ICSI Annual Report 2021

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Bridging Reflection, Dialogue, and Action for Change ICSI ANNUAL REPORT 2021

OUR VISION A Filipino society that upholds the dignity and nature of the human person with a special concern for improving the quality of life of the poor.

OUR MISSION Guided by Catholic social teaching (CST), we catalyze critical reflection, dialogue, and action through advocacy-oriented research and capability-building to bring about ethically informed choices and effective responses to poverty.

OUR WORK The John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues (ICSI) is an organization and community of professional researchers and advocates committed to faith that does justice. Working in solidarity with the Church and various sectors, ICSI strives to respond to the issues and concerns of the poor ICSI works primarily to produce advocacy-oriented research in selected issues. This work aims to capacitate our partners in advocacy and to provide them with arguments for public policy proposals that are based both on evidence and on ethical principles. Our ethical framework is drawn from CST, the principles of which can be translated into an ethical grounding that non-Catholics can understand and agree with.

Cover Photo: Skitterphoto for Pexels



he year 2021 proved to be another difficult year for the country as it continued to suffer from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national government’s poor and inadequate response to the global crisis. By the end of the year, the Philippines had dropped to the last place in Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking of 53 major economies, making it the worst place in the world to be during the pandemic based on Bloomberg’s metrics. While imposing the longest and strictest lockdowns on the people, our government failed to enhance its systems for testing, contract tracing, and health care, leaving it ill-prepared to deal with new COVID-19 variants and surges. Challenges brought about by quarantine restrictions, the slow and inequitable vaccine rollout, and rise of COVID-19 cases were compounded by corruption issues plaguing key government agencies, particularly the country’s health insurance agency, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). While these conditions adversely affected the whole of Philippine society and economy, ordinary citizens and basic sectors suffered the most, with millions of Filipinos losing their jobs or experiencing pay cuts and income loss, and millions of Filipino families experiencing worsening hunger. As the pandemic crisis ravaged the country, the human rights situation also remained bleak. The death toll continued to climb in government operations against illegal drugs, even as law enforcers failed to bring to justice perpetrators of continued vigilante killings. Incidences of red-tagging of leftist groups and killing of human rights defenders also continued. The public also dealt with the implications of the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest media network, at the end of the previous year. All these further restricted civil society space and produced a chilling effect on free speech and public discourse necessary for a well-functioning democracy.

The foregoing challenges have made ICSI’s work with partners advocating for the needs of the poor and marginalized sectors, defending democratic governance and human rights, and promoting citizen engagement and social responsibility even more urgent. By God’s continuing grace, ICSI has been able to undertake its mission to address these. The year 2021 has been both challenging and fruitful for ICSI. It was the institution’s first full year operating under pandemic conditions. It was also the first full year implementing ICSI’s Strategic Plan and the institution’s latest MISEREOR-supported project. While the Strategic Plan set a clear path and direction for work, the ongoing crisis challenged us to utilize new technologies and ways of doing things in order to do our work both safely and effectively. This Annual Report 2021 presents the highlights of ICSI’s performance for the year. In the area of action-oriented research, we are pleased to share that ICSI completed six studies and became involved in another seven research projects that are still ongoing. We released three issues of the Intersect Quick Facts, and two national situationers through our Lights & Shadows. We produced commentaries for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Veritas 846AM. The shift to virtual platforms brought about by the pandemic served as an opportunity for ICSI’s programs to connect with a broader range of faith-based groups and other partner communities and strengthen community engagement. ICSI organized two online runs of its youth formation program and a webinar series promoting Catholic social teaching (CST) in partnership with Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan. We provided reflection guides, social media cards, and other online information to promote

