Quezon City, Philippines, 30 August – As state attacks against civil society organizations (CSOs) continue, a month since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took oath as President, 28 CSOs from across the Philippines unite in calling for the government and other development stakeholders to strengthen people’s participation in governance to ensure development plans contribute to social justice.
This united call was forged through the National CSO Strategy Workshop on Enabling Civil Society organized by IBON International and the Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) on 29-30 August 2022. The workshop brought together CSOs working with various sectors and regions from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. They discussed the human rights situation, the state of civic space, and the challenges in engaging the government.
At the end of the workshop, participants developed their CSO Manifesto for Enabling and Strengthening Civic Space in the Philippines, containing key demands for improving civic spaces and people’s engagement in development and democratic processes at the local, national, and international levels.
“Continuing repression against CSOs critical of the administration, from the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines to Gabriela, demonstrates the systematic nature of the attacks on peoples’ voices,” according to Liza Maza, CPDG Spokesperson. A discussion with CSOs from different regions and sectors, including workers, peasants, women, Indigenous and Moro peoples, showed the continuing deterioration of human rights and shrinking civic spaces in the country. “The prevailing reality of shrinking civic spaces is the reason we gathered to demand that the Philippine government and its international partners uphold the Filipino people’s civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights,” Maza added.
“The current administration’s economic measures, such as the budget cuts in economic relief and social protection, fail to address people’s needs. CSOs have important roles in holding the government to account, and forwarding practical solutions and alternatives to address inequality and poverty in the country. We need appropriate policies, capacity development and financing to support CSOs’ work in promoting effectiveness, transparency and accountability,” Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo, IBON International Executive Director, said.
The workshop draws from the recommendations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) on enabling civil society in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. The OECD-DAC Recommendation highlights the importance of civil society engagement in addressing today’s multiple crises in line with peace and sustainable development.
The workshop was supported by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
IBON International (iboninternational.org) is an international civil society organization tackling socio-economic issues faced by peoples in the global South. The Council for People’s Development and Governance (cpdg.ph) is a Philippine network of 60 non-government organizations working on development and democracy.
A panel of Philippine CSOs talk about state of civic space for workers, peasants, women, Indigenous Peoples, and Moro people