“The citizen can bring our political and governmental institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable, and keep them honest. No one else can.” John W. Gardner, US Secretary of Health and Education, 1965-68
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Prof. Boncodin, in one of the forums she had appeared in to help people understand the the national budget and what people could do to protect it from corruption and wastage.
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The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project and the Pera Natin ‘To! website are made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this website and the views expressed herein are solely the responsibility of the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project and the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government or the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative.
Welcome to the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project
This project and website is built on the belief that corruption in public life will only ever be reduced when ordinary people are able to understand, monitor - and ultimately have a say on where and how public money is spent.
As the subtitle of this website says, it’s our money (pera natin 'to!). Every centavo lost to corruption is a centavo stolen from education, poverty reduction, social services and job creation. Ultimately, beating corruption will result in more inward investment, serious economic development and far fewer people leaving home in search of a better life overseas. READ MORE
Investigating Power and Money – A Deadly Mix for Journalists
Saturday, 19 February 2011
Silenced forever: Palawan journalist Gerardo "Doc Gerry" Ortega (right) being interviewed by a media colleague in this file photo taken two months ago at the arrival of the Balangay fleet in Puerto Princesa. He was about to report a serious corruption issue when he was killed January 24. KATYA SANTOS
Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega, a radio broadcaster and environmentalist from Palawan, was shot dead here on January 24, 2011. He was number 142 in a seemingly never-ending roster of Filipino journalists killed in the line of duty since the end of martial law.
Five days after his death and after the surrender of a suspect who has implicated an alleged mastermind – a very well-known political figure, I received a call from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group handling the case.
They advised me to arrange security protection. They had determined that there were supposedly two targets, the second to follow a week after the first hit. The CIDG concluded I was “most likely” to be 143.
Don’t Do As I Did – Colonel Rabusa Speaks to the New Generation
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Retired Col. George Rabusa to the youth, after admitting he lived a lavish life with payoffs and gifts while as AFP budget officer: "Wag ninyo akong tularan." (Don't follow what I did.) RORIE R. FAJARDO
Whistleblower and former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) budget officer George Rabusa provided a detailed account of how slush funds and payoffs allegedly worked at the very top of the military when he appeared in front of students at La Salle-College of St. Benilde in Manila on Friday.
Retired Col. Rabusa arrived late at the public forum having just come from the Department of Justice where he applied to join the government’s Witness Protection Program. A scrum of arc lights and cameras followed him as he made his way slowly up to the stage. The sick and ailing Rabusa gave out the clear impression of someone who has embraced faith and providence in his twilight years –and someone who had decided to use the days he has left to face up to his own self-declared wrongdoing.
Public Procurement – Greater Monitoring and Public Participation Both Critical
Tuesday, 08 February 2011
Wrong wharf: Three giant and expensive x-ray machines which the Davao City government bought years ago to check for contraband in shipping containers are said to be in Sasa wharf instead of the two other wharfs and are yet to be used, said the new group People' Action Against Corruption (PAAC). KEITH BACONGCO/AKP Images
DAVAO CITY — Sat with his pile of newspapers and tape recorder with its peeling sticker, 69-year-old Mang Eliseo Francisco looks just like any old grizzled journalist who has been assigned to cover a news forum here. But it turns out he isn’t a reporter – at least not a traditional one. This World War II veteran is just somebody who avidly follows and records daily events – especially those that involve public money.
For this lanky fellow heavily dependent on his pension to buy over the counter medicines to quell increasing illnesses, “public money” is quite simply “a public trust.”
State Universities and Colleges’ Budget Cut: Fact or Fiction? Learning To Read and Understand Budgets
Monday, 07 February 2011
Cut or un-cut? Student activists protest against the alleged cut in the budgets of state colleges and universities, but the government insists there was none. SANDINO NARTEA
Much has been said, written and broadcast about the alleged cut in state universities and colleges’ (SUCs) funding. As is often the case with such stories, the media inadvertently acted as a battleground for opposing sides and was full of claims, counter-claims, allegations and comment for weeks – all of which left people puzzled and still asking after the truth. Was there really a cut in the SUCs or not?
Ultimately this shows up the need for greater public finance literacy among all –not least among observers, reporters and commentators. Yet increasingly ordinary citizens can find out and decide for themselves so long as they know where to look, what to look for, and what questions to ask.
