Albert Francis E. Domingo, MD

my flight of ideas

A Good Neighbor’s Initiative

Posted on | March 28, 2005 | No Comments

This morning, I attended a meeting of community figures and local institution heads here in Ermita and Malate, Manila City. It was called by UP Manila Chancellor Marita Reyes.

The group that they have formed is called Good Neighbor’s Initiative (GNI), and the member institutions include (in no particular order of importance) UP Manila, Department of Justice (DOJ), Western Police District Station 5 (WPD), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Supreme Court, Department of Social Welfare and Development – NCR (DSWD-NCR), Manila City Government, Ellinwood Malate Church, Girl Scouts of the Philippines, Philamlife, Philamcare, Manila Jaycees, Manila Doctors Hospital, Manila Science High School, St. Paul University Manila, Philippine Women’s University, PCU Union High School, Robinson’s Place Manila, Palm Plaza Hotel, PNB PGH Branch, Equitable-PCI Bank Robinson’s Branch, Barangays 696 to 698 of Zone 76, and Barangay 669 of Zone 72.
I had to list all the above institutions and organizations to emphasize the importance of the formation, in that the GNI is an extensive network of government, non-government, educational, and people’s institutions that has the potential to work on issues and concerns of the local community.

Perhaps this could be thought of as an Urban Community-Based Program.

I came in my capacity as the incoming Chairperson of the University Student Council Manila (USC Manila). Curiously, Dr. Roland S. Capito of the UP Manila Office of Alumni Affairs related to me that the GNI is a brainchild of the late former UP Manila Chancellor Dr. Alfredo T. Ramirez, after several incidents of theft, robbery, assault, and the like happened in the area. Dr. Capito intimated that what caused then Chancellor Ramirez to convene the GNI was an appeal from the USC Manila of the time to have the local community address issues of peace and order, because the victims were primarily students in the area.

While the invitation was addressed to outgoing USC Manila Chair Rizzalyn Ramirez, Prof. Doroteo Abaya (UPM Office of Student Affairs) personally requested that I attend, perhaps since it was already understood that the incoming USC Manila would benefit and contribute more to GNI than the outgoing whose term is about to end.

Meeting every last Monday of the month, the GNI seeks to coordinate its members in finding solutions to pressing problems and issues. Being voluntary in nature, meetings are usually hosted by UPM at its Board Room, but the group is blessed with occasional offers from member institutions to host gatherings.

Current items on the GNI’s agenda include the following: illegal vending, illegal parking, wrongly-located establishments, donations of equipment to Public Safety Agencies such as the WPD and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)’s local fire station, symposia on criminal justice/security and safety for students, streetchildren, and health activities such as blood donation.

Another activity handled by the GNI is a quarterly Linis-Bayanihan, in which the members send delegates from their home institutions to participate in a cleaning drive. Here GNI members would be seen doing beautification and sanitation work in the immediate area.

Perhaps what is most important is the foresight that the group can have in planning contingency measures not only for petty crimes and incidents but also for disaster management. In today’s meeting, the local fire chief relayed disaster analyses for the area. Problems that could occur in the future centered both on natural calamities and human atrocity.

Examples include earthquake and tsunami preparedness for the natural calamities (Manila Bay is less than a kilometer away, and a tsunami is a real threat if an earthquake would happen in the near off-shore areas), and the ever-present threat of terrorism for the human atrocity.

Lobbying and advocacy was also very much the theme of GNI, and on this aspect several changes could already be effected. After all, it is known that politicians listen more to organized groups with publicity potential compared to obscure individual petitioners. That’s a sad fact of local dynamics here in the Philippines, but for the moment we have to make do with what we have but still look forward to an improved future.

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