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.
CV forest protection advocates gather in conference
More than a decade after its last meeting, the forest protection group in Cagayan Valley once again convened for a regionwide conference.
At least 100 advocates composing the regional, provincial and municipal Multi-sectoral Forest Protection Committee (MFPC) attended the Regionwide Conference on Forest Protection and Conservation held on Dec.8, this year at Las Palmas de San Jose in Tuguegarao City.
They are the DENR’s active partners in preserving the remaining forests of Region 2.
In his keynote message, Luzon Assistant Secretary for Operations Juan Miguel T. Cuna said the MFPCs have evolved to deal with more complex problems, issues and challenges of the environment in general.
“It is high time we recognize the efforts and contributions of the MFPCs in Cagayan Valley leading to the greater awareness and appreciation of our natural resources and preserving our protected areas here in Region 2,” he enthused.
He reminded that highly mobilized MFPCs will always have a positive impact on the environment and the communities.
ASEC Cuna also stressed on the main thrust of Sec. Gina Lopez on Sustainable Integrated Area Development Management which will be implemented in 29 sites including the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP). According to him, NSMNP is considered the last remaining forested frontier in Northern Luzon.
Regional MFPC Chairperson Perla A. Visorro said the activity serves as an avenue for MFPC stakeholders to share their long standing experiences and best practices for the last decade of operation.
The regionwide conference also paves the way for the documentation of the best practices and recent developments in forest protection conducted including the innovations by the different groups advocating forest protection.
Updates on the existing forestry policies and strategies and their effectives in addressing illegal logging; status of forest cover including the trends of confiscation and seizure of illegally sourced forest products in Region 2; and the report on the RMFPC monitoring in Tumauni and City of Ilagan, both in Isabela after Super Typhoon Lawin were presented during the meeting.
Initiatives and strategies on forest protection and best practices on Community-based Forest Resource Management were shared by selected local government units and people’s organizations, respectively.
Organized in 1992, the MFPC is composed of local government units, national government agencies and different civil society organizations such as non-government organizations and people’s organizations.# CCC
Piat-Solana political boundary clarified
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 2 OIC Regional Director Wilfredo C. Malvar (2nd from left) and Engr. Alberto S. Obedoza (right), Chief of the DENR Region 2 Surveys and Mapping Division, listen as DENR Assistant Regional Director for Management Service Atty. Gil A. Aromin (2nd from right) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region 2 Director Marjorie P. Ayson (left) discuss salient points pertaining to the jurisdiction on a parcel of land between the municipalities of Piat and Solana, in the province of Cagayan, during a dialogue held at Hotel Roma in Tuguegarao City where DAR Undersecretaries Atty. Marcos Risonar and Atty. David Erro, representatives from the Land Bank of the Philippines, Register of Deeds, Department of the Interior and Local Government, the local government of Piat and Solana, representatives of the owners of the landholdings and farmer beneficiaries were also present.
Engr. Alberto S. Obedoza, in his presentation of the technical descriptions of the subject landholding, revealed that the same area was covered by two separate titles. Engr. Obedoza however stressed that during the cadastral survey they conducted, the actual location of Barangay Warat, where most of the farmer beneficiaries reside, is within the municipality of Piat, Cagayan. This was confirmed by the DILG Regional Office’s and National Barangay Operations Office’s certifying Barangay Warat as ‘listed in the current and master list of barangays as one of 18 regular barangays in Piat” and that the representative from Solana “is not claiming that the subject landholding is within their jurisdiction.” #
DENR: Best Government Agency BuB Implementer in Cagayan Valley Region.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Cagayan Valley Region Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Wilfredo C. Malvar (2nd from left) and Forester Felina R. Malupeng (center) marvel at a plaque of recognition awarded to the premier environment agency by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Region 2 Regional Director John M. Castaňeda (2nd from right), DILG Asst. Regional Director Odilon Pasaraba (left) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Region 2 Supervising Budget and Management Specialist Jose Cusipag Pamittan (right) during the DILG-sponsored Local Government Unit Incentives and Awards (LGUIA) Ceremony held at the Ilagan Auditorium, City of Ilagan in Isabela on November 8, 2016. DENR Region 2 was recognized as “Best (Government Agency) BuB Project implementer” for its ‘excellent performance in the implementation of BuB (Bottom-up Budgeting) in 2014, 2015 and 2016.’ Also awarded next to the DENR were the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region 2 and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
City of Ilagan: Best BuB Implementer in Cagayan Valley Region.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Cagayan Valley Region Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Wilfredo C. Malvar (center) beams as he awards the plaque of recognition for the City Government of Ilagan as ‘Best (Bottom-up Budgeting) BuB Project implementer’ to City Mayor Evelyn C. Diaz (2nd from right) during the Department of the Interior and Local Government DILG-sponsored Local Government Unit Incentives and Awards (LGUIA) Awarding Ceremony held at the Ilagan Auditorium, City of Ilagan in Isabela on November 8, 2016. The city of Ilagan was cited for its ‘effective and remarkable’ implementation of two BuB projects--the Agroforestry Project and Forest Development and Rehabilitation Project which were enrolled in the DENR-initiated National Greening Program (NGP) in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
In its 209.6-hectares agroforestry project area in Barangay Rang-ayan, the LGU administered the planting of some 104,800 seedlings of narra (Pterocarpus indicus), yemane (Gmelina arborea) and mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) forest tree species and mango (Mangifera Indica) and calamansi (Citrofortunella microcarpa) fruit tree species using the P2.4 million pesos the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) appropriated for the project. It also reported having completed plantation establishment, maintenance and protection activities including the construction of a 18 6x1000-meters fire prevention blocks and two look-out towers as of December 30, 2014.
In the 173.4 hectares forest development and rehabilitation project area, also in Rang-ayan, the Ilagan City LGU planted 173,400 seedlings of narra, mahogany and gmelina forest tree species; established ten fire prevention blocks and two lookout towers as part of maintenance and protection component using the P2.6 million fund from the DBM, and reported project completion on September 30, 2015.
DENR Region 2 OIC Regional Director Malvar said, “The projects were implemented ahead of schedule. The LGU used the funds as programmed and appropriately liquidated according to COA (Commission on Audit) prescribed guidelines.”
“More importantly, the Barangay Rang-ayan community or the city constituents seemed to be happy with the projects. We did not receive any complaint from any stakeholder related to the implementation of the Bub projects. No complaints!” he added.
Also present during the awarding rites were: DILG Region 2 Regional Director John M. Castaňeda (4th from left) DILG Assistantt Regional Director Odilon L. Pasaraba (3rd from left), DILG Isabela Provincial Director Elpidio A. Durwin (right), DILG Regional Project Management Officer Engr. Imelda P.A. Rosales (2nd from left), National Anti-Poverty Commission representative Amalia Decena (left) and DBM Region 2 Supervising Budget and Management Specialist Jose Cusipag Pamittan, (3rd from right).
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