The work goes on

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - OPINION - PETER AN­GELO V. PER­FECT

Alot 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.

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.

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 left­be­hind 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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