Monday, 21 March 2011 09:58

CSOs engage the Cabinet's human development and anti-poverty cluster

Last February 23, 2011, 140 representatives from various civil society organizations celebrated the Silver Anniversary of EDSA 1 People Power Revolution by engaging the Cabinet Cluster on Poverty Reduction and Human Development in a dialogue.  They took stock of the past 25 years and discussed ways forward in strengthening CSO-government partnerships for poverty reduction. Secretary Joel Rocamora of the National Anti-Poverty Commission presented the anti-poverty framework and plan of the cluster. Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman presented the Aquino administration’s policy and initiatives on promoting CSO participation and the various mechanisms of government agencies such as the DILG, Dep-Ed, DOH, DBM, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and DSWD for eliciting citizen's feedback and participation in government programs. 

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Last February 2011, our country celebrated a most defining moment in our history- the People Power Revolution of 1986. Also known as EDSA 1, it sowed hopes and expectations of a changed nation in the hearts and minds of every Filipino. It promised true democracy and development, but twenty-five years past this momentous occasion, many ask if things have indeed changed.

To celebrate the Silver Anniversary of EDSA 1, civil society organizations in partnership with the Cabinet Cluster on Poverty Reduction organized a forum on People Power and Poverty Reduction. On February 23, over 140 representatives from civil society and government came together at the Institute of Social Order (ISO), Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City to take stock of the past twenty-five years and to chart out ways forward in strengthening CSO-government partnerships for poverty reduction.

To set the context, Secretary Joel Rocamora of the National Anti–Poverty Commission (NAPC) presented the anti-poverty framework and plan of the anti-poverty cluster. He emphasized the need for stakeholders, especially government and civil society to converge efforts on a common empowerment frame, translated into focus programs, instead of reinventing the wheel or engaging in separate initiatives.  This was followed with a presentation by Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman on the Aquino administration’s policy and initiatives on CSO participation and opportunities for CSO-government partnerships in the anti-poverty programs. She explained the different mechanisms for eliciting feedback and encouraging citizens’ participation of government agencies such as the DILG, Dep-Ed, DOH, DBM, OPAPP and DSWD.

The highlight of the forum was a dialogue on steps forward in strengthening CSO-government partnerships, and in particular, mechanisms for participatory governance. To facilitate this, break-out sessions on Social Protection-DSWD, PhilHealth, Fishery Reform, Socialized Housing, Agrarian Reform and Ancestral Domain/Indigenous People, and Peace and Development were held. During these discussions, existing mechanisms of participation were critiqued and new mechanisms proposed. The break-out sessions also witnessed friendly debates on key issues such as the conditional cash transfer (CCT) and off-site relocation.

The forum ended on a very hopeful note, but all agreed that it was only the first of many steps in CSO-government collaboration. To follow-through and maximize the gains from the forum, a meeting among CSOs was held on March 18, 2011 at the CODE-NGO, Quezon City office. -- by Kimberly Ko, UNDP HD2010 Project Coordinator.  

 Convenors of the forum include the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), Change Politics Movement (CPM), Active Citizenship Foundation (ACF), Association of Foundations (AF), Ateneo School of Government (ASoG), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA-CBCP), Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA), People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR), Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA), Pilipina, National Council for Social Development (NCSD), National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Tricor, People’s Alternative Study Center for Research and Education on Social Development (PASCRES), Philippine Misereor Partners (PMP), NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR), Social and Liberal Democrats for Reform (SOLIDAR), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and other civil society organizations.

 

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