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South Cotabato: Presenting a Road Map to Integrity

South Cotabato: Presenting a Road Map to Integrity


The Philippine Province of South Cotabato has developed an impressive approach to promoting integrity in local governance as part of a EU-cofunded project, the “Partnerships for Integrity and Job Creation” (Project I4J).

The aim of this project is to improve transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of local government processes to attract business and investments in nine different localities of the Philippines. This is being done through the pilot development of integrity mechanisms and models of transparent and effective small business and investment registration and promotion procedures.

The project features several innovative approaches to promoting integrity and South Cotabato was particularly successful in applying these, making it a model for other local governments across ASEAN. These approaches include the encouragement of close cooperation between the local government, local CSOs and businesses through the set-up of so called ‘integrity circles’ which are made up of respected representatives from these three sectors. These circles serve as supervisory and partner bodies to support the integrity efforts of the local administration and advise the LGU on investment promotion as well as the development of integrity mechanisms.

As a first step, this integrity circle helped South Cotabato to conduct an independent assessment of the procedures for business registration and investment procedures in the province. The resulting baseline study showed that the province of South Cotabato, under the leadership of the provincial governor, has already managed to develop some well-functioning structures and procedures to promote transparency and integrity in local governance.

However, the assessment also threw up areas where there still was room for improvement, and based on the advice of members of the integrity circle, the local government decided to systematically mainstream integrity themes into governance and to development 24 integrity mechanisms to be implemented in the province.

These mechanisms address a variety of issues, some in the sphere of citizens’ involvement, for example the standardisation and streamlining of business procedures and rates of fees and taxes in all component LGUs or the establishment of a civil society desk to strengthen people participation in planning and development. Other mechanisms focus on the policy sphere, such as the creation of Barangay (smallest units of government in the Philippines) monitoring committees and the strengthening of the internal audit unit.

Within the organisational sphere, the integrity mechanisms agreed on include the development of an integrity assessment tool for appointed officials and employees as well as the strengthening of the Citizen’s Charter monitoring team. Finally, the mechanisms designed for the delivery sphere focus on the installation of integrity e-boards and the strengthening of the existing project monitoring system.

An implementation plan has been developed with clear timelines so that progress can be checked and any delays or problems picked up and dealt with immediately. It is part of the role of the integrity circle that was formed at the beginning of the project, to be involved in the monitoring of the implementation of the mechanisms and to assist with the institutionalisation of these measures.

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For more information on the I4J project on 

Impressive Good Practices from the Philippines

“Partnerships for Integrity and Jobs” – a New Project for the Philippines