Area Development, Subsidiarity and Federalism BY PHILIP CAMARA ON JANUARY 5, 2017 ANALYSIS

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

DENR 10 CONDUCTS ANNUAL ASIAN WATERFOWL CENSUS IN NORTHERN MINDANAO

To monitor the number of migratory bird that pass through the coastal and wetland areas in Northern Mindanao, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 10 conducted the Annual Waterfowl Census (AWC) in the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental.

The conduct of the annual waterfowl census will determine the areas frequently visited by migratory birds, its condition as well as the status of coastal and wetland areas which is affected by land conversion, natural calamities and other human activities.

During the 2017 AWC assessment, a total of 1,988 migratory birds of 31 species were identified in ten wetland areas in northern Mindanao that include Pulangi Wetland (NAPOCOR Dam) in Bukidnon; Alubijid Wetland, El Salvador Wetland, Magsaysay Wetland, Opol Wetland, Pangasihan Wetland all from Misamis Oriental; Bonifacio Wetland, Sinacaban Wetland in Misamis Occidental; and Matampay Bukana Wetland and Mukas Karomatan Wetland in Lanao del Norte.  

For 2018 AWC assessment, according to Donato Bojo, a staff from the Protected Areas Management, Biodiversity Conservation Section, DENR field personnel has yet to finalize their reports and as per initial observation, there are possibilities that a decrease in numbers of migratory birds will be observed this year, he added.

Bojo stressed out that the decrease of migratory bird population will be due to external factors observed during the actual counting to include high water level in some fishponds, other sites were converted to commercial areas and the unpredictable weather conditions due to climate change.  

The annual Waterfowl Census is conducted by the DENR simultaneously with other countries along the Austral-Asian bird migration flyway, to provide information on the global status of wetlands. Wetlands, which include lakes, rivers, marshes, mudflats, mangrove swamps, etc., play a vital role in human existence. (RPAO PR No. 01-05-2018)

Photo Releases

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu (right) was welcomed by Community Environment and Natural Resources Office-Initao personnel headed by CENR Officer Myrna Neri (2nd from right) during his visit to region 10 on November 27. (RPAO PR No. 12-413-2017)

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu (left) speaks with DENR 10 officials and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office personnel of Misamis Oriental during his visit to Northern Mindanao on November 27 in Cagayan de Oro City.

Secretary Cimatu challenged the men and women of DENR 10 to strengthen its partnership and coordination with the Local Government Units in their respective area particularly on ecological solid waste management. (RPAO PR No.12-414-2017)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu points out Air Pollution, Water Pollution and Solid Waste Management as primary focus of DENR 10 during his visit at the Regional Office, Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City on November 27, 2017(RPAO PR No. 12-416-2017)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu (center) presides the Turn-over Ceremony of outgoing DENR 10 OIC, Regional Director Edwin B. Andot (right) and Incoming DENR 10 Regional Director Arleigh J. Adorable (left) during his visit at the Regional Office, Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City on November 27, 2017. (RPAO PR No. 12-416-2017)

DENR 10 Regional Director Arleigh J. Adorable (center), (from left to right) NEDA 10 Assistant Regional Director Mae Ester T. Guiamadel representing Regional Director  Leon M. Dacanay, Jr., DILG 10 Regional Director Arnel M. Agabe, (more...)

Regional Director Arleigh J. Adorable (center) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 10 hopes to harmonize issues on the ground with the signing of the Joint Operating Manual No. 1, Series of 2018 (more...)

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Employees Association (DENREA) provides ₱5,000.00 as financial assistance to 17 DENR employees who were victims of Typhoon Vinta on January 12, 2018. (more...)

ANNUAL ASIAN WATERFOWL CENSUS. Joint DENR 10 regional and field personnel from Community Environment and Natural Resources Office-Gingoog City patiently count migratory bird Little Stint (Calidris minuta) species (more...)

ANNUAL ASIAN WATERFOWL CENSUS. A flock of Black-Winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) was spotted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 10 (more...)

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