CPDG Unity Statement

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We, members of Council for People’s Development and Governance (CDPG), which come from the progressive and critical section of civil society organizations in the Philippines engaged in development programs with poor and marginalized sectors in underserved communities, along with the broad CSO community in the country join the global CSO efforts in bringing forward commitments on to ensuring Effective Development Cooperation. 

 We assert that aid and the overall aid system will only be developmental if in the long term it is aligned to a national industrial strategy willfully being pursued by the State to attain genuine national development for the people.

But, despite of its supposedly middle-income status, the Philippines remains hobbled with widespread poverty, severe inequality, chronic bureaucratic corruption and underdevelopment.  This as decades-long neoliberal development programs of past and present administrations failed to address the country’s weak economic base due to high unemployment and low incomes, backward agriculture, and shallow foreign-dominated manufacturing. 

It is in this context of development ineffectiveness that the country must seriously address the following fundamental concerns:

  • Promotion of human rights and social justice;
  • Poverty reduction that focuses on uplifting the living condition of the majority of the peasant poor through thorough-going agrarian reforms that addresses landlessness and tenancy issues; decent work and decent wage; and a nationally-owned and democratically-adopted comprehensive national economic development policies and plans that will truly benefit the people;
  • Food security through sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty;
  • Gender equality and women’s empowerment;
  • Environmental sustainability with focus on exacting climate justice and community resilience

In pursuit of these, the Philippines must strive to establish a development cooperation framework with development partners that resolve power in country relationships through mutual accountability, elimination of tied and donor-imposed conditionalities, increase aid transparency and predictability and the eventual elimination of dependency on foreign aid and technologies and external markets. This can be done through a multi-stakeholder approach, ensuring mutually-supportive policies in international aid, trade, investment and finance that uphold and advance the realization of the Right to Development.

As independent development actors in our own right, CSOs contribute in unique and important ways to development – we are human rights advocates, watchdogs/monitors, campaigners, organizers – we are innovative agents of change and social transformation. 

As such CSOs are also subjected to their own development effectiveness. Since 2010, CSOs agreed on the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness. The Istanbul Principles reflects the important roles that CSOs play, the principles and values that they live by.  We have consistently stood by these principles long before they were officially recognized.  We reaffirm our commitment to pursue the principles of 1) Respect and promote human rights and social justice; 2) Embody gender equality and equity while promoting women and girls rights; 3) Focus on people’s empowerment, democratic ownership and participation; 4) Promote environmental sustainability; 5) Practice transparency and accountability; 6) Pursue equitable partnerships and solidarity; 7) Create and share knowledge and commit to mutual learning; and 8) Commit to realize positive sustainable change in our development work.

However, even with the apparent official recognition, many CSOs in the Philippines are facing policies and practices that are undermining or severely limiting their roles as independent development actors. CSOs are concerned about unabated rights violations and the culture of impunity in the country.  Besides this highly restricting environment for the recognition of CSOs, many members of our CSO network organizations experienced being harassed, illegally arrested and detained, tortured, extra-judicially killed and enforced disappeared. Militarization in many rural areas in the country, limits the effectiveness of many of our grassroots partner organizations. 

To address these challenges, Philippine CSOs will continue to push for and support national and local development agendas that benefit the people and strengthen our own development effectiveness.

 We call upon the government and its development partners to:

  1. Fully evaluate and deepen the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) commitments through ensuring reforms based on democratic ownership. This can be done through giving emphasis on the agency of citizens, communities and marginalized groups in constructing their own paths to development by giving more space for locally-defined goals and locally-led strategies that better reflect people’s aspiration, practices and knowledge and allow for greater democratic participation.  We demand particularly the government for accountability mechanisms on ensuring that ODA and development programs reflect the interest and truly benefit the people especially the marginalized segments and in ensuring that ODA is free from corruption.
  2. Strengthen effective development cooperation practices that promote human rights and focus on the eradication of poverty and inequality. The government and development partners including the private sector and local authorities must commit to and implement rights-based approaches to development focusing their attention to the most marginalized people and people living in poverty; ensuring inclusive participation and empowerment and upholding of the right to development; promote and implement gender equality and women’s rights; and implement a decent work (and decent wage) agenda. 
  3. Affirm and ensure the meaningful participation of the full diversity of CSOs in the Philippines as independent development actors in their own right in development cooperation processes.
    • Enact an enabling law that will create an equitable and inclusive multi-stakeholder forum for policy dialogue, enabling and supporting situations where indigenous peoples can exercise right to self-determination over their own process of development, where the voice of the marginalized groups are given space and heard, supporting and ensuring economic, social and political and cultural institutions are accountable, inclusive, participatory and democratic. 
    • Recognize the Istanbul Principles as basis for context-specific assessment of CSO contributions to development.
  4. Promote an equitable and just development cooperation architecture that is inclusive, rights-based and democratic.

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