Empowering citizens to achieve the MDGs: The Philippines’ top telecommunication companies unite to support Tingog 2015

tingog-3Launching parade of Tingog 2015 citizens feedback initiative in the Philippines, 2011

The Philippines’ top telecommunication companies unite to support Tingog 2015, an initiative that allows citizens to monitor social services through text messaging. The initiative is being piloted in Tabaco, Albay, the Philippines.

(Manila, Philippines, November 22, 2012)—The country’s leading telecommunications companies announced their support for TINGOG 2015, a pioneering SMS-based citizen feedback initiative that aims to promote the effective delivery of basic services for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Globe, Smart Communications, Inc. and Sun Cellular, together with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, expressed optimism about the potential impact of TINGOG 2015 both as an engagement and technology platform.

‘Tingog’ is a Bicolano and Cebuano word for ‘voice.’ TINGOG 2015 has been piloted in Tabaco City, Albay, enabling citizens to make their voices heard on issues such as maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition services using the short code 2015.

“TINGOG 2015 is yet another brand of the private and public partnership, where we see the government and major corporations working for the welfare of the people,” said Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Roxas. “Following the President’s commitment to promote inclusive development, very simply echoed by his ‘Kayo ang Boss’ pronouncement, we are intensifying efforts on poverty alleviation and accelerating achievement of MDGs in the final three years through effective and conscientious local governance,” Roxas said.

“Achieving the MDGs not only requires strong leadership and political will; more importantly, it requires citizen commitment and action. When people are involved, we empower them to use their collective voices for development and progress, and build a community united toward a shared goal,” Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro. Tabaco City has made MDG targets a benchmark for local development planning.

Using the TINGOG 2015 platform, citizens of Tabaco can now report on, monitor, and send feedback on public health services, including the expanded program on immunization, maternal health, reproductive health, medical consultation, tuberculosis, and nutrition.

Rallying behind the initiative, top telcos Globe, Smart Communications, Inc. and Sun Cellular agreed to charge a reduced rate of ₱1.00 per SMS report sent to the special number 2015, instead of the standard ₱2.50 per text.

“Meeting our MDG commitments requires strong collaboration among different sectors of society. Globe is glad to be part of this significant undertaking,” said Rob Nazal, Head for Globe Corporate Social Responsibility. “We believe that one of the ways we can contribute to national development is to effectively use our core products, services and competency. By helping the City of Tabaco in the delivery of MDG services through technology-enabled solutions, we hope that we can be instrumental in transforming and uplifting the lives of disadvantaged Filipinos.”

“Smart Communications, Inc. recognizes the role of wireless technology in addressing urgent gaps in basic social services by enabling communities. Eradicating poverty is not just the government’s business – it’s everyone’s,” said Ramon Isberto, Head of Smart’s Public Affairs Group. “TINGOG 2015 empowers citizens and encourages government to provide efficient and quality social services. Through technology, real time communication and feedback is established between these two significant constituencies. We are very excited to work with the proponents of this initiative to ensure MDG progress in Albay.”

“Sun Cellular is privileged to be part of the TINGOG 2015 initiative. We take pride in the opportunity to promote inclusive development by enabling ordinary citizens to monitor and report on the delivery of essential maternal and child health and nutrition services,” said Reuben S.J. Pangan, Vice-President of Sun Cellular Customer Relationship Management. “Our team is committed to provide support and technical expertise to ensure the success of TINGOG 2015.”

In the Philippines, the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel remains short of the 100% target, achieving slow progress from 58.8 in 1990 to 74.3 in 2009. Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board shows that national maternal mortality ratio (MMR) per 100,000 live births increased to 221 from 95 in 2010 and 97 in 2011.

Data from Tabaco City’s community-based monitoring system (CBMS) indicate a decrease in the proportion of children aged 0-5 who died and proportion of women who died due to pregnancy related causes, from 0.4 in 2008 to 0.3 and 0.2 in 2010, respectively.

“We must bear in mind that MDG commitments can be fulfilled only when they reach the poorest and those most in need, ” said Minar Pimple, Regional Director for Asia and Pacific of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, the organization supporting TINGOG 2015. “This citizen feedback initiative is key to ensuring transparency and accountability in the achievement of the MDGs. It empowers citizens to hold their governments to account for the delivery of basic social services.”

In the photo above from left to right: Mr. Minar Pimple, Asia Pacific Regional Director, UNMC; Mr. Charles Abugre, Africa Regional Director, UNMC; Ms. Cynthia Arce, National MDG Campaign and Advocacy Specialist, UNMC Philippines; Undersecretary Rafael Santos, Department of Interior and Local Government; Mr. Rod Nazal, Head,  Corporate Social Responsibility, Globe Telecom Inc.; Mr. Reuben S.J. Pangan, Vice-President, Customer Relationship Management, Digitel Telecommunications Phils Inc.; Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro, Tabaco, Albay; Ms. Rebecca Malay, Director, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement; Mr. Ramon Isberto, Head, Public Affairs, Smart Communications, Inc.