ASSIST Philippines, India and Mekong come together for Planning Meeting

30 09 2011

Representatives from ASSIST Philippines, India and Mekong are currently holding a Planning Meeting to discuss ASSIST’s short- and long-term strategies as an organization.





News Commentary: Women targeted in sexual violence in Conflict Situations

29 09 2011

by Paula Bianca Lapuz

In Colombia, women are being sexually abused by the military, the revolutionaries and by members of a private armed group but the government is mum about it.

This is a concrete example of women being completely, totally vulnerable in armed conflicts. A CNN report states that this problem has become “widespread and systemic” that majority of cases go unreported (Castillo 2011). Women and girls were perceived as “trophies of war,” notes Amnesty International, and such crimes were sustained by a culture of impunity.

It is sad that such atrocities would still exist up to this day and age, but violence against women is probably one of the most shameful acts that anyone can commit especially in the context of a war where death and suffering are most felt by the combatants themselves.

What is even more appalling is the refusal of the government to associate these cases to the perennial war. Seemingly, the government will not lift a finger to resolve this problem. Most probably because their own men are involved and perhaps raping women is just among the consolation prizes in the battle field.

If this will continue, it is likely that Colombia will be on its way to its natural death as a society. When abusing women becomes politically acceptable, all forms of moral foundations will erode. Families will be destroyed. This phenomenon might probably be breeding a generation that’s accustomed to violence and moral degradation. In no way is this safe for women and children.

Ideally, international players must be able to put pressure on the government especially when trade agreements are at stake. But most noticeably, the United Nations has not done so much, in order to arrest the issue. What is even curious is Colombia’s election to the United Nation Security Council in 2010, for a one year period, to represent Latin America and the Caribbean from 2011 to 2012 (WELSH 2010) despite reports of such the abuses.

Human rights groups on the other hand can only do so much, especially when violence can erupt anywhere at any time. Thus, the challenge to survive is even greater. Without external help, Colombian women will probably be subjected to the same horrors time after time, generation after generation. #

Works Cited

Castillo, Mariano. CNN Latin America. September 21, 2011. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/09/21/world/americas/colombia-sexual-violence/index.html?hpt=wo_c2 (accessed September 22, 2011).
WELSH, TERESA. Colombia Reports News Section. October 12, 2010. http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/12326-colombia-elected-to-un-security-council.html (accessed September 22, 2011).





Conservation of Environment Resources in Vietnam (CONSERV) Stakeholders Forum held in Ho Chi Minh

28 09 2011

Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) held its first stakeholders forum for the CONSERV (Conservation of Environment Resources in Vietnam) Public Private Partnership (PPP) Project on September 23, 2011, in Ho Chi Minh City.

CONSERV is an initiative co-financed by German donor DEG and implemented by PUMA SE and ASSIST. It seeks to promote resource efficiency and waste management practices among Vietnam’s textile, garment and leather factories. The 17-month project will feature awareness-raising and capacity-building whilst also contributing to sustainable development in the country.

The project will support suppliers in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting vulnerable natural resources and minimizing the effects of waste
and pollution on the local community and environment. #





Bad Governance

28 09 2011

Bad Governance

by Paula Bianca Lapuz

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino recently attended the Open Government Partnership (OGP) gathering in New York, where he met with other state leaders, including US President Barrack Obama, to affirm the country’s shared commitment with the rest of the globe in fighting corruption and to ensure more transparency in governance.

President Aquino confidently shared his administration’s initiatives to thwart corruption and to bring wrongdoers to justice and even boasted of his campaign message last 2010 elections, “Kung Walang Korap, Walang Mahirap,” (If there’s no corruption (in governance), no citizen will have to endure poverty).

But do people acknowledge good governance when they see it?

According to a study conducted by the National Statistical Coordination Board, voters do not vote based on the candidates performance on governance, proof of which is the re-election in 2007 of former government officials or their relatives in the ten worst governed provinces in the country which includes Maguindanao, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Camarines Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Albay and Romblon (Sauler and Escandor Jr., 2010).

Of course, Maguindanao is now an exception, with the old ruling clan now being prosecuted for the alleged murder of at least 49 people in Ampatuan, Maguindano last November 23, 2009, after their political rival, and now Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu challenged their dominance in the electoral arena.

Good governance champions former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca and former Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio both lost their re-election bid last 2010, despite their strong stance on good governance and campaign against corruption.

Statistics show that the country actually did quite well based on several good governance indicators per the collation of World Bank (See Annex A). Of all six indicators, the Philippines earned good rates between 1996 and 2009 in Voice and Accountability, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and yes, also in Control of Corruption, but fared poorly in Political stability in the same period.

So really, is it about corruption?

