G-Watch makes first move for PRO-Health in Pasig CIty

Last April 29 and 30, 2023, Government Watch conducted its first briefing orientation seminar for their Promoting Rights Organizing for Health project (PRO-Health) in the Pamantasang Lungsod ng Pasig Hotel with the Pasig City CSO Help Desk.

Leaders from 16 local civil society organizations and nursing students of the local university came together as G-Watch’s first wave of volunteer-monitors who will be deployed to 44 barangay and super health centers in the city. The 2-day briefing orientation aims to (1) mobilize volunteer-monitors and organize them into monitoring teams; (2) orient/ brief the volunteer-monitors on G-Watch, PRO-health, how to monitor and how to engage government; (4) facilitate collective analysis of national situation and planning for the monitoring.

Casting the net wide

This event is a first for both G-Watch and the Pasig City Government–casting their nets wide as different organizations get ready to sow the seeds for social accountability in the city. As institutionalizing health reforms have become the priority agenda of incumbent Mayor Vico Sotto, an empowered constituency will be the final piece that will make said reforms resilient to future shocks.

Sixteen leaders of civil society organizations took the initiative to volunteer for PRO-Health together with sophomore nursing students of the Pamantasang Lungsod ng Pasig. Each organization holds a specific social advocacy, and is a key actor in representing the voice of their people both in the barangay and city level. Below is the list of CSOs present during the orientation: Sta. Rosa Empire, CCAP, NAMBATI, SRNFHC, DHDAI, Community Development Association, Yapville, Augustine Homeowners Association, Global SIkaran Pasig, Sagad Women Empowerment, Sakamai, Samahang Kababaihan ng San Joaquin, Caniogan Dabarkads and PLP Nursing Students.


Priming the volunteers – Day 1

The orientation itself provided the space for volunteers to set their expectations, gather significant knowledge on the country’s socio-political context, and learn about the importance of monitoring.

For the program preliminaries, participants were clustered into small groups and began crafting their initial concerns, expectations, and questions about the project, specifically the activity. They presented these to all present which set the atmosphere for facilitators to later address throughout the program. Many participants were honest about their limited knowledge of both G-Watch and monitoring. Nevertheless, they have maintained their interest and willingness to participate in the program as they align with the goal of improving the city’s health services long-term.

After the preliminaries, Mr. Francis Isaac facilitated an activity to help participants answer the question, “What is the state of Philippine politics and governance?” The groups were tasked to creatively present their answers. Most of the small groups did short skits, roleplaying government actors, citizens, and other stakeholders and how their dynamic contributed to the problematic system within Philippine politics. Other groups did a tableau, of how rising market prices, vote-buying, jobs mismatch, disinformation, and unequal access to public health services contributed to the problems Filipinos are facing at present. Two groups particularly referenced the song “Upuan” by Gloc9, which they believed is a timely and fitting answer to the question posed to them.

These presentations were synthesized within Mr. Isaac’s lecture of how the Philippines is facing the bigger problem of weakening democratic spaces across the world. Without civic action through social accountability, he says, we are definitively heading the path towards authoritarianism.

The next session featured G-Watch Convenor-Director Joy Aceron as she presented the role of G-Watch and its strategy for social accountability. She lays 6 key points for the volunteers to easily remember the core advocacy, values, and strategies employed by G-Watch in all their projects, especially for PRO-Health.

Moving on to the project itself, Faith Santos presented the rationale and program design of PRO-Health. She discusses global and national statistics that fuel the project, as well as the specific health services & programs the volunteers will monitor for the whole of the project duration.

Next, Victoria Maglanque presents the monitoring tools that they will be using for PRO-Health. Monitors were provided their own kits, which included the monitoring forms and later, their identification and important documents such as MOAs. There are three main tools, each will entail a required number of visits or interviews from health actors and beneficiaries from 2-3 months: the Health Unit Monitoring Tool, Public Health Workers’ Entitlements Form, and the Citizen Feedback Form. These were discussed in depth by Ms. Maglanque, and she also gave additional tips for the volunteers in conducting their visits.

To end the first day of the seminar, Mr. Rechie Tugawin of Pasig City discussed what volunteers can expect in engaging in public health service providers and tips for communicating with government actors. Volunteers were able to air their concerns during this part of the program, as Mr. Tugawin gave situationers for them to concretely understand real scenarios and how to manage them later on.

Next steps – Day 2

For the second day of the orientation, volunteers were re-clustered according to their target barangays so they can begin their initial planning. They filled up a template containing their contact details, assigned barangays, and schedules for meetings & first  visits.

Before the presentation of plans, Mayor Vico Sotto of Pasig delivered an inspirational message. He expressed optimism that the initiative will not only improve the services in the health units, but more importantly transform the political culture in Pasig, particularly the relationship between citizens and government, which the good mayor mentioned as critical in sustaining reforms in Pasig City.

After Mayor Vico Sottos’ message, the groups presented their plans for documentation of both G-Watch and the Pasig City Government.

Mr. Mario Galvez, together with the Pasig City CSO Help Desk facilitated a one-word activity describing the volunteer’s disposition before and after the program, as well as additional resources they need from both Pasig City and G-Watch. Many felt that they learned meaningful information about G-Watch, and how monitoring can contribute to a direct kind of participation among citizenry. Many felt more energized, optimistic, and inspired  to conduct monitoring after learning so much from the facilitators, while also feeling happy after meeting new friends who share similar advocacies. Some participants referenced Mr. Tugawin’s presentation on the differences of power-based negotiations and interest-based negotiations–they said they will be able to use this well by engaging with government workers during monitoring to gather the richest data possible.

Feedback from the participants also made the facilitators inspired and hopeful of the kind of engagement they will foster in the coming months with the volunteers. As PRO-Health’s first briefing orientation concludes with the month of April, all are more ready than ever to contribute with vigor and diligence.