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Pushback Against Corruption In Philippines Continues With Gov't Hackathon

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 28 2013

The Philippine government is sponsoring a two-day hackathon early next month as part of an attempt to reform the government and reduce corruption. Less than two months ago the country was rocked by a corruption scandal implicating three senators, two former lawmakers, and a businesswoman for misuse of state funds totaling more than US$200 million. The central government will provide data for the #KabantayNgBayan (Guardians of the Nation) hackathon, which will encourage the development of apps that encourage citizens to monitor the government and participate in good governance.

The hackathon is a step in the right direction, but some activists wonder if it is enough. Inday Espina-Varona, the Philippines’ campaign director of Change.org, told the Wall Street Journal that. “All those apps won’t substitute for a Freedom of Information law,” referring to a bill pending in Congress that, like our Freedom of Information law, would make government records available to the public.

“Citizens are willing to help,” Espina-Varona said. “But the government must walk the talk.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for President Aquino said hackathon apps should “...not only aid government performance but also encourage the citizenry to participate in good governance.”

The government also plans to launch an open data website—data.gov.ph—next month.

Earlier this year, Filipino lawmakers made waves by introducing a crowdsourced Internet freedom bill. The jury is still out on that bill and it could take months or even years for it to pass, according to Freedom House.

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