Not As Good As it Seems: A Closer Look at the 2017 Open Budget Survey Result on the Philippines

By Joy Aceron, G-Watch/ Accountability Research Center

The result of the latest Open Budget Survey (OBS) is certainly encouraging for the Philippines. Since the Report has come out, the report has been covered by media (‪https://www.rappler.com/nation/194902-philippines-rank-open-budget-transparency) and has been hailed by the government as an affirmation of its efforts on budget reform.

In a press statement, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno states: "We very proud of what we’ve accomplished to date. In surpassing our Asian neighbors, we have further cemented our position as a global leader in Open Government. It encourages us to persevere, to do even better, in the years ahead.” (http://www.dbm.gov.ph/index.php/secretary-s-corner/press-releases/list-of-press-releases/506-philippines-ranks-first-in-asia-for-budget-transparency)

The OBS Report is best appreciated in context and with the proper nuancing of its details and the implications given the current situation. This is not being captured in the reports and statements to date. 

Timeframe of OBS 2017

  • Spearheaded by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), the OBS started in 2006 and is described as "the world’s only independent, comparative assessment of the three pillars of public budget accountability: transparency, oversight and public participation." The OBS Report is "produced by independent budget experts around the world, using internationally-accepted criteria developed by multilateral organizations." 
  • The 2017 OBS is the sixth round that evaluated 115 countries across six continents. For this round, according to the report's methodology, the data collection took place from September 2016 to December 2016. "Thus, the OBS 2017