Partners launch projects with stakeholders’ meeting

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Three (3) member organizations of the Northern Luzon Coalition for Good Governance (NLCGG) conducted separate stakeholders’ meetings to launch their social accountability (SAc) initiatives in the provinces of Pangasinan, Abra, and Kalinga here in the Philippines in line with the project entitled Enhancing the Impact of Citizen-Led Transparency Initiatives. The said project, which started last September 2012 with support from AusAid, is a joint undertaking of Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF), Coalition Against Corruption – Makati Business Club (CAC-MBC), and Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA EAP). The three NLCGG members and their projects are the Responsible Citizens, Empowered Communities In Solidarity for Social Change (RECITE) Inc. which will be monitoring the national government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program and related health services, and the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Governance (CCAGG) and Kalinga Apayao Religious Sector Association (KARSA) which will both do participatory planning and budgeting with barangay (village) officials.

RECITE’s stakeholders meeting at the municipality of Mangaldan, Pangasinan last 18 February 2013 gathered around thirty five (35) CCT parent-leaders (PLs) and beneficiaries, partners from the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) and the municipal social work and development office, church leaders, municipal and barangay officials, and other citizen groups’ representatives. The said meeting provided a venue for the different groups to level off on the aims and processes of the proposed CCT program monitoring. “We really need active citizens who can help government leaders implement properly these programs designed to assist those poorest members of our communities,” emphasized retired-Bishop and current chairperson of RECITE’s Board of Directors Jesus A. Cabrera during the meeting. A key output from the activity was the list of operational issues or concerns that would have to be considered by RECITE’s staff in coming out with their detailed implementation plan and strategies for the project.

In Abra, twenty one (21) members of the YCCAGG, the youth arm of CCAGG, and the Peñarrubia Association for Social Accountability (PASA), the organization of community volunteers in the target barangays, attended the one-day project inception meeting last 20 February 2013. One major point of discussion during said meeting was the current unsympathetic attitude of some barangay officials with regard to CCAGG’s voters’ education campaign. “Instead of being fearful of CCAGG’s initiative, we should explain to these officials that the project actually gives them an opportunity to account for whatever accomplishments that they have achieved during the last three years of their terms, explained Mary B. Linggap of CCAGG. The group agreed on the need to strengthen the capacities of both YCCAGG and PASA in terms of identifying, analyzing, and aggregating the needs of target communities, and engaging constructively with their barangay leaders to help come out with innovative and creative solutions to recognized problems.

The stakeholders meeting in Tabuk City, Kalinga came a few weeks later on 12 March 2013, and was preceded by a short caucus on 11 March between the PTF Consortium representatives and KARSA leaders. During this preparatory assembly, the groups explored various approaches and strategies for sustaining local citizen monitoring efforts and KARSA’s initiatives in training local government leaders on participatory governance techniques. Sixteen (16) KARSA members and local government officials, including four (4) barangay chairpersons and the city government’s DILG coordinator, attended the inception workshop the following day. “One thing that we may need to look into is how we can build on our current linkages and networks with other groups, like the academe, the city and provincial governments, and even business groups, to sustain our initiatives for good governance,” stressed Fr. Clay Bagano of KARSA after the workshop.

With all three NLCGG partners ready to implement their social accountability initiatives, ANSA EAP’s next task will be to prepare and deliver appropriate learning interventions to support said citizen monitoring projects. “In line with the project’s strategy, the learning support will come mainly in the form of facilitating sharing of experiences and techniques from SAc practitioners in other places, assisting the partners in drawing out and capturing emerging knowledge from their own work, and helping to create broader public awareness of their SAc initiatives through some creative strategic communication activities,” explained Randee C. Cabaces, ANSA EAP’s Project Coordinator. ANSA EAP’s capacity building team is already planning to hold a series of area-based learning events from April to August in the three PTF project sites.

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