February 06, 2008
German Parliamentary Group Meets with
Philippine Civil Society
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), the Konrad
, the Hanns
and the Friedrich
hosted a dialogue between civil society and
the ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Group of the German Parliament on
6 February 2008 at the FNF office in Makati City. Academicians,
environmentalists, representatives from human rights groups, economic
and social development initiatives, cooperatives and trade unions
were present to provide the German delegation with a clearer picture
of the role of civil society in Philippine democracy.
National Institute for Policy Studies President Mario Taguiwalo
started the discussion by giving an overview.
He spoke of civil society’s growth, its politicization during
the Marcos era, its continued vibrancy and the challenges ahead.
Discussions then followed on civil society’s task in strengthening
local governments, working for peace and development in Mindanao
and stopping extrajudicial killings.
Mike Luz, president of the
International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, summarized
the evening by explaining the weakness of government institutions.
He said that their failure to provide basic services has forced
civil society to fill in the gaps. By doing so,
it has inadvertently contributed to the immaturity of government
institutions. The challenge therefore, is for civil society to
work to hold government accountable, while at
the same time not relinquishing their supplementary responsibilities
to their local communities.
“We had a very fruitful discussion,” opined Siegfried
Herzog, FNF resident representative. “The German delegation
was impressed by the open and frank dialogue which they felt was
indicative of the democratic and political culture of
the country. As the purpose of this event was to strengthen
the political dialogue between the Philippines and Germany, the
forum was an important contribution.”
The seven visiting Members of Parliament (three Social Democrats,
three Christian Democrats and one Free Democrat) were in the region
for an in-depth look at Asian democracies. The Philippines was
the last stop of their visit.