social justice, responsibility, and action, also anchored on CST. Finally, ICSI continued to play a convening role for our partner networks, facilitating much needed conversations on relevant issues and key advocacy areas. We have been truly blessed to be able to continue our work and mission in these trying times. We remain most grateful to our partner civil society organizations and for the support of MISEREOR and other donor partners and benefactors without whom we would not have been able to realize these accomplishments. With the new year 2022, we expect to face new challenges and opportunities as the country prepares to transition from a national crisis response to an endemic response to COVID-19, and from the Duterte government to a new administration following the upcoming national elections. The result of the elections and the kind of leadership we elect will have significant implications on the future of the country, particularly the marginalized sectors that are most affected by the decisions of our national leaders. Unfortunately, widespread disinformation and dominance of money and traditional politics have made the path to better leadership and good governance noisy and difficult. Amid the many challenges in journeying this path, ICSI remains committed to undertaking its role in facilitating evidencebased discourse, reflection, and action in the communities we work with based on a faith that does justice. Yours truly in the Lord,



The CHURCH AND SOCIETY PROGRAM aims to deepen the understanding, both among Catholics and in secular society, of the role of the Catholic Church in social transformation based on Catholic social principles. Recognizing the crucial role that the Catholic Church has played in influencing Philippine social, political, and economic issues, the program seeks to foster reflection on the interface between Philippine Church and society. The program derives inspiration from Catholic social teaching and the 1991 Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, which declared the intent of the Catholic Church in the Philippines to become a “Church of the Poor.” The specific objectives of the program are to: promote CST among Church personnel, Catholic lay groups, people’s organizations, and NGOs, with a view to informing their strategies and action for social justice; research on and for the institutional and hierarchical Church, Church organizations, and Church movements in the Philippines, so as to sharpen their engagement in social and political issues, as well as a critical understanding and appreciation of this engagement both within the Church and in secular society; and assist various bodies and groups of the Catholic Church in the Philippines in advocacies consistent with Catholic social principles. The FAMILY LIFE PROGRAM aims to promote and protect the rights of children, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and under Philippine laws, and to promote the use of natural family planning methods. Through the conduct of research, advocacy, and capacity building activities, it works with child rights groups/networks, children and the youth, relevant government agencies that support children and families, and other civil society organizations to: influence policy makers to craft laws and guidelines to promote the rights of children to survival, development, participation, and protection; and provide technical assistance to various groups in relation to children’s rights and natural family planning. 2

The URBAN POVERTY AND GOVERNANCE PROGRAM addresses urban poverty and its principal manifestation–the lack of access to humane and secure housing. Through research and advocacy, the program aims to empower urban poor groups to work for better urban governance. The program’s main objectives are to: improve housing and resettlement policy and practice by engaging government agencies and institutions providing development assistance; collaborate with urban local governments for the development of poverty focused plans and interventions, particularly in housing; assist peoples’ organizations and engage them in participatory researches such as city-wide urban poverty mapping and profiling; promote in-city housing by producing studies on innovative tenure systems that make such housing affordable and sustainable; and create a stronger advocacy base for urban development and housing reforms by networking with urban poor-allied groups. The RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM recognizes that the majority of the Filipino poor live in rural areas. It also sees that the lack of access to land and other productive resources hinders the rural poor from participating in economic activities to improve their incomes. In the face of formidable structures that perpetuate poverty in the countryside, the Rural Development Program sets its sight on alternatives, substitutes, or options that would address the issue of access, along with control and management of resources. Primary areas and topics of concern for research and advocacy include:

access to land and water resources - agrarian reform, alternative and secure tenure arrangements, delineation of municipal waters, and land use policy

access to capital and credit – microfinance services and schemes, and other sustainable financing approaches towards savings and capital build-up

access to technology – diversification through intercropping and processing of value-added products, and promotion of sustainable technologies

