Written by: Maribel F. Larracochea

The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) held a webinar on Volunteerism in the Public Sector last 26 February 2021. The webinar was attended by around 80 participants representing different national government agencies (NGAs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), and constitutional bodies. This activity is part of PNVSCA’s series of advocacy and orientation sessions to encourage and assist local government units (LGUs), NGAs, GOCCs and different educational institutions to set up and/or strengthen their volunteer programs.

USEC Mercedita A. Sombilla of the Regional Development of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) welcomed the participants by mentioning that the call for volunteerism is already espoused in the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP) which aims to ensure responsive, people-centered and clean governance. She further highlighted the importance of citizen involvement in various areas of development so as to augment what the government may not be able to provide. USEC Sombilla also enjoined government employees to engage in volunteering activities and stressed that the government needs volunteers more during this time to help build confidence as we fast track the country’s recovery from the pandemic. She encouraged everyone to work together for the nation to bounce back better as we pursue our long-term vision of matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay.

Presenters in the webinar provided basic information to help the participants to better understand and appreciate the value of volunteerism.

Mr. Jay Neil A. Ancheta, Volunteer Programs Manager, Asia Pacific of Habitat for Humanity International, discussed briefly the basic concepts of volunteerism and several laws and issuances which will serve as reference in setting up a volunteer program. Mr. Mark Anthony G. Malitan, Acting Chief HR Specialist of the Leadership Development and Foundation Programs, Civil Service Institute, and Public Service Values Program Focal Person of the Civil Service Commission, discussed the public sector values that will serve as a guide in carrying out and achieving the objectives of a volunteer program, especially in the government sector. On the other hand, Ms. Aida Maria Ayaso-Talavera, Director of the Project Management Office, Office of the Chairperson, Commission on Audit, shared the agency’s volunteer project, the Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA), and the lessons they learned in its implementation.

Discussions during the Open Forum focused on institutionalizing volunteer programs through these three key ingredients: (1) putting a policy in place and leadership support; (2) designating a focal person and/or creating a technical working group who will take charge of the volunteer programs/activities; and (3) capacity-building for the project team. These were further confirmed during the workshop as most of the participants shared that these were also the factors that led to the success of their volunteer programs, with partnership with different stakeholders as another factor.

The participants also shared some of their volunteering initiatives carried out during the pandemic (i.e. relief distribution, manning checkpoints and swabbing facilities), as well as their strategies in engaging volunteers (i.e. coordination with nearby barangays, engaging employees, social media promotion, providing incentives). They also presented their challenges and assistance needed to set-up/strengthen their volunteer program. These include capacity-building, such as encouraging employees to volunteer as well as taking care of volunteers, orientation sessions on volunteerism, and identifying possible partners to collaborate with, among others.

PNVSCA Executive Director, Donald James D. Gawe, in his Closing Message read by Ms. Ela Victoria F. Sarmago, Chief of PNVSCA’s Program Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PCMED), assured the participants of the Agency’s readiness to extend the needed technical assistance, as well as the continuous coordination and consultation with them in coming up with policies for the protection of volunteers and the enhancement of the practice of volunteerism across sector towards making volunteerism a way of life for every Filipino. He also encouraged the participants to continue with its important mission as advocates and champions of volunteerism for development.

The webinar was moderated by Ms. Rhenelyn Queen P. Dadulo, Founder and President of Global Initiative Exchange and Development, Inc. (GIED) and was made available via zoom.

The author is currently the Senior Volunteer Service Officer of the Policy, Advocacy and Technical Services Division (PATSD), Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.

Visit PNVSCA website (www.pnvsca.gov.ph) and PNVSCA Facebook (facebook.com/PNVSCA) for other stories and information on volunteering.