The Civic Engagement for Open Contracting Program was formally launched in the Philippines on January 24, 2017. This was done in conjunction with a meeting that sought to validate findings and results of the Philippines scoping study and provide inputs before the annual Philippine country plan was implemented.
The Civic Engagement for Open Contracting programme aims to open up public contracting by active engagement of citizens who want to monitor public spending, so that the huge sums of money involved are spent honestly and efficiently, following the highest standards of transparency and integrity.
The meeting that was attended 18 participants from the civil society and government sectors mainly discuss on the possible impact of the current political context with the proposed outcomes of the program. For instance, the participants asked, “How do we institutionalize efforts transcending political administration?“ since most of them were concerned whether open contracting reforms were possible after the change in administration. They also explored the possibility of starting from the grassroots before effecting change at the national level.
There was general agreement that the idea of open contracting must be divided into specific thematic areas in order to bring more focus to the interventions. Likewise, the group agreed that the strategies or selection of scope (e.g. national, local) in the plan should be fluid, because demands (what is close to the hearts of the people) at national and sub-national levels may differ. In terms of strategy, they looked into policy reform and how we touch base with the community. A critical factor to include would be the private sector since they are one-half of the contracting process.
Overall, the participants agreed that securing government commitment in the next few months is possible. However, Hivos and its prospective partners should be mindful of the picture painted on ground, particularly in terms of local capacity and creation of value.