The MTPDP as a social contract to adapt



Sylvia Miclat

If P-Noy is offering the draft 2011-2016 Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) as a social contract with the Filipino people, both parties must set their terms and conditions with a third party that has long set its own.

The environment and the impact of climate change in the Philippines demand from the other parties more astute and pragmatic responses, in keeping with the changing times and situations faced. NEDA’s Director General Cayetano Paderanga said that the draft Medium Term Philippine Development Plan is a translation of President Aquino’s “social contract with the Filipino people and is the strategic framework for the country’s development.”

This social contract “envisions a country with an organized and widely shared rapid expansion of our economy through a government dedicated to honing and mobilizing our people’s skills and energies, as well as the responsible harnessing of our natural resources,” he said.

As the draft Medium Term Philippine Development Plan for 2011-2016 does the rounds of regional consultations with various stakeholders, ESSC raises similar concerns and expectations presented to government during the formulation of the 2001-2004 mid-term MTPDP .

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) is presenting to stakeholders the government’s economic and development blueprint in identifying priorities, thrusts, and growth sectors for the next six years. Accompanying the MTPDP is the Medium Term Philippine Investment Program or MPTIP that also identifies investment priorities for the next six years.

The plan consists of nine chapters: Macroeconomic Policy; Competitive Industry and Services Sectors; Competitive and Sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries; Accelerating Infrastructure Development; Financial Sector; Good Governance and the Rule of Law; Social Development; Peace and Security; and Conservation, Protection and Rehabilitation of Environment and Natural Resources Towards Sustainable Development.

The consultations are government’s efforts in ensuring the participatory process involving stakeholders from different sectors to synchronize national and regional thrusts and priorities of the government and to ensure wide participation in the preparation of the MTPDP.

While the environment and natural resources are but one chapter of the development plan, recent events of flooding, landslides, droughts do bring focus on the need to integrate climate change impacts and needed adaptations and changes in the economic, social, and political priorities of the country.

The stability of the environment must be actively sought beyond the ecology and natural resources agenda. There is a need for stability rather than immediate growth in the natural resources sector, which is not expected in the short-term.

This need for stability cuts across the agriculture, agrarian reform, and natural resources sectors, and to ensure this situation, social capital investment is necessary, before any modernization, broad-based development, and sustainability can occur towards accelerated rural development.

The political will, however much used and disabused, needs to be mustered to implement and exact accountability and responsibility. The security provided by tenure instruments, provision of technical assistance, active participation by peoples’ organizations can facilitate the implementation and management of government programs, if these are rooted and responding to people’s daily struggles and provision of basic social services.

The consistency in applying rules and regulations and the need for realistic policies to implement requires a re-thinking of how government functions and cares. Government implements through policies that may need to be adapted and revised to accommodate the changed social and environmental landscapes.

Environmental and climate change concerns are no longer the sole jurisdiction and responsibility of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). While DENR is the agency mandated to take charge of this responsibility, these concerns require a broader integrated response from government and civil society. Institutional flexibilities will allow the various line agencies and their leaders to take risks, take responsibility, and have the freedom to act accordingly as the situations may demand.

The social contract that the Philippines must undertake with the environment is not drawn up for a future implementation and takes no heed of executive, legislative, and judicial approval. It is happening now, with every rainfall event, typhoon, drought, and disaster experienced. P-Noy’s social contract through the MTPDP must adapt.

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