G-Watch’s Multi-Level Involvement in International Anti-Corruption Day  

G-Watch has reaffirmed its commitment to the fight against corruption by engaging in various activities at different levels to advance G-Watch’s anti-corruption agenda and approach. Central to this approach is the engagement of citizens and the use of multiple approaches and actions at various levels to hold power accountable.

G-Watch views corruption as a systemic and cultural problem that evolves and adapts. It views the fight against corruption as political with clear vested interests that benefit from it at different levels. Meanwhile, ‘losers’ from corruption remain abstract and general (“people,” “country,” “government”), which makes education, grassroots citizen participation and movement-building a key element to make a dent on anti-corruption work.

G-Watch recognizes that not many proposed solutions to corruption today are new. There is, hence, a problem with learning: how proposed solutions are put to action and how solutions evolve and adapt given the fast-changing context of development and governance. With anti-corruption efforts needing to be sustainable and capable of learning to adapt, evolve and transform, it is necessary to think hard of how to change top-down approaches. In sum, G-Watch explores a multi-level convergent ‘eco-systemic’ approach to accountability that centers on citizens as a way of ‘rebooting anti-corruption.’

As a follow-up to her talks in the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Copenhagen in October (see https://www.g-watch.org/news-release/g-watch-18th-international-anti-corruption-conference), G-Watch Convenor-Director Joy Aceron was invited to a regional dialogue in Bangkok, Thailand among civil society organizations in Southeast Asia convened by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to discuss how to collaborate on anti-corruption work, particularly on the areas of access to information, procurement and engagement with the private sector. She spoke in the panel on closing civic space where she discussed the need to ‘reboot’ anti-corruption work given the new threats and challenges, as well as the new opportunities and openings in today’s governance and politics. She reiterated the need for movement-building, broad citizen engagement, multi-pronged intervention and multi-level collaboration. Attended by 27 civil society organizations in 9 ASEAN countries, the gathering resulted in a resolution to set up an ASEAN CSO coordinative, information-sharing and resource-pooling platform.    

At the Philippine national level, G-Watch Board Members Vico Sotto and Mars dela Cueva attended a Public Forum and Learning Exchange of the Right to Know, Right Now! (R2KRN) Coalition that “took stock of developments on the legislative front, review the constraints to, and reevaluate the possibility of the passage of an FOI law” based on its ‘FOI Practice’ covering key government programs. Findings of the RKRN Coalition shows the dismal state of access to information in the country: "In total, the Coalition filed requests with 20 agencies, asked for 141 documents, made 230 contacts, and waited for up to 159 working days. All this effort resulted in a measly 17 (12%) documents retrieved or with positive response, with around 88% with a negative response, consisting of 9% outright denied and 79% of documents still pending (way beyond the prescribed period in the EO, and hence should be considered as denied)."

At the local level, G-Watch core partner organization Integrity Watch for Accountable Governance (IWAG) convened a full-packed auditorium to raise awareness  on integrity and anti-corruption in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur in Mindanao. With United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and G-Watch as its partners, the event’s key message is to “change the face of the country through transparency and accountability in governance.”

All the three events were part of the global annual event, the 2018 International Anti-Corruption Day, which is happening in the context of closing civic space and continuing rule of impunity in many countries all over the world.