G-Watch Holds Awareness-Raising Campaign to Promote Accountability in Post-Pandemic Philippine Governance

For the fifth straight year, Government Watch (G-Watch) again conducted its awareness-raising campaign called Ako, Ikaw, Tayo, May Pananagutan (AIM-P). Held on the second week of February 2023, G-Watch and its partners adopted the theme for this year “More Pananagutan sa Post-Pandemic Pilipinas” to highlight the importance of strengthening accountability in the delivery of basic services, such as health and education, as the country transitions to the new normal. The series of events also kicked off G-Watch's organizing for its new project with Accountability Research Center (ARC) called Promoting Rights Organizing for Health or PRO-Health and built on the education monitoring project it is co-implementing called Multiply-Ed. 


To start the campaign, a forum was launched in Tacloban on the concept of accountability and how it is being fostered by G-Watch and similar civil society groups. Held on February 12, the event was attended by participants from the academe and the youth sector. With the intent of continuing their engagement in education procurement monitoring and seeking support to pursue a follow-up accountability initiative on disaster governance, the forum concluded with a commitment from the participants to serve as accountability volunteers.


A day later, in neighboring Southern Leyte, G-Watch organized a forum in the College of Maasin (CM), which focused on the healthcare situation in the said province. With more than 30 students in attendance, the activity identified indigenous peoples, informal settler families, and those living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) as the sectors experiencing the greatest difficulty in accessing healthcare services. To address this challenge, the participants proposed organizing community programs to provide information and raise public awareness regarding health incentives and benefits.


On that same day, a dialogue was held with community health workers (CHWs) and other local medical personnel in Barangay Kalunasan in Cebu City. The event introduced G-Watch to the participants and outlined its monitoring initiatives for health and education. It also served to gather initial data on the concerns of Cebu City’s CHWs. Some of the issues that were raised during the dialogue included the possible impact of the Mandanas Ruling on the health budget, the creation of Super Health Centers in the four districts of Cebu City, the establishment of the Primary Care Provider Network (PCPN), and the need to better organize community health workers.


At the same time, in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Local Alliance of NGOs and Individuals for Accountable Governance (LANIAG) held a core group meeting, followed by a two-day series of interviews from February 13 to 14. The core group meeting, which brought members together both in-person and online, outlined the LANIAG’s general direction. The interviews, on the other hand, discussed health and education governance with local policy actors and stakeholders, including G-Watch allies Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates and Councilor Myka Magbanua.


In Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, G-Watch partner Integrity Watch for Accountable Governance (IWAG) organized a forum on transparency, participation, and accountability. Held on February 14, the activity featured speakers from IWAG and other local civil society organizations. Overall, the participants praised Sibagat’s Rural Health Unit (RHU) for exerting efforts in reaching the municipality’s farthest barangays. However, the forum also recognized the need to provide indigenous peoples (IPs) better access to health and education. The activity ended with a commitment from the participants to assist G-Watch and IWAG in their monitoring efforts.


More than 370 kilometers away to the south, a simultaneous forum was also held in Marawi on the same day. With more than 20 participants, the event discussed the City’s healthcare situation and the governance gaps that duty-bearers need to prioritize. In attendance were officials from the Department of Health (DOH), the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), the City Health Office, medical students from Mindanao State University (MSU), as well as officials from Barangays Banga, Dimalna, Lomidong, Papandayan Wawalayan, Cabingan and Bangon.


A similar forum was also held in Dumaguete two days later, which included at least one City Councilor, four Punong Barangays and 24 other barangay officials. The event discussed the health programs and services of the local government, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Dumaguete. Apart from containing the spread of the virus, city health officials disclosed that they also faced the daunting task of addressing the 80 percent increase in the demand for contraceptives and other reproductive health (RH) services at the height of the pandemic.


By the end of the forum, the participants agreed to form five monitoring teams to monitor the RH services that the city government is providing. With five volunteer-monitors in each team, the initiative will monitor the availability of family planning commodities in barangay health stations; the availability and appropriateness of counseling; and the effectiveness, quality and appropriateness of the information and education campaigns of the government.


To cap the week-long campaign, a forum was jointly organized by G-Watch and the Naga City People’s Council (NCPC) on February 17. Attended by more than 30 participants from the eight basic sectors of Naga City, the event outlined the programs of the Department of Education (DepEd), the City Social Welfare Development Office (CSWDO), and the Public Safety Office (PSO). The forum concluded with a proposal to convene all volunteers during the pandemic so that they can be integrated into the City’s Health Emergency Response Task Force.


First held in 2014, Ako, Ikaw, Tayo, May Pananagutan is regularly undertaken by G-Watch and its partners to promote the importance of accountability in improving governance and advancing democracy. 


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