Open governance was the unifying theme of the different speaking engagements of President Aquino during his recent working visit to the United States. He told his American audience of the Filipino people’s efforts to transform People Power from an instrument of last resort versus dictatorship into the mortar that serves to unite people and institutions in our democracy.
Indeed, the Aquino administration’s commitment to open governance is the reason why the Philippines is now a member of the steering committee of the Open Governance Partnership.
Open governance was also the President’s message in his meetings with U.S. investors, as he encouraged them to invest in a Philippines the world is now recognizing for its efforts to nurture economic growth through fair business deals, good governance and a desire to advance the life of the Filipino people.
As we can see from all of these pieces of Good News, what is heartening is that we, the Filipino people, know well that the principles of open governance – transparency, the empowerment of the citizenry, the fight against corruption, and the use of new technologies to strengthen governance – are what have been guiding our administration since we took office: from economic and fiscal policy to the implementation of programs that will help the Filipino people, to the use of technology and social media.
Our Conditional Cash Transfer program and reforms in health and education are only a few examples of the ways through which we are empowering our fellow citizens. We are also enabling them to participate in our efforts to promote transparency and accountability in government, through projects such as the Pera ng Bayan website (http://ww.perangbayan.com/), where any Filipino can now report suspected cases of wrongdoing in the use of public funds. By investing in human development, while improving the business climate to entice more economic investments, we ensure the ability of the citizenry to take stock of their future through opportunities available in a thriving economy.
Ultimately, all these efforts to promote open governance point to your administration’s most important goal: to fulfill its Social Contract with the Filipino people and improve their quality of life.
Our efforts have already achieved success, but much remains to be done. We will continue to implement zero-based budgeting, which has already served us so well by allowing us to eliminate programs and projects that are not performing, and to channel the funds from these into programs that are performing well and other priority programs. Although the Run Against Tax Evaders (RATE) and Run After the Smugglers (RATS) Program of the BIR has already contributed so much toward plugging the leaks in our nation’s coffers, we are hoping for further success in this program, and we are also continuing to file cases against tax evaders. All these and more are part of our efforts to convince more people that the Philippines is indeed open for business.
This week, the President will be visiting Japan, where he will be meeting with possible investors, officials and members of the Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee (JPECC), and the Japan and Tokyo Chamber of Commerce, among others, in order to strengthen existing partnerships between our two countries and address issues on the economic and business climate in the Philippines. Upon his return, he will also deliver the keynote address at the ASEAN 100 Leadership Forum Gala Dinner, in order to relate to ASEAN leaders in business, government and civil society the Administration’s plans and vision for the Philippines both as an individual country and as a member of ASEAN, as well as the importance of good governance.
All these are part of your administration’s vision of moving the country forward through solid foundations and vast opportunities that will benefit all.