‘Transparency’

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By Nef Luczon

Pencalibur

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


THERE’S this mandate throughout government agencies that requires them to put the “Transparency Seal” on their websites, which aims to “enhance transparency and enforce accountability, all national government agencies shall maintain a transparency seal on their official websites (Sec 93 of General Appropriations Act of 2012).”

Under the website of the Department of Budget and Management, the Transparency Seal supposedly give the public of what each and every government agency has done regarding its projects especially that have figures attached on them.

In general, the Transparency Seal shall contain the following information: One, is the agency’s mandates and functions, names of its officials with their position and designation and contact information.

It also obliged the agencies to give annual reports, as required under National Budget Circular Nos. 507 and 507-A dated January 31, 2007 and June 12, 2007, respectively, for the last three years. In addition to that, there are seven more mandates that should compel them to show it all to the Filipino people.

Checking some regional websites in order to see for myself that indeed each agency, even if it is a regional sub-office, has followed the mandate. Starting with notable agencies like the Region 10 offices of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Health. All of their website, fortunately, complied and put a Transparency Seal.

Meanwhile, I searched the Region 10 websites for the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs, but I was redirected to its official websites that covers national scope.

It would have been interesting what these offices in the region have been doing based on their submitted reports. The Department of Public Works and Highways – Region 10 appeared to have its own website but it seems it was outdated since the last entry to their “News” article was posted on July 11, 2012, in addition to that, there was no Transparency Seal to be found.

While these Transparency Seals provide easy access to the people, it somehow gives the public an idea of how taxes were used by these agencies. But the lingering problem seems to be not addressed (of which it has to be addressed): for one, not all have Internet access, another one is that if they have read the reports, will the ordinary people understand it?

Let’s not also discount the fact that these agencies may have provided soft data of their reports online, but will it also be available for those who asked for hard copies? Transparency Seals can be the start of a good practice in government service, it could be much desirable if local government units, including its departments, will follow suit.

But then again, you will ask for the nth time, are those stated in the reports factual and existing? Or are just mere fabrications just to “justify” where the tax money was spent?

And here we are again, wondering.

*****

[Email: nefluczon@gmail.com | nefoi.blogspot.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 18, 2013.

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