2013 in review: A year of NGO networking on web

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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ICON celebrates 14th NGO PO Week in Iloilo

The 14th NGO PO Week celebration in Iloilo went well on December 1-7 despite the set back brought about by Typhoon Yolanda. The Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON) spearheaded the celebration with the theme “Reclaim our noble heritage: Sustain the power of networking.”

The network temporarily shelved its plans at the onset of Yolanda’s battering of badly hit communities as respective NGO members started their initial response in the form of relief operation. ICON also voluntarily forfeited the regular financial assistance from the provincial government of Iloilo so that funds would be channeled to relief operation. It was just a week and couple of days before the celebration, when the board of directors decided to continue with the theme and simplified activities, tapping the resources of member organizations. 

Hon. Joshua Alim (extreme left) administers the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Assisting him are (L-R) ICON Pres. Edwin Lariza; Ted Aldwin Ong, VP for NGOs; and Engr. Jonathan Ravena, Photo Artist League of Iloilo.

Hon. Joshua Alim (extreme left) administers the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Assisting him are (L-R) ICON Pres. Edwin Lariza; Ted Aldwin Ong, VP for NGOs; and Engr. Jonathan Ravena, Photo Artist League of Iloilo.

The celebration started with the Opening of Photo Exhibit at Robinsons Place on December 2 with Hon. Joshua Alim, Iloilo City councilor as guest. Alim was the author of the City Resolution institutionalizing the annual celebration. A forum on NGOs and Volunteerism was held the following day at 4th floor Henry Luce III Libraries, Central Philippine University. Sponsored by the Department of Social Work, the forum was graced by Bishop Leocito Gabo, professor of the College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Dr. Leocito "Tex" Gabo emphasizing the need to reclaim he noble heritage of Filipinos, particularly in service and volunteerism

Dr. Leocito “Tex” Gabo emphasizing the need to reclaim the noble heritage of Filipinos, particularly in service and volunteerism

On December 6, an NGO-PO Fellowship and Capability Building Seminar was held at 4th floor Henry Luce III Libraries, CPU under the sponsorship of the University Outreach Center. Dr. Juliana S. Seneriches, a forensic psychiatrist spoke on Psychological First Aid to assist the traumatized survivors. Seneriches is vice president of Anti- Trafficking In Persons Advocates Network (ATIPAN), Inc. A Volunteerism Sharing Session was facilitated by VOICE- Western Visayas and I SERVE after the seminar to celebrate the International Volunteers Day. To cap the celebration an advocacy-dialogue with University students was held at Central Philippine University on December 7. Attended by over 2,000 students, ICON officers and NGO leaders presented the noble heritage of NGOs and respective programs and services.

The annual celebration is done in partnership with the provincial and city government to give due recognition to the role of Non-government organizations (NGOs) and People’s Organizations (POs), and other civil society organizations in nation building. It has been institutionalized by Provincial Ordinance No. 2000-042 and City Regulation Ordinance 2001-190.

ORGANIZERS OF THE PHOTO EXHIBIT POSE FOR POSTERITY (L-R) Stazy Vencer, Edwin Lariza and Ted Aldwin Ong.

ORGANIZERS OF THE PHOTO EXHIBIT POSE FOR POSTERITY (L-R) Stazy Vencer, Edwin Lariza and Ted Aldwin Ong.

This year’s theme was supposedly intended to respond to the multi-billion pork barrel scam that has besmirched the noble aim and name of NGOs. In fact, the planned highlight of the celebration is the big gathering of NGOs and POs in the city and province of Iloilo to tackle the current national crisis brought about by the pork barrel scam. As well, as the subsequent backlash even to genuine organizations that have been consistently serving the marginalized sectors of the society. The NGOs felt the need to strengthen ranks through linkages and networking to safeguard the organizations from fly-by-night ones.

However, as it turned out, ICON President Edwin I. Lariza said that the highlight of the celebration was spent, instead, to discuss how NGOs can maximize participation in the on-going relief operation and sustain linkages and networking in helping in the rehabilitation or rebuilding process. “In this way, our theme will still be relevant in responding to the crises in our country in various fronts or aspects. In the midst of crises, let us continue to celebrate this milestone of networking in Iloilo, “Lariza added.

