As a democratic country, the Philippines values citizen participation in ensuring that people's voices are heard and that they are part of important decision-making processes. ICT-mediated and enabled participation plays a particularly significant role in the Philippines, which is considered a leader in mobile telephony. However, despite high usage of ICTs, the country still lags behind its neighbours in terms of broadband infrastructure and Internet access, thus precluding the full realisation of ICT-mediated citizen engagement.
Open data initiatives cannot succeed without a greater framework and culture of openness, which includes interoperability of systems in government. Another aspect of developing such culture of openness is changing the attitudes of both government and public towards open data, as well as developing their technical capacity in information management.
The Brief makes the following recommendations on the role and use of Open Data in the Philippines:
- government-wide policies that employ the key principles of openness and transparency of information - availability and access, reuse and redistribution, and universal participation - are necessary in all operations. This includes strengthening and ensuring effective implementation of existing interoperability frameworks
- campaigns and other initiatives for enhancing awareness of the public to the importance of open data in democracy are vital. Efforts must be made to bridge technological or cultural gaps that may inhibit the public from engaging proactively in Open Data and / or Freedom to Information (FOI)
- a law on FOI that covers offices and agencies in all branches of government, and not just the executive needs to be passed. Multiple stakeholders from various sectors (civil society, academic, private sector) and regions need to be engaged in the process of FOI legislation
- a continuous programme on multi-stakeholder monitoring process for FOI and Open Data initiatives must be developed to ensure that the needs of the public are being met and appropriate ICTs and channels are being utilised
- access to Open Data and FOI portals should not be reliant only on individual Internet access. Options need to be made available for those who would like to request or access information but do not have reliable Internet access or the technological capability to process the available data
- interactivity and reciprocity in the design of FOI and Open Data mechanisms must be ensured. Citizens must be able to engage critically with the information made available to them, not merely access or consume it. Feedback mechanisms must be in place to guarantee that citizen voice is heard and acted upon
- data and information made accessible by open data policy frameworks must be used for participatory rule-making and other democratic practices. Both content and platforms must be designed and implemented with a view towards enabling the public to participate in governance.