Posted on March 05, 2019
By Marj Ibanez
Civil society organizations (CSOs) in Masbate, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Samar have become more empowered to constructively engage with the government and advocate for social protection, fueling a more active and informed citizenry in the Eastern Visayas region.
This was one of the key achievements shared during the National Learning Conference held in Tacloban City Tuesday, March 5. The event showcased the results of a three-year project aimed at strengthening the social protection, resilience, and inclusive development for marginalized people in the Philippines through citizens and civil society engagement.
“What we have now is a citizenry that is more confident. Marginalized and vulnerable groups, who used to be plain program beneficiaries, now transcended to be more proactive by having a stronger appreciation of what they can do and bring into the table,” Ryan Lander, Plan International Philippines’ Deputy Country Director for Programme, said.
Throughout its course, the project was able to organize the Community-based and Advocacy Monitoring Groups (CBAMGs) composed of various CSOs from these provinces. They helped advance social protection advocacy in the country by bridging the gap between the marginalized and the government and influencing communities to speak out and take actions on issues directly affecting them.
During the event, plaques were also awarded to the best CBAMGs of each province in recognition of their efforts and hardwork. The CBAMGs of Palanas, Masbate; Calbayog City, Samar; Oras, Eastern Samar; and San Roque, Northern Samar were recognized for exemplary work in the social protection advocacy.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) defines social protection as those “policies and programs that seek to reduce the poverty and vulnerability to risks of marginalized sectors, and enhance their social status and rights by promoting and protecting livelihood and employment; protecting against hazards and sudden loss of income; and improving people’s capacity to manage risks.”
With the help of the CBAMGs, the Social Protection Project facilitated a citizen-led monitoring activity that examined the implementation of key social protection programs provided by the government such as the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), and the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
It targeted marginalized and vulnerable groups, namely: senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), women, LGBTQI+, farmers, fisherfolks, and children/young people. The monitoring activity covered 20 municipalities from the aforementioned provinces.
The most common finding in the monitoring results are gaps in the implementation of social protection programs such as the unavailability of discounts, delays and logistical difficulties during the payout of cash grants, and medical and health-related concerns. Another common result across all sectors is their inability to organize and participate in local governance.
To address these gaps, the monitoring activity identified several recommendations to improve existing policies and their implementation, and to ensure close coordination and proper communication between the citizens and the local officials.
Synthesizing the day’s conversations, INCITEGov’s Lead Person for Social Protection said, “We need to monitor, advocate and collaborate to provide the social protection services to the most vulnerable sectors of the community. And that would be through active and empowered citizenship and responsive local executive leadership – ownership, co-ownership, co-creation [of] problem-solving process.”
The Philippine Consortium for Social Protection composed of Plan International, the International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov), and the Eastern Visayas Network of Non-Government Organizations and People’s Organizations (EVNet) implemented the project, with funding support from the European Union. #
For questions, follow-ups, or requests for interviews, kindly coordinate with Plan International Philippines’ Communication and Advocacy Officer for the Social Protection Project – Shigemi Muramatsu, email@example.com or +63 917 889 0633.