Tax Revenues from Small Businesses Shoot Up After Citizen Action against Graft
Friday, 04 February 2011
Changing: Kidapawan City is expected to increase tax revenues from ukay-ukay shops after the local government improved the collection system and said that alleged bribes would be a thing in the past. ABNER FRANCISCO
Kidapawan City -- Tax revenue from small second hand clothes businesses at a Trade Fair here is set to increase by more than 700 percent after the city government instituted major reforms in their tax collection.
The tax reforms were implemented after a public expose on irregular collection activities resulted to the filing of graft cases against two employees of the city government.
City agriculturist Eufrocenia Marcos and her deputy Emeliana Beltran were last year charged with illegal exaction in the Office of the Ombudsman Mindanao.
New Citizen’s Anti-Corruption Group in Samar Shows It Means Business
Friday, 04 February 2011
Personifying: A MATA-Samar photo showing a plastic bag of rice purchased from local government's calamity fund but with names of Samar Gov. Sherrie Ann Tan and Vice Gov. Jimboy Tan prompted the DILG region to order its provincial office whether officials are violating its memorandum circular prohibiting politicians to put their names and photos on public project billboards. Photo courtesy of MATA-Samar
Showing it is pro-governance but not anti-government, a newly formed citizen’s action group against corruption in Samar has begun working with key government agencies in a bid to improve local transparency and accountability.
Just a month after its formal launch in Catbalogan City on December 11, the Multisectoral Alliance for Transparency and Accountability in Samar (MATA-Samar) last week paid courtesy visits to the local offices of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Budget Management (DBM).
Cloudy COA: Former commissioners of the country's supreme audit institution urge the President to exercise his power to appoint an ad-interim chairman and a commissioner immediately as means to address two vacancies this week and to enable COA perform its role in promoting accountable governance. Photo courtesy of World News
Unless President P-Noy steps in and exercises his presidential power of appointment, the clouds gathering over the Commission on Audit (COA) may break into a storm which could prevent it from performing its constitutional duty –temporarily at least.
If this happens, the three-man collegial body of the COA known as the Commission Proper (CP) which is the highest audit appeals and policy-making organ of the Philippines’ supreme audit institution will grind to a halt. It is a real possibility given that two out of the three Commissioner seats fall vacant this week.
Business Upbeat, Pro-poor NGOs Concerned About Administration’s Economic Plans
By Iris Cecilia Gonzales
Monday, 31 January 2011
Different folks, different views: Businessmen are happy with the Aquino administration's economic performance in its early days, but some pro-poor groups and ordinary people think it's just repeating mistakes of the past. JES AZNAR
Opinion is divided on the performance of the Aquino administration –with the business community and analysts giving it positive ratings while some social affairs think tanks and voters are concerned that campaign and other promises have yet to make any difference to the lives of the poor.
People are also divided over the government’s plans to pursue public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a key part of its economic planning.
More Than One Year On – What Has the National Government Learned About Its Failures In Maguindanao?
Commentary by Red Batario
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Who's checking?: The Ampatuans' mansion in Shariff Aguak is said to be just one of the total 35 which the clan amassed while holding public office, apart from its fleet of luxury cars, ammunitions and firearms and PhP 200 million. But nobody from the government is yet to tell the public whatever happened to these more than a year after the clan allegedly ordered the massacre of 58 people just to stay in power. JES AZNAR
(The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project next week launches the first in a series of events and reports on building accountability in Maguindanao with a public meeting in Davao featuring Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and others. Today, we take an introductory look at the official response to what was the most tragic and catastrophic failure of governance in national history. The State failed the 58 victims of the November 23, 2009 massacre – those in authority in Maguindanao are charged with involvement and complicity in their killing: Much was promised and ordered investigated or changed since then by the central government in Manila – but more than one year on, what has actually happened?)
