Strengthening Civil Society: Philippine Experiences


Abstract
The paper has three main parts.
The first part deals with a "Sustainable Development" model that suggests an ultimate aim of "human development now and through future generations." Its essence is "the harmonious integration of a sound and viable economy, responsible governance, social cohesion/harmony and ecological integrity to ensure that development is a life-long process." Its key actors are the Government, Business and Civil Society - interdependent partners, each one playing a crucial role to contribute to achieve the ultimate aim of sustainable development of society.
Civil Society is the key actor in the realm of culture, ("to develop the people's social/spiritual capacity to advance knowledge, achieve clarity and coherence of values and to advocate the people's interests"). The Government plays a role in the realm of polity ("to establish/practice a ‘rule of law' based on participatory/democratic principles to secure people's human rights including justice and equity"). The Business sector is the main actor in the realm of the economy ("to generate production, wealth and the distribution of goods/services to meet the people's material needs").
The second part focuses discussion on "Some Philippine Experiences of Civil Society in Social Actions", "Civil Society" being defined as "a collectivity of voluntary civic and social organizations and institutions... that take over important functions and competencies, namely of social and societal action, and thereby form the basis of a functioning society" and "comprising action around shared interests, purposes and values" (Kraas, December 2008). "Civil Society" in the Philippines is broadly and generally comprising the citizens and others represented by multi-sector groups, people's organizations (POs), non-government organizations (NGOs), various church groups, other institutions (e.g., academic, business, civic, etc.) and local communities. Many examples have been given in the historical context up to contemporary times of various civil society groups in social actions. It also discusses a vision and concrete experiences by Civil Society of "Building a Culture of Peace and Sustainable Development" and the six dimensions essential in the process (i.e., Personal Integrity, Human Rights and Democracy, Poverty Eradication, Intercultural Dialogue, Disarmament and Demilitarization, and Environmental Care).
The last part discusses a Framework suggesting how Civil Society can pursue four main common goals to attain its vision - Building the Culture of Peace and Sustainable Development - and in the process strengthens itself. The four main goals in poverty eradication are discussed briefly, namely: 1) People Empowerment (or Participation), 2) Access to Support Services, 3) More Equitable Distribution of Assets (Resources) and Asset Reforms in Society, and 4) Economic Growth and Development.

Contact
Prof. Dr. Anselmo B. Mercado, PhD
President of the Cagayan de Oro City Cooperative Development Council

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