14th NGO PO Week

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NGOs to reclaim noble heritage

Non government organizations (NGOs) and People’s Organizations (POs) in Iloilo will highlight their noble heritage as they celebrate this year’s NGO PO Week on the first week of December. Under the theme, Reclaim our noble heritage: Sustain the power of networking, the week long celebration aims to bring to the public consciousness the role of NGOs in nation building.

The week-long celebration will kickoff with an ecumenical thanksgiving service on December 1. This will be followed by a motorcade around the Iloilo City at 7:00 am, the following day, to culminate with an Opening Program at the New Provincial Capitol. In the afternoon, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at Robinson’s Place to commence the week-long photo exhibit showcasing the works of NGOs. On December 3, leaders of NGOs and POs will dialogue with the academic community at Central Philippine University related to the multi-billion pork barrel scam that dragged the NGOs into controversy.

14th NGO PO Week

On December 5, NGOs will join the national celebration of Volunteerism Day bu holgin a forum on Volunteerism at the City campus of University of the Philippines- Visayas. The following day a  gathering of NGOs and POs in the city and province of Iloilo will be held at Central Philippine University to tackle the current national crisis brought about by the pork barrel scam and subsequent backlash even to genuine organizations that have been consistently serving the marginalized sectors of the society. The need to strengthen their ranks through linkages and networking will also be tackled to safeguard the organizations from fly-by-night ones. Other highlights of the celebration are ICON General Assembly and Advocacy in academic institutions on December 6.
Spearheaded by the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON), the annual celebration of the NGO PO week is observed by the virtue of Provincial Ordinance 2000-042 and City Regulation Ordinance 2001-190 in recognition of the role of the civil society organizations in nation building.

In a statement published on web, ICON has deplored the use of fake NGOs in a conspiracy to steal taxpayer’s money which besmirched the noble aim and name of non-government organizations . The Coalition has observed two angles in the current controversy- the systemic graft and corruption practices and the role of the NGOs.

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“We considered the act a double injury. The large -scale misuse of the people’s money is outrageous. Siphoning money out of government coffers thru fake NGOs adds insult to injury. For it besmirch the good image established by the genuine NGOs for decades. Worse, it provides justification to some government officials and local chief executives who do not feel comfortable with the watchful eyes of NGOs and their seeming intervention as provided for by the local government code in the Philippines,” ICON president Edwin I. Lariza, in a statement, said.

It is in this second angle that the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON) decided to focus, While some members continue to actively take part in the local anti pork barrel movement representing their respective organizations, ICON has committed to inform the public about the existence and corresponding programs or services of genuine NGOs

While NGOs suffered backlash due to the current controversy, we consider the crisis an opportunity to bring to the public consciousness the role of NGOs in nation building. For indeed, one way of averting the systemic robbery in our government is to involve genuine NGOs in monitoring projects,” Lariza added.

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Roles and strategies of NGOs

The typology of NGOs is related to the differences in their strategies and activities. As such, each type of organization uses different types of strategies such as relief and welfare strategies, community development, sustainable systems development, or people’s movement. These approaches are used by organizations at certain stages. Korten (1990) uses the “three generation strategy” to describe the stages of development of NGOs. The following discussion will describe each stage and then classify the type of organization according to the strategies used.

The first generation strategy uses the welfare and relief approach in the delivery of their services where dole-out of goods and services are the main activities. Often this strategy is used when there are natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, or war.

In such a situation, the NGO is the “doer” and is the chief actor while the beneficiary remains passive. It responds to an immediate and visible need. The management orientation in this stage is in logistics management. Moreover, the NGOs in this stage tend to live on donations by appealing through the mass media. The shift, however, to the second-generation strategy stems from the realization that they are solving only the symptom but not the underlying cause.

The second-generation strategy basically employs community development strategies. Its focus is on local inertia; thus, the NGOs develop the capacities of the people so that the people could meet their own needs. The main theme of this stage is the empowerment of the people through self-reliance and self-determination in the village or group level.

Unlike the first generation strategy, the role of the NGOs here is “mobilizer” rather than doer. In this stage, there is a substantial focus on education with the assumption that the problem lies exclusively on individual’s lack of skill and physical strength. Under this strategy, there is still evidence of dependence that did not make for a lasting impact. Because of the ineffectiveness of some projects, NGOs began to realize that there is a need to change their strategies. Thus, the gradual shift from the second generation to the third generation strategy began to occur.

