Conversations that matter | Inquirer Opinion
Commentary

Conversations that matter

/ 05:01 AM November 26, 2022

I am heartened by the success of the 2022 Pilipinas Conference, which the Stratbase ADR Institute held for the seventh year last Nov. 21-22.

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The presence of many key figures in government, private sector, civil society, and the diplomatic corps was particularly encouraging. It gives us a measure of confidence that top decision-makers are willing to come together, share their ideas, and exchange insights when given the platform and opportunity to do so. Everyone already acknowledges the issues that we face require a multistakeholder, whole-of-society approach. We just need to craft ways to do this in a strategic, organized, and sustained manner.

We take the cue from the government. It is the Stratbase Institute’s pride and honor that Cabinet members—alter egos of the President—from key departments found the time to be with us at the conference. Their presence sends an unequivocal signal to us all: that this government means business, that it knows its priorities, and that it is ready to collaborate with other sectors to accomplish what needs to be done.

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For example, our friend, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, who gave the keynote address on Day 1, said that digital transformation is at the core of her agency’s reform agenda and efforts to improve bureaucratic efficiency, as well as transparency in the procurement process. “To achieve equitable participation in the digital society and bridge the widening digital divide, the government must make meaningful digital opportunities available for all, beyond basic connectivity,” she said.

Environment Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga emphasized everyone’s—not just the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’—stewardship role in protecting the environment and advocated a risk management approach in confronting the challenges of climate change. It’s a mission that represents “ethical stewardship that works across silos to uphold shared environmental values and deliver public service based on scientific and technical excellence,” she said.

Yulo-Loyzaga acknowledged that many corporations have already recalibrated their priorities so they could be agents of environmental conservation. ESG—environmental, social, and governance—then becomes ESGR, with R representing resilience.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the maritime industry is a crucial component in our socioeconomic rebound from the pandemic, but this has remained underdeveloped due to divergent policies and lack of consistency in project implementation. “We look at opportunities to forge collaborations with maritime-related agencies of other countries to benchmark our efforts at raising our maritime industry to global standards,” he said.

On Day 2, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno commended the strength and resilience of the business community throughout the pandemic. He said the government’s goal is to create more high-quality and green jobs, and that it would invest heavily in physical infrastructure, digitalization, and human capital development.

“But we cannot achieve any of this alone,” he said. “We recognize that effective public-private coordination holds the key to a host of desirable economic activities.”

In his closing remarks, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said the government creates long-term value by building relationships with and among stakeholders, linking knowledge and skills, capital and resources, and the all-important market players to each other.

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He said the pursuit of inclusive growth requires addressing disparities in regional development and doing so means focusing on MSME development. “We need to provide them the means with science, technology, and innovation.”

The closing of this year’s Pilipinas Conference is just the beginning. We were reminded of the daunting task that awaits not just the government, not just the private sector, but all of us. We are working toward economic recovery, development, and growth, but we want these to also be inclusive and sustainable, to be felt by all and not just a chosen few.

It is my hope that we at Stratbase have sparked the conversations that matter, and that would solidify our will to work together for the sake of our beloved Pilipinas.

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Dindo Manhit is the founder and CEO of the Stratbase Group.

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