The South Cotabato Integrity Circle (SCIC) is a multi-stakeholder forum and advisory body created by the South Cotabato Provincial Government to eradicate acts of corruption and promote good governance as a strategy towards poverty reduction. Through the Provincial EO No. 10 s. 2015, 21 leaders of equal representation from local government units (LGUs), civil society organizations (CSOs) and the business sector were brought together to form the SCIC. The Integrity Circle was started by the province in 2015 when it was chosen as a pilot LGU of the Partnership for Integrity and Jobs Project (Project i4J ), an initiative funded by the European Union and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) in building a culture of integrity & transparency in its operations.
Background of the Problem
The formation of SCIC is in line with the Development Framework of South Cotabato that focuses on good governance and integrity in all government services in the province. Through the Executive Order No. 10 s. 2015, the SCIC is mandated to develop and monitor the effective implementation of South Cotabato’s 24 Integrity Mechanisms with the ultimate goal of eliminating irregular practices in government operations. Through its Regular Quarterly Meetings, information and education campaigns, and monitoring activities, the Integrity Circle safeguards the observation of integrity as a culture among public servants and elected officials in the province.
Solution and Impact
The SCIC eradicates acts of corruption and promotes good governance by putting a high premium on transparency, accountability, and quality in the provision of public services in the province. Through the close monitoring of irregularities and standardization of processes, public trust and confidence to the LGU have improved. The renewed trust and confidence of local entrepreneurs inspired them to start and register their businesses, thus, helping the local economy by increasing employment opportunities for the people of South Cotabato. Integrity pacts, duly-approved strategic work plans that highlight automated cueing system, and the observance of Integrity Week every September ensure that the culture of good governance and integrity is made a way of life among public servants and officials in the province.
Because the SCIC was formed through multi-stakeholder representation, the program and the culture of integrity transcends the term of the present elective officials. The provincial-wide adoption of the culture of integrity in public service has resulted in an increase in the number of new businesses registered. With it comes the improvement in employment rate, and gross sales from 2015-2017. Overall, the SCIC has helped the Provincial Government of South Cotabato decrease the poverty incidence in the province by 6.3%.
With the SCIC as the forefront of South Cotabato’s efforts to promote integrity in public service, the province has ranked as the 2nd Most Competitive Province in the Philippines in 2017 & one of the top 10 Most Competitive Provinces in 2018. The Project was the selected through a competitive process as the only participant from the Philippines in the Open Government Partnership, an international multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and subnational governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The SCIC is one of the Government Best Practice Recognition 2018 awardees.