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SMS in Advancing

the Civil Society Agenda:

The Philippine Experience

J.A. Carizo
Research Associate

 A concept of participative governance

 Civil Society: Its roles and agenda
 ICT and the SMS
 CS Work and SMS
 Lessons in the Philippine Experience
Participative Governance

Civil Corporate
Society Society

Political Society

Civil Society

 Composed of the organized and un-

organized sectors. The civil society
includes people's organizations, non-
government organizations, church,
academe, etc.
Civil Society: Its roles

 As a watchdog or critic
 As a partner
Civil Society: Agenda

 Generally, to promote and preserve

 Specifically, to advance social and
human rights protection
 Areas include health, environment, labor,
housing, etc.
ICT in the Philippines
Major ICT Units in the Philippines, 2004

Actual PCs 4.34%

Internet Access 14.19%

Wired Phones 19.02%

Cellular Phones 62.45%
SMS in the Philippines

 3 of 5 Filipinos has cellphones

 An average of 1.2B “text” messages are circulated
in the Philippines daily
 Philippine government shifting from “e-
government” to “m-government”
 Text GMA – connecting with the Philippine President
 Text 117 – an anti-crime initiative by the DILG and PNP
 “Premyo sa Resibo” Raffle Promo
CS Work and SMS

 The ouster of Joseph Estrada in 2001: A case

of TEXT Power
 Text Usok: A public-private cooperation for
anti-pollution drive
 A joint project of Bantay-Kalikasan and LTO
 From 2002-2004, a total of 300,000 reports
were received.
CS Work and SMS

 The OFW SOS-SMS: In service of the

Filipino “heroes”
 Spearheaded by CMA in partnership with
CSOs worldwide, and the Philippine
 Total number of senders initially profiled is 800 with
a number of OFWs “rescued”
 Documentation and research on-going for advocacy

Source: OFW SMS-SOS System:

“Help is Just a Text Away”
CS Work and SMS

 The HR SOS: Making legal assistance a

“text” away
 A partnership between IPD, FLAG and other
organizations during the 2005 Repression
 Uses a similar system as in OFW SOS-SMS
 Was not fully maximized because Pres.
Arroyo lifted her repressive proclamation

 The CSOs in the Philippines are now

maximizing the use of SMS in advancing
their agenda

 Specifically, SMS is used for:

 Information dissemination (i.e., the mal-
administration of the government)
 Communication and coordination (People Power 2)
 Wielding of partnership with Philippine Government
(Txt Usok; OFW SOS-SMS)
 Reporting of rights violations, and,
 Eventual referral of cases to concerned agencies

 Research and documentation (OFW SOS-

 Eventually as a tool to audit election reports
(Halalang Marangal)
 Provision of legal assistance
 Many are even looking at SMS as a tool to
 Report cases of election fraud (SECS Project)
 Provide legal assistance in combating election

 The SMS, however, cannot be considered

as a perfect tool for advancing CS agenda
 People do not just go out of the streets to oust
a president
 Other variables (i.e., clear alternatives) must
also exist
 SMS has also limitations (signal, “load or
credits”, etc.)

 In advancing public-private partnership,

mechanisms to ensure performance of both
parties should exist
 Partnerships should be based on realities (i.e., of
the reported cases in Text Usok, only 300
summoned with a handful charged)
 Possibility of responsibility and authority sharing
Thank you...
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