In the Philippines, civil society joins a new information society round
By Nina Somera
MANILA, PHILIPPINES, 19 June 2005
The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) led Manila-based civil society organizations (CSOs) in a consultative workshop on the Philippine Summit on the Information Society (PSIS) on June 9, 2005 at the National Computer Center (NCC) in Quezon City.
The newly-established Commission on the Information and Communication Technology (CICT) organized the Manila workshop and two others in Cebu City (for the Visayas region) and Davao City (for the Mindanao region) as part of its commitment to contribute to the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
These three workshops aim to gather inputs to the unresolved debate on Internet governance based on the 12 briefing papers produced by the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG).
For this leg of the workshops, CICT expected around 60 participants from the government (20), private sector (20), civil society (10) and the academe (10).
Participants were broadly divided into three clusters: developmental, technical, and economic, each covering three to five briefing papers. Issues for resolution were validated, and suggestions for next steps were solicited.
Many participants strongly suggested the formation of multi-stakeholder secretariat that would compile the views from various stakeholders and facilitate the government's effective participation at WSIS.
FMA has consistently advocated for the PSIS not to be taken as a series of events but rather as a process that should go beyond WSIS and inform national ICT policies and initiatives.
Though it welcomed the convening of the workshops, FMA bewailed the fact that the process it proposed to the government in the first national PSIS meeting in May 2004 was not taken seriously by government and very few discussions were held in the last year.
FMA has been invited to join the Organizing Committee of the next workshops, and the Foundation hopes this can be a new opening for civil society perspectives to be articulated even beyond the Tunis Summit.
Aside from FMA, the CSOs which participated in the workshop include the co-APC member Women's Hub, Bayang Pinoy Foundation, Asian NGO Coalition on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), De La Salle University Institute of Governance, FOSS advocates Open Minds and the Philippine Linux Users Group (PLUG), and the Philippine Greens.