Scouts of the Philippines (BSP)
Past, Present and Future
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.
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.
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
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
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.