CODE-NGO Holds Summit to Pave Path Forward for Civil Society Organizations
Last November 24-25, 2017, the Caucus of Development NGO-Networks (CODE-NGO) held its 6th Congress and Social Development Celebration (SocDev) 2017, with the theme “What is the Future of Philippine Democracy and the Prospects for the CSO Sector?” The theme arose as civil society organizations across the nation grapple with government’s controversial policies regarding human rights, extra-judicial killings, and the war on drugs.
Various leaders in relevant sectors were invited to speak, and shared many thought provoking ideas that may serve as philosophical foundations for CSOs in the coming years. However, one common thread tied many of these speakers together—the call to continue working with government.
According to Sylvia Paraguya, CODE-NGO Chairperson, “We have common aspirations for a better Philippines, but with certain issues, our positions may differ. Kailangan matuto tayong mag-usap kahit magkaiba ang mga posisyon natin (We need to learn to talk with each other even if we have different positions). We have to be the best in the worst of times.”
The two-day congress featured keynote addresses and panel discussions that covered a wide range of issues. These also touched upon ways to make progress on said issues in the current political environment. Subjects discussed include the reconstruction of Marawi, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, the Bangsamoro peace process, the Open Government Partnership, and the current climate of fake news, particularly on social media.
Though attendees expressed contrasting views during the open forums, the government representatives present generally agreed with the principle that CSOs must hold government accountable to its promises and duties. Notably, Director Rolando Toledo of the Department of Budget and Management expressed his agency’s commitment to accountability as they champion a more open government.
“As key actors in the regional and local development, CSOs play an important role in ensuring that Open Government Partnership principles and efforts are likewise adapted at the national level,” said Toledo.
The closing speaker for the two-day event was none other than the Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines, Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno. In her speech, Sereno emphasized the importance of gatherings such as SocDev2017, pointing out the critical role of civil society in any democratic society.
“You must make sure that democratic institutions are here to allow you to continue participating in the heroic task of nation building,” said the Chief Justice, to which the crowd responded with applause.
Happening only every 5 years, the CODE-NGO 6th Congress presented the network’s Strategic Assessment for 2013-2017 and ratified the new mission, vision, core values and Strategy Plan for 2018-2022. Individual and institutional partners in the last 5 years were also recognized.
Download the 6th Congress documents here.
Founded in 1991, the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) is the country’s biggest coalition of NGOs 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.