PH wins Gold Open Gov’t Award in New York

MANILA, Philippines – For the second year in a row, the Philippines took home an international award for innovation and commitment to open government and civil society partnerships.

On Wednesday, September 24 (Thursday, Manila time), the Philippines’ Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) program won a Gold Open Government Award at the 1st Open Government Awards of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

 The Philippines won third place,  behind Denmark which won first place, and second placer Montenegro. 

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte announced the country's latest citation in a news briefing on Thursday, September 25.

“The GPB program is revolutionary because it offers an alternative to the usual top-down approach to budgeting by allowing communities and local government units to identify and advocate for their own projects, as deemed beneficial to their community, and which will be funded by the national government,” she said.

In 2013, it was the Citizen Participatory Audit – a joint project of the Commission on Audit (COA) and civil society that audits government performance – which won an award at the OGP Summit held in London.

While lauded abroad, at home, the GPB has been criticized by detractors as a form of presidential pork barrel, as it gives the national government power to pick and choose which projects it will fund.

Referring to the critics, Valte clarified the award is "not a vindication but perhaps a recognition" of the government's efforts.

"This is an affirmation by a third party, an organization that is very much respected on the international stage of what we have tried to do when it comes to the GPB," she said.

The OGP is a movement consisting of 64 government and international and national civil society organizations, which aims to deepen open government practices in their respective countries. The Philippines is a founding member of the OGP.

Aside from the GPB program, the Philippines has committed to the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and Open Data Philippines as part of its OGP Action Plan. – Rappler.com