition. Rise to the Challenge.”

We meet the moment when we maximize our engagement in government decision-making. As reformers, it is upon us to take action against the perceived ills of our society, initiate change, and mobilize our fellow citizens to do the same. We must take advantage of the available platforms and use our voices, skills, and resources to the fullest extent. 

In October 2023, with the valuable support of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine Information Agency, we launched our flagship open government nationwide advocacy campaign to strengthen public participation, “OGPinas!” And I am happy to share that in just seven months, we have already engaged 1,500 Filipinos from several provinces, cities, municipalities, and CSOs nationwide, encouraging everyone to inculcate the values of open government. 

Best of all, we established the Support and Assistance Fund to Participatory Budgeting, making public participation in government a reality, as this will give 75 municipalities across the country access to safely managed and resilient water supply and sanitation services, but it will be the CSOs themselves who will identify the beneficiaries. 

At PH-OGP, this is how we meet the moment.

Further, according to the OGP’s Articles of Governance, OGP commitments should “stretch government practice beyond its current baseline concerning key areas of open government.” Hence, it is our commitment that we will achieve demonstrable improvements in the ten open government policy areas, thereby strengthening democracies and improving communities. 

I am confident that we will achieve this as the first thing we did when I became OGP Chair was we institutionalized the PH-OGP—thanks to our President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.—through Executive Order No. 31. Through this, we now have not only a whole of government but a whole of open government approach: the Judiciary became a commitment holder in the 6th PH-OGP National Action Plan—the country’s first-ever medium-term national action plan on open government—and the members of the Senate have likewise expressed full support for our shared cause. 

We have also welcomed a new set of non-government members to the PH-OGP Steering Committee, with a broader scope of representation by including representatives from the women, youth, environment and climate, and justice sectors. Relatedly, in today’s program, we will recognize our civil society changemakers—previous Steering Committee members who have been instrumental in laying the foundations of a strong and inclusive community of open government reformers.

And of course, we are also very proud of our four additional Local Government Units—Baguio City, Quezon City, Municipality of Larena, and Tagbilaran City—which have raised their ambition for open government and made it to the prestigious OGP Local Program.

Finally, we note that the ten open government policy areas were also the highlight of the Open Gov Challenge launched during the 2023 OGP Global Summit held in Tallinn, Estonia, which we attended and for which the Philippines sent one of the biggest delegations. Likewise, this is the challenge before us in this year’s Open Gov Week and the challenge we at the PH-OGP have been actively responding to.

As you can see, we have accomplished a lot for PH-OGP in recent months. And it warms my heart to see that more than meeting the moment, we have attested to the vibrancy of the open government movement and civic space in the Philippines. More than raising ambition, we have raised the quality of discussion on the country’s governance. And more than rising to the challenge, we have made significant strides to uplift the lives of our fellow Filipinos as represented in each of our sectors. 

What remains now is for us to continue, if not surpass, what we do; be steadfast in our pursuit of a genuine open government; and realize our vision for a Bagong Pilipinas—a nation with an open government that meets the moment, raises ambition, and rises to the challenge.

Thank you very much.

Wabillahi Tawfiq Wal Hidaya, Wasalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.