Highlights of the 1st National Forum on Volunteerism as a Strategy for Development
Conference Rooms 14 & 15, Mitra Building
House of Representatives
27 January 2010
The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) in cooperation with the Committee on Rural Development of the House of Representatives, Congress of the Philippines conducted the 1st National Forum on Volunteerism as a Strategy for Rural Development on January 27, 2010, as part of the implementation of the Republic Act No. 9418 or the Volunteer Act of 2007- “An Act Institutionalizing a Strategy for Rural Development, Strengthening Volunteerism and for Other Purposes”.
The National Forum is intended to provide the appropriate venue for volunteer stakeholders to come together, discuss and build alliances toward a common goal for the voluntary sector through volunteerism as a development strategy and linking this strategy with other national development strategies.
In preparation for the Forum, a series of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) participated by different sectors was conducted last year. The FGDs captured issues and recommendations of the voluntary sector and stakeholders by way of plans, programs and project activities and presented in the form of a roadmap or strategic action plan for the voluntary sector during the National Forum. (Please see Annex A for the Sectoral FGD results).
Highlights of the National Forum
The Forum formally started with the invocation and the singing of the national anthem led by the House of Representatives Choir.
In the introduction of speakers by Committee Secretary Dianne Manaligod, she also thanked the participants who have attended the Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and shared her enthusiasm with all the participants who took time to participate in the crafting of the Roadmap.
Honorable Pryde Henry A. Teves, Congressman of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental and Vice Chairman of the Committee on Rural Development gave the welcome remarks to the one hundred sixteen (116) participants, from various sectors. He acknowledged the support and participation of the various sector to the National Forum on Volunteerism which the HCRD strived to achieve. The forum is a clear manifestation of the relevance of volunteerism particularly in the works of the Committee which is geared on legislation with the goal of developing our rural community.
Congressman Manuel S. Agyao, Representative of Kalinga Province and Vice Chairman of the Committee delivered the message (Please see Annex B.) in behalf of Committee Chairman Congressman Arrel R. Olaño. His message outlined the spirit, the soul and the purpose of the Volunteer Act of 2007. He expressed confidence that the challenge of adopting volunteerism as viable development option can transform the House of Representatives into a more dynamic, proactive, volunteer sensitive legislative body given the support and cooperation and with solid belief of all partners and stakeholders behind its collective development agenda.
Overview of Forum Mechanics
Dr. Virgilio Salentes presented the Forum mechanics which includes the process in the formulation of the Voluntary Sector Roadmap; presentation of the Roadmap/Strategic Action Plan, and securing stakeholder affirmation and support to the Roadmap. The Forum will be capped by the ceremonial declaration of commitment wherein participants will sign in the covenant on the Roadmap or Strategic Action Plan for the voluntary sector in the Philippines. The final step is the identification of steps for advancing the Roadmap. (Please see Annex C for the Forum Mechanics presentation).
Ms. Cora Macaraig of PNVSCA made a presentation on the proposed roadmap. The presentation highlighted a brief introduction on the Republic Act 9418 and the purpose of the roadmap which was formulated through the conduct of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with various sectors namely the academe, corporate, not-for-profit, foreign volunteer organizations, government agencies and local government units and volunteer sectors. The Roadmap consists of critical and doable programs and projects on volunteerism to be undertaken in the next six years. The roadmap shall link volunteerism as a development strategy with other national development strategies and can be the voluntary sector’s inputs which may be proposed to be included in the successor Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP). (Please see Annex D for the full presentation).
Following the roadmap presentation was an open forum. Points raised are as follows:
Are there criteria or guidelines on how to choose best volunteers?
PNVSCA explained that there are two major categories in the Search for Outstanding Volunteers (SOV). One is the National Outstanding Volunteer Award (NOVA) given to individuals (youth and adult category) and to organizations under not-for-profit and corporate category. The other one is the special award called the Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award (VLAA) also for individuals and organizations with lifetime volunteering. Commitment, Performance and Sustainability of volunteer work are the main criteria in the selection.
Will the importance of monitoring of the working hours of the volunteers be included under the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation?
On the study and impact of volunteering, PNVSCA believes that the variable on the number of volunteering hours is one of the concrete measures on how to value the amount or volume of volunteering.
On the formation of a consortium, has there been any initiative taken up as to what form and shape will it be?
The concept on how to operationalize the consortium has not been yet formulated, but it will be formed by the different sectors as provided for in the RA and that the consortium will address specific programs and projects that may be undertaken.
