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This is a press release from Bantay.ph
MANILA, Philippines – For the past 3 years, Bantay.ph has slowly been trying to integrate citizen feedback in the improvement of public service. According to Bantay.ph co-founder and CEO, Happy Feraren, “What people don’t see is that we actually have a voice. When we complain online and talk about issues, there are actually some very important insights that never reach government. Why? Because they’re all stuck in Facebook. And it’s not like Mark Zuckerberg is going to be our spokesperson inside the government.” Our rants and raves are all over the place, not structured, and are therefore hard to consolidate and analyze to see where and how exactly government should improve.
Big corporations, party lists, NGOs all use this strategy to push forward a cause – be it labor rights, women’s rights, environmental protection, etc. The key is being organized and it’s hard to do that when information is scattered. Given that it’s difficult for an everyday citizen to organize, Bantay.ph wants to be the platform where regular citizens can express their feedback to make services better for them.
The current project of Bantay.ph focuses on LGUs in Metro Manila. In particular, it focuses on frontline services relating to starting and running a business. Bantay.ph is after the actual experience of entrepreneurs who have to apply for permits, clearances, and other related licenses. Moreover, Bantay.ph uses the law as a standard for points of improvement. “The Anti Red Tape Act has been a law since 2007 and until now there is still low awareness. Legislation is half the battle, we need to make sure these laws are implemented properly” says Feraren.
One main activity of Bantay.ph is to train student volunteers to check compliance of the different city halls in Metro Manila. The findings are all published online in a scorecard format and is also available in open data format for those that might want to do their own analytics. “We are trying to improve transparency in the small everyday transactions of government which is what is important to us citizens anyway. Much like how sites such as Trip Advisor or Yelp helps travellers make informed decisions, we hope to provide the same service to citizens who might want to transact something in their local city hall.” Alongside this scorecard, citizens can now rate their city halls and leave a review based on their experience there.
What happens to all the collected data? All of the data is published online for citizens to be aware of what’s really happening in their LGUs. Moreover, all findings are reported to the Civil Service Commission (implementing agency for the Anti Red Tape Act) and other departments in national government to improve public policy on service delivery and act on the pressing issues citizens report on.
As Feraren points out, “Citizens are the end users of government service, it’s only right that we are integrated back into the feedback loop.” – Rappler.com
Help Bantay.ph map out the quality of public service in Metro Manila by leaving your reviews and comments on – www.bantay.ph/#currentstate ! – Rappler.com
Bantay.PH is a partner of Move.PH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm.