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PH-OGP Diplomatic Reception
The Marble Hall, Ayuntamiento de Manila, Intramuros

PH-OGP Diplomatic Reception

To our Guest of Honor, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin;

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court here present;

My colleagues in the Cabinet and fellow government officials;

My co-chair in the Philippine Open Government Partnership (PH-OGP), Ms. Aurora Chavez and members of the PH-OGP Steering Committee;

Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps;

and to our fellow champions and advocates of open government and good governance;

Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

First, please allow me to express my sincerest gratitude to the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and international organizations accredited to the Republic of the Philippines for generously accepting our invitation. We are celebrating Open Government Week around the world, not just in the Philippines, so being with all of you tonight is a strong sign of our one voice with the community of nations in pursuing open government.

I would also like to thank the Office of the Executive Secretary, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the PH-OGP Steering Committee, the PH-OGP Secretariat, and our National Action Plan commitment holders for their invaluable support in ensuring the success of this event.

As I mentioned, together with the rest of the world, we are celebrating the 2024 Open Government or Open Gov Week. This year's theme is: “Meet the Moment. Raise Ambition. Rise to the Challenge.” We are calling on the open government community of reformers to take action and respond to the Open Gov Challenge. 

The Open Gov Challenge—launched during the OGP Global Summit held in Tallinn, Estonia, in October of last year—aims to accelerate solutions in ten key policy areas of open government, namely access to information, anti-corruption, civic space, climate and environment, digital governance, fiscal openness, gender and inclusion, justice, media freedom, and public participation.

OGP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sanjay Pradhan noted in his remarks at the Global Summit that to scale up ambitious reforms, we must mobilize stronger leadership inside our partnership and broaden our champions beyond our OGP community. This requires more OGP Heads of State and Ministers to visibly champion open government nationally and globally, mobilize ministries across the whole of government, and strengthen partnerships with key global platforms. 

The role of the Diplomatic Corps in realizing our shared aspiration to make our nations more open, participatory, inclusive, and accountable is crucial. We have already seen this when the Philippines joined other countries in founding the United Nations in 1945, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967, and the OGP in 2011—all of which have significantly contributed to addressing global pressing concerns and have cemented their place as vital multilateral institutions.

Diplomacy, as you know, is instrumental in achieving national development goals. In the Philippines, it was essential in achieving a lasting solution to the recurring conflict in Mindanao and has likewise played a role in promoting economic stability and security across different administrations. Certainly, it will be vital in pursuing a genuine open government in the country.

As such, the PH-OGP has been working hard to lay solid foundations for open government locally and internationally. This is why we brought one of the biggest delegations to the 2023 OGP Global Summit, with delegates not just from the Executive Branch but from all three branches of government, including the Supreme Court.

At this Global Summit, we are very proud that no less than OGP CEO Pradhan recognized the Philippines as “a trailblazer in open governance not only in Asia but also within the Partnership.” 

While the Philippines is a founding member of the Open Government Partnership, with our participation dating back to 2011 or over 12 years ago, we continue to work hard on being at the forefront of open government. 

Under this Administration, at the initiative of DBM and with the immense support of our president, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PBBM), we have institutionalized—for the first time—the PH-OGP through the issuance of Executive Order No. 31. Our profuse thanks to our President who is dedicated to making open government a vehicle for transformation of the Administration. This marked a historic feat for good governance in the country, paving the way for our Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches—despite being independent of each other—including our constitutional offices, to synchronize and complement open government initiatives.

As a testament as well to the Administration's commitment to open government, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) identified OGP as a key mechanism in deepening participatory governance in the country’s socioeconomic transformation blueprint, the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028. This initiative was strongly commended at the OGP Global Summit.

To give life to this strategy and put public participation in action, we broadened the scope of representation in the PH-OGP Steering Committee to 20 members based on emerging global and national open government priorities. I am happy to share that the Committee now includes representatives from the women, youth, environment and climate, and justice sectors—ensuring all voices are heard in the country’s governance.

To bring public participation beyond the Steering Committee, we launched the “OGPinas!”, our flagship nationwide advocacy campaign to strengthen public participation, reaching even the country’s farthest regions. I have personally joined the dialogues with Civil Society Organizations and other sectors through this campaign, and since its launch, we have been to 9 provinces in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and even BARMM, and we have personally engaged with more than 1,500 Filipinos and counting. 

