G-Watch National Meeting & Learning Exchange 2022: Sustaining Citizen Monitoring Amid COVID

When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, the world stood still. The ill-preparedness of the Philippine national government to handle a pandemic as huge as COVID-19 was very clear from the onset. The country’s health workers ended up taking most of the brunt of the pandemic because they were at the frontlines. Yet, health workers persevered to provide the badly needed health care and assistance to the people, especially those who were sick.

The country's chance of beating COVID-19 has been largely due to the heroism of frontliners. Aside from the medical and health workers, there have also been others on the frontlines wrestling against COVID-19. Citizen monitors have also been frontliners for accountability joining other civil society actors who have persisted amid the pandemic. 

On 3-6 March 2022, Government Watch (G-Watch), in partnership with Accountability Research Center (ARC), will hold its National Meeting and Learning Exchange to learn with, for and about ‘accountability frontliners.’

Accountability frontliners are citizen monitors who are physically at the frontlines - interviewing beneficiaries, observing the actual delivery of public services or the implementation of a government program, or engaging government face-to-face. They face real risks of getting infected, yet they continue coming out of their homes and monitoring government. Accountability frontliners are also citizens demanding accountability through various means, including online, who face the threat of repression and assault by authorities simply by speaking truth to power.

As early as April 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, G-Watchers were already on the frontlines monitoring the delivery of pandemic services by the government, particularly citizen entitlements on social assistance and health. G-Watch has been able to continue its multi-level monitoring despite of COVID and threats from the repressive/ fascistic policies of the government. G-Watch reports from its multi-level monitoring played the role of truth-telling – showing the real score in the delivery of pandemic services at the national policy level down to whether beneficiaries are getting the right services at the right time following the right processes.

There are likely other civil society organizations that were able to beat the odds to continue operating amid the pandemic.  What enabled G-Watch to continue its multi-level monitoring and how did other civil society organizations sustain their operations in spite of the constraints and limits to its adaptive learning and management can generate substantive lessons for the transparency, participation and accountability (TPA) field. G-Watch’s first learning from accountability frontliners surfaces the case of ‘reversing accountability’ in government’s COVID-19 response. It is a case of accountability measures checking citizens compliance to conditionalities set by the government, instead of citizens holding government to account. Through discussions and reflections with accountability frontliners, more can be learned about the state of transparency, participation and accountability reforms during the pandemic.

The event will also serve as an opportunity for regular collective analysis and reflection of the national situation, reporting and updating on G-Watch work and strategic planning for succeeding years.

This will be the first national face-to-face event of G-Watch since the COVID pandemic hit the country. At least 30 G-Watch leaders and accountability frontliners from G-Watch local sites all over the country will attend and share the same space for the first time again after over two years.

See full event concept and program here.