Let poor & marginalized groups influence policymaking for pro-poor, pro-equality policies| SWP Press Release 28 June 2019
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 2019
Citizen's watchdog Social Watch Philippines Co-Convenor Dr. Maria Victoria Raquiza, in a series of lectures under the Executive Course for the New Members of the 18th Congress of the Philippines, tells neophyte legislators that studies show that when poor and socially excluded groups are able to influence public policymaking, the chances of crafting pro-poor, pro-equality policies and having better development outcomes are higher. This is the reason, she says, that citizens’ meaningful participation matter for reducing poverty and inequality, statistics for which remain alarmingly high, despite the country’s high growth rates. She further highlights that citizens’ collective and direct political action such as through dialogue, petition-signing and mass actions are vital to generating shifts in power and ensuring that politicians respond to social needs. Citing the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Dr. Raquiza emphasized the role of the State in “freeing the people from poverty” –which means not just poverty alleviation but poverty eradication, and that the Constitution recognizes the role of NGOs, community-based, or sectoral organizations in promoting the welfare of the nation.
The topic of the lecture is entitled, "Citizen Engagement, Constituencies and Advocacy: The Case of Social Watch Philippines" which is part of an Executive Course for Neophyte Legislators conducted by the House of Representatives in partnership with UP Center for Policy and Executive Development (CPED) of the UP-National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG). The Executive Course highlights the roles and responsibilities of the legislators for effective and responsive public service, anchored on good governance principles on the rule of law, accountability, participation, and transparency.
Dr. Raquiza also highlighted the legislators’ role in local planning and encouraged the members of the Congress to participate in Local Development Councils (LDCs), which they are a part of. She underscored the fact that NGOs are mandated to be part of LDCs and their active and independent participation in local planning must be ensured. In closing, Raquiza encouraged legislators to use equity as one of the criteria in the use of public funds, to strengthen participatory mechanisms of NGOs in the budget process and to promote an open and transparent budget bicameral conference meeting.
Social Watch Philippines is an organization that aims to promote the sustainable development goals and human rights. It is a network of almost 200 organizations and individuals who are working on various themes and sectors such as education, health, agriculture, environment, social protection, the elderly, persons with disabilities, children’s groups, indigenous peoples, and Muslims and has a presence in 14 provinces all over the Philippines.
Social Watch Philippines (SWP) is a network of over a hundred civil society organizations and individuals engaged in research and lobby efforts in holding the government accountable for the fulfillment of national, regional and international commitments to eradicate poverty and carry out social, economic, and gender justice. SWP promotes people-centered sustainable development by proactively monitoring the progress and delivery of social commitments forged by the government and influencing the outcomes of policy decisions through citizen's participation in public finance.