PPTRP holds 6th budget transparency reporting in Dipolog City May 23 Print
PPTRP   
Thursday, 02 June 2011

 

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.

 

The training is the second leg of the PPTRP training series in Dipolog City. The first was held last August 19, where members of the media and civil society organizations were trained on basic laws on transparency and accountability and anti-corruption in the public sector and ways in monitoring and reporting corruption in their respective local governments. The recent training revisited basic concepts on corruption, followed by inputs in understanding local government finance processes, including the powers and limitations of local government officials on budget management matters. The training also tackled the procurement process and areas where media and CSO could take part to increase accountability in government procurement.

 

The training gathered a total of 16 persons. Of this number, 14 were from media while two came from the CSO sector. The media practitioners represented the following media outfits: Tingog Peninsula, dxAA, dxLG, dxDR Radio Mindanao Network, Energy FM and the Zamboanga del Norte Press Club, and the City Information Office. The non-media participants were from the Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRSMU) and the Kalihukan Kontra Kawad-og Korapsyon (KKKK).

 

The training featured lawyer and Dipolog City councilor James Verduguez as resource person to discuss the need to increase the participation both of CSOs and media in monitoring the budget of local governments.

 

The councilor on May 3 sent an official letter to Zamboanga del Norte governor Rolando Yebes requesting for more information on the Provincial Tourism Council, a private entity which for the past five years has been receiving provincial government funds to manage and execute activities in line with the annual Hudyaka Zanorte Festival.

 

In his letter he requested in his “capacity as taxpayer” for the names of the members of the Provincial Tourism Council since 2005; the amounts transferred which the provincial council has already transferred to the Provincial Tourism Council since 2005; and for information whether or not the usual government accounting and auditing rules and procedures were observed in the disbursement of the said funds.

 

But Governor Yebes instead just asked him to go to the Commission on Audit for such information, Verduguez recounted to the training participants. Yebes also dismissed Verduguez’s request for access to information on these issues as black propaganda and politicking. The lawyer however pointed out that providing the public information on public spending such as this one is helping increase transparency in the local government.

 

The participants during the workshop identified the following as contentious issues on transparency and accountability in Dipolog City and the province: the use of intelligence funds, the LGUs’ compliance with the Government Procurement Reform Act; state of infrastructure projects such as the unfinished mini-gym project in Sayaw, Siayan in Zamboanga del Norte; ghost projects such as the bridge project for Patawag, Paliloy; and transparency in the use of intelligence and calamity funds.

 

Overall, the participants rated the training as relevant and useful to their respective fields of work.

 

Ariel Abog of RMN dxDR Dipolog said the training helped him understand the different sources of income and how to properly monitor the local government budget. Samuel Amatong of the Zamboanga del Norte Press Club and Tingog Peninsula said multiple sourcing and the rules and processes in the government budget cycle were the most useful inputs for him.

 

The training was made possible through 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.