Basis of Unity between Philippines Civil Society Organisations

Basis of Unity between Philippines Civil Society Organisations

The Caucus of Development NGO Networks’ (CODE-NGO’s) first National Congress in 1991 was a high point in the history of the development community. It was the first time that around 1,000 leaders from NGOs, cooperatives and people’s organizations from all over the country convened to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of forging a broad unity among the diverse and divided ranks of development NGOs. It was a triumph of solidarity. Together, CODE-NGO members consciously defined a collective vision for development and declared a commitment to observe the highest standards of development work.

Towards these ends, participating delegates in the first National Congress forged what is now known as the Covenant on Philippine Development. To this day, this historic document remains the fundamental basis for the broad unity established among the member networks and organizations of CODE-NGO.

To view the Code of Conduct and Covenant, please click here.

When CODE-NGO was founded by the 10 largest CSO networks in the Philippines in 1991, it was mainly to scale up the impact of the work of civil society on national development, as well as to differentiate themselves from fly-by-night NGOs that mushroomed at that time.

The Philippines then was a young democracy, having thrown out a 20-year martial law and authoritarian government of President Ferdinand Marcos through the People Power Revolution of 1986. As a new democracy, it received the favour of many donor governments which supported the development of the country. The succeeding government of President Corazon Aquino in 1986 was also friendly to civil society, the role and contributions of which to national development has since been embodied in the 1987 Constitution. Because of the goodwill created by being the first democracy in Asia, funding support from the international community poured into the Philippine government as well as to the civil society sector. However, many new NGOs sprung out, some of them created by politicians or dubious personalities which would want to take advantage of the funding made available for the sector.

The decision of the 10 largest NGO networks to form CODE-NGO was precisely to address this situation – to establish the legitimacy of CSOs in the Philippines.

To learn about the case for CSO accountability in the Philippines, please read here

Does your organisation have a civil society accountability or transparency practice that you would like to showcase here? Please let us know in the form below – any language is welcome! If you have any questions, please let us know at

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Do you want to establish a renewal of your Code of Conduct amongst your members? Click here to see a sample.

What does Good Governance mean? Click here for a checklist.


Roselle Rasay, Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO)

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