The third generation strategy looks at the role of the NGO in developing sustainable systems. Elliott (as cited in Brodhead, 1987) explains that this strategy calls for a more political involvement in the form of support conscientization activities, and beyond that, for empowerment.

This strategy looks beyond the community and further delves into the local, national and international levels in its efforts towards development. As Korten (1990) has observe: “Third generation strategies focus on creating a policy and institutional setting that facilitates, rather than constrains just, sustainable, and inclusive local development action. “

The strategies employed by the generational framework indicate that NGOs evolve and change according to their commitment for development. Most often POs (people’s organizations) and VOs (voluntary organizations) reach the third generation strategy because of their, as Korten (1990) puts it, “focus on trying to make a sustainable difference in the lives of the people it is assisting.”

On the other hand, PSCs (public service contractors) and GONGOs (hybrid governmental/non- governmental organizations) are less likely to reach the third generation strategy. PSCs depend on their donor while the government responds to changes in its policies. Korten (1990) further states that generally, donors and governments are more interested in supporting NGOs in relief and welfare interventions to relieve immediate suffering than in efforts aimed at fundamental structural change. Hence, seldom can we find PSCs and GONGOs that go beyond the second-generation strategy.

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Classification of non-government organizations (NGOs)

In the previous posts we have started our discussion on  non-government organizations (NGOs), their history and the conditions that compelled them to establish networks. We even traced the history of networking of NGOs in the Philippines by looking on the  trend of the world history of NGOs – from relief and welfare endeavors to social reformation which eventually led to the transformation approach.

NGOs are simply agencies or groups which are different from government bodies. Quizon, as cited in Racellis (1998), defines NGOs: as private, voluntary organizations; social development agencies; or professional support; or cause oriented groups that are non-profit –oriented and legal, which are committed to the task of development and established primarily for socio-economic services, civic, religious, charitable and/or social welfare purposes.

They  emerged to respond to needs, which were not readily met by the government due to systemic limitations. With elite and/or traditional politicians at the helm of leadership, the government, most often, cannot initiate major reforms. This is a situation where NGOs take active role as catalysts for change. Providing stimuli for the various sectors of society to organize them, NGOs equip the poor with the important skills, knowledge and resource necessary in their struggle towards a better life and a more humane society, according to Aldaba (1993).

NGOs may be classified into various types according to different criteria, namely:  (1) Activities they perform, (2) Areas of operation, (3) Size or number of staff, (4) Sector they serve, (5) Ideological bias, and (6) Their initiators. Subsequently, there are NGOs that engage themselves in community organizing among peasants, workers, fisherfolks and urban poor. Their areas of operation range from local to international. Abad (1990) observed that NGOs reflect certain ideological leaning or persuasion depending on the sector that organized them, e.g., business, political, religious.

Korten (1990) classifies NGOs into four types, namely: 1) voluntary organizations (VOs); 2) public service contractors (PSC); 3) hybrid governmental/non- governmental organizations (GONGOS), and 4) people’s organization (POs). The first three NGOs are referred to as Third Party Organizations since they exist to serve the needs of the third party or those persons who are not members of the organization. The fourth sector is referred to as the First Party Organization, since they are basically governed and managed by the people themselves.

According to Korten, of the Third Party Organizations, VOs are distinctively value-driven, pursuing a social mission that make them relatively immune to the political agenda of either the government or the economic forces of the market place. Although small in size, their capacity for social and institutional innovation has been well developed. This feat is seldom found in government and business sectors. However, while VOs serve as channels for innovation, they are often placed in a controversial position as they pursue their commitment towards social change.

In this classification, PSCs are dependent on economic power in sustaining their program. They acquire their resources through the exchange and market of goods and services. They also tend to be responsive to economic needs rather than to genuine public service. In this type of NGO, the customer is the donor.

Korten observed that VOs and PSCs are, oftentimes, mistaken to be synonymous because of their characteristics as non- – profit organizations. Moreover, they have the same type of legal registration with similarities in mission statements. The difference, however, lies on their commitment. While the VOS are committed to social mission, PSCs are business – oriented. Unlike VOs, PSCs often evade advocacy and controversy.

As far as GONGOs are concerned, essentially they are instruments of the government in carrying its policies. Created and managed by the government, GONGOs are accountable to the state and not to their members or independent board. On the other hand, POs are organizations that represent their members’ interest. Characterized by self-reliance, they are considered organizations that are truly “ by the people, of the people and for the people.”