access to market – alternative trading and marketing 3

REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2021 Inspiring collective action for the common good through research and analysis Heeding Vatican II’s challenge. As we celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, we launched in August the Signs of the Times: The World Through the Lens of Vatican II, a collection of essays on the social involvement of the Church in the Philippines following the Second Vatican Council. We had major launch activities for this with the help of the Jesuit Commmunications (JesCom). Focusing on marginalized children. The Family Life Desk undertook several studies in 2021. Two were for Save the Children Philippines: a policy mapping and analysis of programs and policies for children with disability as part of the NGO’s Building Resources and Networks for the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Marginalized Urban Communities (BRIDGE) Project and an endline evaluation for its Building Urban Resilience Against Shocks and Threats of Resettlement (BURST) Project. Another research was on the experiences of violence of self-identified children of diverse SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was undertaken with the Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC Coalition), in which ICSI is the lead organization of its systems working group. ICSI also cowrote with CRC Coalition a report on the acess to education and mental health of children in the time of the pandemic. Our partners used these reports either to enhance their programs or to provide data for their children’s rights monitoring and advocacy. Protecting the rights of small fishers. The Rural Development Desk released its final report assessing the enforcement of policies on commercial fishing and its effect on municipal fisherfolk. ICSI then released a policy brief that was broadly disseminated across the coalition members of NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR), and other stakeholders in the fisheries sector. NFR used the report for its legislative advocacy with the House of Representatives. Promoting the resilience of the urban poor. The Urban Poverty and Governance Desk released in early 2021 its policy brief on People-Centered Resettlement and Post-Disaster Needs and Vulnerability, based on its postdisaster needs assessment and vulnerability assessment for residents of Kasiglahan Village 1 and Southville 8-B in 4

Montalban, Rizal affected by Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco). These were used in the advocacy work of partners and was particularly helpful when the House of Representatives conducted an inquiry on the massive flooding caused by Typhoon Ulysses. Dr. Karaos presented the study findings in a forum on “Gender, Environment, and Housing Resilience” organized by the Ateneo de Manila University through its Coastal Cities at Risk Philippines (CCARPH) Project. She also served as one of the panelists at the Resilience for the Urban Poor 2021 (RUP2021) Forum, a three-day knowledge-sharing event which aims to increase awareness of ADB’s developing member countries on disaster and climate risk-related issues and challenges faced by the urban poor, and identify opportunities for scaling up propoor policies and investments to strengthen the resilience of the urban poor. Exploring compassionate alternatives to the drug war. With support from the Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR), ICSI started in 2021 a study to understand Catholics’ views and attitudes towards the issue of drugs, and the government’s anti-drug campaign. The study involved three dioceses: Pasig, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro. Key findings were presented to partners in December. We hope this study will provide insight into future Church responses in this area. Bringing attention to women in conflict with the law. The Urban Poverty and Governance Desk continued undertaking a project with the Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA) and UN Women Philippines to promote access to justice for women in conflict with the law (WICL). ICSI served as the project’s lead NGO for research and advocacy, developing data-gathering tools, producing fact sheets, and facilitating and documenting learning sessions and national-level dialogue. Understanding vaccine hesitancy among the poor. With support from the Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ), ICSI was able to undertake research this year to determine how media information on Dengvaxia and COVID-19 vaccines affected the willingness of adult members of urban poor communities to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The research also explores other factors affecting vaccine hesitancy. It was conducted in Manila, Valenzuela, Caloocan and Quezon City. The final report will be completed in 2022. Aside from our studies, ICSI produced three issues of the Intersect Quick Facts (IQF), our publication that provides a snapshot into pressing issues. The January issue made a case for social protection systems to build the resilience of the poor and vulnerable to economic shocks, which the COVID-19 pandemic made visible or even exacerbated. The second issue released in May drew attention to women 5

in conflict with the law who are often seen as offenders or law breakers and thus less deserving of assistance. With issues of corruption hounding the Philippine government’s COVID-19 crisis response, the November issue of the IQF aimed to inform readers about the status of budget allocations and us, emphasizing the importance of demanding transparency and accountability from the government. This year, we also came out with two issues of Lights & Shadows, our assessment of the Duterte administration from the perspective of Catholic social principles. Partners and other publics used the Lights & Shadows as basis for national situationers, political education seminars, inputs for theology and social science classes, and even homilies for masses. Eight commentary articles saw print in the opinion section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. For Veritas Editoryal, a commentary segment of Radyo Veritas, ICSI provided a total of 147 articles in Filipino tackling social issues using the lens of Catholic social principles. These were read by Fr. Anton Pascual, the radio station’s president, during his five-minute daily editorial.

