“Secrecy is the bedrock of this persistent form of corruption, which undermines confidence in democratic governments in so much of the world.” – Joseph Stiglitz
The problem of secrecy has long plagued our nation. It has not only made us one of the highest-ranking countries in terms of corruption, but has also had other deleterious effects such as deterring foreign investments.
Government information still largely remains inaccessible to the public. This is why there is a strong call for greater transparency. The good news is there’s a growing trend worldwide in data sharing. Governments around the world are starting to leverage on the Internet and other new information and communication technologies to provide people with information on state affairs. Talk about being hi-tech!
In the US, President Barack Obama launched Data.gov, a website that would ensure openness and accountability in the use of funds. The UK government also created it’s own data portal, Data.gov.uk. Now the question is whether our country, where secrecy seems to be the rule rather than the exception, would take the same forward step.
It may be remembered that plans for a national broadband network that would link all government offices have been considered, if not for the hefty price tag it would entail. Transparency sites on the Internet are much easier and cheaper to set up. In fact, this is what our government is doing now. Take our President’s very own P-Noy Official Website. It features a comment box where everyone is encouraged to leave suggestions on how the government can be more transparent.
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project, a website aimed at widening public participation and involvement in fighting corruption, has also been launched recently. Furthermore, a special website disclosing funds released from Congressional allocations and other funds, has been created by the Philippine Budget Department.
All these show serious efforts to take not just a step but a giant leap towards greater transparency and accountability. Indeed, we Filipinos have evolved from being mere spectators sidelined by corruption and secrecy to being information-seeking citizens, who desire to be active participants in the administration of our country. Hopefully, with the aid of new technology, our battle against corruption would be a losing battle no more.