After the media exposed Janet Lim-Napoles’ P10-billion pork barrel scandal and plunder charges have been filed against at least 60 officials, the reputation of non-government organizations (NGOs) with genuine programs has also become tainted.
“Public perception of NGOs among the general public has definitely changed,” said Dr. Eden Divinagracia, executive director of the Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare Inc.
“With the high-profile case bombarding the ordinary Filipino’s consciousness almost every day since the scandal broke out, it is but natural that the mere word NGO would conjure images of billions of pesos being methodically stolen from unsuspecting taxpayers,” she added.
The director also urged the NGO community to keep a close watch on the policies they are currently implementing, such as the Reproductive Health (RH) Law. “Pending the law’s implementation will place women in a disadvantaged position. They will continue to be vulnerable to maternal health complications in the wake of the Supreme Court’s status quo ante [SQA] order stopping the government from implementing the RH Law,” Divinagracia stressed.
The RH Law is one of the landmark legislations slated for discussion in the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive Sexual Health Rights (APCRSHR) to be held at the Philippine International Convention Center on January 21 to 24, 2014.
The APCSRHR, a civil society-led regional forum for inclusive participatory dialogue leading to sexual and reproductive health and rights, was conceptualized during the progress review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in The Hague, Netherlands in 1999.
Divinagracia said that the 7th APCRSR will look at the roles and accountability of different stakeholders, lessons learned, and issues and challenges in realizing the country’s commitments to the ICPD Program of Action and in attaining the UN’s sexual reproductive health and rights-related Medium-term Development Goals.
More than 3,000 participants are expected to take part in the APCRSHR. Leading the list are representatives from women’s organizations, youth, policymakers, program managers, health professionals, researchers, interfaith groups, social scientists, activists, and international donor agencies.