Citizen action in Masbate 

THE MASBATE ADVOCATES for Transparency and Accountability (MATA) is an advocacy group that aims to reduce corruption and waste of public funds among local government units (LGU) in the province of Masbate. It is comprised of journalists and members of civil society organizations (CSO) committed to work together to monitor, report, and educate fellow Masbateños on public finances.

MATA was formally organized on June 14, 2014 with the support of the Citizen Action Network for Accountability (CANA). MATA members consider the founding of the group as a milestone for the province which is perceived to be long saddled with corruption, abuse, patronage and political violence. They see their groups’ formation as the first step towards strengthening efforts of citizens searching for better transparency and accountability in their communities.

First order of the day for the group is working to address the longstanding issues of corruption and accountability in Masbate—particularly the allegedly questionable use of Masbate Electric Cooperative’s (MASELCO) PhP51-million meter deposits and the gold mining operations of Philippine company Filmenera Mining Resources Corp. with backing of the Australian company CGA Mining Ltd. in the municipality of Aroroy.

MATA acknowledges the challenge that goes with being the only citizen watchdog in the province. It believes that it is about time for Masbate—a province that is very rich in natural resources but is one of the poorest not only in the Bicol region but across the Philippines —to develop by ensuring that goods and services reach the people and that LGUs are wholly engaged.