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Report on the Enabling Environment for Philippine CSOs Published

The Civicus World Alliance for Citizen Participation published last January 2017 the Philippine Report on the Enabling Environment National Assessment (EENA). This report provides an assessment of the legal, regulatory, policy, financial and social environment in which civil society organizations (CSOs) operate in the Philippines.

This national level assessment for the Philippines is part of the Enabling Environment National Assessments (EENA), a methodology developed jointly by Civicus and the International Center for Not-for-Profit law (ICNL). The EENAs are action-oriented research projects in different countries. This assessment covers the following eight dimensions: (1) formation of CSOs; (2) operation of CSOs; (3) access to resources; (4) freedom of expression; (5) peaceful assembly; (6) CSO-government relations; (7) CSO cooperation and coalition; and (8) taxation.

The EENA was undertaken in the Philippines from October 2015 to September 2016 by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) in partnership with the Alternative Law Groups (ALG). It was guided by an Expert Advisory Panel composed of Dean Fe V. Mendoza, of the National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines (UP NCPAG), Dick Balderrama, National Coordinator of the Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA), Soc Banzuela, National Coordinator of the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (National Confederation of Peasant Organizations) or PAKISAMA, Helen Orande, Executive Director of the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF), Marissa Camacho, former Chief of Party, Strengthening CSOs in the Philippines Project of USAID and Ayala Foundation led consortium of CSOs, Patricia Sarenas, Chairperson of Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) and the late Max De Mesa, former Chairperson of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).

The EENA Report for the Philippines found that as of mid-2016, the legal, regulatory, and policy environment in which CSOs operate is generally positive, encouraging and enabling civil society to operate, as individual organizations and collectively.

However, access to resources was identified as a major challenge. There is a general consensus that the traditional CSO funding sources, i.e. from grants, are shrinking. Moreover, compared to the previous decades, the available funding sources are not as generous and as flexible. Additionally, most grants are restricted in time, and as to programs and expense items covered.

The other key challenges that must be addressed are the uniform application by government of the requirements and processes for registration and reporting, without appropriate distinction on the nature, size, and level of operations of CSOs, and the absence of a general framework and set of guidelines for government-CSO relations, especially with regards to regulation and accreditation, provision of financial and non-financial support, and formulation of rules affecting CSOs and CSO operations.

The full EENA Philippines report may be accessed at:

Sixto Donato C. Macasaet is the Executive Director of CODE-NGO.