The DILG National Capital Region through its Local Government Capability Development Division (LGCDD) conducted the Strengthening Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Desk Officers Regional Rollout last June 11, 2024 at Arden Hills Suites, Diliman, Quezon City. Joining the activity were CSO representatives and local functionaries from the cities and sole municipality of the National Capital Region.

In her opening remarks, DILG-NCR Assistant Regional Director Atty. Ana Lyn R. Baltazar-Cortez, CESO IV encouraged the participants to seek innovations from the dialogues to be conducted during the sessions. She also commended the local functionaries for their unwavering commitment in building participative communities in their local government units.

“Today we have the opportunity to come together, share insights, and explore ways to further strengthen our roles as CSOs. Your role is crucial in ensuring that the voices of the community are heart and that their needs are addressed effectively.” ARD Baltazar mentioned.

Development Management Officer III Maricon Avila then opened the discussion by tackling the profile of CSO Desk Officers. She was then followed by Project Development Monitoring Unit Head and LGOO V Dennis De Paz proceeded to orient the participants on CSO 101 as well as the relevance of participatory governance. Aside from the orientation, he further discussed coalition building and network management that can serve as tips to strengthen CSO participation.

“Base sa ating mga karanasan sa field office, nagsisimula ang participatory governance sa pagkakaisa at pagpapalakas ng suporta sa mga CSOs,” PDMU Chief De Paz said.

Capacity Development and Technical Assistance Section (CDTAS) Chief Maria Jasmin Diaz proceeded to discuss how CSOs take part in the planning structure sectoral committees since they advocate for their respective specific thematic concerns as part of the representing bodies. As part of the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) preparation, she stressed how significant the commitment of the planning team is in creating succeeding work plans involving the CSOs.

“Marami po tayong matutunan sa araw na ito para pasiglahin ang partisipasyon dahil nararapat lamang na may representasyon sa proseso ng paghahanda ng ating mga CDP,” SC Diaz stated.

Mr. Elmer Sto. Domingo, Chairperson of the Naga City People’s Council, addressed the topics on the establishment and operationalization of the Local People’s Council. He also opened the discussion on the sharing of successful practices in which the local functionaries were able to disclose strategies and other initiatives in their spheres of influence.

“Marami tayong halimbawa ng mga CSO Desk Officers na matagumpay na nabuklod sa kani-kanilang mga LGUs. Dapat natin itong ipagmalaki at iulat para marami pang sumunod sa kanila,” Mr. Domingo said.

LGOO V and Regional Information Officer Ronald R. Portales then discussed the modules on effective communication which aimed to equip the participants on social cues and other powerful ways of conveying and handling conversations and delivery. He also gave a brief introduction on safe spaces in government as well as trust building in the public sector.

“We need to understand that we should always be people-centric in our strategies and approaches. Building trust starts from the conversations we make to the reputation and image we create to the public,” LGOO V Portales mentioned.

Development Management Officer IV Leonides Frago, Jr. then opened the floor for group discussions on the topics discussed earlier. In the open forum, the local functionaries and CSO representatives raised several challenges such as limited resources, political pressures, and other difficulties in accessing information or decision-making processes. DMO IV Frago took note of the raised concerns which will then be tackled in the development of the program.

“The discussion points and outputs in today’s activity will guide us in finding ways to address the challenges our CSO representatives face today,” DMO Frago stated.

In closing, LGCDD Chief Helen A. Verzosa synthesized the activity by mentioning how the goals in developing innovations can allow more CSOs to engage with local governments in advocating for specific causes and ensuring transparency. She also thanked the participants for their active involvement which can further lead to better policy outcomes as well as increased effectiveness and influence of CSOs.

“We take on these roles not just for us to come together but we want to get everyone on board to be involved. This approach allows us to be more transparent especially since we are creating policies for and with the people,” DC Verzosa stated.

The DILG-NCR through the LGCDD, continues to champion CSO participation by studying and analyzing how CSOs can contribute to governance, policy-making, as well as their effective engagement with local governments.