The representative from Lopez Group Foundation, Mr. Dario Pagcaliwagan commented that in drawing a roadmap, there should be an objective which results into a long term goal. He also suggested to characterize the menu that are being reviewed, and define the role of government, private sector, academe because they have their own expertise.
Director Salentes responded that the long term and short term objectives have not been defined as of now because it would be linked in the new directions of the incoming administration. These will be included in the successor plan of the next administration, and the policies to cascade also to the sector.
Adora Rodriguez of PIA suggested to prioritize first the things that can be done while waiting for the next administration and to disseminate immediately RA 9418 so that we can be able to take the 1st step towards the ladder of our achievements.
Director Salentes said that for purposes of leveraging resources, is there from among the 19 activities that PIA can commit in terms of assistance?
- Ms. Rodriguez responded that they can help a lot, and details can be discussed in future post forum activities.
Congressman Oca Francisco observed that the law and the IRR do not mention about the role of community-based organizations. He suggested to also look into the IRR and include them as part of the not-for-profit sector.
PNVSCA responded that on the matter of community-based organizations, the current working definition for the not-for-profit sector, includes the community-based organizations. It was not explicitly identified in the IRR but in the FGD discussion, it is included in the big sector of NGO.
- Sis. Ma. Josefina Carrasco of VIDES Philippines suggested that there is a need to align the programs and the PPAs in the proposed roadmap with the MDGs.
PNVSCA replied that the alignment of PPAs with the MDGs have to be treated in two different ways, one is to look at very specific programs that each NGO or a particular organization is implementing (if working with street children, it is consistent with MDGs). The other would be on the nature of providing an enabling environment, and what would be the environment by which a particular non-government organization could fit.
Mr. Gapas of Mag-uugmad Foundation, inquired if the MSAB will be capable to help the volunteers and organizations actually working in the field on the matter of conflict of policy at the national level. For example, under the IPAS law, only tenured migrant should be allowed to remain in the protected areas. But, in 2007, the DENR issued a Department Order allowing non-tenured migrants to have access in these protected areas and make special development which is a clear violation, bypassing the original IPAS law.
Congressman Teves said that the Department Order works in a specific area, he also worked with the protected area in his own district, the Apo Island. He acknowledged that Mr. Gapas is right, the SAPA should be specific only for places where tourism and marine or nature conservation can coexist with each other.
(Please see Annex E for the Open Forum discussion.)
Reactions / Affirmation:
Reactions to the proposed roadmap by representatives of each sector:
Foreign Volunteer Organization
Mr. Jonas Tetangco, In-country Manager of Australian Youth Ambassador for Development/ Volunteering International for Development from Australia (AYAD/VIDA) Program presented four (4) insights. There are:
- Recognition, Rewards and Incentives - Volunteerism must be a selfless act that individuals or groups must be willing to take without the benefit of rewards or incentives;
- Volunteer Processes - Volunteerism must not be bureaucratic, it must remain spontaneous and must encourage people through ease of engagement;
- Partnership Building - Establishing public-private sector partnership in volunteerism can be an effective approach and the environment for such partnerships to develop and flourish must be created and facilitated to ensure that such engagements happen and become successful. Local partnerships and volunteer programs must be encouraged and supported, however this does not necessarily mean that Government (PNVSCA) is on top of it all. PNVSCA’s role should continue to be a coordinator and facilitator of volunteerism and not in implementation. As such, he cautioned against having PNVSCA actively involved in volunteer program implementation, including the PNVSCA-LGU-SUC partnership. PNVSCA should continue to be a regulatory and oversight agency; and
- Volunteering for Development - Local volunteer initiatives must be based on local needs and circumstances, and volunteer programs must conform to these needs. We must encourage the development of provincial or municipal/city volunteer strategies and these must be aligned with the local development agenda.
National Government Agencies (NGAs)
Director Cleofe S. Pastrana of the NEDA Social Development Staff said that concerted efforts from the voluntary sector would help the country in pushing forward the attainment of the MDG targets, particularly for those areas with low probabilities of achievement namely the education and maternal mortality targets. She suggested to put forward the following recommendations to improve the draft Roadmap:
- A program that would create a pool of volunteers that could be tapped specifically in times of crisis. This program could be the roadmaps contribution to the country’s disaster preparedness and responsiveness program by giving the proper training for identified volunteers as well as nurturing them.
- Innovative schemes for partnership building and networking as well as mainstreaming volunteerism in various local/sectoral development plans.
