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CODE-NGO: Government regulation of CSOs must be appropriate, proportionate and not burdensome

CODE-NGO also stressed that the requirements and process of government for CSOs must be proportionate to the size and nature of the CSO and other relevant factors. “Having a ‘one size fits all’ guideline is a disadvantage to the smaller CSOs”, it stated.

CODE-NGO has called on government to review its policies on regulating and accrediting civil society organizations (CSOs) to ensure that these are appropriate to the purpose of the regulation and proportionate to the size and nature of the concerned CSOs.

In its position paper submitted recently to the Commission on Audit (COA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), CODE-NGO emphasized that if the purpose of regulation is for CSOs to exist or to participate in local and national governance processes, then the requirements should be very light and the process very easy. This is in recognition of the right of all citizens to organize and the right of citizens and CSOs to participate in decision-making at all levels; rights which are recognized in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. On the other hand, if the purpose of regulation/accreditation is for CSOs to receive public funds, then accountability demands that the requirements and the process should be stricter.

CODE-NGO also stressed that the requirements and process of government for CSOs must be proportionate to the size and nature of the CSO and other relevant factors. “Having a ‘one size fits all’ guideline is a disadvantage to the smaller CSOs”, it stated.

CODE-NGO added that regulation or accreditation can be light or strict depending on the purpose of the regulation and the size and nature of the CSOs, but it must never be unnecessarily burdensome for CSOs.

The group cited as an example a requirement under Joint Resolution No. 01-2014 issued by COA, DBM and DOLE for CSOs to submit a Certification of No Derogatory Record from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) or Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Sworn Certifications from the heads of all government agencies from which the CSO has received public funds to implement programs and projects to the effect that the CSO has no derogatory record with them.

CODE-NGO noted that this requirement would mean that CSOs have to go repeatedly to various government agencies to request for and follow up these documents, which would be very difficult especially for small CSOs and those located outside Metro Manila.

“Instead of requiring CSOs to get these Certifications from government agencies, DSWD can simply circulate a list of the applying CSOs to the concerned government agencies and ask them directly if these have any derogatory record with them. Alternatively or in tandem with this, COA, DBM and DSWD can require all government agencies to report to an appropriate agency all CSOs with derogatory records with them and then make the record of these reports accessible to DSWD and all government agencies dealing with CSOs as implementing entities of government funds”, CODE-NGO said.

Source: CODE-NGO