By Bien Cagayan

In my previous blog, I discussed what the Planning Exercises for Provinces Workshop was all about and shared a few key points Dr. Toby Monsod emphasized during her presentation of the 2012-2013 Philippine Human Development Report (2012-2013 PHDR) in the said workshop.  Some of these key points were:

  1. Emphasis on the critical role geography plays in human development.
  2. Failure to take geography into account in development planning results in lost opportunities in pursuing human development.
  3. Planning will be most effective when undertaken by the province, currently the most practicable level of authority that can give full weight to the specificity and diversity of local conditions.. Unfortunately, the province is currently the weakest in all tiers of government.

I also shared that Dr. Monsod left questions for the participants from the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro to ponder on after her presentation of the 2012-2013 PHDR. These questions were:

  1. Does geography help explain local development experience across Mindoro? Is the conclusion about provinces worth pursuing?
  2. Is the conclusion, feasible? Why or why not
  3. If the conclusion was to be tested, and the province was to be given power, what would you do with that power?

So, how do you think the participants received findings of the 2012-2013 PHDR? After Dr. Monsod’s presentation, participants were given time to clarify the findings of the report by asking questions to the author and sharing similar experiences that validate it.

Oriental Mindoro Governor Umali found resonance to the report’s findings with regards to centralization in government policies, particularly the Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB) process. He raised the issue of why the national government is asking them to provide counter-part funding on projects, programs and activities under the BUB, when they have no part to play in the process. Not even monitoring. He also raised the issue who would monitor projects under the BUB, when in reality there are not a lot of civil society organizations who can monitor, and most of them are appointed by local chief executives. Ms. Gladys Barile, the planning and development coordinator (PPDC) of Occidental Mindoro reinforced what the governor said stating that when finally the province was included in the regional poverty reduction team (RPRAT) of the BUB, the provincial representatives felt that they were just “audiences” as they have no knowledge of what was going on in the RPRAT. She feels as if the province had been bypassed and set aside by the national government.

Both accounts validate one of the findings of the PHDR, that the province is currently the weakest tier of government. The participants were then divided into five workshop groups after they were given time for clarifications. The aim of these workshop groups was to answer the three questions Dr. Monsod posed at the end of her presentation. To the first question all five workshop groups unanimously answered with a yes. They found the report to be reflective of how development in Occidental and Oriental Mindoro are affected by geography, thus finding the initiative worth pursuing. One participant though, answered yes but with reservations, citing that geography isn’t the only factor that affects development. Peace and order and culture should also be considered. The second question, “Is it feasible?”, was answered by the majority of the participants, still, with a resounding yes.

The third and last question was a bit trickier to answer: “What priorities would you determine and how would you pilot these given the power?”. The priorities and projects provided by the participants ranged from different sectors such as governance, health, agriculture, DRR-CCA and education. These are but a few examples of how the provincial governments of both Occidental and Oriental Mindoro find resonance in the findings of the report. The participant’s validation of the findings of the book clearly reinforces the need to empower provinces. Now, if it is worth pursuing, if it is feasible, then I think it’s time to put the report to test. That’s what I’ll talk about in the third and final entry on this three-part blog series.

Want to know more about the 2012-2013 Philippine Human Development Report? DOWNLOAD 2012-2013 PHDR