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WatSan Philippines (
Posted on Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 12:38 pm:   

I am currently serving in Peace Corps Philippines and just recieved notice about the changes in the worldwide safety and security policy.

Up until a few days ago, a rule existed dubbed the "48-hour rule" in which a volunteer could be away from his or her site for up to 48 hours without notifying anyone besides our warden (the central office did not need paperwork). As of now, forms must be submitted and calls must be made for ANY night spent away from your site. Since any nights away now must be approved, Peace Corps has said that no more than one night per month may be spent away from your site. My country director informed me that complaining to him about this policy will do almost no good because it comes from Washington.

To me it seems that this is Peace Corps grabbing at straws, trying to get some control (whether needed or not) of the daily actions of volunteers.

Coming from the previous, freer, policy, these actions by Washington will only result in less control. If a volunteer was, at one time, able to travel to visit a fellow PCV in a neighboring province and stay overnight I doubt they will willingly give up that freedom.

I think that most volunteers are used to a sort of autonomy and will just not say anything at all. As far as I can tell (and I am just a newbie, but this is my impression from previous PCVs here in the Philippines) it is impossible to control every action of a volunteer and that a more relaxed balance of personal freedom and safety and security will result in more cooperative, and thus safer, volunteers.

I would like to know how other volunteers feel about these restrictions. Do you feel as though your work would benefit from your being in the community no less than 3 weekends a month (in addition to every weekday)? Do you believe this is a fair policy; more importantly, do you believe that this policy will actually be followed, or do you feel as though the shift is drastic enough that most people will simply ignore it?

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