OUR column today focuses on the historic subject of people's participation in governance. Considering the many political and socio-economic concerns in global society today, many noted authors and civic groups have realized the exceptional values of people participation in governance. To briefly clarify, this concept of people participation is not only limited to involvement in formal politics but just as importantly, also means the active participation of the citizenry in the more direct political concerns of society.

As substantially described by various authors, people participation is not only limited to formal governmental affairs but also in other forms of governance outside the limits of government. In a democratic system, the essence of governance includes the active participation of the citizenry in the political process.

In the liberal tradition, people's participation is not limited to the formal aspects of the political process. Beyond political parties and other regular political activities, citizens in a democratic society are encouraged to join multiple channels and means for the expression and representation of their values and interests.

Citizens are free to choose organizations or other related activities to speak, express and organize their legitimate concerns. For this democratic principle, the involvement of non-government organizations in different countries indicate a significant advance for democracy as non-government organizations (NGOs) are actively involved in both public political as well as in non-government concerns.

Our discussions in our coming columns will therefore involve so-called NGOs that also represent the development of new ways of politics. This means that the public agenda to reflect the interests of the citizenry will be reflected in the concerns of the broad range of the population.

As a brief backgrounder in the Philippines, various studies on the work of NGOs or civil society groups have been published over the past decades. Many of these activities have, however, concentrated on the work of NGOs as social development agencies focusing on the promotion of social and economic programs to deliver to the poor.

Over the past decades, this emphasis on the socioeconomic roles of NGOs has now broadened to include the significant and relevant political aspects. In this sense, NGOs have come to represent relevant functional aspects of the democratic process. They have therefore also become actively involved in relevant issues on the political agenda.

With this brief introduction, this column will present in our coming issues the historic role of Philippine NGOs in the political process of governance in the public and private sectors.

Initially, we will discuss the nature of interest groups followed by the role of NGOs in governance. Our brief study will thus attempt to look into the general context of NGO functions, including brief historical evolution involving different local and international aspects that have influenced their role.

We will likewise discuss relevant theories in the growth of NGOs including brief historical overviews and other aspects of civil society groups.

(For inquiries, my email add: roquejrhofilena@yahoo.com.ph)