Posted tagged ‘state’

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Promote synergy with civil society in the development path

February 5, 2015

 

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Promote synergy with civil society in the development path

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

In the old formulations, development was an exclusive endeavor of state and market players. That is, the directions of development were largely the handiworks of political, bureaucratic and corporate elites. There should be an admission that this structural formulation was a factor in generating the crisis-level ailments of mass poverty, large-scale unemployment, low wages, sluggish growth and dependence. So why retain a formula that had failed us miserably?

The current context, where a dynamic and colossal civil society operates, points to the ever-growing recognition of the potent role of civil society in co-determining the compass of development. At the grassroots level, development efforts will be accelerated to a great extent by involving civil society formations acting as ‘social capital’ base, as studies have positively demonstrated (citations from Peter Evans’ works on ‘state-society synergy’). Insulating the state from grassroots folks, as the same studies have shown, have produced dismal if not tragic effects, e.g. India’s non-involvement of ‘social capital’ in the erection and maintenance of irrigation facilities resulted to program failure in the end.

Building and maintaining ecologically sound, clean cities can likewise be effected through the tri-partnership of state, civil society and market, as demonstrated by the Puerto Princesa case. Under the stewardship of the dynamic city mayor (Mr. Hagedorn), the tri-partnership was galvanized. Businesses have since been conscious of operating on clean technologies and environmental responsibilities, city streets sustain hygienic images, traffic is well managed as motorists exude discipline, and civil society groups constantly monitor the initiatives that saw their hands dipped into their (initiatives) making. All we need to do is replicate this same Puerto Princesan trilateral partnering at all level and in all communities to ensure better results for our development efforts.

The ‘state-society synergy’ in our country had just recently been appreciated and grasped by many state players. Being at its ‘take-off’ phase, it is understandable that synergy is only a lip-service among many state players, notably the local officials. State players still regard civil society groups with ambivalence, while civil society groups are suspicious of state players whose sincerity can only be as low as their Machiavellian propensities would dictate. Such local state players desire to subordinate civil society groups, and many politicians have constituted ‘government-initiated NGOs’ or GRINGOS as cases of non-authentic subordinated groups. On the other hand, local-level volunteer groups can at best perceive domestic politicians as ‘Santa Claus’ providers, and utilize them largely as gift-giving patrons. Strengthening state-society synergy has a long way to yet, but it is not exactly starting at ground zero in this country. It is, by and large, a core variable in developing citizenry and constituencies, and must be advanced beyond its current take-off phase.

 

 

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

 

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NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Shift intervention from the ‘provider state’ to the ‘enabler state’

January 28, 2015

 

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Shift intervention from the ‘provider state’ to the ‘enabler state’

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The failure of neo-liberal policy regimes does not mean that the state should go back to a full interventionist role, performing a guardian regulator and ‘provider’ for all sorts of services. The problem with the excessive ‘provider’ role is that it had (a) bred rent-seeking on a massive scale among market players, (b) reinforced dependence among grassroots folks who have since been always expecting for a ‘Santa Claus state’ to provide abundant candies, (c) produced new forms of rent-seeking, with civil society groups serving as the beneficiaries, and (d) further reinforced graft practices in both the public and private sectors. Thus, the ‘provider state’ further reinforced the patron-client relations in the various spheres of life (‘feudalism’ is the term used by Maoists for clientelism), consequently dragging all of our development efforts into a turtle-paced sojourn.

In the new intervention mode, the state, armed with a leaner organization and trimmed down budgetary purse, performs a superb catalytic role. It engages various stakeholders in the growth & development efforts, challenges them to directly embark on development pursuits, and demonstrates unto them how welfare can be accessed to through alternative means other than through the state’s baskets. As the state continuously engages the stakeholders through dialogue and cooperation, institutions will also become strengthened along the way. The state will gain its esteem as an ‘activist state’, while at the same time receive acclaim as a truly ‘modernizing state’ as it propels society gradually away from clientelism towards a context marked by rule-based (modern) institutions, citizenry and dynamic/autonomous constituencies.

