Philippines, 30 September 2021 – UNODC presented at a civic engagement forum entitled “Probing corruption: an online forum” organized by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). PCIJ were a recipient of a grant as part of the Fast-tracking UNCAC Implementation regional platform in Southeast Asia.
UNODC Civil Society Unit (CSU) alongside the Regional Office for Southeast Asia and Pacific gave opening remarks and outlined ongoing anti-corruption projects across the region. The forum was attended by over 35 key stakeholders from the media, civil society organizations, academia, and government agencies.
The forum was the culmination of PCIJ's project to promote transparency and accountability in government emergency responses to Covid-19. PCIJ ran a training and editorial fellowship programme which grew the number of freedom of information practitioners among civil society organizations and journalists and highlighted any accounting inconsistencies stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two fellowship recipients shared insights on their findings, challenges, and lessons learned from the investigations they conducted. A Journalist presented how the pandemic exacerbated illegal and undocumented fishing in the Philippines, and how it operates through corruption. While others reported on irregularities in disbursing funds meant for Covid-19.
Carmela Fonbuena, Executive Director of the PCIJ, gave the concluding remarks: “We wanted to achieve two things from this project, firstly equip stakeholders with the means to hold government to account, and secondly, produce investigative articles resulting from the trainings. I would like to congratulate the journalists for the courage to carry out their investigations, demonstrating patience, diligence, and skill to expose cases of corruption and promote transparency.”
A longer story of the project can be read on page 10 of the following report which gives an overview of the 13 grants schemes undertaken as part of the Fast-tracking UNCAC Implementation project, funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office.