Ako, Ikaw, Tayo, May Pananagutan 2020: Kabataan, Pusuan ang Pananagutan

In May 2016, the new administration won with the slogan "change is coming." But more than three years into its term, the Duterte administration has yet to fully address the problem of 'accountability deficit' that has repeatedly plagued the country's politics and governance.

A situation that occurs when there is an "absence of political control over democratically elected representatives" Teehankee 2019: 81), accountability deficit refers to the inadequacies in holding the power-holders or duty-bearers accountable and the discrepancy between the standard and actual practice of accountability system and mechanism. This problem can be traced to the weak design of the institutions of horizontal accountability, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, as well as the failure of elections in serving as an exercise of accountability (Luckham 2003). When weaknesses of both horizontal and vertical accountability systems reinforce each other, Jonathan Fox calls this “low accountability trap” (Fox 2014).

Addressing the country's accountability deficits and low accountability traps is both necessary and immediate since it leads, not only to human rights abuses, but even facilitate the spread of disinformation and fake news. It also neutralizes efforts to promote transparency, participation and accountability (TPA) by using state institutions, not to extract accountability from public officials , but to camouflage and justify government actions and decisions.

Addressing this accountability deficit requires action from both civil society and ordinary citizens. They need to take action for accountability at different levels using all possible strategies and approaches.

Fortunately, Philippine civil society remains active in calling out abuses by those in authority, demanding accountability for human rights violations, pushing for progressive policies and agenda, as well as claiming necessary social services from local governments. Civil society groups are also engaged in international solidarity work, as issues concerning accountability become more global in both scale and scope.

One sector that has been particularly active in exacting accountability are the youth. This can be seen in the global movement to stop climate change, as well as the anti-gun protests in the United States. Here in the Philippines, regular student demonstrations in Negros Occidental had prompted the Office of the Provincial Governor to issue a executive order banning the construction if coal power plants in the province.

The youth are taking to the streets and taking action because they know that their future that will be taken away from them if corruption and impunity persist, and if those in power will continue to ignore pressing social issues such as inequality, discrimination and the climate crisis.

In the Philippines, the youth's role in political change has already been recognized by the state, leading to the establishment of mechanisms for youth governance such as the National Youth Commission (NYC) and the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). Youth leadership in accountability is the call of the time and these institutions for youth governance must respond accordingly. It is time for the youth to lead in citizen actions for accountability.

On February 14, 2020, Valentines Day, G-Watch will hold its 3rd Nationwide Campaign for Accountability called Ako, Ikaw, Tayo, May Pananagutan. This year’s campaign will focus on promoting and supporting youth leadership in accountability. This February 14,we call on all youth and citizens to Pusuan ang Pananagutan.

Sites of G-Watch all over the country will hold their respective activities and events to advance transparency, participation and accountability targeting critical issues in their locality and engaging the broader youth, especially those holding posts as SK officials.