By Rolando O. Borrinaga
NAVAL, BILIRAN – “Bagat” is an old Bisayan word which has two extreme meanings. On the one hand, it refers to a friendly meeting; on the other, it refers to a hostile encounter. This word provided the acronym and agreed attitude of an anti-corruption group recently organized during a two-day workshop here.
Last Jan. 30-31, some 20 participants representing almost all towns and sectors in this province attended the First Workshop on Good Governance: Procurement and Project Monitoring. This activity was organized by Fr. Bing Colasito, director of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Naval, and held at the Diocesan Pastoral Center .
The resource person for the workshop was Edward C. Gacusana, senior political researcher of the Makati Business Club (MBC) and coordinator of the Coalition Against Corruption (CAC).
The CAC is an alliance of the business sector, non-government organizations, and the Church that fights corruption. Launched on Sept. 21, 2004, it implements and supports counter-corruption projects in the area of procurement and delivery of essential public services.
The main workshop input was an orientation on R.A. No. 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, which was passed into law in 2002. Its principles on transparency allow observers from duly recognized private groups to sit in procurement proceedings of government agencies.
Aside from a copy each of R.A. No. 9184, the participants also received two booklets: “A Guide to Pork Barrel Watch” and “A Guide to Medicine Monitoring in Public Hospitals.”
Group activities included a recall game to quiz participants on R.A. 9184, role playing about government procurement, budget tracking, and a rapid assessment for civic engagement in Biliran. Lectures included tips on how to observe government procurement, the “red flags” of procurement, and the use of monitoring tools.
The participants decided that the name of their NGO would be Biliran Advocates for Good Governance and Transparency – Corruption Prevention Council (BAGGAT-CPC). Its papers are being worked out for registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The founding officers include Dr. Juan V. Pastor as Chairman, Noel B. Pla as Secretary, and Lorna Ferguson as Treasurer. Other members of the Board of Directors include Enrique Calagos for Culaba, Dr. Ben Inocentes for Kawayan, Clarita Napoles for Cabucgayan, Pedro Ecalla for Almeria , Prof. Rolando O. Borrinaga for the academe, Fr. Bing Colasito for the clergy.
ANTI-CORRUPTION GROUP IN BILIRAN. Participants of the First Workshop on Good Governance: Procurement and Budget Monitoring held on Jan. 30-31 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Naval. They have organized themselves into an NGO to be called BAGGAT-CPC (Biliran Advocates for Good Governance and Transparency – Corruption Prevention Council) which shall seek observer status in the procurement proceedings of government agencies in the province.
Once BAGGAT-CPC has been registered, the organization will negotiate for the mandated observer status in the procurement processes of various government agencies in the province, including the Biliran Provincial Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Naval Institute of Technology.
Reports of the observers and other organizational activities would be chronicled in a quarterly newsletter and in an Internet website.
As an organization, BAGGAT-CPC seeks a friendly meeting of minds despite their observer roles in the near future. Only time will tell if this initiative would be viewed as an invitation to a hostile encounter by the concerned agencies.