 

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History of networking in the Philippines (1986- present)

Ebbs and Flows of a Painful Transition (1986-1992)

The EDSA event and the wave of political democratization that followed changed the national terrain overnight. Development efforts continued to flourish as NGO works increased significantly amidst the newly won democratic spaces. In acknowledgement of their role in organizing and mobilizing the popular forces before and during the EDSA Revolt, the contribution of NGOs (and POs) to national development was formally recognized.

The 1987 Constitution clearly acknowledged the role of NGOs and POs in a democratic society by including them in its key provisions. In a sense, the role of NGOs was institutionalized, so much so that during the first years of Cory government, many of the appointees came from the NGO community. Even funds from government and international bodies were coursed through the NGOs. As a result, there was a proliferation of NGOs all over the country, covering all possible areas and lines of work. Abad (1990) observed that this made the Philippines one of the most dynamic NGO communities in Asia, if not in the world.

Traditional politicians, entrepreneurs, and even government units that set up their own NGOs for vested interests, however, took the situation. This was so prevalent that so-called development NGOs were forced to band together to distinguish themselves from pseudo ones. Two new networks were formed during the post EDSA period, namely: the Council for People’s Development (CPD) and the Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA) in 1986 and 1988, respectively. Others strengthened their unity, stepped up their coordination efforts and responded frequently to unfolding events as networks– and not merely as individual NGOs.

The formation of the Caucus of Development NGOs (CODE NGOs) in 1990 was one of the high points of this trend. In a move unprecedented in the history of the Philippine NGO movement, ten of the largest NGO networks in the country, including the church-based networks and the cooperative sector representing about 1,500 NGOs nationwide, came together in the first ever National Congress of NGOs in December 1991. The networks agreed to work on three areas of concern: (1) training a successor generation of development NGO leaders; (2) Relating with government as a sector, especially the military authorities in the national and regional level;  (3) Relating with the donor community both here and abroad.

Among other objectives, the following are worth mentioning: (1) to convene the different Development NGO networks especially in confronting pertinent development issues collectively; (2) to provide the venue for dialogue, linkages, and cooperation among the member networks; and (3) to formulate and popularize an alternative development paradigm.

Among those represented in the congress were Philippine Partnership for the  Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PHILDHRRA), Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA), National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), National Council of Social Development (NCSD), National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Council for People’s Development (CPD), Ecumenical Council for Development (ECD), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), and Association of Foundations (AF).

This coalition resulted further in the ratification of a historic document – the Covenant for Philippine Development. No wonder, some development workers considered this period as the golden age of networking and coalition building in the Philippines because NGOs of different orientations and historical context agreed to act as one in responding to the opportunities and challenges of the new conjuncture.

Maturation and Renewal (1992 to the Present)

The NGO community has become an important actor in Philippine politics after the EDSA phenomenon. This position was further strengthened by the Local Government Code of 1991. The Code highlighted the role of NGOs in the local governance process and provided for their participation in the following areas: membership in local special bodies, partnership with the government in joint ventures in development projects, and participation and sectoral representations in local legislative bodies.

The Code requires the local government to allow accredited NGOs, POs, and, in some cases, private sector individuals to take at least twenty five percent of the seats in local development council and to have at least one seat in four other boards, dubbed local special bodies: school board, health board, peace and order council, and pre qualification, bids and awards committee.

The local government Code has also institutionalized NGOs as active partners in the local governance. The LGU may enter into joint ventures with NGOs in the delivery of certain basic services. NGOs or POs are also given preferential treatment with regards to the use of aquatic resources and in the grant of franchise in the construction and operation of such facilities. The LGU may also extend financial assistance to the NGO for its economic, socially oriented environment and cultural projects.

NGOs play a very significant role in the recognition of “civil society” as an indispensable partner of the government in development endeavors and in nation building. The legitimacy and prominence of the NGO sector has been carried over up from the Aquino leadership to the present administration. As in the past, people with links to the NGO movement have been appointed to cabinet positions. NGO communities are also involved in numerous consultative mechanisms as a distinct social sector. Alegre (1996) noted that another indication of the NGOs continuing significance is the increasing leverage of some of the larger and more established NGOs and the major NGO networks and coalitions with various funding agencies and multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and other various United Nation-based commissions.

