Area development, subsidiarity and federalism

Area development, subsidiarity and federalism

 

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.|(Special Feature) Philip Camara, The Manila Times

News

Confiscated forest products turned beneficial

 

The economic value of some confiscated forest products would be redeemed by donating these to qualified recipient.  The National Food Authority (NFA), in its request for some logs intended for the fabrication of office chairs and tables for clients’ and visitors’ use, the DENR-CAR through CENRO Baguio donated a total of six point ninety four (6.94) cubic meter of Benguet pine logs. The 6.94 cubic meter is composed of thirty (30) pieces of logs with an aggregated length of about sixty-nine point twenty-three (69.23) meters.

In the Deed of Donation prepared, the Donor is represented by CENR Officer Rainier D. Balbuena of CENRO Baguio while the Donee is represented by Cecilia A. Cuncubierta, the Provincial Manager of NFA Benguet.

These logs were derived from previously cut Benguet pine trees with an approved permit from the DENR-CAR within the office premises of  Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) situated in Loakan, Baguio City.  These were turned over to CENRO Baguio City in accordance to Section 2.2 of Executive Order No. 23, s. 2011 which states among others that “all logs derived from issued cutting permits within natural and residual forests shall be turned over to the DENR for proper disposal”. 

Based on the guidelines under Memorandum Order No. 162, s. 1993 confiscated logs, lumbers and other forest products may be disposed through donation if these are not subject of a pending case in court or with other appropriate office; if these are without claimants or offenders against whom the case could be filed; and if these are found abandoned within forest areas, the ownership of which could not be ascertained and without claimants.

Further, the Order also specifies which beneficiary to prioritize in the event that two (2) qualified beneficiaries request for forest products at the same time.  On top of the priority list are the needy victims of disaster as certified by DSWD, for the School Building Program of Department of Education (DepEd), and those undertaken by the Department of national Defense (DND)/AFP Engineering Brigade.

Other beneficiaries shall include Health Centers, Public Markets, Municipal Buildings, Police Station, AFP camps, DPWH, LGUs and the Provincial, Regional and National Projects.

For CY 2016 until June 2017, the DENR-CAR donated a total of 77.936 cu.m. of lumber and 2,927 lineal meters(l.m.) of rattan to the different government agencies, of which the larger bulk is the donation to the DepEd. 

The breakdown of donated lumber per provincial office is in Abra .848 cu.m. lumber, in Apayao 51.390 cu.m. of lumber and 2,927 l.m. and in Benguet 6.700 cu.m..  Likewise, in Ifugao the total donations is 3.149 cu.m., while in Kalinga .400 cu.m. and in Mt. Province 15.446 cu.m.

Further, under the DENR Manual of Authorities, the approving authority is dependent on the volume of forest products to be donated.  It specifies that for donations that are more than 100 cu.m., the Department Secretary shall approve the donation.  But for lumber to be donated with a volume of 30.01 cu.m. to 100 cu.m., the Regional Director,  with clearance from USEC for Field Operations shall sign the Deed of Donation. Also, for the donation of 10.01 cu.m. to 30 cu.m and for those  less than 10 cu.m, the PENR Officer and CENR Officer, respectively has the authority to sign donation documents.  The DENR in the Cordillera Region, shall continue to donate confiscated lumber as long as the requisites are properly complied with.  In this way, the economic value of the lumber shall be redeemed.|GSAstudillo

Photo Releases

FOREIGN PATROLLERS - Beberly Calugan (left) of the DENR-CAR’s Enforcement Division assists the Indonesian visitors in handling the Lawin patrolling gadgets.  These gadgets are equipped with android applications with cyber tracking capacity and spatial monitoring and reporting tool to generate field data for speedier analysis and intervention.(Read more...)|AJTuraray

Bamboo Movement - Members of the Bantay Gubat put on the finishing touches while assembling bamboo shavings for a table during a bamboo furniture training-workshop.  The training was initiated by the DENR-CAR in partnership with DTI-CAR (Read more...|P. Abra, VIDeVera

THE WINNERS TO THE FIRST ENVIRONMENTAL QUIZ BEE. Together with the judges and the DENR Officials, the winners show off their Certificates and medals.  From left to right are three of the judges Mr. Jose Maria Bringas Madriaga, Ms. Michelli Lazo and Ms. Carmelita Bersalona Leano.  They are joined by PENR Officer of Abra For. Shirley Leano and Regional Director Ralph C. Pablo (Read more...) .|PTNerja