Area development, subsidiarity and federalism

Area development, subsidiarity and federalism

BY PHILIP CAMARA ON JANUARY 5, 2017

 

TIMES of crisis are windows for great opportunity. That is an old Chinese saying. But in these troubling times (for many), what opportunities indeed lie ahead? There are quite a few and the promising thing is they seem to be opportunities that would open up given current trajectories or the way things are unfolding. Indeed, 2017 may be the year that developmental change finally proceeds.

The world is shifting away from the international policies of recent decades that, while they have created well-being for unprecedented billions of people, have likewise resulted in great tensions. Not just tensions between peoples but tensions between people and their environment and even tensions inside people due to an identity overly linked to consumerism rather than their inherent truths; consumerism that threatens the very sustainability of Mother Earth.

One such opportunity is the re-emergence within government of the area development paradigm or development framework under Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez. While Sixto K. Roxas was its initial advocate in the late 1960s it had unfortunately been bastardized in several big government projects that went puff! (just as the autonomous regional experience is going puff!) due to wrongful implementation, which in turn was due to a misunderstanding of what area, development is basically about.

With Secretary Gina at the helm of a major government department that has a direct and meaningful role in national development, the area development paradigm is set to take off and this time under the leadership of a capable and knowledgeable environment and natural resources secretary. For one, Secretary Gina has been a practitioner of area development approaching the various undertakings of the ABS-CBN Foundation in Palawan and other provinces wherein the local people were the implementers and the beneficiaries of the eco-tourism projects that simply highlighted the potential of their area (thus the term area development).

Secretary Gina knows that with the Philippines’ archipelagic territory, the mountain ridge ecosystem connects by streams, creeks, rivers to the various other ecosystems until the final one (within our territory), the coral reef ecosystem, the totality of which was once teeming with life. “Life in all its fullness” was certainly what the Philippines was (before the times of colonization and industrialization. But alas, development was under the unitary and sectoral paradigm).

Area development deepens this understanding of the fragile but critical relationships between and among interconnected ecosystems and working with the local people applies the principle of subsidiarity which states that functions and decision-making should be undertaken at the lowest possible hierarchical level and the role of the higher organizational level is to support those lower units undertaking the functions.

As Secretary Gina says, “area development is about nurturing and helping the local people nurture their local areas to unleash [their]productive potential”. This means making development based on the potentialities of the area. This is the better opposite to what has been going on since the Philippines became a country under colonial masters where the desires of the corporations were simply imposed on local areas that suited their businesses. And since business was all that mattered, they generally left the place worse off and, in many instances killing off the ecosystem that the locals could have relied on for sustenance. The zenith of this “devil may care” attitude seems to be the guiding principle of many large mines that decimate the geological and hydrological functions of the ecosystem leaving the locals in perpetual risk and scamming the Filipino people by leaving behind a permanent pit hole of humongous dimensions. It wouldn’t be surprising if the economic tab left behind by derelict mines long abandoned by mining companies that have been in turn abandoned by their shareholders are simply dumped on you and me, the taxpayers. Secretary Gina calls this “madness”.

Under the principle of subsidiarity, it is government’s role to assist local people co-create local sustainable economies based on the perpetual beneficial use of the local ecosystem bounties for even distant future generations. Thus, the shift towards federalism is timely in that area development and subsidiarity are wholly compatible with federalism. In fact, they are necessary complements to genuine federalism. Where unitarism (our present centralized system) brought us corporate-led sectoral and highly inequitable development, federalism should usher in community-based, ecosystem-sensitive area development that gives everyone who wants a chance to participate in the local economy that opportunity.

Thus, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is leading the way by selecting 29 priority areas to demonstrate area development and is enlisting the help of the Sixto K. Roxas Foundation that targets poverty eradication by creating the template of an expanded local social accounting matrix of the value-adding power of the local sectors and how incomes are distributed (or not distributed locally but remitted out of the local area). Secretary Gina wants all programs of the DENR like the National Greening Program, Bamboo Program, Biochar Program, Mangrove Rehabilitation Programs, and Mining Programs to be re-crafted along the principles of area development with its concrete manifestation of viable community enterprises that are networked to build up to scale and demonstrate the opposite of “trickle-down” (pinatulo) towards the alternative of “nurturing upwards,” or pinatubo.

President Duterte seems to be instinctively aware that the ideological lines are not anymore between the “left vs. the right,” the old Cold War mentality of these old ideologies (that ironically are united in their pinatulo paradigm as both ideologies rely on trickle-down sectors to benefit the locals) but between the primacy of nurturing people and ecosystems versus sectoral corporations (that have grown so large, moneyed and powerful), or in other words “pinatulo” vs. “pinatubo”. Thus, the push for federalism as a government organizational set-up where now, finally, area development can be its favored bride guided by the vow of subsidiarity.

The author, a co-convenor of the Subsidiarity Movement International and the Federalist Forum of the Philippines, advocates for the bottom-up development model as well as proper decentralization, and the strengthening of regional governance. He served for 12 years in the Regional Development Council of Central Luzon as chair of the economic committee. He was a consultant for the Philippine Alternative Fuels Corp. (PAFC) and was on the board of trustees of the HARIBON Foundation. He is currently a member of the board of advisors of CDPI.

News

Tayo Ang Kalikasan Movement: Eyed to END environmental abuse

Tayo Ang Kalikasan Movement: Eyed to END environmental abuse

Laoag, Ilocos Norte – The launching of the Tayo Ang Kalikasan was on a festive mood as 1,500 various stakeholders of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed their support to the agency’s information branding and social mobilization campaign.

