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 8 presents paper on building community resilience to impacts of climate change

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in region 8 presented a paper entitled “Building Community Resilience to Climate Change Impacts through the National Greening Program (NGP)” to the participants of the 2nd Regional Conference on Climate Change RDE held at the Visayas State University, Baybay City on December 18-20, 2017.strpaper, presented by DENR 8’s Conservation and Development Chief Eugenia Bautista focused on the NGP as a climate change mitigation and adaptation…

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Photo Releases

DENR 8’s ARD for Management Services Arturo N. Salazar presents Updates on Government Policy on Climate Change during the 2nd Regional Climate Change Conference conducted by PH Haiyan Cooperative in cooperation with the Climate Change Commission.

Mangrove forest and eco-park in Naungan, Ormoc City developed by the Naungan San Juan Mangrove Planters Association from what used to be a plain mudflat.

DENR 8 technical personnel record and monitor sightings of migratory birds in the wetlands of Eastern Visayas.

Residents of Brgy. Tagpuro join the mangrove tree planting activity spearheaded by the PH Haiyan Advocacy Cooperative.

Participants to the tree planting activity in celebration of National Women’s Month and International Day of Forest plant mangrove propagules in one of the most devatated areas in Tacloban City when Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the region in November 2013.

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