Dr. Lisa Bersales, National Statistician, Undersecretary Denis Villorente, Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr., Director Reynaldo Laguda, Former Undersecretary Bon Moya, friends and partners in government, distinguished guests, good morning.
Today’s launch of the Open Data portal and the Presyo (presh-yo) mobile app of the Philippine Statistics Authority is a key step for the Philippines and is the fulfillment of the government’s commitment as a founding member of the Open Government Partnership.
Last year, the World Bank’s World Development Report on the role of information technology in development found that across 120 countries, only 13 percent of datasets were truly open to the public. But that is changing fast due to pioneering efforts such as the Open Data initiative here in the Philippines.
It’s remarkable how quickly the Open Data movement has spread. Internationally, the first government policies on Open Data only appeared in 2009. Now more than 50 countries have launched Open Data Initiatives, recognizing that data can be a powerful driver of development, but only if it is made widely available to the public.
Journalists, researchers, and citizens all have important roles to play in promoting and demanding a more open, participatory, and collaborative government and Open Data can be a useful tool in this endeavor.
To take an example, with user-friendly tools like the Open Data Portal, journalists can pinpoint places where poverty rates have declined and places where they have not. Researchers can use the microdata to identify government initiatives that have helped drive down poverty rates in particular areas. Finally, citizens can use this evidence to prod their local authorities to follow the example of local governments that have succeeded in reducing poverty.
Government itself is one of the greatest beneficiaries of Open Data because there are often barriers that limit the direct sharing of data between agencies. In countries where Open Data portals have been introduced, a large share of the downloads are by civil servants from other departments. As a result, the government as a whole is better equipped to use evidence in designing and implementing programs.
The World Bank has been working with governments around the world including in Kenya and Moldova and now in the Philippines, in opening up data to the public. We are proud to be a partner in this latest initiative, providing support for the development of the PSA’s Open Data Portal.
Our support to the Philippines in this area has been ongoing for several years. We worked extensively with the Open Data Taskforce in 2013 to allow citizens access to a wide range of government information via data.gov.ph. We have partnered with others to train journalists and citizen media in using the wealth of data available online, to produce compelling and factually strong stories. We have also supported geotagging, mapping and publication of information on government projects to improve governance, including in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao where strengthening governance is an important element of peace and institution building.
The launch of the Open Data Portal is one element of a broader movement towards greater transparency and freedom of information in the Philippines. We are very encouraged by the government’s strong efforts to move forward on the agenda as we know that this will help improve the investment climate, and the effectiveness of government in delivering services to Filipinos, especially the poor.
Let me again congratulate the team who have worked so hard to develop the Open Data Portal and the Presyo (presh-yo) mobile app. I wish you all a productive day of learning about these important tools.