Saturday, November 5, 2011

Non-profits in the Philippines: Overview of development work

My goal for this blog post is to have it reach #1 for the Google search, "Non-profits in the Philippines."

1. Overview of Philippines
2. Sector Specific Overview of Development Work: 
  • Macroeconomy
  • Housing
  • Basic Social Services
  • Gender Equality
  • Good Governance
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Conflict Prevention and Peace-Building

1. Overview

Bird's eye view of the Philippines: There are an estimated 500,000 civil society groups in the Philippines, though only around 3000 - 5000 are development-oriented NGOs. The Philippine Council for NGO certification only lists 367 official NGOs -- don't believe them. The number is a gross underestimation, mainly because the Council hasn't done substantive work in years (The President chided them for being useless). In aggregate, the NGO sphere is "large and vibrant by developing country standards," but many of them are still "small, struggle financially, and have weak capacity." (The biggest victory by an NGO was the passage of the Indigenous People's Rights Act.)

There is strong government support for NGOs. The country is a landing ground for the headquarters of many multi-national NGOs, including the International Institute for Rice Research, PETA, Asia Pacific Alliance for Reproductive Health, Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities, South East Asian Committee for Advocacy, and the Southeast Asia Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.

The Big Players: The biggest players in the Philippines, like most developing countries, are USAIDUNDPADB (Asian Development Bank), and World Bank. They run multi-year projects revolving around conflict resolution, housing development, sanitation and water quality, and agriculture.

Upstarts: There are a couple of upstarts I'd never heard about who were doing great things. Gawad Kalinga (community housing), Philippine Trade Training Center (a ton of business programs), and National Citizen's Movement for Free Elections (information and advocacy regarding elections).

People's Organizations: The grassroots equivalent of an NGO. They are community-based organizations where poor people come together around a common goal. (Tried finding examples of POs online, but no luck. Maybe they're all too disadvantaged to be able to hire a webmaster.)

Sources: Asian Development Bank's 1999 study of NGOs, as well as their 2007 brief, and a German paper on human security in the Philippines, from 2010.

2. Sector Specific Overview


Current Problem:

Bleak 2011 forecast: higher food and fuel prices, volatile capital flows, a lack of a credible program to tackle the fiscal deficit. Overall GDP growth is forecast at 5.9%, which is lower than the 7.1% achieved in 2010. This is attributed mostly to the dismal performance of the agriculture sector. Specifically with the agriculture sector, there needs to be asset reforms (agrarian reform, urban land reform and ancestral domain reform), investments in productivity improvements, and removal of the inefficient and archaic regulatory systems.

There are structural problems in the labor laws: Filipino owned enterprises are at a disadvantage to foreign firms (157-company survey). Minimum wage laws hurt local firms who cannot pay as much as their foreign counterparts can; there is no freedom to employ on a fixed-term basis; and there are restrictions on the dismissal policies of regular workers.

Population economics: the Philippines is seeing a widening disparities across regions and population groups, and a strain on the economy and resources is happening because of population growth.

Government goals:
  • Development of 2 million hectares new lands for agri-business.
  • Create 3 million micro-enterprises and provide them with credit, technology and marketing support, as embodied in the SULONG and the One Town One Product programs.
  • Secondary market for housing mortgages.
  • Tourism development with a liberal airline policy to generate at least 3 million new jobs.
The major players:



Right now, there are implicit and explicit subsidies that increase affordability for low-income farmers. Other instruments include upfront grants, low interest rate mortgages, and exemptions from taxes and levies. Between ‘93 and 95, there was 25.4B PHP provided to the housing sector. 90% of that was interest subsidies channeled through home mortgage programs and developmental loan programs.


The bulk of these low interest mortgages are channeled to middle and high income deciles. Housing needs have ballooned to more than 5.7 Million for 2011-2016, and the need is the highest at the lowest ends of the market. The biggest housing issue is affordability.

Government help:

Direct or upfront subsidies would have the greatest impact – Latin American countries have moved to this already.

  • Strong Republic Housing Program.
  • National Shelter Program – NSP – they want to turn land into house
    • Resettlement program, community mortgages, HDMF housing loans
    • NHA and CMP
  • HGC and NHMFC – went insolvent because of bad debts; needs 23B to recapitalize NHMFC.
  • See “Philippines Housing Institute Talk” document for more information.

Basic Social Services


The Good: The number of people living in extreme poverty has decreased from 24.3% in 1991 to 13.5% in 2003. The numbers are very skewed by region; we need to stabilize over different areas. More girls now get elementary school education than boys. Secondary education now reaches 63.5% of females. Infant mortality has gone down from 57 to 24 per 1000 live births since 1990.

The bad: Access to primary education worsened in 2005; it went from 96.8 to 84.4%. Maternal deaths have slowed at a slower pace than expected. Access to reproductive health care only improved slightly, by 1%, to 50.6%. 12M people in Manila travel in the city to work. 400k people use the MRT, but it is at peak capacity already and the government has to subsidize the cost of transportation.

