The emphasis on the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) was briefly discussed by Guiamel Alim, Chairman of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) as one of the take-home of the CSO Leaders coming from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi when they go back to their respective island provinces.

This reminder was made at the end of the two-day Training Workshop on Principles of Moral Governance in Islamic Perspective and Advocacy Campaign held at Pagana Kutawato on 24th Jumadal Ula 1443 H that was participated by thirty-seven Key CSO Leaders coming from the three Island Provinces.

Mr. Alim said: “There are important pillars of society which are: 1) the state/government 2) market/business and the 3rd is 3) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)”. And further explained that “CSOs are Non-State, not-for-profit, voluntary entities formed by people in the social sphere that are separate from the State and the market.”

By nature, CSOs is: “the sphere of active citizenship, in which individuals take up social issues, try to influence the state or make a demand on it, pursue their collective interests or seek support for a variety of causes.” Therefore: “CSOs unite people to advance shared goals and interests”, he stressed.

While CSOs functions on wide sphere and variety, in bringing peoples demands, to include social services, “CSOs fulfill important duties of checks and balances in democracies, they are able to influence the government and hold it accountable. Therefore, free and active civil societies are an indicator of a healthy participatory democracy”, we must avoid fulfilling the government’s mandate being social services is their main duties and functions, except perhaps in special cases where the needs for it is urgently in demand.

In relation to this, the CBCS Chair reminded the CSO leaders of the important messages of the Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim in one occasion who said: “CSOs work to counterbalance the government and influence people using mechanisms outside the government.”

And ICM also called the CSO that: “We need you so that we hear, and be guided by, the voice of our people. We need you to nudge us if our frailties as humans causes us to digress from our sworn path. We need you to engage us in debates and challenge our decisions so that we may see things differently and recalibrate our methods.”

In closing, the CSO Key leaders where reminded that while CBCS is now engaging with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, its agencies and instrumentalities under the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) being the transition mechanism for the extended term up to 2025, as CSO leaders must not forget to maintain their independent identity as civil society organization and not a part of government nor private or business. The independence of CSOs can be preserve through the principles of; critical collaboration, constructive engagement and principled participation or in short “oppose, expose and propose”.

By: Mike G. Kulat
TAP-G Project Coordinator