This article originally appeared on 21 October 2015 on the website of the Cabinet Cluster on Good Governance and Anti-Corruption. See the original article here.
According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, “Transparency and Accountability are two of the central pillars of good governance. Transparency is … a necessary precondition for the exercise of accountability since without access to clear, accurate and up-to-date information, it is impossible to judge whether the standard promised has been met.” Through its participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI), the Philippine Government expresses its adherence to transparency. The OGP seeks to demonstrate its support for transparency, citizen empowerment and anti-corruption measures through concrete actions. It provides a platform for like-minded groups to push for greater transparency and accountability, and a portal to access information. OGP also fosters meaningful dialogue amongst stakeholders. EITI is the transparent management of revenues from oil, gas, and mining activities. The implementation of EITI is a Philippine OGP commitment.
A Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) with representatives from government, civil society and extractive companies, governs EITI implementation. A major deliverable for EITI is the publication of an EITI Report. This Report discloses the amount coal, oil, and mining companies pay to government in taxes, fees, and royalties, while the government provides information on how much they receive.
Bantay Kita-PWYP Philippines is a CSO representative in the Philippine EITI MSG. As CSO representative, Bantay Kita is tasked to communicate and consult widely with a diverse set of stakeholders and build capacities at national and local level on EITI; ensure full participation of relevant CSOs; and monitor the disclosures done by government and extractive companies, among others.
In December 2014, the 1st PH-EITI Report was published. The PH-EITI Report is a concrete advancement towards transparency as it went beyond the International EITI Report standard. It required the inclusion of contracts, and MOAs between IPs and mining companies, among others.
Bantay Kita-PWYP Philippines analysed the report from a CSO perspective. Based on its analysis, Bantay Kita developed primers and presentations for communities and Indigenous Peoples (IPs). We have disseminated our findings in multi-sectoral conferences, community-based outreach and dialogues with IP groups. Based on these engagements, we have realized the power of contextualizing information – breaking down the Report to bite-size pieces relevant to our target audience. By presenting contextualized and relevant data, we open doors for questions. We empower people to demand for answers. We capacitate communities to be able to meaningfully engage with other stakeholders.
The PH-EITI Report provides access to information previously unattainable. Bantay Kita provides technical analysis and a framework for appreciating the data beyond resource extraction, towards sustainable development. But it is the directly affected communities that validate (or invalidate) the impact of the figures and Agreements on the ground. The groundwork for transparency has been laid out. It is time to demand for accountability.