- On advocacy and information, a thorough mapping of the needs of all sectors for volunteers may have to be prepared and provided to match the supply of the interested volunteers.
- Incentives for volunteers may be augmented if needed, but these have to be reconciled with the real meaning of volunteerism.
- On partnership building and networking, PNVSCA can tap school organizations who are often involved in different social undertakings. The creation of a volunteer office in every school is a good move.
- For successful implementation of the Roadmap, PNVSCA may need to identify sectors which need the help of the volunteers; mechanisms that would be put in place to monitor implementation; and detailed timeframe of action plan supported by measurable indicators as basis for measuring success.
- Include more strategic activities for resource mobilization, hence, this roadmap could be complemented by an investment program in the future.
- Include the operational framework showing how all these PPAs could contribute to the outcomes, goals and objectives.
- Consider the efforts measuring/accounting for the contribution of volunteerism in our national/local development efforts.
Dr. Federico Cruz, Director of Ugnayang Pahinungod, UP Manila, suggested strengthening the kinks in the existing version of the roadmap, as it is now presented, and perhaps organizing the roadmap so it will respond to the needs of the sector. The following points were raised:
- The needs with regard to information dissemination will vary between schools with volunteer or without volunteer organization.
- The fastest way to build the capability to implement volunteer activities in the academe is to institutionalize volunteerism by the organization of a volunteer office.
- A need for developing a course curriculum on volunteerism locally. Each academic unit must make volunteer programs part of their regular budget. Sharing of resources must be encouraged, particularly human resources of the different schools.
- The NSTP can be used to introduce students to volunteerism. A mandatory reporting system must be in place to see how the academic institution is complying with RA 9418.
- A system of recognition of best volunteer practices, greatest contribution to community development or nation–building, most active school organization in volunteerism, etc. may be organized by the school to promote volunteerism.
Mr. Maximilian Ventura, Executive Director of Philam Foundation, said that from the perspective of the corporate volunteer organization, the roadmap should have a mechanism for tapping corporate sector expertise because the private sector has a very well working corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. He also suggested defining the points of convergence among corporate volunteer organizations and highlighting the role of corporate volunteer organizations in information, education, awareness raising intervention and also enhancing the consultative process of the PNVSCA MSAB.
Mr. Timothy Gabuna, President of VOICE Network, believes that RA 9418 provides an opportunity for stronger sectoral collaboration which can be the seed for a consortium that can provide for a wider engagement of stakeholders. He cited the need for prioritizing capability building and training particularly on the strengthening of volunteering in local government units down to the barangay level where the action really is. Each volunteer organization or service program has its own mandate and specialty contributory to local or national development. Each travels in different roads, yet, these volunteer groups must merge from time to time to effectively and strategically achieve this goal. (Please see Annex F for the Reaction Papers).
Response from PNVSCA:
In response to the reactions and affirmations, Executive Director de Vera of PNVSCA took note of the following items that the Agency will look into:
- To streamline some of the agency’s operational procedures.
- To encourage the foreign volunteer organizations to help in the advocacy work.
- To closely look at how certain volunteer initiatives can be mainstreamed within the local volunteering effort.
- To work closely with NEDA so that some of the policy statements can be included in the next MTPDP.
- To look at some best practices in the academe so that PNVSCA can use and share these with other universities and colleges, especially in line with the policies contained in the law - at the basic education and at the tertiary level.
- To enable the schools and universities, beyond their extension programs to adopt volunteerism as a vehicle by which any academic institution can share its skills and offer service learning opportunities to its constituents.
- To work on the refinement of the roadmap so that not only ownership is promoted among stakeholders but the sheperding and stewarding of this particular effort can be better undertaken in a more effective and efficient way.
- To advocate that the corporate sector be not only a provider of funds but also to share their skills based on the core competencies to some communities that might be needing their assistance.
- To welcome the corporate sector in terms of doing advocacy work because the Agency knows that they have the skills and even the resources to manage advocacy program.
- To enable the MSAB to become an effective mechanism for getting opinions, even negative comments, so that we may turn this into positive suggestions.
- To work out with some of the volunteer networks associations so that PNVSCA move forward in a more concerted effort and cohesive manner, in terms of trying to target even the barangays.
- To continuously consult with different stakeholders either on an individual or on an organizational basis so that the objectives of the proposed roadmap are shared and attained.
Signing of the Covenant
Director Salentes presented the draft covenant to the participants which acknowledges the role of the voluntary sector and stakeholders in the achievement of the goals of RA 9418 and particularly in the formulation and implementation of the Roadmap in the next three to six years; and the commitment to support the initiatives in volunteerism for development through the inclusion of the sector roadmap in the successor MTPDP 2010 and beyond.
