CODE-NGO Celebrates 25 Years of Collaboration and Impact for Social Development
QUEZON CITY —CODE-NGO, a coalition of development-focused civil society organizations (CSOs), held its 25th anniversary and Social Development Celebration (SocDev2016) at the Sequoia Hotel in Quezon City from November 23-24, 2016. The event, the largest gathering of CSOs in the development sector, was attended by more than 200 representatives from the coalition’s 12 member networks, along with esteemed resource persons from the political, economic, and socio-civic sectors.
Kicking off Day 1 of SocDev2016 was the Glo-Cal (“global-local”) Development Environment Scan, a panel discussion where Anna Marie Karaos of the John J. Carroll Institute for Church and Social Issues (JJC-ICSI), Men Sta. Ana of the Action for Economic Reform (AER), Mahar Mangahas of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), and Rolando Lansigan of the National Privacy Commission discussed pressing issues in the development sector. Among the topics tackled were the potential effects of authoritarianism on CSO work, the responsible sharing of information on social media, and the importance of listening to people’s needs to come up with viable, long-term strategies. The issues brought up in the panel will be used to frame CODE-NGO’s strategic plan for 2017-2022.
Further to Mangahas’ discussion on social perspective, he warned about deceptive statistics released by the Philippine government such as unemployment. People should look into the joblessness rate (those who are underemployed, in search of jobs) which is 15-17%. Functional literacy is high but 1/3 of adults have no education to get a proper job. 42% is the real poverty rate in the Philippines. The poverty threshold set by the government is too low. Any regime needs its people’s trust all throughout the year. He also noted that there is reintroduction of authoritarianism (no scientific evidence of extra-judicial killings (EJKs) as an effective means to solve nation’s problem on drugs), and that the Marcos burial contradicts the battle against corruption. Duterte’s concept of federalism is extremely vague as it begs several questions: what is the end-product? What is the system of transition? Do they just want the transition period? Will this be decentralization or is it recentralization? Philippine NGOs were doing so many things because they had to in the 1980s. So what then will be the NGOs’ role today? An article on Mahar Mangahas’ talk was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer the following day: http://opinion.inquirer.net/99532/a-perspective-for-ngos.
The day was capped off with a celebration titled “Night of 25 Years,” where past and present chairpersons and executive directors were brought together in a talk show format to discuss the challenges and triumphs that CODE-NGO has faced during its 25-year journey.
A Day of Highlights
Vice-President Ma. Leonor Gerona-Robredo attended Day 2 of SocDev2016, where she was the honored guest during the unveiling of CODE-NGO’s 25th anniversary coffee table book, Higit Pa. The Vice-President also delivered the summit’s keynote speech, remarking that:
“The book launched today is really an expression of hope. That despite all the difficulties, there’s really much reason for each one of us to hope. Ayun ang role ng NGOs: Hindi nakukuntento sa kung anong nariyan, patuloy na lumalaban, at naghahanap ng paraan para mas mapagaan ang paghihirap ng ating mga tinutulungan.”
As a former NGO worker, VP Leni has the same track of mind as the CSOs who would like to engage with the government to help the marginalized. She knows that the desire to help/change is far greater than the frustration from the restrictions of development and noted that the best years of her life were with Saligan. She reiterated that there is reason to hope despite the struggles. The NGOs’ role is not to be content and change the situation; but to provide inspiration and hope for those who lost hope.
Her keynote was followed by the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing for the Partnerships for Community Resilience between CODE-NGO, Christian Aid, Commission on Audit (COA), Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) and Humanitarian Leadership Academy (HLA). Delegates also had the opportunity to attend seven learning sessions paneled by experts who led thought-provoking discussions on matters such as social enterprises, federalism, human rights, and even social media communication.
The learning session on federalism brought about the following recommendations for CSOs and CODE-NGO: 1) CSOs must lobby and closely study on the proposed amendments, most especially on the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution. 2) The Coalition for a Citizen’s Constitution (C4CC) has been pushing for federalism, and constitutional amendments thru constitutional convention since 2006. Its initiatives must be resurfaced. 3) CSOs must study more on the various topics that would be affected if federalism will be pushed. 4) More learning sessions must be conducted on federalism, including its impact to the business sector and the grassroots community. (View the full CODE-NGO GA Resolution on Federalism here.)
