Posted on May 24, 2023
By Shei Datinguinoo
Bacolod City, Philippines, May 24 - Pahimud-os Negros, Inc. (PNI) identified and approved its priorities and strategic directions on May 23, 2023 during its first General Assembly held at the Acacia Hotel Bacolod. These are Politics and Governance, Empowerment and Participation, and Economic Development.
The Bacolod-based civil society organization held an orientation of its agenda and plans to its members from various organizations all over the province of Negros Occidental such as Knights of Democracy, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Women's Day Off, University of Saint La Salle Student Council, Akbayan Negros, Akbayan Youth, Gawad Kalinga, SEARICE, Magdalo, Bagani by LoveYourself Inc., Altertrade Foundation, and SocFem Bacolod.
The International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance, Inc, (INCITEGov) was also present as PNI's partner in its organization and agenda formulation initiative. This partnership is aligned with the objective of increasing the ability of CSOs and movements to forge partnerships and collaborations for good governance.
Atty. Jessie Suarez, retired Negros Occidental Provincial supervisor of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provided a brief background on PNI, from its nature as a loose coalition in 2018, its initial advocacies against charter change, to its formal registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2023. He discussed the PNI vision and mission to be an effective citizen's movement for good governance and regenerative development.
Former Negros Occidental governor and founding PNI chair Rafael Coscolluela then discussed the proposed agenda in various sectors of development. For Politics and Governance, he mentioned the need to engage in programs of the local government units (LGUs) and participate in the planned Local Governance Awards program of the provincial government. He also underscored the importance of training emerging leaders for electoral participation either as candidates or campaigners. This was reechoed in the agenda for Youth and Leadership Development.
For Citizen Empowerment and Participation, Coscolluela urged local CSOs to get accreditation that will enable admission and genuine participation in various Special Bodies in LGUs. A local survey on level and quality of participation in local governance is also planned.
PNI also laid down plans for Economic Development such as engaging in advocacies for agro-industrial diversification to reduce economic dependence on the sugar industry. Agritourism, community-based rural tourism, and other local economic development areas shall also be promoted.
Other agenda presented were on Education and Human Resource Development; Environment and Climate Change; Agriculture and Food Security; Power Security; Water Security; Health and Nutrition; Peace, Justice, and Human Rights, Urban Development and Housing; and Labor and Employment.
A breakout session followed Coscolluela's presentation. PNI officers Edwin Nacionales and Atty. Andrea Si discussed the pre-workshop survey results and the workshop mechanics, respectively. Participants were grouped by congressional district and each group was tasked to discuss possible projects in the areas of Livelihood, Education, and Health that PNI may be able to support with a PhP 50,000 seed funding. Three projects will be funded subject to evaluation by a Committee.
Atty. Robredo as keynote speaker
PNI's First General Assembly was graced by former Philippine vice president Atty. Robredo as a guest and keynote speaker. She thanked everyone for the warm welcome and support and provided inspiring words towards PNI's directions and agenda on development and good governance. She witnessed the oath taking ceremony of the PNI board of directors and registered members and encouraged everyone to keep the spirit of volunteerism burning.
PNI members respond with commitment
Corazon Aghon of the non-government organization Women's Day Off said that the vision and mission of PNI resonated with them in the basic sector. She said that PNI presented what they were looking for and what they need ("Iyan ang hanap namin, iyan ang para sa kapakanan namin sa basic sector.") She further expressed appreciation for PNI's push for organizations like them to participate and raise their issues and advocacies in various LGU special bodies.
For Ken Paolo Gilo, vice chairperson of Akbayan Youth and the national chair of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, the platform for political engagement provided by the PNI aligns with the trajectory of the local youth movement to open the hearts and minds of Negros youth to join politics.