‘From beneficiaries to partners:’ Pasig City opens landmark accreditation process for CSOs 

Published August 6, 2022, 12:59 PM

by Khriscielle Yalao

“As we open the doors and give opportunities to not simply be observers and watchdogs, we are not merely beneficiaries, but partners of our local government,” said Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto during the Civil Society Organization (CSO) Conference 2022 that formally opened the first ever accreditation process of CSOs in the city.

Photo from Councilor Quin Cruz FB

Various CSOs including homeowners associations (HOA), tricycle operators and drivers associations (TODA), and other non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Pasig City gathered at the Tanghalang Pasigueño for the conference on Friday, Aug. 5.

The conference was held to strengthen the synergy between the government and non-government sectors, bringing the people closer to the political decision-making processes that would empower them and allow them to be directly involved in the development of the city.

Attendees were informed of the legal foundations and the guidelines on the accreditation process, led by Visitacion C. Martinez, the city director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Pasig Field Office.

Photo from Councilor Quin Cruz FB

Sotto noted that launching a formal accreditation process for CSOs in accordance with national laws is a first in the history of Pasig City.

As the initiative improves and progresses, accredited CSO groups will have the opportunity to select representatives who will join local special bodies such as city council committees, and capacity building activities and groups.

“Sa tradisyonal na framework o perspektibo, nakikita natin ang mamamayan [bilang] benepisyaryo ng gobyerno. Hindi naman po sa masama iyon pero doon po nagtatapos. Ano ba ‘yung matatanggap ko sa gobyerno? Ano ba ‘yung pwede ibigay sakin ng gobyerno? Syempre may trabaho po ang gobyerno magbigay ng serbisyo pero sana hindi po tayo nagtatapos doon (From the traditional framework or perspective, citizens are thought to be mere beneficiaries of the government. By itself it is not bad, but it’s limited. What can I get from the government? What services can the government provide for me? Of course it is the government’s duty to provide services, but hopefully it does not end there),” Sotto said.

Back in August 2019, fresh from winning his first mayoral term, Sotto said they began setting up formal mechanisms for their “people’s participation” initiative. The first level was conducted from 2019 to 2020 wherein the local government worked towards improving its transparency and public information dissemination.

Within 2020, they leveled up to starting consultations and dialogue with CSOs, asking for their inputs in the projects and programs of the city.

Improving on this from 2021 to 2022, they are currently working towards the third level which involves CSO inclusion in “every step of the way” from the planning process, implementation, and evaluation stages.

“Dito po sa ginagawa natin, ayaw natin manatiling benepisyaryo tayo ng gobyerno. Na pag may hiningi tayo, baka pagbigyan o hindi pagbigyan. Baka makatanggap o hindi makatanggap. Ang gusto po natin ang ordinaryong mamamayan, sa pamamagitan ng mga CSO at NGO, kayo na po ngayon ang magsasabi sa pamahalaan kung ano ang gagawin natin. Kayo na po ang magsasabi sa amin na nakaupo sa gobyerno na ito dapat ang priority number one natin, ito dapat ang paglaanan natin ng mas malaki pang pondo (What we are doing is refusing to remain only as beneficiaries of the government wherein our requests may or may not be accommodated. Where there is no guarantee that we will receive [what we need]. We want our ordinary citizens, through the CSOs and NGOs, to be able to tell the government what our priorities should be, and which projects should be allotted more funding),” he added.

The local government does not pursue this initiative merely for compliance, Sotto said, but to deepen the integration of citizens in local government processes.

This partnership “comes with responsibilities and duties” that must be fulfilled by all stakeholders, one of which involves upholding transparency by holding the local government accountable.

The mayor said he hopes to make this initiative one of the city’s “best practices.”

“Dahil po palakas ng palakas ‘yung lebel ng partisipasyon ng taong bayan sa ating gobyerno, ibig sabihin sa darating na panahon, ‘yung mga serbisyong ginagawa natin magiging mas inklusibo, walang naiiwan kasi lahat nga po kasama, at mas magiging responsibo ito sa pangangailangan ng bawat Pasigueño mula sa iba’t ibang sektor, lugar, at grupo (Because we are strengthening the level of citizen participation in our government, in the near future, our services will be more inclusive, wherein no one is left behind, and more responsive to the needs of every Pasigueño from different sectors, places, and groups),” Sotto said.

Pasig City Vice Mayor Robert “Dodot” Jaworski Jr. stressed Sotto’s mandate on “inclusive governance” that covers programs that push for people’s participation, and gives a “lifeline” to transparency efforts to local governance.

“Ang ginagawa po nating ehersisyong ito ay patibay o pagpapatibay na buhay na buhay, hindi lamang ang demokrasya sa ating lungsod, pero ang isang demokrasya na talagang tunay na patungo sa good governance and transparency sa ating lungsod (This activity is proof that democracy that serves the public and moves towards good governance and transparency in our city is fully alive),” Jaworski said.

“Tandaan po natin, ang local government unit ay umaandar dahil sa tax payers money na pera ng taumbayan. Hindi po pera ng politiko ‘yan (Let us remember that the local government operates because of the taxpayers money provided by our citizens, not owned by politicians),” he added.

Jaworski also asked the CSOs to reach out to other groups who are willing to serve their city and communities to register and get accredited.

Environment Planner (EnP) Priscilla Mejillano, the coordinator of the City Planning and Development Office, lone Pasig City Congressman Roman Romulo, Councilor Quin Cruz, the chairperson of the Committee on NGOs, as well as other city councilors also delivered short messages during the event.