Pera Natin 'to!

Quick Look

Pera Natin ‘to! (It’s Our Money!) encourages Filipino citizens to report times when they are asked for bribes.

Beginning Date: 
March 23, 2010
How many unique hits per month?: 
Project Scale: 


Pera Natin ‘to! (It’s Our Money!) is an initiative of the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project, a group of four media development organizations. The project publishes reports on issues surrounding transparency, accountability and corruption, and encourages Filipino citizens to use text, photos and videos to report times when they are asked for bribes.

The goal is to “put under the public spotlight important issues such as control and management of the nation’s public wealth — and keep them there.” The project engages in investigative reporting based on these crowdsourced submissions and launches campaigns to promote specific legal changes or transparency practices in the Philippines, such as a making government officials’ Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth available online or preventing politicians from posting photos of themselves on billboards near new public infrastructure and public services.

The site was launched in March 2010 and attracted nearly 1.3 million visitors in its first six months.


Tell me a little about your project.: 

I am Rorie Fajardo, the Project Coordinator of the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project, which runs Pera natin ‘to! Pera natin ‘to! (It’s Our Money!) is an online platform to publish reports, complaints, photos, video, podcasts and blogs on issues surrounding transparency, accountability and corruption in the Philippines. It’s run by the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project, a group of four media development organizations, and by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. We aim to increase the capacity of media, civil society and ordinary citizens to understand, monitor and report on transparency, accountability, and corruption issues surrounding government. We believe that if the ordinary citizen has access to information and understands how public money should be spent, we are able to lessen corruption.

What's your vision for the project?: 

First we want to see more collaboration and effort from civil society organizations, ordinary citizens, and the media working together to report and monitor corruption and transparency issues in their communities. In fact, we are starting to work on this right now in selected cities and provinces of the Philippines, where corruption is bad. We also want to see more media reports, not only breaking news, but in-depth reports on issues such as how our government decides the budget, how the officials spend our tax money, how they select and implement projects — whether with local or with multinational corporations — and how goods and services are procured within government agencies.

Also, we are looking at how ordinary citizens participated or encouraged participation in these processes, because often ordinary citizens don’t know how government operates and how leaders decide on these issues.

Lastly, we want to have better-trained journalists and civil society actors who know how to keep track of corruption and transparency issues and how to monitor and investigate. That is why we are now offering training in different cities all over the Philippines. We have now trained more than 100 journalists and civil society organization workers on how to monitor, investigate and report on corruption issues. Also, they can initiate campaigns against corruption and waste in their communities.

How does your work currently turn into offline change? : 

We have been assisting many journalists who produce public affairs programs. They want to produce stories on corruption where they use information available on our site and interview us. Also, we are able to link them to an anti-corruption network of journalists investigating corruption in the provinces.

Another impact is that we are now among the prime movers in non-government efforts to engage with the new government to ensure that civil society’s participation is strong in different areas of governance, such as budgeting, procurement and access to information. We are a part of Governance of Anti-Corruption, a small group of civil society organizations working together to engage with the government administration for more transparency and accountability. We also work closely with media to report on corruption issues.

At the same time, our site traffic has been continually increasing, as a significant indicator that our site is now being sought when people want to know more about issues of transparency and corruption in Philippines.

Another example is that we recently ran a campaign for a law that would prevent politicians from putting their names and photos on billboards near new public infrastructure. We encourage citizens to participate in this campaign and submit photos of politicians who abuse this power by using public money — our money — as their own. We believe this campaign contributed to the drafting of the new Act Declaring As Unlawful Any Government Projects To Be Named Or Identified After Government Officials And Other Persons Whose Name Or Identity May In Any Manner Be Associated With Said Officials, which is currently pending in Congress.

What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

One is the danger or security issue; especially once we are investigating or reporting on corruption issues. Here in the Philippines, journalists who are reporting on corruption are the ones facing danger and some have been killed. In this line of our work, we are trying to make sure our journalists and reporters are following security measures. We also discuss this during our training.

Another obstacle is that we do not have a law of access to information, particularly on government contracts and other government transactions. This remains a major challenge for us in launching campaigns against corruption. Thus we need to be creative about how to find information on contracts for public infrastructure or procurement of certain materials. We have to be creative in following the paper trail and getting information from other sources, apart from the official ones. We need to check with various sources besides the ones that refuse to give us the information, but we also need to make sure that all documents are verified.

Also, though Internet access is not a major concern, we need to acknowledge that the Internet is not yet popular in remote areas. The most popular medium in remote areas is still radio. However, in the city and the southern Philippines, Internet access is an instrumental medium in reporting issues around transparency and corruption and, of course, in effecting change.

Why do people use your tool?: 

We have already had roughly 1.3 million visitors and more than 1,000 regular unique visitors. In terms of contributions, after every training session we try to engage journalists and non-journalists to contribute stories to us. This way we have an estimated 30 to 50 regular contributors who propose stories or ideas we can pursue together.

I strongly believe that transparency and corruption are very important concerns right now for the people of the Philippines. Taking our past administration, which faced charges, and reoccurring issues on corruption and graft, there is an expectation from the public right now that the new administration will take action to solve or put an end to corruption. So initiatives like ours are being used to popularize the people’s concerns and let their voices be heard by new administration. Our tool aims to make campaigns more interactive, where people feel that they have their say on everything, or more detailed issues, like how their mayor or government spends their money.

What is your civic role?: 

There is some communication with the government but it is more to let them understand what we are doing and encourage them to make use of our site if they want to publish reports or statements, because PPRTP has a wide range of contacts among the media in the Philippines and abroad. If the relationship here refers to a form of partnership, it is not that case so far. It is just a critical collaboration.

Most of the agencies that we talk with welcome our project. They see our project as helpful, with value for the work they are doing in reforming and cleaning up government services, and making their services more transparent. Not everyone knows and there is difficulty in asking mainstream media (to spread the word), but many people in these agencies believe in our project. Also, our online platform, Facebook profile and general contacts help spread the news.

We are also planning to communicate closely with the Tax Department and other main departments, like Budget Management, that have lots of projects on infrastructure and communication or services for the population.

Has your work been replicated?: 

There is a small local transparency reporting group that we have helped develop and operate in different cities in the Philippines. One example is in Kidapawan City, located in the southern Philippines. There’s a media CSO group there called Watch for Advocate for Transparency and Accountability. They participate in budget hearings, report on corruption issues, and encourage people to take part and have a say in how government decides on finance matters. They also inspect government-funded projects. There is also a group from Cambodia that contacted PPRTP about how they could replicate this effort in their area.

Is your work a replication of another project?: 

The idea is based on our experience engaging with media here in the Philippines on how to report on critical issues that affect our society. Back in 2007, we were working together on reporting on human rights, but corruption is also a burning issue here. The country’s Presidential Anti-Graft Commission estimates that corruption accounts for the loss of around 20 percent of our national budget. That is huge. Therefore, we were thinking that media, and of course government and civil society, can play an important role in fighting or reducing corruption and in promoting more transparency.

What transparency/accountability organizations do you work with?: 

We have been closely working with established organizations like the Transparency and Accountability Network, a big network of organizations in Philippines working to promote transparency and accountability in the public sector. We are also working with the Ateneo School of Government, the Caucus of Development NGO Networks, and the Coalition Against Corruption.


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