Report of the Chairperson to the CODE-NGO 18th General Assembly
This is the first year when we, as a network, breathed life to our Strategic Plan for 2013-17, making this document alive and actionable, and not just motherhood statements. Our four Key Result Areas (KRAs) guided us to our mission and kept us on track on our work for this year:
- KRA 1 – Assisting Member Networks in Resource Generation
- KRA 2 – Strategic Capacity Building for Members in Governance, Networking and Local and Sectoral Advocacy Effectiveness
- KRA 3 – Building and Managing Knowledge in civil society organization (CSO) Development Models and Good Practices
- KRA 4 – Expanding Civil Society Influence and Increasing Effectiveness of Development Advocacy.
We can say we have given laser focus on these directions, despite the travails that hit the country and affected the work of our organizations in the past year.
The context of our work this year
Right after the Bohol earthquake and typhoon Yolanda, our member networks and organizations – even those right at the heart of the hardest-hit areas – immediately rolled up their sleeves and started with their emergency relief work for affected partner communities. Three months into relief work, they transitioned into early recovery and rehabilitation efforts. This, as we continue the training and learning exchange among our members on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in our programs and advocacy work. Just recently at our October 17, 2014 Board Meeting, the 12 Member Networks of CODE-NGO agreed unanimously to participate actively and provide institutional support in forming our Regional DRRM Coordination Hubs. The Hubs commit to continue the learning exchange among our Member Networks on DRRM-CCA and push for responsive DRRM-CCA programs and budgets at the local and national levels during ‘peace times.’ In times of disaster, they will transform into emergency coordination hubs to organize our response efforts and to be able to provide appropriate assistance to affected communities, following humanitarian principles and upholding their dignity and human rights.
The case of the Napoles pork barrel scam and their use of fake NGOs pressured government agencies to reverse some of their proposed partnership programs with CSOs and to make their regulations for partnering with CSOs stricter. Yet, CODE-NGO and our members demonstrated all the more our commitment to good governance and transparency in our own operations by actively campaigning for renewing our commitment to our Code of Conduct, conducting self-assessment using the CSO Good Governance Checklist and having our members certified by the Philippine Council for NGO Certification. We also actively participated in the organizational change management processes facilitated by the “Strengthening the Capacities of Philippine CSOs Project”, fortifying our capacities on governance and strategic planning and management, financial management, personnel and administrative management, resource mobilization and project management.
Unfounded and misguided critiques by some legislators, media persons and organizations against the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting process (GPBP), calling it pork barrel by a different name, did not discourage our members and partner organizations and communities from engaging in this program, making sure that the citizens are defining from bottom up the national government’s priority anti-poverty projects which will be implemented at the local level. The efforts by civil society in claiming spaces in governance was recognized globally when the Philippines’ GPBP was given a Gold Award (third prize) in the Open Government Partnership Awards 2014 held in New York recently. This has further emboldened CODE-NGO to continue to persevere in its efforts on active citizenship and participatory governance through its projects, Decentralized Governance for Regional Development (DG), Sustained Participatory Local Governance (SPLG) and Citizens Monitoring of LGU Performance (CML).
In recognition of the intrinsic link between peace and development, especially in conflict-affected areas in the country, we have taken on as a major concern of CSOs nationwide, the advocacy work for the establishment of the Bangsamoro in Mindanao. Awareness-raising activities about the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro and its 4 annexes and the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro and the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law was undertaken by our member networks even as active lobbying is being pursued for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Our members in Mindanao have been actively providing capacity development and peace education to communities, grounded by the belief that “peace is the basic right of any individual” and preparing local roadmaps to peace building is necessary. They are also involved in the development of post-agreement work needed to ensure the success of the Bangsamoro. As a parallel effort, CODE-NGO has been calling on civil society and other sectors to support the peace talks on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in the past two years and has recently been more active in organizing dialogues on the BBL especially outside of Mindanao to stress the importance at the national level of ensuring the success of the Bangsamoro.
Having stayed focused on our mission, we are proud of what we have done in the past year, as independent and autonomous member networks and organizations of CODE-NGO, and as a collective, in continuing the tradition of excellence in development sector work and in expanding civil society influence for open, responsive, transparent, accountable governance. We are happy to share with you this year’s stories of our coalition and our member networks toward these ends.
On KRA 1 – Assisting Member Networks in Resource Generation:
CODE-NGO provided more personalized, one-on-one mentoring, technical assistance and visits to priority member networks this year in terms of supporting their resource development planning processes. This is largely made possible through our participation in the “Philippine CSOs Strengthening Project” led by Ayala Foundation and supported by USAID, where CODE-NGO, AF and PBSP are among the implementing consortium partners. Parallel efforts were also implemented by CODE-NGO for member networks which are not part of the project.
CODE-NGO with its member networks also developed project proposals, four (4) of which were approved last year – the Advancing CSO Engagement in DRRM-CCA (ACED) Year 2 project with Christian Aid, the Strengthening Participatory Local Governance (SPLG) Project with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the BUB for Social Enterprise Project with the Peace & Equity Foundation (PEF) and the BUB Monitoring for Children’s Welfare with the UNICEF.
On KRA 2 – Strategic Capacity Building for Members in Governance, Networking and Local and Sectoral Advocacy Effectiveness
Our Capacity Building Fund (CBF) allocated PhP3.3 million this year to support the capacity building initiatives of our 12 member networks. Having completed the series of organizational development workshops organized by the Philippine CSOs Strengthening Project, 8 of our networks (CBD, CENVISNET, CORDNET, MINCODE, NATCCO, PHILDHRRA, PHILSSA and WEVNET) worked on strengthening their legal structures, financial management and internal control systems, procurement systems, human resource systems, program performance management and organizational sustainability through regular mentoring under the project. By July 2014, NATCCO and CORDNET had already undergone the Non-US Organization Pre-Award Survey (NUPAS) simulation, one of the culminating activities of the project, while the rest are preparing for their NUPAS simulation scheduled in the next few months. The simulation of this assessment tool determines the readiness of participating CSOs to receive a grant from USAID.
