THE reforms implemented by the Aquino administration have not made much impact, the camp of Sen. Grace Poe said Saturday.
Poe’s camp expressed this sentiment as a response to the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) Progress Report: 2013 to 2015 released on Saturday which showed that the country only performed well in its commitment on initiatives on fiscal transparency in the extractive industry and the improvement of the ease of doing business.
“Less than a quarter of the reforms we started have been completed. Where we have accomplished many, our impact has been weak. We started on the right path by incentivizing LGUs with rewards. They’ll have quick access to funds if they open up their budgets. But did not pay for it with real honesty, zeal, and dedication to public service,” Cebu Rep. Ace Durano, who represented the camp of Poe, said.
The IRM report, authored by Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism, assessed the country’s progress in fulfilling its Open Government Partnership commitments.
All the presidential candidates including Poe, Former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte were asked to give their response to the IRM report, but only Poe’s camp answered.
Durano noted that under the criterion on enhancing performance benchmarks for local governance on the IRM report, government bodies overstated their accomplishments because they only wanted the money and the Seal of Good Housekeeping.
The IRM report stated that Local Government Units passed the Seal of Good Housekeeping but had no specific reports on the results or findings of assessment team that undermines the potential impact of this commitment. In addition, the IRM report said that while the Seal of Good Housekeeping opens up public documents from local government units via online posting, it is not clear how the commitment has produced significant results in terms of promoting public accountability of the delivery of basic services.
“The report indicates that GOCCs [Government Owned and Controlled Corporations] seem to have been left out of the process, and the seal of good housekeeping is awarded for improvements that were not measured against baselines or benchmarks. The independent report actually underlined the lack, if none, of impact on existing practices in budgeting,” he added.
Durano argued that the challenge in institutionalizing reforms such as genuine participatory and bottom up budgeting, decentralization of fiscal responsibilities, and genuine access to government information upon demand starts in the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
“A truly open and responsive government can only be realized if we have an empowered people who will vigilantly monitor government performance, participate in decision-making and demand accountability. We need the FOI and we should bond and collectively call that it be passed when the new administration takes the rein of governance,” Durano stressed.
He lamented that while the Senate deliberated on the FOI measure, the bill languished at the House of Representatives.
Akbayan Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez, who represented Roxas in the launch of the IRM report, said the FOI bill will be passed if the tandem of Roxas and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo will win in the May polls.
“Congresswoman Robredo is one of the principal authors of the FOI in the Lower House, and I have no doubt that she will not let 17th Congress pass without this FOI law being implemented,” Gutierrez said in the same forum.
“As for Secretary Roxas, he has gone on record that he supports the FOI bill and I believe that he will certify this as an urgent and priority legislation,” he added.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd made the passage of the FOI as a campaign promise, but he never certified the measure as urgent.