I am also very proud to share that our local advocacy movement has borne fruit: four out of 55 new members of the prestigious OGP Local Program are local government units from the Philippines! And, we acknowledge the mayors of these LGUs who are here with us tonight. Let us give them a big hand! They are from Quezon City, Tagbilaran, the municipality of Larena, and Baguio City (Borongan and Cotabato have been members from way back). So Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and BARRM are well represented.  

Alongside these, in fulfillment of the requirement of the OGP to produce a National Action Plan co-created with citizens, we have raised the bar, and instead of just producing a National Action Plan for one year, we completed the country’s first-ever medium-term action plan on open government through a highly consultative process, involving even children and the youth. This was a groundbreaking move, but we pushed for this because it ensures the sustainability of our commitments. I am proud that we now even have the Judiciary as a commitment holder—thanks to our dynamic Chief Justice as well, who is here with us tonight in full support of OGP—promoting open and accessible justice institutions.

At the DBM, we are also giving life to OGP by practicing participatory budgeting. I am pleased to report that 75 municipalities nationwide will receive access to safely managed and resilient water supply and sanitation services through the Support and Assistance Fund to Participatory Budgeting. The unique facet of this assistance fund is that the beneficiaries will be identified not by the government but by CSOs, attesting to the DBM's commitment to the OGP principle of citizens' participation as we deliver concrete benefits for our local governments.

In addition, we have localized access to information in 61 local governments and developed accessible means for the public to request information from 570 government agencies through the Freedom of Information Acceleration Program.

This is reflected in the country’s strong performance in the latest Open Budget Survey, which has positioned the Philippines within the top 30 among over 120 participating countries and a leader in the ASEAN Region in budget transparency. 

To further strengthen accountability and ensure transparency, we will be guided by our Digital Transformation Roadmap, which promotes digitalization in fiscal-related government processes and data governance, thereby future-proofing our Public Financial Management system. In line with our 6th PH-OGP National Action Plan, we are implementing several digitalization projects, including Project DIME or the Digital Information for Monitoring and Evaluation Project, which utilizes existing technologies such as satellites, drones, and geotagging to compare fund utilization with actual project completion status.

At the OGP Global Summit in Estonia, one of my presentations that got the most applause and positive feedback was when I said that we are working on a new procurement system wherein we will enable public participation at all levels of the procurement process. I am happy to share that as of last week, or May 22 to be exact, with just a few months since the Global Summit, the New Government Procurement Act which I mentioned, has been ratified by Congress.

With the hard work as well of our DBM team, with our Procurement Service and our Government Procurement Policy Board, which I likewise Chair, our 20-year-old Government Procurement Reform Act has finally been updated to include a public participation mechanism, wherein observers from the private sector and civil society will now be invited to participate in procurement proceedings. This is a monumental win for efficiency, transparency, accountability, and OGP. To our legislators here today, maraming salamat po.

As you can see, we have been working very hard on OGP. And tonight, I have a big announcement to make: I am so excited to share with all of you that the Philippines has been chosen to host the OGP Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting in 2025! This will be in the first quarter of next year, and we hope to make this the most dynamic, fruitful, and memorable OGP Regional Summit. We hope that our Diplomatic friends will give us their full support for this gathering of OGP member nations in the region. 

We believe that good governance and open government have been important drivers of economic growth and development, not only in the Philippines but across Asia and the Pacific Region. With your support, we intend to leverage this, together with our vast experience in open government as evidenced by our accomplishments, emphasizing the importance of diplomacy to foster dialogue, peer-to-peer exchange, and transformational collaborations within the Partnership and beyond.

We have accomplished a lot for open government in recent years. Hence, imagining the greater heights that we will achieve and the potential impact that we will create through the OGP gives us hope for a better and brighter future. 

And so, circling back to this week’s theme, in the spirit of diplomacy and camaraderie, let us meet the moment, raise ambition, and rise to the challenge—TOGETHER.

We hope to see you all at the Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting! For now, please enjoy the evening, and let's celebrate our OGP wins!

I am confident that together, as Bagong Pilipinas, we will ensure that we remain a great example and a leader in OGP—in Asia and the Pacific and in the community of nations. In Shaa Allah. 

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

Maraming salamat po. Mabuhay ang OGP! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!