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The work goes on

A lot of hard work is being done to build a better Philippines through inclusive growth. It is the kind of work that involves stepping out of comfort zones, losing sleep, stressing over obstacles and essential details, and going the extra mile day in and day out.

Just last Wednesday, I joined a multisectoral meeting at the Department of Education to plan the Education Summit slated for December. Assistant Education Secretary Nepo Malaluan, who for many years led the civil society charge for freedom of information, is at the forefront of the planning of the summit, and he encouraged the group to help craft the agenda to maximize the conference’s potential to ensure that education reform not only continues but is also expanded and accelerated.

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One key theme revolves around government-industry-academe linkages that are clearly delivering results in addressing skills gaps and ensuring that education leads to jobs. A working group has been formed to take charge of the presummit meetings and discussions, and no less than the Philippines Business for Education (PBEd) has been tasked to make sure that the preparatory work gets done. Doris Ferrer, Feliece Yeban and Gani Serrano were some of those at the meeting who I know have given so much of their lives to sustained education reform.

Soon to reach its climax is the Philippines’ hosting of the Asean meetings, with the 50th-anniversary theme of “Prosperity for All.” Trade Secretary Mon Lopez and Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion have been tireless work drivers all year and have now shifted to the highest gears for the Asean Leaders Summit and Asean Business Investment Summit in November. Joey is joined by Tessie Sy-Coson and George Barcelon in hosting the Asean Business Advisory Council meetings and events as the Philippines’ representatives to the council. They tapped Gil Gonzales to be this year’s executive director—another work horse of inclusive growth, having invested much inspiration and perspiration to corporate social responsibility and corporate governance in his long career with the private sector.

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Last Monday, Vice President Leni Robredo addressed the Philippine Business Groups in a joint membership meeting to encourage business leaders and organizations to back her Angat Buhay Program which seeks to support the Duterte administration’s 10-point agenda through job generation and inclusive business initiatives. The VP has continued to visit far-flung and left-behind barangays to better understand not only the needs of the rural folk but also their dreams. It is hoped that the Office of the Vice President’s underfunded Angat Buhay program will help connect these barangays with both government and corporate inclusive business programs and initiatives.

Spearheading the private-sector mobilization to support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs are folks like UN Development Program’s Titon Mitra and PBEd’s Bonar Laureto, among many others. Beginning with “no poverty” and “zero hunger,” the SDGs are intended to make inclusive growth happen for the peoples of the world. A joint initiative of the UNDP with Philippine Business Groups led by the Philippine Business for Social Progress and Philippine Business for the Environment, with the backing of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Makati Business Club, is envisioned for launching soon. The aim of the initiative is to get the private sector to invest in SDG-supportive enterprises, delivering products and services more efficiently but at lesser cost, yet realizing reasonable profits. Studies estimate that the potential return may fully justify the needed huge initial investments. But the work ahead is clearly daunting.

As individuals, groups and various stakeholders pursue this very difficult work to build our nation, the government’s critical role is not only to provide the needed policy, regulatory and resource support but also—and possibly more importantly—to purposefully and carefully consider its actions so that these do not weigh down the movers and shakers for inclusive growth.

Peter Angelo V. Perfecto is executive director of the Makati Business Club and vice president of Integrity Initiative Inc.

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