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History of Networking in the Philippines (Coping with Repression- NGO Support to the Surging Mass Movement)

In the previous post we traced the beginning of NGO networking in the Philippines from the formation of the Council of Welfare Agencies Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (CWAFPI), the forerunner of the present-day National Council of Social Development (NCSD). We also discussed two periods namely: American Colonial Period to Post WWII: Relief, Rehabilitation and Welfare and The Deepening Social Crisis and the Rise of New Social Movements (1965-1972).

This article will cover three periods in the history of NGO networking in the Philippines, as follows:

Coping with Repression, Carving a Niche (1972-1978)

When the late President Marcos used a hard line stance to establish a New Society, the NGO community was included in a systematic crack down on opposition groups. All legal attempts at organizing for popular empowerment were paralyzed. NGOs responded to the situation in various ways. While some went underground to wage armed struggle, others were either coopted or forced to lie low. After an initial wave of repression, those that did not join the underground movement continued with their commitment through institutional work, which eventually came to be known as NGO work.

Three significant developments in the networking took place during this period. In 1974, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) came together and adopted a statement defining the priorities and strategies of the development work of the church and its related organization. This development resulted to the formation of a body similar to NASSA- the Commission on Development and Social Concerns. Four years after, as an offshoot of the split of PECCO, a fellowship of pastors and lay workers to assist churches in development efforts was organized into a network known as the Ecumenical Center for Development (ECD).

In 1977, a network among cooperatives came into existence as a response to the government’s attempt to regulate the cooperatives. Known as National Association of Training Center of Cooperatives (NATCCO), the network was later renamed National Confederation of Cooperatives, Inc. It was observed that these church-related networks were more political compared to the first three networks established earlier, namely: National Council of Social Development, Philippine Business for Social Progress and Association of Foundations.

As seen by Soliman (1990), this period witnessed the birth of secular NGOs established by activists who had been working within the church umbrella wanting to institutionalize social development work outside the church. Their endeavors concentrated on uplifting the conditions of the people through cooperatives and provision of start-up capital for income-generating projects. In the words of Alegre (1996), “the intersection of three efforts – the church reaching out, the growing needs of POs, and the development concerns of secular NGOs – gave birth to creative programs that showed NGOs coping amidst repression.”

The situation also became favorable to groups and organizations with political and ideological leanings directly opposing the martial law regime. With their relatively advanced coping mechanism, these groups became influential in the NGO movement. They even set up different NGOs and exerted a considerable influence in the programs and projects of existing ones to become more effective in the latter part of this period

Expansion and Innovation (1978-1983)

Learning from the past experiences, NGOs refined their strategies. This effort resulted to qualitative increase in the organized mass movement, as reflected in the formation of more alliances and federations of people organizations. The NGO movement itself experienced tremendous increase in numbers. Human rights advocacy was broadened to include other areas of concern like indigenous people’s rights, ecology/environment problems, and women rights. As a result, more NGOs were organized bannering on respective sectoral issues. This period also witnessed the utilization of new approaches and tools for development like the micromedia, participatory action research, popular education, alternative medicine, and appropriate technology.

Following the increased unpopularity and isolation of the Marcos regime in the international scene, foreign funds flowed freely in support of development work. Many Northern NGOs and funding agencies even went to the extent of setting up their Philippine desk making the country their base of operations in Asia because of the bulk of projects being supported here. Repression in various forms, however, was also intensified.

As NGOs grew in number, networking as a strategy became attractive because of its effectiveness in lobbying and advocacy work. More regional and national networks were formed during this period, e.g., Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PHILDHRRA) which was established in 1983. Moreover, the other regional and provincial NGOs were integrated into new networks. With these developments, NGOs have become “key players in the country’s sociopolitical landscape.”

NGO Support to the Surging Mass Movement (1983-1986)

The Aquino assassination in 1983 became a rallying point of growing opposition and outrages which gave birth to the “parliament of the streets.” It was a period of multi- sectoral organizing and alliance building as regional and national federations and alliances of POs were formed with NGO support. Similarly, NGOs strengthened their existing networks and formed new ones to share resources and find security in their numbers amidst continuing military harassment. NGOs’ support to the surging of mass movement culminated in their participation in the Snap Election and the subsequent EDSA Revolt.

(To be continued)

 

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