We have continued our CSO Good Governance Roadshow from the previous year and campaigned to 6 more Member Networks on the value of renewing our commitment to our Code of Conduct, of being certified by the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) and of adopting the CODE-NGO Good Governance Checklist. After Napoles, we thought that these campaigns gained more traction among our members. Our signatories for the renewal of commitment to the code of conduct increased from last year’s 35% to this year’s 48% of our membership. Aside from AF and PBSP that were previously certified already, two (2) more member networks, PHILSSA and CBD, successfully renewed their PCNC certification, while the rest are working on completing their requirements for application. Some MNs have set their targets for the good governance checklist while some have already integrated this in their monitoring system for their member base organizations. While recognizing that we have done much already, we also know that we need to do much more to strengthen CSO governance among our ranks – to reach the remaining 1,000 member base organizations which have not yet signed the renewal of commitment to the Code of Conduct, and those not yet PCNC certified nor undertaking self assessment thru the good governance checklist.
Last year, our Commission on Institution and Capacity Building (CICB) and Advocacy Commission (Advocom) also jointly clarified what ‘Local and Sectoral Advocacy Effectiveness’ means for us, and developed a tool that defines this, identifying the guiding principles behind it and its indicators. We said that our advocacy is effective if: 1) our agenda is clear, 2) we have a constituency supporting the advocacy, 3) we are able to represent our constituencies’ voice, participate in processes and influence decisions around the advocacy, and 4) decisions, policies or programs are implemented because of our advocacies. This assessment tool is now being integrated into our annual MANA or the Most Active Network Awards.
On KRA 3 – Building and Managing Knowledge in civil society organization (CSO) Development Models and Good Practices:
This year, we started to facilitate more of the inter-network learning exchanges and closer coordination across projects. We also tried to document more carefully our program processes and lessons from these, so that we will not have to re-invent the wheel and we will be able to share tools and mechanisms that work to our members and partner organizations. Compared with last year, we are now getting more familiar and comfortable with online tools. Through our initiative to develop Communities of Practice (CoP) around our key programs and advocacies, we have organized ten (10) online forums both at our CSOCommunity page and on Facebook on various topics, such as on “Project Development and Writing Winning Proposals”, “The Value of PCNC Certification,” “Integrating Disaster Plans in LGU Budgets,” “Information Session on the Bangsamoro”, “Monitoring the Implementation of BUB Projects,” and many others. We have also been very open and generous in sharing the knowledge products we are able to generate from our projects and these sessions. We have posted 54 articles in our website, and shared these in 5 issues of our e-newsletter, which has 4,150 followers from 39 countries.
In the coming years, the CODE-NGO’s KDM Program will continue to develop its work of collecting and synthesizing information and lessons from its work and the work of its members and partner organizations to contribute to building a body of knowledge on CSO development work in the Philippines, particularly on civil society effectiveness and citizens’ participation in governance.
On KRA 4 – Expanding Civil Society Influence and Increasing Effectiveness of Development Advocacy
We have mapped the initiatives of our 12 member networks across our 8 priority advocacies, and we have seen the breadth and depth of our involvement in these. As a coalition, we are able to create impact at the local and national levels on Transparency and Government Accountability, People’s Participation in Governance, Environment, Asset Reform, Social Services, CSO Good Governance, Aid Reform and Federalism and Constitutional Reform. (will flash image/infographics on this).
CODE-NGO continued to consolidate the strength of its members and partner organizations to implement consortium projects on participatory and decentralized governance (PDG). These were our CML, SPLG and DG Projects. (I assume you would already understand these acronyms because several of you are our implementing partners for these projects in your regions and localities). Collectively, our PDG projects have covered 9 regions, 16 provinces and 36 municipalities, involving 1,235 basic sector groups and other CSOs. In these areas, we continued to give voice to basic sector organizations and other CSOs and also to create the environment for them to voice out, so they could define the needs of the poor and the most vulnerable in their communities, and to influence local and national government action to be more responsive to these needs.
Our BUB 383 initiative also expanded to more municipalities. We now have members and partner organizations in 453 cities and municipalities in 52 provinces and 16 regions, which are influencing the identification of projects to be funded by the government’s bottom-up budgeting (BUB) or now called the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) program.
More recently, through our ACED Project of mainstreaming DRRM-CCA in our programs and our advocacies, we are also positioning ourselves and the CSO community as key stakeholders in influencing the full implementation of the DRRM Law and its sunset review slated next year. The international humanitarian community which responded to typhoon Yolanda is finally listening to what we have been saying since typhoons Pablo and Sendong – that the local CSOs and affected communities should be directly involved in assessments, planning, implementation and evaluation of disaster relief and rehabilitation programs. To date, we have submitted to OPARR, DSWD, DBM, DTI, DAR, DENR and DepEd our coalition’s recommendations for a more responsive and participatory Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation program.
We could not have done all these alone. We offer these accomplishments to all our partner communities, volunteers and partner organizations and agencies, who continuously support our initiatives in strengthening the quality of CSO development work, so that we continue to effectively influence programs and policies that will bring positive transformation in the lives of people. Your support continues to give us hope and sustained strength to work in solidarity with one another.
Daghang salamat! Mabuhay tayong lahat!
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