Healing the nation, one grant at a time | Inquirer Opinion
Learning Curve

Healing the nation, one grant at a time

Conflict is a phenomenon associated with coexistence in all societies, according to the Guidebook on Sustainable Economic Development in Conflict-Affected Environments.

Published by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, the Guidebook states: “To some extent conflicts are an inevitable, indeed a necessary, corollary of social change, as they expose tensions and incompatibilities between different, mutually interdependent parties with regard to their respective needs, interests and values. Especially during phases of profound socioeconomic change and political transition, disagreements can escalate into violent conflicts or crises affecting whole societies. The problem is not societal conflict per se, but the way in which it is managed and resolved.”


The Metrobank Foundation Inc. (MBFI) is a grant-giving organization whose advocacy in nation-building is made possible by its partnerships with select nongovernment organizations, for the implementation of projects in the areas of health, education, arts, and livelihood (HEAL). Together with GT Foundation Inc. (GTFI), the family foundation of Metrobank Group founder and chair Dr. George S.K. Ty, the MBFI aims to contribute relevant and lasting solutions to development issues facing the country and the global community.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations in 2016, the foundations reviewed and updated their grant priorities to make these more responsive to the growing needs of the sectors that they serve. The MBFI and GTFI will now pursue the implementation of more long-term and high-impact projects that will benefit the marginalized and less fortunate.


Metrobank founder Ty envisioned their development thrust years ago when he famously said, “The bank is there to do good.”

According to MBFI president Chito Sobrepeña, there is really no single cure for what ails the nation but one key ingredient of the formula is stakeholder engagement—a crucial factor for interventions in conflict-affected environments.

The Guidebook says: “In most cases, conflict [results] from multiple structural causes. Political factors such The as the absence of a legitimate government, the exclusion of people from political decision-making or limited institutional capacities may breed discontent within a society; a fragile state may further fuel or aggravate conflicts. Likewise, social factors such as social disintegration, marginalization and discrimination are likely to enrage disadvantaged groups. Furthermore, a lack of security connected to the presence of small arms or uncontrolled army and police units may lead to a situation of uncontrollable violence.”

It adds: “Local business people can play an important role in peace-building or peace entrepreneurship clustered according to the four major issues for peace-building that are typically found in post-conflict settings: political, economic, security and reconciliation.”

In serving the greater good, the MBFI, GTFI and the hundreds of other private foundations operating in the country today have to involve themselves more extensively in resolving conflict. After all, peace and stability are key drivers for growth.

Still, there are realities that must be faced.

The Guidebook says: “It has often been assumed that development interventions can continue with ‘business as usual,’ an attitude of working around a conflict, avoiding or even ignoring it as far as possible. However, reality proved this not to be a feasible option, but rather a strategy with a high risk of being harmful.”


This is where the HEAL program shines. Sobrepeña emphasizes that the MBFI and GTFI work very closely with their partner organizations so that there is no ambiguity with regard to the context, strategic thrust and relevance of the planned intervention in the community being served.

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Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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