Health: Less than 0.1% have HIV/AIDS (WHO says only 7,490). Cases are concentrated around prostitution and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who account for some 34% of total documented HIV population. (Though this might only be because the OFWs are required to be screened.)

Hospitals are very unevenly distributed and medical professionals (doctors and nurses) are mostly concentrated in urban areas like Metro Manila. The international migration of medical professionals to urban areas is taking its toll on health services in rural areas.

Government goals:

Basic Social Services
  • Food (wage goods) plentiful at reasonable prices through institutional and regulatory reforms to reduce input prices
  • Formulate a strategy towards integration of population and poverty reduction approaches in national and local development plans.
  • Mobilize wider support for population and reproductive health policies and programs.  
  • Strengthen and mobilize national and local alliances and advocacy groups.
  • Infrastructure
-          Transport infrastructure: Nautical Highway and rail systems developed that will decongest Metro Manila. (Current solution is to raise prices).
-          Power provided to the entire country.

  • Advocate for the passage of reproductive health codes in the local government units.
  • Increase the national health and nutrition budget to achieve the World Health Organization WHO) recommended level of at least 5% of GDP.
  • Scale up interventions for HIV and AIDS such as education, voluntary and confidential counseling and testing, and antiretroviral therapy.
  • “Department of Social Welfare and Development designed a CCT in 2007 in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental. The program aims to build the human capital of children aged 0–14 from the poorest families. To achieve this, cash grants are conditional upon five conditions: (i) pregnant women must receive prenatal care beginning in the first trimester of pregnancy, the birth must be attended by a skilled health professional, and they must receive postnatal care; (ii) parents must attend parent effectiveness service classes; (iii) children aged 0–5 must receive regular preventive health checkups and vaccines; (iv) children aged 3–5 must attend day care or preschool programs; and (v) children aged 6–14 must be enrolled in school and demonstrate an attendance rate of at least 85%.” In 2008, the program will cover nearly 125,000 households nationwide (with an estimated 360,000 children).
  • Linkages to livelihood programs and to faith-based groups to promote economic empowerment and to address cultural and religious realities. 
  • Best Practices in Informal Social Protection
  • Build on the strong rural tradition of community-based solidarity.
  • The sustainability of contributions is linked to income and employment security;
  • Sustained networking and advocacy at both national and local levels improve long-terms results.
  • Asset reform is essential.
Major players:
  •           UNICEF maintains its co-leading function with government on following clusters: the nutrition, education, water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH), and the child protection sub-cluster.
  •           WHO (already did HIV and Migration 20,000 people program)
  •           ICPD
  •           VAW
  •           CMBS
  •           BCC strategies (to prevent HIV/AIDS)
  •           AHR Advocacy
  •           National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW),
  •           Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local social welfare offices.
  •           Youth Welfare Center – served 584 children so far.
Source: Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan, 2004-2010

Gender Equality:


The Good: Voter turnout is higher for women than men, in 2001, 85.7% for women and 75.9% for men. Women running for senatorial posts increased from 15% in 1998, to 25% in 2004. The number of women candidates for congressional posts increased 12% since 1998.

The bad: Women occupy less than 20% of all elective posts in the national and local levels. Many women who do get these posts have them “inherited” from their fathers or husbands. They are half of government personnel, but only 34.8% in the highest levels of civil service. Access to resources, both in society and in the family, has traditionally been skewed toward men, even though women’s
economic empowerment is associated with greater health and nutritional status of all family members, education, and less domestic violence.

Persistent gender stereotyping in the choice of courses or skill areas occurs at the tertiary level. Professions such as teaching, social work, and nursing are seen as “appropriate for girls” as an extension of their nurturing and reproductive roles.
Government goals:
Department of Education (DepEd) policies to reduce gender biases in education. Government ordered the integration of gender issues into the school curriculum In collaboration with the Commission on Human Rights, NGOs, and teacher education institutions, DepEd has trained elementary and secondary school teachers on peace and human rights.

Organizations that help:  
  • Social Development Center: opened in 2000 and takes care of disabled / abused women.
  • Center for Women served 114 clients in 2008.
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR):
    • legal and physical assistance needed by female refugees under specific situations found in specific area, such as sexual exploitation, domestic violence, malnutrition and displacement.
  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP):
    • reducing the incidence of HIV among vulnerable women, incorporating gender dimensions into macro-economic policies and trade negotiations, and linking women’s empowerment to democratic governance, decentralization and civil society participation.
  • The UN Settlements Program
    • Gender Policy to develop institutional capacity and knowledge to enable gender mainstreaming within UN-HABITAT.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO)
    • adopted a policy in 2002 on adopting gender perspectives into its work plans and budgeting, as well as in technical cooperation activities among countries.
  • UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
    • supports programs formulated and implemented in accordance with general principles of respect for human rights and advancement of gender equality, equity and empowerment of women, among others.
  • The International Maritime Organization (IMO)
    • integrates women into the maritime sector in 1988 and began implementation of the IMO Women In Development Programme in 1989.
  • The UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) share the UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA,
    • UNDPC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and WB commitments promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment , as leading advocate for global action on HIV/AIDS.
  • World Bank
    • Assists member countries in implementing their gender and development goals. Periodically assesses the gender dimensions of development within and across sectors in the countries in which it has an active assistance programs.
Sources: (Unless noted, all the sections that didn’t have sources are encompassed here)

Good governance


Fourth or fifth class municipalities possess little capacity to formulate, finance, manage, and implement programs and projects that are MDG-friendly. There is a lack of commitment and capacity of some local government units to design and manage programs and provide basic services. Most of the sources here focus anti-corruption, but I don’t know if it’s relevant for us.