In the immediate aftermath of the Maguindanao killings, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered an investigation into the lifestyle of senior members of the Ampatuans, the hugely wealthy and influential clan accused of orchestrating the massacre. Humphrey Monteroso, deputy ombudsman for Mindanao was quoted in Sun Star Davao as saying his team was investigating the family for possible violation of the country’s anti-graft and corruption laws. He alleged that many of the properties and other assets of the clan, conservatively estimated at PhP 3 billion (USD 68 million), were not declared in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
Securing the future: The GSIS has always been known for its dismal system, lack of transparency and poor service to its 1.7 million members, mostly aging Filipinos who served the government in their prime years. But the social insurance institution is now in much better hands, the new administration says. JES AZNAR
It is the kind of place that Franz Kafka mighty have imagined when writing The Trial. Perhaps the place painter Eduard Munch imagined his character was running away from in The Scream.
Close by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex on Roxas Boulevard in Manila sits the giant hulk of a building that is the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). To get there you have to ride and pay for the orange CCP shuttle which stops outside the GSIS compound and then walk some 100 meters under the heat of the sun to the main entrance and flights of escalators.
By the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Tight budget: Zero-based budgeting system enabled government to increase allocation this year for the conditional cash transfer progam, a means to ease hunger, put more children to school and address poor women's health. JES AZNAR
Trumpeting an agenda of fighting the country's perennial problem on corruption, the Aquino administration claims it has laid out several programs to walk the talk. One of these programs is the adoption of the so-called "zero-based budgeting" (ZBB) system.
It may be recalled that in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July last year, President Benigno Aquino III vowed to shift from the old "incremental" system of budgeting to the ZBB approach. The latter, he said, would substantially reduce, if not totally eliminate, money spent on unnecessary projects or programs, as well as money lost to corruption.
Analysis by the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project
Tuesday, 04 January 2011
Hoping for change: The administration passed the 2011 budget into law before New Year -- a first in 11 years, and thus spurring public expectation that the budget itself would bear practical plans and real change from the past. Courtesy of Department of Budget and Management
Without doubt, signing the 2011 budget into law before January 1 was a major achievement for the Aquino administration. As many news organizations have pointed out, it was the first time in 11 years the budget was passed in time. This does away with the need to implement a re-enacted budget which is effectively a license to misappropriate huge amounts of public funds if a government is so-minded. As we know, a re-enacted budget is when no new budget has been passed in time and thus the previous year’s budget is adopted again as the basis for the coming year’s spending – this despite the fact that substantial amounts will have been budgeted and used for infrastructure, capital costs and other one-off completed projects which will not be needed again. Re-enacted budgets also fail to reflect increased costs such as those related to inflation and possible rising government liabilities such as increasing pension costs and servicing a larger public debt. Such budgets result in endless accounting problems and subvert all efforts to ensure real transparency and accountability. In doing away with the need for a re-enacted budget – for this year at least – the Aquino government has secured a substantial victory and his team deserves full credit for it.
While the first of our two end-of project surveys has just been posted, the results coming in already make for some very interesting reading. This survey largely centers on which direction you think the fight for greater transparency and accountability is headed in the Philippines and what you think is currently present, necessary or missing in thinking, plans and action. READ MORE
The People’s Budget – It’s Up To us to Really Make It So
Thursday, 24 February 2011
Senate Bill 2186 or the People's Participation in Budget Deliberations Act is a very welcome move in the fight against corruption and graft and the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project was lucky enough to see it first a few weeks ago and be tapped for our own opinions on it. READ MORE
Truth Telling as We Remember the Lessons from EDSA
Monday, 21 February 2011
Former state auditor Heidi Mendoza’s message to the public at the Valentine’s Day forum where she was key speaker was very timely given we are just days away from marking the 25th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship and ushered in democracy. READ MORE
The Public Watch
Saturday, 19 February 2011
It is encouraging to see the Senate Conference Room on February 18 filled with students, nuns, socialites, activists, CSO workers and other concerned citizens who are all wanting to follow the continuing Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on alleged corruption within the Armed Forces of the Philippines. READ MORE
Thursday, 03 February 2011
We have a true ‘soldier’ in the form of anti-corruption fighter Heidi Mendoza –we just need to encourage more people like her to step forward and join her army. READ MORE
In the National – Not Personal Interest
Wednesday, 02 February 2011
‘Basic fair play, decency, good manners and right conduct.’ These words appeared in a well-argued column yesterday by William M. Esposo, the self-styled Chair-wrecker from the Philippine Star. READ MORE
Poor Budgeting, Too Many Contingency, and Special Purpose Funds and ‘Savings’ – All A Recipe For Corruption
Tuesday, 01 February 2011