On the other hand, the learning session on Extra-judicial Killings (EJKs) had the following recommendations: 1) Promote info-drive on Human Rights and the Basic Rights of a citizen. 2) Ensure that government is able to realize the lack of capacity to rehabilitate drug users. 3) Cooperate with human rights-centered NGOs to address the issue of EJK. CODE-NGO is deeply disturbed by the increasing number of extra-judicial and vigilante killings, which has now resulted in 3,000 deaths in just three (3) months since the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte started its war against illegal drugs. Thus, it calls on the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to uphold human rights and due process in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs and to urgently conduct full investigations into the deaths of “suspected drug personalities” during police operations and those done by vigilantes. It also calls on the House of Representatives and the Senate to focus their probes in aid of legislation on bringing justice to the victims of EJKs, and on studying the root causes of the country’s drug problem to be able to provide appropriate responses to curtail the supply and demand for illegal drugs, including opportunities for rehabilitation, education and livelihood to renewed victims of drug use and trade. CODE-NGO urges President Duterte to take leadership against the abuse of power of those in authority and to ensure justice for all citizens, especially the poor and marginalized. (View the full CODE-NGO Statement and GA Resolution on EJKs here.)
To protest the burial of Former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, CODE-NGO members also staged a noise barrage at the corner of Timog Avenue and Mother Ignacia Avenue, encouraging motorists to honk their horns in opposition to the travesty. The coalition also issued a formal statement on the matter, which can be read on CODE-NGO’s website via this link: http://code-ngo.org/2016/11/ngo-leaders-hold-noise-barrage-condemn-marcos-burial-libingan-ng-mga-bayani/. (View the full CODE-NGO Statement and GA Resolution on the Marcos Burial at LNMB here.)
SocDev2016’s second day concluded with the announcement of winners of CODE-NGO’s first-ever Youth Video Awards. The competition recognized exceptional storytellers aged 18-25 who were able to compellingly convey the great work done by CODE-NGO member organizations in a three-to-five-minute film. Winners were chosen by taking into account the judges’ scores along with the number of “likes” each video garnered on CODE-NGO’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Maria Jeremy Nogra took home the P50,000 grand prize for her film titled “PhilDHRRA: Empowering Rural Communities Towards Sustainable Development.”
Singer-activist Noel Cabangon and acclaimed singer Aicelle Santos then closed out the evening with a mini-concert for the delegates.
General Assembly Resolutions
The following were the resolutions approved during the 25th General Assembly:
- Resolution Calling for Participatory Planning and Budgeting in the Preparation of the National Government Budget for 2018 and Succeeding Years. Sponsored by Central Visayas Network of NGOs (CENVISNET).
- Resolution Urging the House of the Representatives to Re-File House Bill 4296 or “An Act Mandating the Completion of the Land Component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Pursuant to Republic Act 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, As Amended” to Complete the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) targets. Sponsored by Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA).
- Resolution Urging the Government and Its Appropriate Agencies to Establish A Technical Working Group for the Harmonization of Land Use Plans as Mandated by Joint DAR-DENR-LRA-NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, 2012 to Avoid Further Marginalization of the Poor and Vulnerable Sectors Especially the Indigenous Peoples. Sponsored by Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA) and Cordillera Network of NGOs and POs (CORDNET).
- Resolution Strongly Condemning the Burial of the Remains of Former President Ferdinand Marcos in the “Libingan ng mga Bayani” Sponsored by Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE), Central Visayas Network of NGOs (CENVISNET), and Eastern Visayas Network of NGOs and POs (EVNET).
- Resolution calling the government to stop extra judicial killings and uphold human rights in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs. Sponsored by National Council of Social Development (NCSD).
- A Resolution Urging CODE-NGO and Its Member Networks to Conduct Massive Learning Sessions and Orientations on Federalism as a Proposed Form of Government and Provide Resources Thereof. Sponsored by Coalition for Bicol Development (CBD).
- Resolution Calling on President Rodrigo Duterte and Congress to Reconsider their Support for Con-Ass and to Go Back to their Original Position that Con-Con is the Better Way to do Charter Change Towards Federalism. Sponsored by Western Visayas Network of Social Development NGOs (WEVNET).
“We would like to thank everyone who took part in making SocDev2016 happen, including the hardworking team of CODE-NGO and our co-organizer, Association of Foundations; our co-presenter, the Peace and Equity Foundation; our esteemed panelists and speakers; and of course all our delegates this year. I hope this was as enlightening and inspiring an experience for them as it was for us, and we hope they will join us again next year when we hold CODE-NGO’s national congress,” said Sixto Donato C. Macasaet, executive director of CODE-NGO.
Founded in 1991, the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) is the country’s biggest coalition of CSOs working for social development. It is comprised of six national and six regional networks, representing more than 1,600 development NGOs, people’s organizations, and cooperatives nationwide. Its focus is policy advocacy and partnership building in the public arena, as well as developing the capacity and accountability of its member networks and affiliated organizations.