Procurement in the Philippines is governed by the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA), which was passed in 2003. It standardized public procurement process across all levels of government as well as government-owned companies and covers all stages from planning to implementation. A central body—Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB)—is also established to take charge of policy-making, training and monitoring. In terms of process, competitive bidding is the normative method, but exceptions are allowed as stipulated in the law. The use of standard bidding documents is mandatory and opening of bids happens in a pre-determined time and venue. A bids and awards committee (BAC) of 5-7 members deliberates the decisions; civil society organizations (CSOs) and private sector are invited to observe all stages of procurement. Trainings had been conducted for both public servants involved in procurement and the third-party observers from CSOs and private sector. Feedback and protest mechanisms and sanctions are available. Additional safeguards that may be necessary are the adoption of a Code of Conduct with specific rules on conflict of interest and gifts, and protection mechanism for tipsters and whistleblowers.
A number of procurement-related social accountability initiatives were undertaken all over the country in response to the passage of the GPRA. The groups involved in these initiatives remain fragmented, however. The outcome detailing the collective lessons and insights from the experience had not been assessed.
Currently, ANSA-EAP works with a procurement sub-network called the Philippine Procurement Network (P2N), which emerged directly from the Open Doors event. It is chaired by the Procurement Watch, Inc. (PWI) and coordinated by the Makati Business Club (MBC) through its Coalition Against Corruption (CAC) program. The main challenge now to the P2N is to consolidate and sustain the many existing efforts. Toward this goal, the P2N requested ANSA-EAP’s support to (a) map and assess citizens’ public procurement monitoring nationwide, and (b) set the agenda, program, and sustainability plan for the country network.
There is also an emerging partnership with the Government Procurement Professional of the Philippines, Inc. (GPPPI), a unique group composed of procurement practitioners within the government that serves as support system for their peers and colleagues. They consider capacity building as a key mandate to enable more of their kind, especially those at the local level, to enhance their professional expertise and increase their resistance to political pressure. GPPPI has sought the assistance of ANSA-EAP in incorporating social accountability in their program and strategies.
It is part of ANSA-EAP’s plan to connect the agenda of the P2N and GPPPI.