Bantay Red Plate or the Vehicle Monitoring III is an initiative of Ecolink Philippines being supported by the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) and the Makati Business Club – Coalition Against Corruption, and is now working closely with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other key government agencies to promote LGU accountability in vehicle procurement, use and maintenance throughout the country through policy development, citizen-driven monitoring mechanism, capability-building and advocacy.
In January 2008 PTF signed a grant Agreement with Ecolink Philippines for the implementation of the Anti-Corruption and Transparency II (ACT II), a project to reduce and prevent corruption of funds in the use, procurement, management and maintenance of government vehicles covering three cities of Mindanao.
The project which was also dubbed as Vehicle Monitoring II was implemented from February to December 2008 as a replication of the successful ACT I: Vehicle Monitoring project, only that the recent project emphasized strengthening and capacity building of partner CSOs in the three cities, and deepened specific approaches in monitoring and awareness activities based on the lessons learned from ACT I. The project’s interventions included all aspects of Expenditure Monitoring, Vehicle Use Monitoring IEC and Advocacies, Capacity- Building of partner CSOs, Institutional and Policy Reforms, and the Establishment of a Transparency Network in the city of Dapitan and Pagadian.
The project impacts, by objective, were reflected in the project Completion Assessment posted in the PTF website. All qualitative impacts in the form of Increase in Citizens Awareness and Participation, Policy and Institutional Reforms, and Empowerment of the CSOs has resulted in the significant financial benefits (saved from wastage and corruption) for the LGUs in the total amount of over P9 million, or $ 237 thousand.
The qualitative impacts are even more remarkable from the long-term perspective because together they constitute most, if not all, of the key elements of an effective and robust anti -corruption campaign.
Compliance with GPRA, the increasing number of citizen volunteer now more knowledgeable about corruption issues and more skilled in dealing with them, the strengthening of CSO capability to mobilize participation and the hold the erring LGU officials and personnel accountable, the policy that provide more restrictions on the use of LGU vehicles and more systematic and efficient management for the LGU vehicle fleet- all of these point to the direction of controlling corruption in vehicle procurement and use.
The key is sustaining to a national level what have been started in ACT I and expanded in ACT II. It is our belief that the success of Vehicle Monitoring I & II can be scaled-up nationwide. The gains for the country will be very significant in terms of amount of public funds recovered. Ordinary people, media and CSOs around the country will notice that they have huge impact by becoming compliance monitors. Thus, Ecolink Philippines through the continuing support of the Partnership Transparency Fund launched Vehicle Monitoring III, which is also dubbed as Bantay Red Plate, an initiative to promote accountability in the use, procurement, and management LGU fleets nationwide.
In the implementation of the Vehicle Monitoring III project, this Manual on Fleet Management Audit serves as a vital tool in addressing the obvious weak levels of local government units’ accountability in the procurement, use and maintenance of government vehicles nationwide as the experiences in Vehicle I & 2 suggest.
It is important to note that with the LGUs’ weak policy framework on government vehicle use, the absence of an effective and sustainable citizen-driven monitoring mechanism, weak fleet management capacities, low awareness on government vehicle-related laws, and the minimal citizen awareness in red plate abuses and corrective actions, corrupt practices pertaining to government vehicle procurement and the red plate misuse will further intensify, thus, increasing the amount of public funds being wasted.