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 LEADS ENVIRONMENT MONTH, OTHER ENVIRONMENT CELEBRATIONS IN JUNE

Anchored on the theme : “Beat Plastic Pollution,” the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 10 (DENR 10) leads the celebration of Environment Month this June.

DENR 10 Regional Director Arleigh J. Adorable disclosed that the month-long celebration aims to promote environmental awareness and participation among the various sectors of society. This is also in consonance to Presidential Proclamation 237 which mandates the yearly celebration of Environment Month in June to protect, enhance and develop our environment, he said.

Information, Education and Communication (IEC) on the celebration will be undertaken through multi-media and interpersonal approach. The activities include Environmental Symposium on June 20 and Environmental Quiz Show on June 29 for students and Environmental Quiz Bee for DENR employees on June 25.

To showcase high school students concern for the environment through artwork, an On-the-Spot Poster Making Contest will be conducted on June 26. A photo contest among DENR 10 offices aimed to increase the level of knowledge of stakeholders of the various programs of DENR will reel off on June 25 to 29.

Green Film Festival on June 29 at SM Cinemas will also be supported by the regional office. Youth organizations and students shall be invited to watch environment-related films during the Green Festival.

The regional office is sponsoring a Donate a Book Project to gather books from employees and stakeholders to be given to public schools in the region. Plastic Innovation, a contest on recycling of plastics will test the creativity of DENR 10 personnel will be spearheaded by the Administrative Division.

To promote health and wellness, Larong Pinoy will be conducted regionwide on June 5 and DENR 10 will celebrate the DENR Anniversary on June 8 through a Family Day and a talent search, DENR Got Talent. The DENR Anniversary is celebrated every June 10 through Executive Order No. 192.

An Open House which will serve as a venue for People’s organizations and other stakeholders to display and sell their products will be undertaken on June 26 to 29 at the regional office.

Culminating activities of the Environment Month include a Thanksgiving Mass, program with the grand finals of the DENR Got Talent and awarding of prizes to winners of different contests. The raffle draw of the Environment and Natural Resources Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative (ENREMCO) will also be conducted on June 29.

Aside from the Environment Month celebration, the DENR 10 will spearhead the celebration of Philippine Eagle Week from June 4 to 10 with a photo exhibit at the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon and other IEC activities to encourage communities and individuals to help protect our national bird, the Philippine Eagle.

The DENR 10 joins the celebration of Coral Triangle Day on June 9 to foster protection and conservation of this natural treasure. The event is celebrated in countries in the Coral Triangle region - Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. This year the DENR 10 will undertake a coastal clean-up at Barangay Bayabas, Cagayan de Oro City and distribution of Marine Protected Area (MPA) marker buoys to support the maintenance and protection of established MPAs in Eastern Iligan Bay.

In celebration of Arbor Day youth groups with other stakeholders are scheduled to participate in a tree growing at Malasag, Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City on June 23 and a mangrove clean-up and replanting will also be conducted at Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City on June 27. By virtue of Proclamation No. 369, Arbor Day is celebrated every 25th of June in the Philippines. #TayoAngKalikasan (RPAO # 05-154-2018)

Photo Releases

REGIONAL ANTI-ILLEGAL LOGGING TASK FORCE. DENR 10 Regional Director Arleigh J. Adorable (left) reports to the members of the Regional Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (RAILTF) the recent Anti-Illegal Mining and Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force operation headed by BGen. Mario F. Chan (Ret) and Col. Jett L. Duque in the localities of Tagoloan and Villanueva in Misamis Oriental on April 26 and 27. (more...)

ANTI-ILLEGAL LOGGING OPERATION OF REGION 10. Hired laborers load apprehended wood trimmer/cutter machines and dismantles electric fuse and motors used in the illegal operation of wood processing plants on April 26 in the vicinities of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental. (more...)

CDORBMC TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP ON PES MEETING. DENR 10 Regional Director Arleigh J. Adorable represented by Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Paquito D. Melicor, Jr. (center) welcomes the members of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council (CDORBMC) Technical Working Group (TWG) on Payment for Ecological Services. (more...)

CDORBMC TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP ON PES MEETING. Forester Marilou Clarete (left, standing), Chief Conservation and Development Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region 10 gives the Overview of the Payment for Ecological Services in Cagayan de Oro River Basin. (more...)

Rey Fernandez (2nd from left), Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Misamis Occidental receives the flagship mascot for Baliangao Protected Landscape and Seascape (BPLS). (more...)

DENR 10 Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Paquito Melicor, Jr. (right) turns-over the flagship mascot to Forester Eddie Macasusi (2nd from left), Protected Area Superintendent of the Initao-Libertad Protected Landscape and Seascape (ILPLS) in Misamis Oriental. (more...)

IEC TRAINING/WORKSHOP ON IEC MATERIALS DESIGN AND PRODUCTION.Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region 10 Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Paquito D. Melicor, Jr. (standing) encourages the participants to work harder in raising awareness to protect and conserve the natural resources for the present and future generations (more...)

IEC TRAINING/WORKSHOP ON IEC MATERIALS DESIGN AND PRODUCTION. Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Mamacaya M. Lucman (standing) of Lanao del Norte welcomes participants to the Training/Workshop on IEC Materials Design and Production on May 17-19, 2018 in Iligan City. (more...)

IEC TRAINING/WORKSHOP ON IEC MATERIALS DESIGN AND PRODUCTION. Participants discuss the content and layout of the IEC materials for DENR 10 Integrated Natural Resources Management Project (INREMP) in Lake Lanao River Basin during the Training/Workshop on IEC Materials Design and Production on May 17-19, 2018 in Iligan City. (more...)

MONTH OF THE OCEAN. Bonbon residents headed by its barangay officials join the DENR in celebrating the Month of the Ocean 2018 with the theme, “Stand up, Save our Reefs.” The said clean-up activity was conducted on May 11 in the coastal areas of Barangay Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City. (more...)

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