KUMOSTAHAY 2015: A media-initiated citizens-LGUs dialogue on good governance

second draft of piniyalan reporting governance logo
(A component of the Piniyalan 2013-2016: Reporting Governance Project, a partnership between community partners, BukidnonNews.Net and DXDB-Radyo Bandilyo-AM594 Malaybalay, with support from Diocese of Malaybalay Bishop Jose A. Cabantan, and recently in cooperation with the Department of Interior and Local Government – Bukidnon Provincial Office)

A PROJECT PROFILE

BACKGROUND
Piniyalan 2013-2016: Reporting Governance Project finds its roots in the crucial 2004 national and local elections. Local journalists initiated Pulong pulong sa Plaza (Meeting in the Plaza) in April 2004 to facilitate dialogue between citizens and the candidates for mayor and vice mayor of the City of Malaybalay. Mr. Walter Balane, then editor-in-chief of Central Mindanao Newswatch, fresh from training on covering elections in Davao City among Mindanao journalists, initiated the meeting to serve as opportunity for both citizens and candidates to engage in dialogue.

Initially intended to be held also in Valencia, the organizers managed to hold only a Pulong pulong in Malaybalay where candidates of the two major rivals attended. They presented their platforms and answered questions from the citizens, walk in participants who were in the Plaza Rizal that night.

The idea was to put premium on the issues and concerns brought by the citizens themselves on the election of their government officials.

Community media coverage was usually focused on what candidates wanted to dish out for the public, oftentimes viewed as serving only their political agenda. There were members of the media who wanted to change this practice Instead of just candidates’ forum, the initiative tried to push for citizens-candidates forum. Thus the Pulong pulong sa Plaza focused on getting citizens from different walks of life to discuss – dialogue with the candidates. Due to financial and logistics constraints, the initiative has to be called off.

In 2011, the Bukidnon NEWS (Network of Editors and Writers for Social Change) Inc, publisher of BukidnonNews.Net was formed. In 2012, it initiated Piliay 2013, to continue what has been started in 2004.
The project started in November 2012 as Piliay 2013: Dialogue Bukidnon. It held 11 focused-group discussions with citizens from among community leaders to identify key issues they wanted candidates for the local elections in 2013 to address. With support from Diocese of Malaybalay Bishop Jose A. Cabantan, the FGDs were held in Malaybalay, Valencia, Maramag, and Manolo Fortich.

Then key-informant interviews were conducted with the candidates from the two towns and two cities representing Bukidnon’s four districts and the provincial government to compose five pilot areas. Bukidnon Gov. Jose MA. R. Zubiri participated in the project’s KII as among the 18 of 27 candidates in the areas who agreed to be interviewed (List attached). The excerpts of the interviews of the candidates for governor and vice governor were published on the Ang Bandilyo May 4-11, 2013 issue and the BukidnonNews.Net website on May 11,2013.

The group was then able to help organize the citizens-candidates forum in Valencia City in May 2013 out of the five we were planning to hold for Piliay 2013.

CONTINUITY
In June 2013, when the new sets of officials were proclaimed and had taken their oaths of office, BukidnonNews.Net reflected on what will happen to Piliay 2013, primarily an election-related project. The group decided to transform it into a continuing reporting, documentation, and public education initiative with DXDB-AM as its broadcast partner.

Thus Piniyalan 2013-2016: Reporting Governance Project was born. With Radyo Piniyalan, aired over DXDB-AM every Saturday, the group sought to use the gains of Piliay 2013 among other inputs for community education not only about elections but governance in general. “Piniyalan” is Cebuano for “steward” or someone entrusted of the care of others.

The idea is for the project to help educate the public about their roles in governance: among them to vote wisely, to act as responsible citizens and actively participate in governance from its smallest unit, to help monitor government projects, to help government be reminded of its duties and commitments through critical collaboration through citizens’ participation in governance.

PARTICIPATORY AND TRANSPARENT GOVERNANCE
One of the components of the three-year project is Kumostahay or Updating between citizens and the officials of their local government units. This is in response to national government and international communities’ call for transparent/open and participatory governance. Citizens themselves are also calling for change the way elections are held and governance are done especially in the communities.

As a citizens and LGUs dialogue initiated by news media (BukidnonNews.Net and DXDB as of now), among the key activities are:

1. PARTNERSHIP BUILDING AND COMMUNITY CONSULTATIONS (with DILG, LGUs, and community partners) to be highlighted by the Validation and Updating of Issues generated through the 2013 FGDs during community consultations with partners in the pilot areas and the generation of the LGU Executive and Legislative Agenda executive summary and key points.

Through Bishop Jose A. Cabantan, Piniyalan will seek partnerships with representatives from different sectors in the municipal/city level via the parishes in the concerned pilot areas. With DILG, the project seeks the coordination and cooperation of LGUs in providing documents like the ELA and the participation of the officials in the dialogue meetings.

2. DIALOGUE MEETINGS (to be facilitated by DILG, to be participated in by the representatives of community partners and the LGUs concerned to be covered by the two media partners.)

DILG will facilitate the holding of the meetings, which will be attended by the representatives of community partners from different sectors, representatives from the media partners, and key officials from the five pilot areas concerned. The secretariat will coordinate with the office of the mayor/governor for the final schedule and other details of the meeting. The meeting should be held in maximum of three (3) hours in a mutually agreed venue and schedule. The LGU will be asked to present its updates on the ELA and responses to the issues presented in the FGD results (documents should be presented to secretariat at least two weeks before the meeting schedule.) The representatives from citizens and the media will be given time to ask questions.

3. PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS (discussions on Radyo Piniyalan, publication of excerpts of the minutes of the dialogue on Ang Bandilyo and BukidnonNews.Net and other media outlets, holding of school hopping as community discussions).

As a news media project, outputs of the meeting will be subject for stories on both print and broadcast media. This will be presented as discussion points in the Radyo Piniyalan community education program, in the pages of the Ang Bandilyo and the online pages of BukidnonNews.Net. There will also be holding of school hopping to present key points and a press forum on the project.

DIALOGUE FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
Piniyalan 2013-2016 Reporting Governance Project hinges on the call for transparent, open, and participatory governance. It is however, pursuing this through dialogue, as part of the commitments of the news media partners to peace journalism and the transformative power of information and education. (BukidnonNews.Net)