Government goals:

Focus on social reform: automation of elections and strengthening political parties by reforming campaign finance.
Focus on Law: Develop credible law enforcement, and develop anti-corruption laws and good governance.

Weak governance at all levels affecting mobilization and utilization of public resource. Need to develop collaboration with public/private services.

  • UNDP
  • UN-Habitat
  • Transparency and Accountability network has developed a Lifestyle Check Guide for CSOs and trained local CSOs on existing anticorruption tools.
  • The Coalition Against Corruption developed handbooks/volunteer guides on pork barrel watch and medicine monitoring, and internal revenue allotment (IRA) watch.
  • Univlever Philippines, in partnership with the OMB, conducted trainings on the procurement process for monitors and observers. It also developed a tool to measure the efficiency of expenditure in public procurement 
  • SWS social survey institute, in partnership with the GPPB, conducted a public opinion survey to gauge the effectiveness and impact of procurement reforms.
  • The Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Governance (CCAGG) monitors government’s civil work projects.
  • The G-Watch of the Ateneo School of Government has a project called Bayanihang Eskwela.
  • Office of the Ombudsman entered into a MOA with the Mindanao Business Council on anticorruption initiatives such as the conduct of lifestyle checks, monitoring of procurement, and public contracts implementation.
Environmental Sustainability 


Seen an increase in the # of Protected Areas (went from 83 to 103). The Clean Air act of 1990 has improved quality in Metro Manila, though not to goal standards. Clean water act of 2004 has helped 10 of 19 rivers that were polluted come within standards.

Government goals:
  • More productive use of natural resources
  • Sustainable mining
  • Protection of ecologically fragile areas
  • Mitigate occurrence of natural disasters
  • FAO
  • UN-Habitat, UNDP
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources
  • ASEAN center for Biodiversity
  • GTZ – Teaching local government units to employ participatory land use and development planning techniques; 660,000 people have so far benefited.
Conflict Prevention and Peace-building


The Mindanao conflict dates back to Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century. It is a continuation of a 300 year old resistance against colonization by the Muslim population. In 1977, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) even after the main resistance signed a peace agreement in 1996. Peace talks with MILF halted when in February 2003 the military launched an assault on MILF controlled territories in pursuit of “terrorist elements”. Informal peace talks have been held in Malaysia since 2005 but there is no clear resolution on the question of ancestral domain. In 2005, MILF had about 11,000 members plus about 2,000 splinter group forces operating mainly in central Mindanao.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimated that from 2000–2006 almost 2 million people were displaced as a result of ongoing conflicts in the country. In these areas women tend to be responsible for social protection (such as caring for the family and supporting the soldiers), undertaking livelihood projects, resolving family and community conflicts, and promoting peace. Men are expected to assume the role of combatants. Children tend to suffer particularly severe psychosocial effects.

Conflict-affected areas face major poverty challenges. Most of the lagging regions are in Mindanao; this has to be a priority. Basic services and other assistance should be viewed in the context of peace and development. Peace negotiations have to ensure pro-poor economic growth, capacity building and institutional strengthening. (c/p from report)

Theoretical ways to help:
  • Establish community level negotiations;
  • Human rights education for the security sector;
  • A citizens’ commission that can diffuse tensions between parties on the ground;
  • Scholarly conceptual and theoretical frameworks for understanding women and conflict;
  • Participation of women and international feminist networks in the formal peace process.
  • Psychosocial care to persons affected by the civil war, displaced communities and women victims of violence
  • Programs to upgrade skills and capacities of frontline workers, e.g., health workers and teachers, have to be in place.
  • Localize UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and the Optional
  • Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.
  • Document and disseminate the voices, vulnerabilities, and experiences of women, children, and indigenous peoples in ongoing conflicts and post-conflict reconstruction efforts.
  • UNDP 
  • IOM - Humanitarian Action Plan for Conflict-Affected Areas of Mindanao (HAP) supports the Philippine government’s efforts by helping people return to their original communities following a relative improvement of the security situation in many areas. The HAP is targeting about 447,213 conflict-affected persons in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Lanao del Norte.
  • OCHA also coordinates the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) as well as the Inter-Cluster Coordination Committee (ICC) at the national level.
  • Commission on Women has developed a multistakeholder strategy for peace and development that includes active roles for women in conflict resolution in Mindanao.
  • GTZ - Comprehensive capacity building measures enable the people to address conflicts in a constructive manner and improve the management of natural resources in the region.


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