Even before the effectivity of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Memorandum Circular No. 15, the agency has already announced the supposed revocation of the registration of six organizations, including KARAPATAN, Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), and KADAMAY Northern Mindanao.
SEC Memo Circular No. 15 series of 2018 has the subject ‘Guidelines for the Protection of SEC Registered Non-Profit Organizations from Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Abuse’ or also known as “NPO Guidelines”. One of its provisions categorizes NPOs as low risk, medium risk, high risk, or blacklisted. Moreover, the SEC is now requiring the submission of voluminous information pertaining to the NPO’s operation, its beneficiaries, personnel, and board members. The information collected can then be shared with law enforcement agencies on mere suspicion of alleged “illegal activities”.
“While it may seem that the SEC Memo 15 aims to protect NPOs from money laundering and terrorist financing, the government has now bared its real reason for enacting such Memo – and that is to hinder progressive organizations from performing their mandate of serving the marginalized sectors of our society and to silence the vocal critics of the Duterte administration,” said Bishop Dindo Ranojo, ASCENT’s Spokesperson.
KARAPATAN lends assistance to victims of human rights violations perpetrated by state security forces. KADAMAY became popular because of its campaign of occupying uninhabited houses in order to expose the government’s ineffectiveness in providing houses for the urban poor. KAMP, now known as KATRIBU, is an alliance of indigenous peoples and organizations in the country and has been vocal in fighting for their right to self-determination.
Ranojo also added that “many of our member organizations are already experiencing vilification and red-tagging. The mere classification of NPOs as mediumrisk, high risk or blacklisted by the SEC will further give credence to the military, paramilitary, and police’s harassment, threats, and extra-judicial killings. Several of our NGOs’ Executive Directors have already become victims of summary executions, namely, Emerito Samarca (ALCADEV), Wilhelm Geertman (Alay Bayan Luson), Romeo Capalla (Panay Fair Trade Center), and Atty. Benjamin Ramos (Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group).”
“This announcement of revocation is just a prelude to even more blacklistings of progressive people’s organizations and Non-Government Organizations. This, we fear, will greatly impede the delivery of socio-economic services to the unserved and underserved sectors, especially those living in rural areas. The government has always been inefficient and ineffective in providing basic social services to the people, which the NGOs have been compensating for through their initiatives of community based health programs, sustainable agriculture, appropriate technology, alternative schools for IPs, and community based disaster management,” stated Ranojo.
He then concluded his statement by saying that “the 1987 Constitution contains 3 articles which institutionalizes the role of NGOs and POs and recognizes their importance in promoting the welfare of the nation. Therefore, any Memo which limits the functions of these civil society organizations must be unlawful and should therefore be immediately recalled.”