TRANSPARENCY in government is a cornerstone policy that President Benigno C. Aquino III has promised to uphold. It has been put in doubt because of his perceived reluctance to divulge the report of the commission that investigated the hostage-taking tragedy last August 23 but he could still make good on his pledge by widening public access to government documents, starting with those on the budget.
As it is, the Philippines has a long way to go when it comes to having open budget books. Indeed, while a report released today by the U.S.-based International Budget Partnership (IBP) says that the Philippines has raised its budget transparency score by a full seven points from what it posted in 2008, it needs to open up some more. It remains one of the 74 out of the 94 countries that the IBP says failed to meet basic standards of transparency and accountability with national budgets.