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2017 NCV: Mapping the Policy Agenda
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14 December 2017 2017 NCV: Mapping the Policy Agenda

Written by: Ronna Marie Badua


"Borne out of compassion and humaneness, volunteerism is indeed a good way to exercise our hearts: to serve others without expecting anything in return" says National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia in a speech read by NEDA Assistant Secretary for Regional Development Ms. Mercedita A. Sombilla during the National Conference on Volunteerism (NCV) spearheaded by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA). The activity was conducted last 6 December 2017 to celebrate the National Volunteer Month (NVM) and honor the spirit of volunteerism in the country. The event was attended by 130 participants coming from the national and regional line agencies, not-for-profitorganizations, academe and corporate sectors, and the local government units (LGUs).

Highlighting the activity was the presence of distinguished panel of discussants who were practitioners and experts in volunteerism and volunteer management: Dr. Grace Aguiling-Dalisay, former Dean of the UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, founding President of the VOICE Network and Chair of the Philippine Coalition on Volunteerism for the academe sector; Mr. Isagani Serrano, President of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and Mr. Timothy Gabuna, President of the PhilCV for the non-government sector; Ms. Julienne Picato, Head of the LandBank Corporate Social Responsibility Relations Unit and Ms. Ma. Carmen Mislang, Program Manager of Hands-On Manila for the corporate sector; Ms. Celia Yangco, former DSWD Secretary and member of the Advisory Council of the International Association for Volunteer Effort Philippines and Mr. Raymond Gerard de Asis of the Department of the Interior and Local Government National Capital Region for the government sector; and, Ms. Wendy Elizabeth Slee, Director of Programming and Training of the United States Peace Corps Philippines and Mr. Jay Neil Ancheta, Programs Manager of Habitat for Humanity International for the not-for-profit organization. Dr. Maria Faina Lucero-Diola of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance and herself an ardent advocate of volunteerism, facilitated the discussion.


In his welcome message, PNVSCA Executive Director Joselito C. De Vera thanked the guests for gracing the event which reflects their genuine desire to come together to make volunteerism a potent force in achieving the goals of the PDP. He reiterated his request to the participants of the tasked to be accomplished to provide additional insights for the formulation of a National Policy Agenda and Action Plan for Volunteerism being spearheaded by the PNVSCA and hoped that this effort will closely link the different volunteer programs and projects with the thrusts and priorities of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.He further added that the PNVSCAwill work hard so that the well-thought views and perspective on volunteerism will find their way into concrete action for the country's development.


Earlier this year, the PNVSCA conducted regional forums to consult stakeholders and solicit recommendations for the strengthening of the volunteer sector. The Conference is part of the process for the formulation of said policy agenda and action plan to harmoniously align the various volunteer initiatives from the different sectors.

Meanwhile, Asec. Sombilla stressed that the present administration appreciates the importance of volunteerism and cited it as one of the strategies towards the realization of a "Matatag, Maginhawa and Panatag na Buhay, the collective vision for the country in the next 25 years which was expressed in Ambisyon Natin 2040."The strategies to achieve our development targets are summed up in three words: Malasakit, Pagbabago and PatuloynaPag-unlad," she said, "volunteerism revolves around the same core elements of service or bayanihan to effect change to partner groups and communities, and to empower them for sustainable development".


The day progressed as Ms. Corazon M. Macaraig, PNVSCA Chief Volunteer Service Officer, presented a brief summary of the sectoral outputs from the forums conducted during the year while the discussants exhibited a smorgasbord of intellectual perspectiveon volunteerism. Here are some of the insights from the panel:


Dr. Dalisay from the academe sector said, "The primary role of the academe is to develop citizens who can generate new knowledge and engage in socially responsible practice locally, regionally and globally toward sustainable development. The ways forward of volunteerism for development is to include the conduct of research and enhance the curriculum on volunteerism, improve volunteer management, reinforce national and local volunteering especially at the local government, align volunteer programs with national policies, mainstream volunteerism in the entire cycle of program implementation, and coordination of volunteer service down to the local levels." Significantly, she emphasized the inclusion of volunteering initiatives of student organizations in the policy agenda;


From the perspective of the not-for-profit organizations represented by Mr. Gabuna, he accentuated the need to establish a national database of supply and demand for volunteerism, synergize the volunteer-involving organization (VIO) members and prioritize socialdevelopment goals and join VSO initiatives in coming up with global standards on volunteering. Other importantconcerns raised by Mr. Gabuna is the amendment of the Volunteer Act of 2007, to increase voluntary sector's membership to MSAB, and the role of PNVSCA as liaison between VIOs and NGAs/LGUs.

