by Malou Mangahas
VERY soon, President Benigno S. ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III would be on his way home from New York where he delivered the keynote address at “The Power of Open: A Global Discussion,” of the US-initiated Open Government Partnership (OGP) network.
In subsequent meetings in Washington, DC, Aquino touched base with World Bank executives who commended the Philippines “for taking on the challenge of creating more transparent and accountable government to benefit the poor.” The President is scheduled to be back in Manila tomorrow, Friday.
But two days after P-Noy pledged sundry commitments to greater transparency and accountability, the irony of “The Power of Open” is crystal: The Filipino people have not been fully informed and are the last to know about these “commitments” that the P-Noy administration has submitted under its supposed “Philippine Government Action Plan 2012 for the Open Government Partnership, 1 January to 31 December 2012.”
In fact, to find out just what these commitments are, Filipinos in the Philippines have to log on to the New York-based www.freedominfo.org, which has posted copies of the documents that P-Noy has submitted to the OGP. Because as of this writing, the multi-headed Communications Group of P-Noy has yet to upload these same documents on at least three websites that its multiple managers are supervising, notably www.op.gov.ph, www.gov.ph, and pcoo.gov.ph.
A fourth government website, www.dbm.gov.ph, banners a report dated 18 Sept. 2011 saying that the Philippine Action Plan “will be finalized before end-2011.” In the story, Budget Secretary Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad called the Plan “a work-in-progress… just the beginning.”
By all accounts, the DBM should be commended for serving as chief architect of the Plan. And to be fair, Abad himself has shown a draft copy to some civil society organizations a fortnight ago. Yet before he flew to the US with P-Noy over the weekend, the groups had precisely requested Abad for a copy of the Plan that the Philippines would submit to the OGP. Abad did not send one.
On Sept. 20, however, the Plan was splashed on the OGP website for the online world to see and read, but not for all the Filipinos to know and understand.
To be sure, the Palace websites had posted and reposted P-Noy’s OGP keynote address and other speeches that he delivered in the United States – before the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, The Asia Society, and the IBM Centennial Forum – as well as news reports about the bounty of praise and plaudits that he received at the events.
And the documents that P-Noy has submitted to the OGP? Well, the only subtle hint that www.gov.ph gives the curious students of P-Noy’s politics of transparency and accountability is this: “You may download a PDF copy of the Draft National Action Plan from this page, or you may access it from the OGP website.”
Despite that declaration, the action plan is nowhere to be found on the www.gov.ph page or pages as of this posting, 22 September 2011. Instead, it appears only on the OGP website and on www.freedominfo.org. The document was, in fact, delivered to the OGP and posted online on the same day, 20 September 2011.
The irony of “open” is we have to mine websites from faraway Estados Unidos to be able to know more about how our government plans or promises to be more transparent. And so the Filipino people may know, the PCIJ has derived from www.freedominfo.org the documents that P-Noy has submitted to the OGP.
Read on and learn about the promises that P-Noy has vowed to keep, in the spirit of transparency and accountability in government: