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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pathways and strategies for a new and better government

“The Pilipinas Conference gave us words of wisdom from dozens of experts.”

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The 6th Pilipinas Conference of the Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) culminated an impressive and inspiring five-day series of discussions in an extraordinary assembly of what former International Criminal Court Judge Raul Pangalangan aptly described as a rare gathering of “distinguished public intellectuals.” Philippine and international thought leaders representing government, various industries in the private sector, the academe, scientists, and civil society gave impassioned presentations to help guide the yet uncertain set of leaders of the next administration. Here are some snippets of wisdom from the conference.

The first day was on “Sustaining Economic Recovery Post-Pandemic Towards 2022 & Beyond” with top economists identifying key economic reforms. It emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships and having competent leaders.

Former NEDA Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia asked a US$41-billion question. He pointed out that since only US$31 billion was spent, how can this huge differential in debt be accounted for? He also hopes, like many of us, that the next President will be “sufficiently intelligent, competent, insightful and foresightful, an integer – meaning a whole and not a broken and corrupted leader – and has the country and people’s welfare at heart.”

Mr. Diwa Guinigundo, Former BSP Deputy Governor, sees the devastation brought by     the pandemic as an effect of underinvesting in the health sector and called for the development of the other collateral of other sectors thru massive investments from both public and private to prepare for a post-pandemic world.

The second day focused on “Philippine Trade Relations in the Pandemic Context:  A Part of EU-PH Trade & Sustainability Discussions 2021” which was organized in partnership with the European Union Delegation. In this session, panelists representing Philippine private industries and think tanks called on the government to take advantage of the declining rate of COVID-19 infections by reviving the economy and ramping up international trade and foreign investments.

Makati Business Club Treasurer, Ms. Rizalina Mantaring called for the passing of the Public Services Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act to increase trade and invite more foreign investment.

Dr. Aniceto Orbeta, Jr., President of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, emphasized the need for continuous learning and to invest in human capital as increasing the scale of high-tech firms in the country will also need increasing avenues for knowledge transfer.

On the third day, the theme was ]“Strengthening Cooperation for a Green & Sustainable Recovery,” a continuation of the EU-PH Trade & Sustainability Discussions. Environmental groups called on all sectors of society to plan smart, harness technology-driven solutions to mitigate climate change threats and accelerate towards a sustainable ecosystem.

Environment Undersecretary Analiza Teh outlined several opportunities in the circular economy models such as clean energy, sustainable transportation and urban development, regenerative agriculture, and productive oceans. She proposes the adoption of nature-based solutions which can actually provide 37% of the emission reduction needed to keep global temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius by 2030.

Dr. Carlos Primo “CP” David, Trustee and Program Convenor of Stratbase ADR Institute and Convenor of the Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship, for his part, warned that we will need to prepare for extreme weather that will bring worsening droughts and swings of widespread flooding if the warming trend continues.

Anticipating a possible food crisis, Dr. David proposed a more strategic approach in farming development that harmonizes the area, the weather, and the type of crops, with smallholder farms thriving with industrial scale farms.

The fourth day on “Advancing Multilateralism and Strategic Partnerships: 2022 Philippine Foreign and Security Policy Outlook” was attended by geopolitical authorities from government and the academe. They affirmed, to quote Stratbase ADRi President Prof. Dindo Manhit, “the need for a multilateral system that can contribute to achieving regional goals on peace and security.”

“The next administration has the opportunity to rectify our foreign policy that we need a stronger and more responsive foreign and security policy. It must be built for further strengthening the country’s existing security partnerships,” Prof Manhit said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, recognizing the uncertainties in the Indo-Pacific region, said “the Philippines therefore should take a more active role in promoting multilateralism. It should lead and call on ASEAN to be more proactive in asserting the interests of its member-states, instead of being a passive stakeholder.”

The fifth session delved into “Recovering Philippine Democracy Beyond 2022”, where Former Ombudsman and Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales critiqued the current type of government vis-a-vis the essential elements of democracy which are: separation and balance of power, independence of the judiciary, pluralistic system of political parties and organization, respect for the rule of law, accountability and transparency, free and independent media, and respect for human and political rights.

“We have to be clear that democracy cannot coexist with dictatorship or any tendencies thereof,” she said.

Each astute insight from the over 50 experts to the benefit of over 3,000 online attendees over last week’s Pilipinas Conference was aligned in a spirit of genuine love for country and visions of sustainable and inclusive prosperity. These will be published in an e-book that Stratbase ADRi will share with our country’s spectrum of leaders and candidates hoping this will help shape a better government.

You’re welcome to access the video recordings and presentations, just search “Pilipinas Conference 2021” online.

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