Without commenting on who is charging what about whom in the AFP right now, it is not difficult to see how pabaon (send-off money) scandals can so easily happen. Blue Ribbon Committee hearings and politicians talk incessantly about slush-funds - and they seem to feature in every high level case of alleged corruption: But as yet, we don’t seem to link the ubiquitous slush funds with the ubiquitous and hugely discretionary contingency and special purpose funds (and dare we say it again, the PDAF/Pork Barrel Allocations) which are written into national budgets and approved by legislative committees year after year.” READ MORE
Officials Ignoring DILG Orders to Stop Personalizing Public Projects
Friday, 21 January 2011
A public-spirited citizen from Samar has just sent us in a series of photos and a complaint that government officials there appear to be in clear breach of a circular from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) banning the use of “names or initials and/or images or pictures of government officials in billboards and signages of government programs and projects.” READ MORE
The Good and Bad News from TI’s 2010 Global Corruption Barometer
Sadly the Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the Truth Commission comes as no surprise. We put ‘sadly’ not for the reasons that some might think – that many claim the Court to be biased against the Aquino government. It is ‘sad’ because it was perfectly clear back in May that any attempt to set up a commission which would only look at the alleged misdeeds of the Arroyo administration was a very poorly judged one. It suggested the move was much more about politics than it was about addressing the root of the problem of corruption in the Philippines. READ MORE
University Budget Cuts – Fact or Fiction and the Media’s Mission To Explain
29 November 2010
Opinion is critical and freedom of expression an inalienable (natural) right. Too is the right to information and often we assume they are the same thing. Yet information is essentially data and fact. Unfortunately, too much reporting the world over is poorly rooted in fact and too heavily in opinion and hearsay. READ MORE
Open Budget, Open Government
29 November 2010
Government officials, members of civil society organization workers, academic experts, business people and international development agencies met on Saturday November 20 in Pasig City to sign an agreement in a bid to make government budgets more open. READ MORE
Transparency in Government Contracts to Big Business and Consultancies
22 November 2010
“We are beginning to learn who works where, what departments spend and who are the big business recipients of taxpayers’ money,” journalists from the UK Guardian wrote last Friday in response to the latest release of financial details by the British Government. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 10th budget reporting training in Bohol June 30
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its 10th training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on June 30 at the JJ’s Seafood Village in Tagbilaran City in Bohol. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 9th budget transparency reporting training in Kidapawan City June 6
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its 9th training on advanced and anti-corruption reporting dubbed as “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on June 6 at Boylyn Pension Plaza in Kidapawan City. The training was made possible with the financial assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the technical assistance of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI). READ MORE
PPTRP holds 8th budget reporting training in Pampanga June 3
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its 8th training on advanced and anti-corruption reporting dubbed as “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on June 3 at the Social Action Center of Pampanga in San Fernando City, Pampanga. READ MORE
PPTRP-supported Local Transparency Groups Share Experiences in Reporting, Fighting Corruption
Three local transparency reporting groups which the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) supported and helped establish gathered on June 3 in Bohol to share experiences in building transparency and accountability in their respective communities. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 7th budget reporting training in Davao City May 27
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its seventh training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on May 27 at the Ateneo De Davao in Davao City. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 6th budget transparency reporting in Dipolog City May 23
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its 6th training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on May 23 at the Top Plaza Hotel in Dipolog City. READ MORE
PPTRP meets with editors and columnists May 18 to discuss media coverage of public corruption
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project met with editors and columnists of selected national and international media organizations May 18 in Manila to discuss current media behavior and thinking in relation to public corruption and transparency. READ MORE
Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the former CEO of the Philippine Forest Corporation who later disclosed explosive information on the anomalous USD 329 million NBN-ZTE deal that nearly brought down the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, shared his views May 9 with the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project on continuing the fight against corruption and for genuine transparency under the new administration. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 5th budget reporting training in Ozamiz City April 26
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project held its fifth training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on April 26 at the Naomi’s Botanical Gardens in Ozamiz City. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 4th training on budget reporting in CDO April 2
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its fourth training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on April 2 in Cagayan de Oro City. READ MORE
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