However, within a transition period from ‘maximum provider’ to ‘maximum enabler,’ the state should continue to perform a provider role in such areas as education, health and such other human development concerns that are, in the main, crucial to building national wealth. Combining state regulations and at the same time giving ‘fiscal autonomy’ in tertiary education and vocational-technical level would remain to be a fitful strategy of ‘minimal enabler’. A similar strategy will have to be applied to some other economic sectors to be able to advance gender equity, by recognizing rights of marginalized gender to education, employment, representation in managerial positions and other related concerns.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

PORK BARREL SCAMS’ ADDRESSING IS POSITIVE SIGN FOR GOVERNANCE

November 20, 2013

PORK BARREL SCAMS’ ADDRESSING IS POSITIVE SIGN FOR GOVERNANCE

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Pork Barrel talk has become outlandishly stylish a gibberish of sorts for all stakeholders in the Philippines. Public outrage has been relentless since the scam involving a certain Janet Napoles’ and her politician beneficiaries’ plunders via the pork barrel were exposed to the light of day.

 

I may have been silent about the matter in my own blogs, as I preferred to write more positive developments about the sciences and technologies over the last two (2) years. My acquiescence however shouldn’t be equated to being apathetic about public issues concerning good governance. On the contrary, I was ever a social activist since my youth days, and I do silently support the tax payers’ crusade to ax those found criminally liable for diverting tax monies to their own pockets.

 

First of all, the Philippines is blessed with a Strong Civil Society. Social activism and dynamism for nigh three decades past already have been coming forth from civil society. The constant, sustained engagement of civil society with the Philippine state has in fact been a hallmark of good governance measures. Many economic and social reforms of a national character did spring off from civil society formations, and those reforming tasks continue till these days in order to solve problems of marginalization and mass poverty.

 

Contrasted to the Strong Civil Society, which renders it among the exemplars for studies internationally in political science and sociology, is a Weak State. Patrimonial interests of diverse natures continue to wield power and influence over the Philippine state and its purses which continues the history of ‘bureaucrat capitalism’ or ‘crony capitalism’ in the Philippine context.   

 

Albeit, in fairness to state players, reforms of governance institutions have been ongoing for over a decade already. For instance, the tax bureau, audit commission, justice system, and public works department have undergone reforms. The results of such reforms paid off as the Philippines’ credit standing, global competitiveness, and related indicators zoomed up very significantly as of late.

 

Now here comes the pork barrel scam centering on this obnoxious evil figure Napoles, even as another brewing scam investigation involves a shadowy ‘Madam Arlene’. Napoles engaged legislators and local government officials, while Ma’am Arlene engaged the Supreme Court and justice system. The Napoles-centered scam is now being addressed, while state bureaucrats search the Earth for the shadowy Arlene.

 

As of this writing, the Supreme Court already decided 14-0, declaring henceforth that the Philippine Development Assistance Fund or PDAF, pork barrel in layman’s term, is unconstitutional. This is truly a landmark decision, thanks to the civil society groups that lobbied the Supreme Court to rethink its earlier decision on the matter. So even the judicial branch of state is addressing the pork barrel issue, brooking no quarters with its added declaration that those state officials who personally benefited from pork barrel over the last 20 years are liable for criminal offense and should be penalized thereof.

 

Which brings us to the conclusion: the Pork Barrel Scam is a positive thing for good governance. The scams are being properly addressed, and it doesn’t need a sophistical mind to see that any social problem that is appropriately addressed is a positive thing. A social problem that remains un-addressed is a negative thing, such as many crime cases that remain unreported or unresolved.

 

Being a positive thing, the moment that the criminal cases will begin to show progress, as one by one the involved politicians will be incarcerated for their indubitable evil, the rating of the Philippines in the global competitiveness indicators will move up again. I have no doubt about this development. Napoles is in jail, and before her there was the corrupt former president Erap Estrada who spent 7 years in jail, so it should be clear to intelligent observers that it is a different time in the Philippines today as big fishes are getting criminalized and jailed for their heinous or sordid crimes, therefore the competitiveness of PH will go up along the way.