Well, corruption plays a part. But it’s not the only reason for slow development. While it is good that the President is bent on weeding out corruption, actual improvement in the political and economic climate must be seen sooner than later and this means promoting growth stimulating policies and carefully planning programs and projects specifically on poverty alleviation, job creation and education.

Corruption is everywhere in the world, even in the most developed countries like South Korea, Thailand, or even in the US, but still they manage to get ahead. It will be good to see the government moving past the campaign phase, and toward real work. We need to see

landmark policies passed such as the Freedom of Information Bill, which up until now is pending before the Congress.

FOI advocates have, in fact, criticized the President for exhibiting lack of political will on the FOI issue in his speech in the OGP summit. The group stated in a report that the President’s speech merely stated that ““government would strive for the passage of the FOI bill (Calica 2011).”

The government performance will be measured not just by its projected image to the world but also based on how it handles crucial issues. Be it as may, it is always nice to hear that something good is being done in the country. People might just be wary of immediate results.





Five days to go before the deadline!

25 09 2011

Five days to go before the deadline of the advocacy-based Ten Photos to Shake the World Nationwide Photo Competition! And check out the revised mechanics re: Facebook voting. 🙂





ASSIST GPIoS team successfully holds ECOSWITCH Awards

23 09 2011

 Businesses, government agency representatives and foreign dignitaries convened yesterday, September 22 at the Asian Institute of Management for the ECOSWITCH Awards, which marks the end of the first phase of the Green Philippines Islands of Sustainability (GPIoS) Project.

ASSIST Group Managing Director Sreenivas Narayanan welcomes attendees.

The ceremony recognized organizations which successfully implemented environment-friendly measures in line with the recommendations of the Project Team composed of the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST),  GrAT of Austria, Czech Republic’s University of Ostrava (VSB), Austria Recycling (AREC), Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc. (PCCI), European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), Philippine Business for the Environment (PBE) and STENUM.

Funded by the European Union’s SWITCHAsia program, the initiative seeks to contribute to an improved environmental and sustainable industrial development of Metro Manila and CALABARZON regions by introducing measures to save on energy, cut down on wastage and promote best environmental practices within organizations.

Awardees pose with their ECOSWITCH plaque.

ASSIST Group Managing Director Sreenivas Narayanan congratulated the participating companies, for their exemplary efforts towards making the corporate world more environmentally-conscious in their operations. The activity was also graced by Mr. Matthieu Penot of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, Ms. Susanne Muller of the EU SWITCH Asia Program and Ms. Monika Kazdova of the Embassy of Czech Republic.

Atty. Felipe Gozon, PCCI VP for the Environment and GMA Network CEO sent a video message.

From the Implementing Team, Dr. Alena Labodova of VSB, Mr. Bonar Laureto of the PBE,  and Mr. Gerry Constantino of ECCP came to honor the participating organizations. Atty. Felipe Gozon, Vice President for the Environment of PCCI and CEO of GMA Network sent a recorded video-message and was represented by GMA Network AVP for Corporate Affairs Ms. Teresa Pacis. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) USec Demetrio Ignacio also came to deliver a message for the awardees.

Mr. Matthieu Penot of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines graced the event.

Among the awardees are GMA Network (GMA7), Lufthansa Technik Philippines, Ford Motors, Maynilad Water System, Philippine Airlines, Panasonic, Mapua Institute of Technology, and Toyota.

ASSIST RKM Director Sheena Carmel Opulencia and QTV and GMA Network Talent Steph Henares hosted the event.

For more photos, please visit the ASSIST Facebook page.





ASSIST Mekong to hold Stakeholders Forum for CONSERV project in Vietnam

21 09 2011

Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) invites all PUMA’s suppliers from all tiers to the stakeholders’ forum of the CONSERV (Conservation of Environment Resources in Vietnam) Public Private Partnership (PPP) Project to be held on September 28, 2011, 9am – 12nn at the Swiss-Bel Hotel Wooshu, Pham Van Thuan, Bien Hoa, Dong Nai.

An initiative co-financed by German donor DEG and implemented by PUMA SE and ASSIST, CONSERV is a realization of resource efficiency and waste management practices among Vietnam’s textile, garment and leather factories. The 17-month project will feature awareness-raising and capacity-building whilst also contributing to sustainable development in the country.

The project will support suppliers in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting vulnerable natural resources and minimizing the effects of waste
and pollution on the local community and environment.

For more details, interested parties may contact Mr. Edelberto Anit, the Project Manager for PUMA (email: edelberto.anit@puma.com) or Ms. Vy, Truong Thi Thuy
Project Manager for ASSIST (Tel (+848) 3811 4705, email: vy@assistasia.org). #