Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) website, Pera Natin 'To! (This is our money!), launched on March 23. More than 70 representatives from 37 public and private sector organizations attended the event, held at the University of the Philippines. The anti-corruption reporting project aims to improve understanding of public accountability and governance, and to promote collaborative engagement by journalists, activists, civil servants and citizens.
“PPTRP is built on the belief that corruption in public life will only ever be reduced when ordinary people are able to understand, monitor and ultimately have a say on where and how public money is spent," said Alan Davis, the project’s director. The project will build a cross-sector constituency for stronger public transparency through communication, debate and dialogue, he said.
The website provides information on governance and public finances monitoring issues, including budgets, procurement policies, infrastructure funding, taxation and revenue. While boosting public scrutiny of corruption, the website will also highlight progress towards good governance.
“The project intends to spread awareness of public finance and other facets of government so that people will understand and participate in the constituency for change,” said Maria Rendon, acting chief of USAID’s Office of Economic Development and Governance. “We hope that PPTRP will serve as a platform not only for discussing issues, but also for sharing victories in good governance.”
Economist and broadcaster Solita Collas-Monsod said the website is a strong resource in an environment “where rules, laws and regulations are ignored and broken,” and where lack of transparency has become the rule rather than the exception. “[Now] everything is at my fingertips,” she said. She also urged PPTRP to look at quantifiable indicators of success, to advocate for freedom of information and to monitor institutions.
A roundtable discussion on forcing change through collaboration complemented the website launch. Panelists included executives from the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), Ehem! Anti-Corruption Project and the Commission on Audit, Transparency and Accountability Network.
In his presentation of PPTRP’s media and public accountability survey results, Victor Batario, CCJD’s executive director, said that the media face huge challenges in addressing corruption, including limited information, compromised security, poor economic conditions and political patronage.
Website visitors have reacted positively, saying the site will help inform them on what is being done and how their taxes are being spent. Delegates from the European Union, the Australian Agency for International Development, the Asia Foundation and the embassies of Norway, Germany, United Kingdom and Australia also attended.
This project is a joint initiative of ABA ROLI, USAID, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the CCJD, the Mindanao News and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
You can access the PPTRP website at http://www.transparencyreporting.net/
To learn more about our work in the Philippines, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <[email protected]>.