Equipping partners to reflect and take informed, ethical action Helping the youth live out their faith. ICSI, in partnership with the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) and the Theology Department of the Ateneo de Manila University, conducted two runs of our youth formation program entitled “A Faith That Does Justice”. The program consisted of four sessions, covering key principles of Catholic social teaching: life and human dignity, preferential option for the poor, care for our common home, and solidarity. The program ran for five Saturdays—one for each of the four sessions and another day for the trainers’ training. The first run of the program was opened to young people coming from various faith-based groups, parishes, and schools nationwide. The second run was co-organized by the Diocese of Cubao for its youth leaders. In total, we had 159 participants nationwide, with 64 attending at least three sessions. We received positive feedback from participants—almost all indicated increased interest to engage in social action as part of their faith practice. Many said they would share what they learned in school or ministry settings, or with youth and adult servant leaders in their parishes. Spreading hope and building community. ICSI and SLB organized three webinars this year, reaching over 2,000 6

views through the livestreaming and replays on the pages of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM, ICSI, SLB, and other cross-posting partners.

“Unveiling the Church’s Best-Kept Secret: Catholic Social Teaching for Social Analysis and Change”. In this webinar, faculty members from the Department of Theology of the Loyola Schools of the Ateneo de Manila University ran the participants through the principles of CST, and facilitated a workshop in which participants applied the principles to analyze various social issues. A total of 120 participants from various organizations attended the webinar.

“Living Fratelli Tutti: Stories of Hope and Change”. Held in June in collaboration with SLB, this webinar sought to inspire participants how ordinary people have, in their own different ways, responded to Pope Fancis’s call to community in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti. Invited to share their stories were Sailyn Guarin of Kapawa Hu Paglaum which works with indigenous peoples in Mindanao; Ma. Thesa Lusica of the Cebu-based Dilaab Foundation, which accompanies people who use drugs in their journey to rehabilitation; and Reynaldo Laguda of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). The webinar was participated in by at least 150 participants.

“SONA ALL: The State of the Nation is in Our Hands.” In this webinar held days before President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his last State of the Nation Address, ICSI and SLB introduced to the 90 participants three “change makers” who have been working on building a brighter new day for the country. Their stories—the way they choose to live their lives, share their gifts, work for peace, care for creation, and hold government to account—offered a powerful reminder that the state of our nation is in the hands of the people.

In partnership with JesCom and the Ateneo Press, we also held two webinars as part of the August launch of the Vatican II book. The first was a conversation among ICSI board member and radio host Fr. Emannuel “Nono” Alfonso, SJ; former priest and activist Edicio “Ed” dela Torre; Archbishop Emeritus of Cagayan de Oro Antonio Ledesma; and social anthropologist Dr. Mary Racelis entitled “Saan Patungo ang Simbahan? A Conversation on Vatican II for Catholics Today”. The second webinar was for the actual online book launch, again with Fr. Alfonso and Dr. Racelis joined by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of the Diocese of Kalookan and Karlo Abadines of Prophet Project PH. All the webinars were livestreamed in the Facebook pages and YouTube channels of ICSI, SLB, and Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM, with the livestream and replays garnering over 7,000 views. 7

Promoting responsible parenting based on our Catholic faith. As a member of the Responsible Parenthood AllNatural Family Planning Network (RP All-NFP), ICSI assisted in organizing and conducting a series of webinars which aimed to deepen the understanding and appreciation of more than 200 participants from various dioceses and Church-linked organizations on the Church’s teachings on parenting. The webinar series started with “Amoris Laetitia: The Joy of Love” with Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula, Jr. and Fr. Dennis Antonio Paez, SDB. It was followed by another webinar in July, “New Heroes of the Pandemic: Responsible Parents” with Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Ledesma and Fr. Luciano Ariel Felloni. In October, another webinar, “Responsible Fatherhood: What Husbands and Wives May Not Know”, was held, with Bishop of Cubao Honesto Ongtioco and Archbishop Emeritus Ledesma as main speakers. Putting reflection into action. ICSI produced two sets of reflection guides this year: one for Lent (“Dare to Dream: Lenten Reflections Inspired by Pope Francis”) and one for Advent (“Solidarity in Hope: An Advent Journey”) to promote socio-spiritual integration among its users. In addition to the printed copies, electronic copies were shared on ICSI’s Facebook page and disseminated through ICSI’s mailing list. The guides were also available in Filipino. Sharing and learning together. Members of our staff also spoke in various events. •

