The Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF), together with its long-time institutional partner Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), co-organized a national conference on decentralization tagged “Time to Reconfigure: Decentralization in a Changing Environment” on February 12, 2015 at The Peninsula Manila in Makati City.
The national conference provided an opportunity for
many stakeholders to review the current state of decentralization in the country and also, in the process identify doable steps in moving forward. The event also served as a platform to discuss the impact of ASEAN integration to local governance and decentralization.
On the evening of February 11, a welcome dinner was held and attended by respected officials from the national and local government, including representatives from the international community, the academe, and civil society. The welcome dinner’s Guest of Honor was Vice-President Jejomar Binay. The Vice President spoke on the need to promote decentralization and to push it further with fundamental reforms.
The program for the national conference was scheduled the following day and began with the welcome remarks delivered by KAS Country Representative Benedikt Seemann and LOGODEF Executive Director Prof. Edmund Tayao. This was followed by a keynote address on Empowering Local Governments delivered by Mr. Bernhard Kaster, Member of the German parliament and Whip of the CDU/CSU faction.
During the first session on the “Review of the State of Decentralization”, the resource persons and discussants were former San Fernando City, La Union, Mayor Mary Jane Ortega, Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto, Synergeia CEO & President Dr. Milwida Guevara, and LOGODEF Founding Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dr. Gaudioso Sosmeña, Jr.
After lunch, the second session on “Moving Forward” started with the presentation of Prof. Edmund Tayao of LOGODEF’s common paper entitled “Sustaining Democracy is Sustaining Decentralization”. A Panel of Discussants commented on the presentation, which include Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) President Dr. Gilberto Llanto, South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes, and Institute of Bangsamoro Studies’ Executive Director Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga. Afterwards, LOGODEF Board of Trustees Member Dr. Nestor Pilar delivered a short synthesis.
Discussants for the final session on the “Impact of ASEAN Integration to Local Governance and Decentralization” was comprised by representatives from the national government, business, and development work sectors, namely: Mr. Daniel Espiritu, Director for ASEAN Political Security Community of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); Undersecretary for Local Government Austere Panadero of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG); Undersecretary of Regional Operations Group Zenaida Cuison-Maglaya of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI) Honorary Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Mr. Donald Dee; and Head of the USAID Trade-Related Assistance for Development (TRADE) Project and former Secretary of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Dr. Cielito Habito. A short synthesis was delivered by Dr. Mariano Guillermo, Member of the LOGODEF Board of Trustees.
In each of the three sessions, the discussions among the resource persons were followed by a short open forum wherein conference participants took the opportunity to bring up relevant issues and concerns in the area of local governance. The discussion sessions were moderated by TV5 news anchor and broadcast journalist Ms. Cherie Mercado-Santos.
Before the Conference concluded, Vice-Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Local Government Hon. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV delivered an inspirational message in light of the almost 26 years of decentralization in the country. Senator Trillanes emphasized on the need to overcome the persistent problems confronting local governments and promised to push for bureaucratic reforms at the national level.
The conference was officially closed with Undersecretary Panadero’s message calling for a need to review the Local Government Code, one that requires complementary efforts between the national and local governments following the same agenda. He also emphasized that in order to fully realize the benefits of decentralization, systems must be in place and reforms at the local level must be undertaken.
A concluding dinner for all invited resource persons and participants was held at the Garcia Villa and Balagtas Rooms of The Peninsula Manila.
TO ACCESS THE CONFERENCE NOTES, CLICK HERE.