Misereor withdraws as co-convenor of Philippine advocacy network

Misereor, the German Catholic bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation, has resigned as co-convenor of the Manila-based Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI).

Steffen Ulrich, Misereor’s Philippine desk officer, made the announcement through a video conference during PMPI’s general assembly in Manila on Feb. 26.

Ulrich, however, made clear that the agency’s withdrawal from PMPI “does not affect its role as partner and donor.”

PMPI is an advocacy network of church-based organizations, civil society groups, and people’s movement.

In a letter to PMPI member organizations, Martin Brockelmann-Simon, Misereor managing director, said the initial reasons for Misereor to act as co-convenor of PMPI are “seen as rather obsolete.”

PMPI was established on Mar. 13, 2003, to convene church institutions and organizations in the Philippines that receive institutional funding from Misereor.

“Today, approximately half of PMPI member organizations do not partner with Misereor in terms of project funding,” noted Brockelmann-Simon.

“Some of those ‘only’ maintain a regular or ‘when-needs-arise’ exchange; some even do not know Misereor at all,” he said.

“This membership basis acknowledges the fact that PMPI is not a network of Misereor partners anymore,” added Brockelmann-Simon.

PMPI has an institutional capacity of more than 250 member organizations of different types, mandates, and sectors, with active regional clusters across the country.

Brockelmann-Simon said he is “glad about the fact how the membership basis has been developed and about its standing today.”

“The strength of the network’s membership is its diversity and has been and continues to be an important driver for development and innovation,” he said.

Misereor also cited the “changing political and societal climate” for its withdrawal from the partnership with PMPI.

The agency’s said in a statement that “it has been asking itself if the visibility of Misereor as a legal stakeholder of a national organization should not be critically questioned.”

It noted that the inclusion of “Misereor” in PMPI’s name “might give the impression that Misereor, with its role as a donor, is the real power behind the network.”

The agency added that it might also be misinterpreted that Misereor is pushing “for its agenda and interests” in the organization.

Misereor said that such an impression “could make PMPI vulnerable and endanger its political work and agenda.”

“Misereor’s appearance and legal responsibility in the network could have the effect of hampering the work of the network,” added the agency.

Father Juderick Paul Calumpiano, president of PMPI, said the network “respects the decision of Misereor, which we believe underwent thorough deliberation.”

The priest said that “adjustments have to be made,” including the amendment in the registration of the network at the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission.

He assured that the changes within the network “will not affect the amount and quality of services that we render to the communities and the people whom we serve.”

Yolanda Esguerra, PMPI’s national coordinator, said whatever the changes that will be implemented, the organization “will remain a faith-based network of organizations responding to urgent social issues.”

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