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Boys Scouts of the Philippines
 
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Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP)
Past, Present and Future
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Introduction

Scouting was introduced in the archipelago of Philippines as early as 1911, it had the important social role of youth development in terms of leadership, discipline and basic skills. Between then and 1936, the scouts were under the ‘care’ of Boy Scouts of America. However, in 1936, the BSP was formed with the passing of the Commonwealth Act III.

The BSP is operated by a pool of salaried and professional staffs with assistance from its volunteers across the islands. Even though the BSP do not receive direct funding from its government, it has a considerable source of income from the annual members’ registration fee. The fee collected was growing with increasing number of scouts over the past years, which at its peak stands at 3.9 millions in 2001. Beside the registration fee, BSP have a substantial amount of income from its scout shop, which retails various types of uniform, and accessories to its members. On top of that, several properties of the BSP are been leased for commercial purposes.

The National Office in Manila, with the strength of 87 staffs headed by the Secretary General, serves as the policy making and planning body to its 10 regional offices and 106 councils nationwide. Like the National Council in the National Office, each regional office and council has an Executive Board which supports the operations.


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At Present

Currently, the BSP is going through a crisis in terms of dwindling membership, which coincidentally also implies to its financial status as well. This is a huge contrast, when back in 1998 the BSP had announced a 5-year development plan that should bring itself to a new pinnacle. Membership increase was one of the focal points. It was projected that, with a 9% annual growth, there will be 5 million scout members by the end of 2003. However, the present membership, a 15-year low, is of 1.61 million.

The sudden and sharp decrease of membership is a result when then the Education Secretary, Roco, imposed the Ganzon Law and had banned all fee collection by the BSP, among other organizations, in 2001. The Ganzon Law had essentially drafted to provide free, if not affordable, education for all. According to Roco, ‘the collection becomes a tuition to the students and parents and became a hindrance for enrollment especially the poor’. It is noted by his office then that the collection had caused the enrollment to increase by 5%. Although his intentions might be good, his action had resulted many scouts not been registered in short window period allowed for the fee collection. Thus, BSP had suffered greatly under the ‘Roco Factor’. Despite the obstacles, the BSP had managed to continue in providing activities for the youth and services to the community. Recently in May, at the ANCM, Ediberto de Jesus, the current Education Secretary, had again allowed membership fee collection by the BSP again. With that, I reckoned the BSP will have a rebound in membership numbers and be looking at a healthier balance sheet soon.

 

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Behold the Future

Although the ‘Roco Factor’ had caused great upsets to the BSP’s plans in many areas, it is, however, in my opinion that it too had served as a greater good for BSP. That is, if lessons which BSP was brutally exposed to were heeded during the non-collection period.

One of the very immediate challenges that BSP had to face was to look into other channels for funds. Because of the over reliance on the collection of fee for fund, the BSP were stung into action looking for alternatives. Although funds from other sources are hard to come by, they have managed to get by and start to generate fund from their resources. This includes several leasing and/or selling of its properties to commercial parties.

It was about then that they had realized several properties under their care were not formally entitled to them. Thus, much work are now done to acquire the title deeds due to them. Though work on these is slow and tedious, because of lack of funds, it is progressing. Many of the BSP properties were donated by companies or individuals or bestowed by the President there and then.

The ‘Roco Factor’ had too inevitably force a number of changes within the hierarchy. A new Secretary General(SG), Mr JR, promoted from the position of Asst SG was formally instilled recently. Along with him came Mr Ernie promoted from a Regional Scout Director to Asst SG (Admin and Finance). I could see there will be more choppings and changings in time to come, and very necessarily so. Organization such as the BSP cannot afford to slip into another era of comfort zone and been vulnerable to the harsh external environment.

It will be needing to reinvent itself, especially so to the public. I would disputed that during the non-collection period, one could see that the public perception of Scouts was no longer what it was. No longer is the BSP the organization that they admired and respected, but just another organization. Thus no one then really wanted to go the extra mile, literally, to register himself or herself as a scout. A renewed image is in dire need. The public needs to know scouting again, and what it really entails.

With the removal of the ‘Roco Factor’ and steady restructuring for a sound management I am very sure the BSP will soar its way back to the glorious heights.



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