 

Eradicating graft in itself takes a long time to execute, and nothing can eradicate graft completely. The sociologist Emile Durkheim said in his classic books over a century ago that there shall always be criminals, as there shall always be deviants in society, for we are not a people who are complete saints but rather ones who have to deal with our own ‘insatiable desires’ that propel us to commit deviations (‘sins’ in church language) such as crimes.

 

Society and its institutions can only progress step by step towards desired ends. So will it be for instituting reforms towards good governance that will hopefully lead to a Strong State in the future. Civil Society is really strong in the Philippines, while the business community is nearly a Strong Market as corporate governance reforms were instituted over the last 2 decades. Witnessing the transformation of the Philippine state into a strong one isn’t far-fetched, but this will proceed on parri passu basis and not as an overnight phenomenon.

 

[Manila, 20 October 2013]

RE-ECHOING KUDOS TO PRESIDENT ROUSSEFF OF BRAZIL

January 7, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Brazil and the world are all eyes today on the newly elected president who just took her oath as chief exec, the magnanimous lady Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff replaces the very popular Lula da Silva who had to step down due to constitutional limits on presidential terms (2 terms only). Both leaders come from the same socialist party of Brazil, even as Rousseff once served as top cabinet aide of Lula, so we do expect a continuity of the redistributive policies of Lula.

A former guerilla, who was among the audacious patriots who dared to clash it out with the military dictatorships that were backed, or should we say installed by the U.S.A. She suffered incarceration and political torment, rose above those constrictions as democracy returned, and ascended to power like a phoenix.

To recall, Lula worked out to bring social equity to its fruition, the result of which enlarged the middle class in Brazil. Poverty alleviation programs have been churning out good results as more poor folks graduated to middle income status during his term. His government’s innovative cash transfer program is being copied by various countries in the world today including my own beloved Philippines.

Lula will surely be well remembered for his feats, and hopefully the socialist party that he belongs to will stand by those redistributive policies that were inspired foremost of all by socialist doctrines. For his feats, Lula became the world’s most popular and admired leader in the whole world, and put Brazil all the more at the center of the world’s global growth drivers.

We will all be missing Lula, the same way that we miss Mandela of South Africa. But no worry, there’s Lady Rousseff who will continue the Lula’s policies and programs and who will dare to innovate more in such areas as providing aid to developing countries that are in need. Rousseff will strengthen Brazil’s leadership in Latin America, enough to veer away the south from the hegemonistic bullying of the U.S.A.

I did echo my kudos to the honorable Rousseff after she won her electoral victory. Let me re-echo my greetings again:

Best wishes for you President Dilma Rousseff in your incumbency as chief executive of Brazil! Goodwill to all Brazilians! Mabuhay!

[Philippines, 04 January 2011]

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PHILIPPINES’ NEW PRESIDENT: AKBAR OR NERO?

July 1, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang umaga! Good morning!

The whole Philippine nation is glued today on the event that will see the installation of the new president of the republic, the Hon. Benigno Aquino III or ‘Noynoy’. Whatever this day forebodes let us relegate to active file for the meantime, as my fellow Filipinos bask in the optimistic air created by the election of a new presidency via the first automated elections in the Philippines and the ASEAN.

The problems of the country are gargantuan, with governance problems of graft on top of the list. Tax revenues are falling short of targets, a ballooning budget deficit is threatening another round of fiscal crisis, poverty incidence is at least 1/3 of households, education is in crisis as it remains badly under-funded, grains self-sufficiency goals are a mess, and direct foreign investments or FDIs are negligible (1% of GNP).

Noynoy inherited from the outgoing presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo both boons and banes. The above-stated situations are the primary banes. The boons are the graduation of RP’s economy from poor to middle income, the consistent positive growth befitting an emerging market, the reversal of a fiscal crisis, and the doubling of the economy since 2001.

