MSI in the Philippines

MSI has been active in the Philippines since 2004, implementing four USAID-funded projects and conducting several short-term assessments and evaluations.

The USAID-funded Philippines Integrity Project (iPro), currently supports efforts to reduce corruption in the Philippines by providing technical assistance to key anti-corruption agencies and to selected anti-corruption efforts undertaken by civil society organizations.  The project assists the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) in its efforts to improve its case records and information management capabilities. It supports OMB’s efforts to more effectively use its existing information technology infrastructure and to manage its case evidence to support more successful prosecutions.

For anticorruption efforts to be effective, anti-corruption agencies, the judiciary and civil society organizations need to work cooperatively rather than separately.  Towards this end, iPro supports the strengthening of the cooperation between the OMB, the Commission on Audit, and the Civil Service Commission through joint case investigations and other joint capacity building activities. The project also works with the OMB and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to build an effective system for the successful and timely prosecution of lower court corruption cases. The project also supports strategic anticorruption initiatives undertaken by civil society organizations.

On the regional and local level, the project works with local government units, the OMB and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to support the adoption of good governance practices based on Integrity Development Reviews (IDR) conducted by local government units.

Monitoring of national budgets can be a strategic tool for increasing government accountability. Between 2007 and 2009, MSI worked with INCITEGov, the LaSalle Institute of Governance and five other NGO partners to build capacity in civil society and media to undertake budget monitoring and advocate for better policies and more transparent budget processes. The project trained a committed pool of CSO activists to address emerging budget issues with evidence-based advocacy.

The project also produced a set of tools for budget monitoring including an inventory of the major sources of national budget information, explanations of key national budget issues and controversies, and guides to monitoring such important government social projects as farm-to-market roads, agrarian reform implementation and socialized housing.  Several national departments implemented new budget transparency measures as a result, and legislators used analysis provided by project partners to pursue improved national budget processes and other policies.

Under the USAID-funded Philippines Rule of Law Effectiveness (ROLE) project, MSI provided technical assistance to support Government of the Philippines’ anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and anti-trafficking initiatives. The project supported Philippine efforts to make key courts more efficient and accountable, to improve the investigative and prosecutorial capabilities of anti-corruption agencies, and to strengthen the legal and regulatory regime to combat money laundering, intellectual piracy and trafficking in persons.

The project introduced an automated case management system to the Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Court of Tax Appeals. Assistance to the Sandiganbayan paved the way for the adoption of a continuous trial system in selected graft cases involving high-profile government officials. The project’s capacity building assistance to the Ombudsman helped to more than double the conviction rate in the Sandiganbayan.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council credited the ROLE project with removing the Philippines from the international list of non-cooperating countries.  ROLE’s support to the Interagency Council Against Trafficking and its partner organizations contributed to the removal of the Philippines from the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons watch list in 2006.

The MCA Threshold Project implemented by MSI from 2006 to 2009 supported Government of the Philippines’ anti-corruption initiatives by providing substantial training, research and equipment support to the OMB and other anti-corruption agencies to enhance their capability to investigate and prosecute corruption.

The MCA project strengthened capacity within the OMB and improved compliance and enforcement at the country’s principal revenue administration agencies. It trained staff from the OMB, the Department of Finance’s Revenue Integrity Protection Service, the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Run after the Tax Evaders program and the Bureau of Customs’ Run after the Smugglers on legal writing, legal and tax accounting, financial investigations, substantive law, tax fraud, prosecution skills and customs regulation training.  It also increased the investigation and surveillance abilities of these organizations.

The project also computerized 75 regional district offices of the internal revenue bureau, which included encoding more than 2.2 million documents into the country’s tax system. Additionally, 200,000 anti-corruption promotional materials were distributed to 4,400 elementary and secondary schools.