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

Area Development, Subsidiarity and Federalism

Manila Times  article by philip camaraby USEC PHILIP CAMARA

(Published in The Manila Times, 05 January 2017)

http://www.manilatimes.net/AREA-DEVELOPMENT-SUBSIDIARITY-FEDERALISM/305243/



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).

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