CSOs Underscore Constricted Civic Spaces in 4MR GPEDC Consultation

April 30, 2024

During the second session of the CSOs consultation workshop for the 4th Monitoring Round of the Philippine Government’s compliance with the Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) on April 23, 2024, representatives from various national civil society organizations (CSOs) highlighted the growing constraints on civic spaces despite government pledges to foster an enabling environment for effective civil society participation in development and governance.

Civil society organizations representing the homeless, informal workers, older persons, youth, humanitarian and development workers, children, environment and sustainable agriculture advocates, women, agricultural workers, joined the 4MR GPEDC last April 23, 2024 in a hybrid consultation workshop at the University Hotel, Diliman, Quezon City.

Ms. Jazmin Aguisanda-Jerusalem, Executive Director of the Leyte Center for Development (LCDe) and a sectoral representative of the National Anti-Poverty Council (NAPC), opened the activity by emphasizing the importance of the monitoring exercise and the role of CSOs in enhancing inclusive, cooperative, and effective cooperation among development actors.

“Coming from a poor region challenged by attacks against CSOs and communities for asserting their right to development, it is crucial to monitor how this exercise will translate into tangible benefits like food security and improved livelihoods for poor and marginalized communities, and overall well-being. The significance of this process is to provide a venue to voice our concerns about our development work. Through this dual partnership of effective development cooperation, we can truly assess the impact and relevance of CSO services in relation to government actions or inactions,” said Jerusalem.

Jerusalem decried how threats, harassment, enforced disappearances, and even extrajudicial killings (EJKs) have seemingly become normalized over the past five years.  “As a reflection of modules 1-4, this consultation workshop serves as an excellent platform to contextualize our issues. Hopefully, decision-makers will hear us, and we can take action to improve the human rights situation in the country, including the economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) of the people,” she noted.

Ms. Jazmin Jerusalem, Executive Director of the Leyte Center for Development (LCDe), discussed the organization’s extensive humanitarian efforts. In its 36 years, LCDe has served 1.1 million people in Eastern Visayas, offering vital disaster response and rehabilitation assistance. Using community-based strategies, LCDe aids communities in managing disasters and supports others in their recovery efforts. Despite its crucial contributions, LCDe is red-tagged and faces political discrimination.

CSOs provided insights into their specific situations during the workshops to measure effective development cooperation among development actors. CSOs shared their uneven experiences with mechanisms to enable the effective participation of CSOs and their stakeholders in policy development, implementation and in democratic governance. These mechanisms for development cooperation were very uneven and lacking, they said.

Ms. Rochelle Porras, CPDG Vice President and 4MR GPEDC Senior Level Focal Person for CSOs discussed the Kampala Principles on leveraging private sector efforts to carry out development programs and projects in inclusive partnership with CSOs and stakeholders.

The workshop consultations are organized by the focals for CSOs (Council for People’s Development and Governance) and Trade Union (Federation of Free Workers) in partnership with the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, the Center for Women’s Resources, PH Civil Society SDG Watch, with the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness and in cooperation with the National Economic Development Authority (GPEDC Secretariat for the Philippines) and the GPEDC.#