In his Keynote Message, Sec. Roy A. Cimatu sounded quite disappointed on how the culture and attitude of the people towards treating the environment had awfully changed.  “Look at what is happening in Metro Manila, people nowadays throw their garbage in our rivers which I’m sure is not their usual practice when they were still in their provinces.” The former AFP Chief also underscored the improper utilization of the environment where he cited as an example the status of Boracay which is now brought to a closure due to the negligence of people and the slack enforcement of policies and regulations.

Regional Director Reynulfo A. Juan however, expressed his gratitude to the turn out of the event as he articulated that this is a convergence of great minds and efforts in order to solve the problem of mankind in our own little ways.

On a similar tone, John Michael Fariñas the City Administrator of Laoag City who represented City Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas, indicated that the efforts of the government in Boracay is a wake-up call to everyone, that we (Tayo) should start veering from the old notion and should act in one spirit towards working in the protection of our environment.

In like manner, Ilocos Norte Board Member Mariano “Nonong” Marcos II, expressed his confidence in the leadership of Sec. 

Cimatu in accelerating the efforts in preserving and protecting the environment.  Stating that the leadership networks of the DENR will shape the country’s roadmap towards inculcating “care for the environment” in the hearts of every Filipino, instead of just making them aware of the need to protect the environment.

As the brainchild of the Tayo Ang Kalikasan Movement, Chief of Staff, USec. Rodolfo Garcia, illustrated that TAK is “Forging partnerships. Building a movement.”  That the way to do it is, “Sama-samang Pagkilos.  Ikaw, Ako, Tayo, Tayo Ang Kalikasan.”

Highlights of the event include: Awarding of Financial Assistance to CBFM POs in Region 1 and the Distribution of Land Titles to residential and special patentees, signing of the pledge of commitment and the press briefing with Chief of Staff Usec. Rodolfo Garcia, DENR Spokesperson Usec. Jonas Leones and Regional Director Reynulfo A. Juan.

DENR Officialdom was in full force, with the Under Secretaries Atty. Ernesto Adobo, Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, Atty. Jonas Leones, USec. Joselin Marcus Fragada Jr., Assistant Secretary Bresilda M. Gervacio, Assistant Secretary Nonita Caguioa, RD Gil Aromin of Region 2, RD Paquito T. Moreno, Jr. of Region 3, RD Ralph Pablo of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and RD Jacqueline Caancaan of National Capital Region (NCR).

The launching was participated in by IPs, academe, LGUs, patent awardees and People’s Organizations of the Community-Based Forest Management from Regions 1,2,3 CAR and NCR who brought in their products for the exhibit. 

TAK was anchored on the Program for Environment and Natural Resource for Reforestation, Rehabilitation, and Development (PRRD) of the Duterte Administration.

Photo Releases

Former Mayor and now consultant Eddie Guillen (l) of Piddig shows to DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and Region 1 Director Paquito T. Moreno, Jr. the map of the Lammin Coffee Plantation during the cabinet secretary’s visit here on June 2, 2017.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu visited his hometown in Ilocos Norte recently and made a side trip to Piddig, where he met with local officials to gain more insights on the ongoing development of the town’s model project under the national convergence initiative on coffee farming.

A Serpent Eagle was recently rescued from the Eco-Trail of Holcim Phils. Located in Quirino, Bacnotan, La Union last July 21, 2017.  The said eagle was allegedly trapped at a cage which Holcim provided to feed some 20 species of migratory birds gliding within the area.  It was found that the said eagle could not make its way out from the cage, reason for the workers to save the struggling eagle from being trapped.  Spilornis Cheela is the scientific name of the Crested Serpent Eagle which was named “Kailian,” coined from the local term of “Kababayan or Kabayan.”  Holding “Kailian” during the ceremonial release on July 25, 2017 are Bacnotan Mayor Francis Fontanilla (on blue collared shirt) and Holcim Plant Manager Eraño Santos.  Looking on are DENR1 representatives, Wildlife Handler Joe Nullar, Enforcement Division Chief Atty. Arlene Buduhan and Cora Pugal of the Wildlife Conservation Division.  DENR1-RePAO

DENR Chief Sec. Roy A. Cimatu as he turns-over the DENR1 Flag of Leadership to Regional Director Reynulfo A. Juan while RD Paquito T. Moreno looks on (R)

New DENR 1 RD Reynulfo A. Juan delivers his acceptance speech during the Turn-over Ceremony

New DENR 1 RD Reynulfo A. Juan’s smile shows a sincere commitment in upholding the DENR mandate

The Officials on the Presidential Table (L-R) LMB Dir. Atty. Emelyne Talabis, BM Francisco “Kit” Ortega Jr., EMB1 RD Ma. Victoria Abrera, DENR1 RD Reynulfo A. Juan, ASec. Marcial Amaro, Jr., DENR ARD-TS Gwendolyn Bambalan and MGB1 RD Carlos Tayag.

DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro Jr. enjoins the participants to identify activities that will put a stop on destructive activities along the coastlines of Ilocos Region.

Pangasinan 2nd District Representative Leopoldo N. Bataoil manifested his support to the undertaking

RD Reynulfo A. Juan as he encouraged everyone to be part of the solution to the glaring environmental concern.

BM Kit Ortega highlights on educating the youth on the value of environmental protection

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu with USec. Jonas Leones (left photo) offered a fruit bearing seedling to the gradeschool pupils of Barit Elementary School as a gesture of commitment that the youth will play vital role in protecting the environment from exploitation. Right Photo shows Sec. Cimatu signs on the Pledge of Commitment Wall. #TayoAngKalikasan

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