Volunteers pledge to keep gov't offices in check
MANILA, Philippines – As a journalism student, Faye Carrios experienced firsthand how processing requests or documents in government agencies tend to be inconvenient, dragging, and time-consuming.
But unlike other Filipinos who are resigned to tolerating poor public service, Carrios wants to do something concrete to put an end to the inefficient process.
“How would you have something better if you just let it be?” Carrios asked.
Along with other other young Filipinos her age, Carrios attended the volunteer meet-up organized by BantayPH and MovePH’s #BudgetWatch on Monday, June 24.
BantayPH is a non-government organization aimed at reducing corruption in the Philippines through educational campaigns, volunteer programs, and a strong online presence.
On the other hand, #BudgetWatch is a MovePh section that serves as a platform for government and concerned citizens to share information and map action-oriented activities that promote transparent and accountable governance.
Aimed at gathering student volunteers, the meet-up served as an opportunity for Carrios to ensure that government personnel and office fulfill their mandate to deliver efficient public service. (Here's an infographic on 10 right things to expect from government offices.)
The 7 volunteers were mostly students who spared to visit government offices.
“Whenever we ask what the biggest problem facing country is, Filipinos would automatically answer that it is corruption,” said Happy Ferraren, co-founder of BantayPH.
In the past few months, the country has witnessed the largest corruption scandal to rock the nation unfold. It involves public officials who have allegedly connived with business entrepreneurs to siphon off public money.
“There’s that sense of hopelessness because we see corruption in a large scale. The culture of corruption then creates a behavior of apathy,” Ferraren added.
However, what are people doing to end corruption?
BantayPH urged volunteers to observe how officials run the government, starting off with the local government offices of Makati, Manila, Quezon City, Taguig and Mandaluyong
Under the volunteer program, Carrios, Domingo, and other volunteers are expected to devote 15 hours of their time, divided into 3-5 days, to visit a government office assigned to them.
During the visit, volunteers are expected to check whether the offices are complying with the Anti-Red Tape Act, and interview clients about their experience in processing documents.
In order to document their assessment, volunteers will be required to fill up two surveys online. Specifically, the survey questions focus on the efficiency of government processes and workflows involved in securing business permits.
The monitoring is approved and permitted by the Civil Service Commision.
Ripples of change
According to Ferraren, Filipinos will be able to help end corruption by participating and keeping the government in check.
For Brian Neil Domingo, another volunteer, addressing the culture of apathy and solving the problem of corruption could be best solved by doing little good deeds.
“We can start addressing corruption from the grassroots level. Because small corruption deeds also balloon to form bigger cases,” Domingo added in Filipino.
Ferraren also added that, by keeping the government in check, Filipinos “ fight corruption in that level by creating that counter mindset to apathy.”
Volunteers still needed
“Aside from strengthening awareness on the responsibilities of government officials, what I really want to do is to correct the wrong things that they do,” Domingo said in Filipino.
By volunteering, Domingo aims to help change wrong practices in government offices.
BantayPH and #BudgetWatch hope to reach more government offices through this volunteer program.