Furthermore, the economy today has a balance of payments surplus, healthy current account situation, an annual foreign remittance level that breached the $17 Billions mark, while both exports and imports have moved upwards after the 2009 slack. Our Gross International Reserves or GIR stands at past the $45 Billion, enough to buy us worth nine (9) months of imports, beaconing that the old ailment of lack of foreign currencies (US dollar most specially) is now way behind us.

Thus, with the momentum of growth and big projects sustained at pace, the ‘high growth’ stage of our economy can end soon as we graduate to development ‘maturity’ before 2016. That done, we can move on to an ‘overdeveloped’ economy, the last phase of development, before 2025. Expectedly, Luzon will lead in that effort, followed by Visayas and Mindanao respectively.

Roughly, RP’s Gross National Product or GNP will hit $200 Billion by end of this year 2010. The figure uses the nominal value of the peso to the dollar. If we use the more accepted Purchasing Power Parity or PPP method, with multiplier of 4 to get us to our GNP-PPP, the country’s GNP is forecast at roughly $800 Billion (using UNDP index calculations).

Such a GNP figure renders the Philippines wealthier than many European countries for that matter. Even the Dutch, who were once the wealthiest people in Europe, would bow in reverence to us Filipinos for our Herculean efforts expended to get to where we are. Wait till RP gets to ‘overdeveloped’ stage yet when the GNP will hit beyond the $2.5 Trillion mark (PPP), which is now a visible possibility, thus effectively transforming the country into a creditor nation lending funds to cash-starved Western and developing countries.

Banes notwithstanding, the Filipinos had so much gains accrued across many decades of post-war survival. From geophysical to political turbulence the Pinoys experienced in grueling fashion of constant bombardments, yet the nation withstood them all as it now stands tall and confident in the community of nations.

RP has been transformed into a global nation, while its capital region Manila has mutated to a gigantic mega-city that is a constitutive part new global nexus of 35 top megacities in the world. Dr. Jose Rizal, the first Filipino and first global citizen of the humble nation, now possesses the reasons to feel happy over what has become of that nation that he died for (executed by the Spanish regime in 1898).

Now that Noynoy has the presidency in his shoulders, and a liberal-oligarchic alliance has been installed to power, what’s in store for the country? We’ve had decades of liberal reforms before us, with policy impositions from the IMF-World Bank and global oligarchy, so will the Noynoy regime recycle the same austerity measures and policies that led to greater mass poverty and the Filipino diaspora?

Will Noynoy become an Akbar whose reign saw efficiency and good governance that led to the re-emergence of a country from the shambles of fragmentation and neglect to prosperity and fame? Or will he be a Nero of Manila who fiddles in the presidential palace as he watches his polity & economy burn upon his own behest?

Where goes RP’s our gains after Noynoy’s six (6) years of incumbency? At the end of his mandate in 2016, will the Filipinos still sing “should I stay or should I go”?

[Philippines, 30 June 2012]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

FORESTRY SECTOR & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: GHANA CASE

October 18, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

Magandang umaga! Good morning!

 

It is interesting to examine how state players can somehow enable the social responsibility field by enforcing rules on certain market players to recognize the social responsibility criterion in their areas of operations. One such appropriate case is the country of Ghana, where logging firms must follow the same criterion through an instrument called ‘Social Responsibility Agreement.’

 

A summary of the report about the country case is shown below.

 

[07 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Eldis database reports.]


 

 

Social responsibility agreements in Ghana’s forestry sector

Authors: Ayine,D.M.
Produced by: International Institute for Environment and Development (2008)

In Ghana, legislation requires logging firms to commit a portion of their financial resources towards the provision of social amenities to local forest communities. Logging firms must perform this legal obligation by signing and implementing “Social Responsibility Agreements” (SRAs) with forest communities. This report is about legal arrangements for enabling forest communities in Ghana to participate better in the benefits generated by timber activities.

