Bantay Kita presented as panelist in the recently concluded Philippine Open Government Partnership Summit held at the Dusit Hotel in Makati last March 3-4, 2016. The summit’s theme this year was “Strengthening Strategic Local Government, Civil Society and Academe Partnerships towards Meaningful Devolution and Participation”.
The event aimed to build a stronger coalition to support the gains and standards upheld by the OGP, and assess the gains of OGP commitments, among others. OGP’s vision for governments is to be more transparent and accountable, and ultimately more responsive to the needs of their citizens.
Bantay Kita was represented by its Deputy Coordinator Tina Pimentel as a panelist in the discussion on Reaping the Gains of OGP Through Meaningful CSO Partnerships. She discussed the gains, challenges, and lessons learned in engaging with government and utilizing OGP as a platform for EITI advocacy.
Ms. Pimentel mentioned that OGP fosters meaningful dialogue amongst stakeholders. It creates an environment for knowledge exchange and opportunities to find areas of collaboration amongst stakeholders to work on EITI and beyond. The OGP also helps ensure that efforts are not duplicated, but are complimentary. It provides a platform to harness the strength and opportunities of the group and its individual members to achieve our goal – creating a multiplier effect. More so, OGP is a channel to be informed about successes of others and celebrate individual and group victories in the area of transparency and citizen empowerment – a victory for the group brings us a step closer to a win for our own advocacy. Finally, it adds pressure for government to implement policy reforms identified in the EITI report.
Ms. Pimentel highlighted the challenges encountered in engaging with government. These include: slow bureaucratic processes, compliance-driven, weak ownership /buy-in, politically-bound and the lack of data. To surpass these limitations, BK has had to take on more responsibility in driving the reforms, when needed; push for elements to achieve reforms, not merely compliance; agree to disagree, explore partnerships with other agencies/offices (national and subnational) and stakeholders, and constantly increase pressure and challenge the government.
From the BK experience, Ms. Pimentel concluded that in order to sustain a meaningful CSO-government engagement, dialogues must continue. As partners, she urged that all should recognise the strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/threats of each other and understand the partner’s context and motivation; and to know how to negotiate and compromise, but not lose sight of the bigger picture.