CONCEIVED AFTER EDSA. The success of the EDSA uprising in 1986 marked the return of freedom to the Philippines. Overnight, on the raw democratic space cleared by EDSA, numerous nonprofit citizens’ organizations sprouted to pursue their respective agenda. Through many of these groups were well-meaning and sought to rehabilitate a society devastated by authoritarianism, there were also fly-by-night non-government organizations (NGOs) with dubious motives. This alarmed the well-meaning NGOs. They saw the need for an ethical social development framework for NGOs and POs that would allow them to police their own ranks. In addition to defining sectoral standards, NGOs also recognized the necessity of coordinating their efforts to rebuild the nation and reconfigure its socioeconomic and political structures. The demands of the times called for the formation of a network that would serve NGOs focused on urban development (the PhilDHRRA network was already serving rural development NGOs). Propitiously, funding opportunities from the Philippines-Canada Human Resource Development Program (PCHRD) were readily available and needed only to be accessed.Thus, PHILSSA was conceived.

ETHICAL GROUNDING

Immediately, the pioneer group (Karina Constantino-David of HASIK, Ma. Anna de Rosas-Ignacio of FDA, Hector Soliman of BATAS, Rebecca Karen Tañada of ADVOCATE, and Cristina Liamson and Corazon Juliano-Soliman of PHILDRRA) went into long deliberations in 1988 and emerged with the historic Social Development Code of Ethics. This became the “uniting soul” of what was to become the Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies Inc. (PHILSSA).Eventually, after undergoing some refinement (portions were expanded and made more applicable to the entire NGO Community), the PHILSSA Code was adopted by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) for its own Code of Conduct. Formed in May 1990, CODE-NGO comprised 14 national NGO networks, accounting for 3,000 development NGOs.

REASON FOR BEING

PHILSSA upholds ethical service above all. It was this commitment that urged more well-meaning NGOs to join the network. Together, they envisioned an organization that would consolidate the scattered initiatives of urban-based NGOs in ethically building and sustaining a free, just, egalitarian and, pluralistic society within a climate of peace and empowered democracy, creating an indelible imprint in society in so doing.

ETHICAL GROUNDING

Immediately, the pioneer group (Karina Constantino-David of HASIK, Ma. Anna de Rosas-Ignacio of FDA, Hector Soliman of BATAS, Rebecca Karen Tañada of ADVOCATE, and Cristina Liamson and Corazon Juliano-Soliman of PHILDRRA) went into long deliberations in 1988 and emerged with the historic Social Development Code of Ethics. This became the “uniting soul” of what was to become the Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies Inc. (PHILSSA).Eventually, after undergoing some refinement (portions were expanded and made more applicable to the entire NGO Community), the PHILSSA Code was adopted by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) for its own Code of Conduct. Formed in May 1990, CODE-NGO comprised 14 national NGO networks, accounting for 3,000 development NGOs.

REASON FOR BEING

PHILSSA upholds ethical service above all. It was this commitment that urged more well-meaning NGOs to join the network. Together, they envisioned an organization that would consolidate the scattered initiatives of urban-based NGOs in ethically building and sustaining a free, just, egalitarian and, pluralistic society within a climate of peace and empowered democracy, creating an indelible imprint in society in so doing.

BIRTH, GROWTH and DEVELOPMENT

On 30 May 1988, PHILSSA was officially born at a Founding Convention held at the Ateneo de Manila. During the convention, the Social Development Code of Ethics was also formally adopted. PHILSSA’s set of officers who nurtured the organization from infancy to maturity were Karina David as chair, Corinna Lopa as secretary, Prescy Ramos-Confiado as treasurer, Hec Soliman as legal officer and Me-an Ignacio and Karen Tanada as training officers. A year later, on 27 October 1989, PHILSSA held its First Congress where the group’s Constitution and By-Laws were approved. The next logical move was to acquire a legal personality as a nonstock and nonprofit organization, which PHILSSA got on 14 February 1990 from the Securities and Exchange Commission. From 1988 to 1990, Corinna Lopa acted as a one-woman secretariat. Full operations started in June 1990, with Me-an Ignacio taking over as head of the secretariat.

THE GROWTH OF PHILSSA

From 1990 to 2000, PHILSSA as a network addressed both internal membership concerns and external issues related to its advocacy.Internally, through the years, PHILSSA attained the following: * Expanded its membership to 42 NGOs spread in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao

  • Trainings were conducted on sustainability, gender sensitivity and environmental concerns as steps toward integrating these into the member-NGO programs
  • Conducted internal surveys on personnel system and benefit packages resulting to the member-NGOs’ enrollment into a group life and health insurance program
  • Adopted a PHILSSA report card system to monitor the member-NGOs’ participation in network activities and compliance with other network requirements.
  • Gender sensitivity surveys and trainings were conducted as steps towards mainstreaming gender into the programs of the member-NGOs
  • Consolidated its data information databank on urban-based agencies, linked PO alliances with NGOs and GOs and donor agencies, and enhanced the capabilities of member-NGOs in pursuing their mission and goals in their respective locales
  • Provided continuous assistance to “struggling” NGO members with network projects
  • Published PHILSSA’s quarterly SALINDIWA newsletter, manuals and monographs on various issues ranging from gender, environment, NGO sustainability, urban laws and urban development practicesExternally, in response to social issues, PHILSSA has contributed the following: * Through the PHILSSA Urban Poor Consortium (PUPC), played a pivotal role in the passage of two major social legislation for the urban poor, RA 7279 or The Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) and the Comprehensive Integrated Shelter and Financing Act (CISFA);
  • Engaged local and national government on the issues of the urban poor and the implementation of UDHA through the coalition Urban Poor Colloquium (UPC);
  • Provided the network of networks, CODE-NGO, with leaders since its establishment in 1990 up to present. Likewise, PHILSSA has backstopped regional coalitions of NGO and PO networks in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
  • Played an active role in the setting up and operationalization of the NGO-Fund Managed Funding

Mechanisms, a re-channeling window for official development assistance governed by a multipartite committee. This includes funding windows like the Philippines-Canada Joint Committee on Human Resource Development, the Foundation for the Philippine Environment, the Foundation for Sustainable Societies, Inc. and the Livelihood Revolving Fund for Women.On the whole, being a member-driven network, PHILSSA developed and employed the “stakeholder approach” in all its collaborative initiatives, promoting synergy-in-diversity and consensual decision-making in the pursuit of common development goals. The fact that many other well-meaning organizations and sectors of Philippine society have voluntarily cast their lot in the empowerment of the urban sectors can only mean that PHILSSA has chosen the right path and is headed in the right direction.