Mr. Serrano of PRRM on the other hand said, "Volunteering is another way of doing development. It doesn't recreate poverty, it widens inequality, promotes justice, fairness and caring for the environment." He added, “Volunteerism have been professionalized and needs financing to sustain. Senior citizens are a huge pool of voluntary energy so they should be mobilize especially those with technical expertise."


Ms. Picato from Landbank supplemented by saying, "Individuals may also be empowered to initiate their own volunteerism activity. If this is something that can be also considered by our policymakers, you can imagine the multiplier effect in contributing to the objective of the PDP 2017-2022 where the citizenry is fully engaged and empowered."

Hands on Manila representative Ms.Mislang said, "Through a transparent and measurable means of delivering volunteer service, more companies can actually use their resources for the common good. The role of our non-profit as a conduit between the company and the community can contribute to nation building." She further suggested to integrate social sector volunteer programs in a company's incentives. Also according to her, going digital is another one way of revolutionizing the volunteer sector because it saves time, money, and talent and allows organizations to partner with similar organizations abroad.

The United States Peace Corps representative Ms. Slee said, "It is imperative to strategize and reach the vulnerable populations or those regions and communities that need the extra help. The goal is to help these communities reach the level of the robust economy. Organizations in the volunteer sector needs to be responsive and supportive of the needs of country and the communities they serve. From the PDP 2017-2022: while the macroeconomy appears robust, marked inequality across regions remains and chronic poverty exists. Thus, the sector needs to design and focus its projects accordingly." Likewise, she also supplemented that the policies of the national and local government in environment, education and youth protections should be supported by volunteer programs.

Mr. Ancheta highlighted the direction of the volunteerism in the country by saying, "the emerging trend for the volunteer sector in the last five (5) years have been evolving specifically in the role of the international volunteers in disaster risk reduction and response, harnessing technology, resource development, measuring results and impact, and alignment to national development priorities and international goals." He said volunteering mechanism in the government institutions should be reinforced. Further, he raised vital issues such as transitioning from reporting inputs/outputs to measuring results and impact, meaningful participation to voluntary national reviews, and sharing story and data for increased recognition of volunteering.

From the government sector, Mr. Raymond de Asisof DILG said, "There is a need to restore public faith in the government. We need to dispel negative beliefs and replace them with the knowledge that the government is actively looking for partners that can help in nation-building." Moreover, he also mentioned the need to update the Volunteer and Citizenship Program to make it more responsive to the current priorities of the national government and the international community in line with the new PDP and SDGs that have been adopted.

Likewise from the national government, former Acting SecretaryYangco of DSWD fundamentally pointed out that, "It is important for the volunteer sector to have a coordination body at all levels. Simply put, the PNVSCA must have a clear representation and presence at the regional and provincial development council levels, the main task of which is to put volunteerism as a major component in the public sector management of planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation at all levels." Accordingly, there is a need to review all laws that calls for the organization of councils with people's participation to establish benchmarks for scope and depth of possible volunteer efforts. She also emphasized the inclusion of the key performance indicators of good governance and the engagement and participation of volunteers and volunteer service organizations to contribute in the finalization of the Policy Agenda and Action Plan on Volunteerism.

The event culminated with an open forum in which more substantial thoughts were shared by the participants.For other activitiesin line with the celebration of the National Volunteer Month this December, check out PNVSCA at www.pnvsca.gov.ph or follow us at www.facebook.com/innovatecooperateinspire.


We do not need to be heroes overnight to make a difference. All it takes is the courage to initiate. So the next time you feel like doing something for the sake of kindness, engage in volunteer works Always remember that a minute ripple can cause a huge tide.
Magmalasakit para sapagbabago at patuloy na pag-unlad!

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