“The Public Face of Love”, a Holy Monday talk delivered by Audrey Wong, FcJ

“Prayers for the Lenten Season”, an interview with Audrey Wong, FcJ, at The Jesuit Hour, a program airing on Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM

“Tayo Mismo”, a talk by Marvee Anne M. Ramos at the voters’ appreciation seminar for regional representatives and campus-based representatives of Youth For Christ (YFC)

“Engagement of Youth in Socio-Political Concerns”, a talk by Marvee Anne M. Ramos at a seminar organized by the Social Action Ministry of the Immaculate Concepcion Academy Greenhills

“Prayers for the Advent Season”, an interview with Audrey Wong, FcJ

“Advent Musings from the Church’s Best Kept Secret”, a presentation delivered by Dr. Anna Marie A. Karaos during the Advent recollection of faculty members, administrators, and parents of students of Ateneo de Iloilo and Assumption College-Iloilo


Fostering solidarity to advance the common good Offering a venue for learning and dialogue. As the secretariat for the Urban Poor Alliance - Mega Manila (UPALL), ICSI supported the alliance by organizing the group’s first meeting since the start of the lockdown, giving its members the space to exchange information about the situation of their communities and their responses to the needs of families given the inadequate assistance provided by the national government. ICSI also facilitated a reflection session on the 2022 elections, which led to some members deciding to engage in principled partisan engagement in the coming elections. In September, ICSI organized a learning session on citizen participatory audit with former Commision on Audit (COA) Commissioner and former Undersecretary General for the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Heidi Mendoza. Catalyzing advocacy in urban transformation. ICSI led the formation of the Urban Transformation Working Group in partnership with PHILSSA and other network members to pursue an agenda based on the transformative power of cities in the context of climate change. The initial activities of the UTWG included learning sessions for group members to deepen their knowledge on climate change and cities. The group secured a small grant from the CCARPH to enable it to conduct these activities. Facilitating conversations of rural youth on engaging in the elections and politics. In preparation for the coming 2022 elections, ICSI’s Rural Development Desk convened rural youth organized by KAISAHAN Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN), Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CARRD), Institute of Social order (ISO), and Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) for a conversation and reflection session entitled, “Kabataan sa Kanayunan: Arat Na! (Rural Youth: Let’s Go!),” bringing together 83 participants from different parts of the country. Participants reflected on how their organizations and the youth sector are affected by politics and governance. They came up with action points to concretely participate in the coming elections as individuals and with their organizations. The Desk also provided technical assistance to leaders from different organizations in the farming and agriculture sector in crafting a rural development agenda that they can use for their electoral engagement.


THANK YOU We are grateful for the generosity our funders, donors, and partners who supported our work in 2021.



Bp. Broderick S. Pabillo, DD Emmanuel L. Alfonso, SJ Rica Remedios Bolipata-Santos, PhD Sylvia Miclat, PhD Luis S. David, SJ Patrick Dominador Z. Falguera, SJ Eric Marcelo O. Genilo, SJ Paola Margarita Q. Deles TRUSTEES




Patrick Dominador Z. Falguera, SJ Chester A. Yacub, SJ Audrey S. Wong, fcJ RESEARCH FELLOWS

Anna Marie V. Alhambra Gerald M. Nicolas PROJECT OFFICERS


Marvee Anne M. Ramos Jazmene P. Basit RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

Veronica G. Bondoc FINANCE OFFICER




2/F Benigno Mayo Hall (ISO Office Building) Social Development Complex Ateneo de Manila University Loyola Heights Quezon City Philippines





(632) 8426.6001 to 30 local 4655 to 4667


(632) 8426.6070