He explained that the purpose of the covenant would capture in essence the agreements to the roadmap, of course there many issues that need to be firmed up and improved, but hoping that the direction of the roadmap would be a worthwhile solicitation of agreement or subscription in principle from the participants. The organizer of the forum, would be very happy to have your support. It is a voluntary support that is being requested and a manifestation of that support and a commitment can be captured in the covenant. (Please see Annex G).
Recognition of Outstanding Volunteers
The second part of the Forum is the Special Congressional Recognition to the 2009 Search for Outstanding Volunteer awardees. The awards were presented by Congressman Teves assisted by PNVSCA Executive Director Joselito C. de Vera. The awardees were:
- Marita G. Bumatay
- Col. Celestino F. Desamito
- Mag-uugmad Foundation, Inc.
- Philex Mining Corporation
- Voluntary Service Overseas Philippines
- Dr. Ledevina V. Cariño (Posthumous)
Executive Director de Vera of PNVSCA gave the closing remarks. He underscored the relevance of the theme of the National Forum “Working together towards a stronger voluntary sector” as the formulation of the proposed Roadmap or Strategic Action Plan was a result of a strong process of collaboration between and among stakeholders in the voluntary sector.
He added that listening to the reactions and comments served to intensify PNVSCA’s resolve to coordinate the pursuit of the critical activities identified in the roadmap to enable the voluntary sector to contribute its modest share in national development.
He acknowledged the support of House of Representatives, specifically the Committee on Rural Development for hosting the National Forum and the conduct of the preparatory focus group discussions and expressed hope that the Committee will continue to support PNVSCA’s efforts in implementing the Roadmap. He likewise thanked the reactors and participants for sharing their time, knowledge, experiences and valuable insights.
(Please see Annex I.)
Annex A: Sectoral FGD Outputs
Foreign Volunteer Organizations
NGAs and LGUs
Annex B: Keynote Speech
Annex C: Overview of Forum Mechanics
National Forum Overview
Annex D: Proposed Roadmap Presentation
Proposed Road Map
Annex E: Open Forum Discussion
Open Forum Discussion
Annex F: Reaction Papers
Asst. Director Cleofe S. Pastrana, NEDA-DIS
Federico B. Cruz, M.D., M.Sc.
Maximillian Ventura, Philam Foundation
Tim Gabuna, President, VOICE Network
Annex G: Covenant
Annex I: Closing Remarks
Annex J: List of Participants
List of Participants
Annex K: Program
“VOLUNTEER ACT OF 2007”
Republic Act No. 9418, An Act Institutionalizing a Strategy for Rural Development, Strengthening Volunteerism and for Other Purposes
The passage of the Republic Act 9418 on April 10, 2007 marked a major milestone in the annals of volunteerism in the Philippines. The efforts to establish a legislative framework to harness the rich and diverse voluntary initiatives among various sectors into an effective and integrative partnership and channeling its energy in support of national development, dates back even as early as 2001.
Volunteerism is an evolving practice that has extended its reach and relevance over time. While volunteerism retains its essential role in building social cohesion among our people through the traditional self-help and mutual support, it has emerged and been recognized globally as a strategy and instrument for participatory development to achieve socio-cultural and economic transformation, technical cooperation and solidarity within nations and between nations.
At the helm of this initiative is PNVSCA, as it worked closely with the House Committee on Rural Development, relentlessly seeking champions of volunteerism among lawmakers and leaders in the civil society to support these goals. Indeed the law affirms and validated what has been a cultural value that our country is gifted with – “Bayanihan”, a tradition that is alive and shared by our people.
The task to put flesh in the policy framework commenced with the formulation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on February 5, 2009. PNVSCA’s partners in the volunteer program have already signified their cooperation to work together and collaborate in developing programs and projects that will accelerate development in the rural areas through volunteering.
RA 9418 committed government to provide a conducive and enabling environment for volunteers and volunteer organizations through the establishment of a mechanism to protect volunteer’s rights and privileges and recognize their vital contributions society. All other government structure from national to local are enjoined to adopt volunteerism as strategy for rural development. Recognizing the value of volunteerism, it also enshrined the integration of volunteerism at all levels in the educational system to shape the hearts and minds of young people into becoming an active part of our civil society and global citizenship.
Republic Act No. 9418
Republic Act No. 9418 Implementing Rules and Regulations
PDF 157 KB