SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT
JESUS P. ESTANISLAO
Unlike many others, with a tendency to call upon the national government to do something in pursuit of an empty slogan, Paulo Cobankiat comes up with a plea that he wants to shout out of every rooftop in our country: let
us remain united as a people, as one nation!But he does not stop there. He suggests a strategic imperative for making this happen.
How? His answer is simple and straightforward: underscore the “one Philippines” concept, and let every region in our country contribute towards strengthening and substantiating the concept, each in their own unique way. These are some of the ideas he puts forward:
- “At a national level, (we should have) more conversations on regional diversity under a ´one Philippines´umbrella. (We should have) more education on regional differences, (and) more cultural sharing. Things like the BahayTsinoy museum in Intramuros are a good start”. And there should be many more of these.
- We should encourage and facilitate each region to “hold on to their regional identities”, but there has to be a positive and responsible attitude from each region to contribute towards bringing about “a stronger, one Philippines”.
- The way to do this is to encourage and facilitate the observance and practice of good governance and responsible citizenship in every region. This would mean that we “promote/enhance the importance of regional and provincial governments so they (become the most active agents) in pushing regional development”. This should be the substantiation of “devolution of power” to the regions and provinces. And this includes pushing for the coordinated and integrated strategy formulation and execution for Metro Manila, for which “we should be talking about a central governor for Metro Manila, (instead of) focusing (mainly) on the national President”.
- Then, with each region and province having done their strategy formulation and execution homework, we should “give them greater voice in national affairs to reduce perception of ´imperial Manila´”.Indeed, when regions and provinces are expected to do their part and chip in to the national effort of building Dream Philippines, and they are made to “feel they are not being ignored, they will be more receptive to accepting that we are one Philippines”.
The key to the “one Philippines” strategic imperative lies in regional/provincial autonomy, pursued and exercised in close solidarity with the national strategy of our country. This would mean:
- Every region should be helped to “develop their own industries, independently of rigid control and oversight from the central government”.
- “Every region should solicit and effectively obtain local business and civil society support for local small and medium enterprises best suited to regional economic endowments and opportunities”.”
- Every region should then coordinate with other regions and with the national government itself in “providing support for the sustained development of specific local sectors such as tourism, agriculture, fishing so more people can participate”, acting in the best interest of their respective regions as well as of the country as a whole.
The suggestion above from Paulo Cobankiat is an articulation of a ground-up, bottom-up approach to national and country governance and development.