City-USAid CHANGE engages Bohol media for governance

By Rey Anthony Chiu | 09:12 AM May 31, 2023

Not only would they be governance “critics and watchdogs,” Bohol media would also be assuming more engaging roles in governance, this as partnership between Tagbilaran City and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) solicits the active help of the media in strengthening the democratic processes.

During the two-day seminar workshop on media in governance last May 23-24 at the MetroCentre Hotel, USAID-funded Cities for Enhanced Governance and Engagement (CHANGE) Project City Governance Coordinator Rosalinda Paredes, USAID project City Governance Coordinator cites the critical media role in bringing about true decentralization and the mandated citizen participation in local governance.

One of the critical pillars that can largely contribute to shaping of a better government, media, has been considered the fourth estate, keeping a key function of checking and balancing powers in government, as it plays an important role in strengthening the democratic governance.

Sitting during the two-day workshop were members of the Bohol press, including managers, editors, writers and reporters, broadcasters and photojournalists who had their glance at the theory of safe spaces in governance, where people can speak without fear of harassment, in their struggles for demanding and exacting accountability from authorities and the government.

They also had a lengthy plenary on good governance and accountability, on the roles of media in local governance, and the treats that media face in the government-media interrelationship.

The gathering also tackled the state of media ethics in Bohol and swung off to digital journalism and its effect to mainstream delivery of information as well as the emergence of social media journalists and proposed social media governance frameworks.

Already getting considerable successes in getting the civil society organizations represented in the city government’s mandated organizations in line with the mandates for citizen participation in local governance, CHANGE now looks at the media and its immense power in shaping governments to help improve decentralization of fiscal, administrative and political authority of local governments, Paredes said.

Implemented in Bohol since 2001, CHANGE intends to strengthen the environment that enables decentralization, in a larger goal of effecting better service delivery, updated and upgraded capacities, and enhancing legitimacy, transparency and accountability of partner local governments.

Now in its third goal of empowering citizens by increasing their participation in governance and actively join in the oversight of processes that can help improve governments service, which the government also approves and supports, CHANGE now looks at the media and its strategic role to inform communities so they can make smarter decisions, as well as checks and balances government functions for better and streamlined processes to achieve development.

Also implemented in nine secondary cities in the Philippines, like Batangas, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Ilo-ilo, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Zamboanga, CHANGE in Tagbilaran has been leading in its project goals having already organized 45 activities to move the project goals further.

Whole of government, this is the reason for the CHANGE project, according to Paredes, whose civil society organization engagements in Bohol date back decades ago.

In the plan is for Bohol media to help government craft a work plan with partner local government units, a detailed work plan which would lead to strengthened democratic processes through responsive, accountable and transparent governance.

And while media works just like government in making information available for better community decisions, the media in governance can enhance the two-way flow of communication, with media helping government improve this communication process, may see this as a step up in making government realize a service-responsive LGU with a community-participated democratic governance. (PIA-7/Bohol)

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