Watchful Advocates for Transparent, Clean and Honest Governance in North Cotabato
(WATCH North Cotabato)

The Watchful Advocates for Transparent, Clean and Honest Governance in North Cotabato (WATCH North Cotabato) aims to consolidate and strengthen efforts of the local media, civil society and ordinary citizens to monitor, report and improve public fiscal accountability and transparency issues in their local communities.

WATCH North Cotabato takes off from WATCH Kidapawan, a city-based citizen watchdog group formed in June 2010 with the help of CANA’s predecessor, the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP, But because of the impact it has created in just a short period of time, citizens from nearby municipalities in North Cotabato sought their help in monitoring their local government units (LGUs).

Since their inception in 2010, the group has helped increase reporting on LGU transparency and accountability in Kidapawan City and later in other municipalities in North Cotabato, and has reached out to LGUs and other government agencies to access information on budgets. It has taken part in local council sessions in Kidapawan and has initiated scrutinizing projects of the city government.

Months after it was launched in 2010, members of WATCH North Cotabato filed graft-related cases against 26 government officials in the province before the office of the Ombudsman Mindanao. These cases were filed after concerned citizens brought to WATCH North Cotabato pieces of evidences of the alleged malpractices happening in the government offices.

It did not stop there— in January 2011 WATCH North Cotabato’s exposes against illegal collection of rental fees at the Kidapawan City Hall has helped stop such practices eventually increase revenues through fee collection, according to the Office of the City Treasurer.

In 2012, the group also investigated and took legal action to stop the “paperless” transactions practiced at the University of Southern Mindanao in the municipality of Kabacan. It filed a case against the president and members of the Administrative Council of the University for allowing a private company to cultivate the 94 hectare public land without the approval of the Board of Regents and without any contract to legitimize the transaction.

In late 2014, WATCH North Cotabato once again proved the importance and value of citizen action when it led series of action to compel authorities to repair a vital foot bridge certified two years back by the local government of Kidapawan City yet unusable in heavy rain. The campaign compelled the Department of Public Works and Highways to repair the foot bridge, only one of two in the city, for the public good. Read our full report on this here. 

WATCH North Cotabato continuously campaigned against “epal” (local colloquial term meaning thick-faced) politicians who put their huge photos and names on government project structures and signage and claim credit to works that are actually funded by taxpayers.

2 Mindanawons among 5 winners of Titus Brandsma Awards 

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews/24 November) – The prestigious Titus Brandsma Awards is honoring five individuals this year, two of them Mindanawons: broadcast journalist Abner Francisco for Leadership in Community Communication and singer-songwriter Gary Granada for Leadership in Culture and Communication.

Francisco anchors the morning public service program over DXCA Charm Radio in Kidapawan City while Granada, now based in Laguna, was born in Maco, Compostela Valley, where he finished elementary and high school. READ MORE

Aquino ally in North Cotabato figures in pork barrel scams

KIDAPAWAN CITY -  President Benigno Aquino III’s strongest ally in the province of North Cotabato has been involved in the country’s most controversial scams – not once but twice.

Rep. Nancy Catamco, who won the May 2013 elections under Aquino’s Liberal Party stands accused of being involved in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam which surfaced in 2004, as well as in the P10-billion pork barrel scam which Janet Lim-Napoles allegedly masterminded. READ MORE

Group eyes UN complaint vs 6th ID personnel in illegal logging activity

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/6 December)—A watchdog in North Cotabato is planning to ask the United Nations environmental desk to conduct an independent investigation on the involvement of some personnel of the 6th Infantry Division (ID) in alleged illegal logging activity in the area.

Already, the Watchful Advocates for Transparent, Clean and Honest Governance in North Cotabato (WATCH Cotabato) has filed a separate complaint with Malacanang to investigate the incident. READ MORE

Group demands probe on alleged military involvement in illegal logging

A FORMAL formal complaint against officials of the 6th Infantry Division is being prepared by a group of concerned citizens in Kidapawan City over the alleged involvement of the military in illegal logging.

The complaint, according to Abner Francisco of the group called Watch, will also be submitted to the United Nations complaint desk on environmental issues. Watch stands for Watchful Advocates for Transparent, Clean and Honest Governance in North Cotabato. READ MORE

NorthCot media, CSOs seek right to information ordinance

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/09 May) – A group of journalists and civil society organizations (CSOs) in North Cotabato have submitted last Wednesday to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan a draft of the “People’s Right on Information” (PRIO) for possible adoption as an ordinance.

The group, led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) North Cotabato chapter and the local anti-graft body WATCH Cotabato, also urged the provincial board to make the PRIO a part of the media protocol of the Administration Code of the Cotabato provincial government. READ MORE