IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: ECOLINK
GRANT AMOUNT: $29,779
THEME: Youth Empowerment
The SK Watch (Sangguniang Kabataan Monitoring) is a project of the Ecolink Philippines supported by the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF). This report covers the last of the project phases dubbed as SK Watch Exit Plan and Monitoring. The final period of the SK Watch implementation as designed during its inception four years ago. On March 9, 2011, PTF approved a grant of $27,524.42 to Ecolink Philippines to cover part of the costs associated with the project.
SK Watch is a citizen-based initiative to curb corruption in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), a government-supported youth council in every village, providing young citizens a direct role in governance at a community level. By law, SK receives a mandatory share in the Internal Revenue Allotment for Local Government Units. Over the years, the use of the SK funds has been marked by widespread corruption, which ECOLINK estimated to be at US$15 million annually nationwide. Stopping this corruption by establishing youth-based, youth-led transparency and accountability mechanisms is the overarching objective of the project.
The project focuses on the four major problem areas where SK corruption is most prevalent. These are (a) diversion of funds, (b) the so-called “Waiting-Shed Syndrome”, (c) misuse and misappropriation of SK properties, and (d) overpricing of sports facilities & equipment. ECOLINK coined the “waiting-shed syndrome” to describe the addiction of SKs around the country to build waiting sheds that hardly benefited communities and were eventually laid to waste –simply because they were ‘tangible’ and easy to do projects; they were also prone to corrupt practices.
The project began with a pilot area of one city and further expanded into three provinces during the second phase, and in this period covered at least 500 local government units in the Philippines. PTF supported all three phases of the project.
The PTF supported SK Watch Project in the Philippines provides a concrete example of how small grants to CSO’s can cause a huge impact on the political landscape of a country. What has started as an experimental intervention model of CSO driven government fiscal cycle monitoring covering one small city has grown into a national program that is to be jointly undertaken both by the National Youth Commission and the project proponent, Ecolink Philippines, with the participation of thousands of volunteer citizens all over the country.
The Exit Phase of SK Watch is solely designed to sustain the gains of the favorable impacts of the first two phases of the project. Ecolink Philippines took huge efforts to achieve such an ambitious goal and their efforts did pay off. The project ensured that citizen participation, funds integrity, and other outcomes of the earlier period were preserved and further developed.
This part of the long years of project implementation also paves the way for new opportunities to further develop intervention approaches relating to the promotion of access to government fiscal information, public accountability and citizen participation in governance and anti-corruption.