The document considers whether SRAs serve as effective vehicles for the sharing of benefits between local forest communities and investors. It reviews experience with Social Responsibility Agreements, and looks at what difference they have made to forest communities. In addition the author assesses the design, implementation and outcomes of Social Responsibility Agreements in the forestry industry in Ghana, drawing on a number of SRAs concluded between timber firms and local communities. Conclusions include:

  • Ghana’s experience may provide interesting lessons for other countries that are looking into developing arrangements to promote benefit sharing in forestry or in other sectors
  • the positive features of SRAs include clearly laid out minimum standards, explicit legal backing, and consideration for the conditions laid out in SRAs in the selection process for competitive TUC bids
  • wthe legal framework provides an enabling environment for the negotiation of SRAs, the actual practice of negotiating and implementing these agreements leaves much to be desired
  • Social Responsibility Agreements may become a more effective tool if local groups are better equipped to negotiate them. This requires establishing mechanisms to broaden community representation, so as to minimise local elite capture of SRA benefits. 

DON’T COUNT OUT NEPAL’S ROYALISTS, THEY’LL COUNTER-ATTACK!

June 6, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

Good morning from Manila!

The recent turn of events that saw the catastrophic devastation of the old order in Nepal should not be equated to the complete eradication of kingship. Any adroit observer of political dynamics knows that, in the founding of any modern nation-state, the forces of the deposed ancien regime will counter-attack sooner or later, with the option of a royal revival or equivalent being the top agenda.

Nation-building takes so much time to galvanize, more so for a new nation with a diversity of ethnic communities. Look at Canada, after so many decades of existence as a sovereign nation-state, there are still forces within it that want to separate from the republic. The Canadian nation is still being constructed till these days, this is the clear message of the Quebec separatist movement.

A century may not even suffice a time to build a new nation from out of formerly diverse ethnic communities, or after gaining independence from a colonial master. In the case of the USA, the southern landlords-slave owners represented the ancien regime that refused to go by the wave of the north’s modernist, anti-slavery, pro-industrialization path. The landlords opted to make war against the Union, and had they won, they could have gone back to the old days of bondage to the British Empire.

Till these days, the clash between the Unionists (nationalists) and Confederates (pro-British Empire & oligarchy) continues in the USA. Amid the galvanization there of a federation-wide American identity, the clash continues in the terrains of public policy and foreign affairs. Fact is, the victory of the neo-conservatives and realists in America—who kowtow to the whims of the Anglo-Dutch oligarchy—point out to a subtle victory of the Confederate forces right inside Washington DC.  

In my own country, the landlord-clergy classes comprise the representatives of the ancien regime .Even before America left Manila in 1946, the landlords-clergy already pre-positioned themselves in society. The landlords eventually controlled both the Establishment political parties, thus effectively undercutting the possibility of a revolutionary agrarian program that could have jettisoned the country to mature industrialization as early as the late 1970s.

Till these days, patron-client relations remain strong in all spheres of Philippine life. Not even if the post-industrial society had already made inroads into Manila’s cultural and economic domains. The landlords are themselves the big capitalists, while the Church remains the biggest landlord oligarch of all, praise the Lords of the oligarchic houses!

Thus, in the Philippine case, the nationalists who represent the modernizing, Enlightenment-inspired trend remain in the margins. During the Cold War, the nationalists were demonized as Soviet agents and were chased out of state organs, chased in the hills as insurgents, locked up behind bars, tortured and killed. Till these days nationalists are marginalized here, this is the real situation in Manila.

So, fellows, please don’t count out the royalists of Nepal just yet. Even long after the present monarch (Gyanendra) is gone, pro-royalist fanatics will raise up arms against the prevailing regime, expect this to happen. It’s like the recycle of the Stuart revival in England, Bourbon revival in France, and the long struggle for a Bonapartist revival in the whole of Europe.

The modernists of Nepal (Congress, Marxists, Maoists) look like the Atuturk prototypes of Turkey of the nationalist halcyon days of post-Ottoman era. The problem for Nepal is that it has too many nationalist voices with nary  clear consensus on the compass of nationhood, while Ataturk forces were homogenous in mindset, vision, and agenda of economic development and governance for Turkey.

So no matter what overthrow plots the Caliphate’s loyalists want to mount in Turkey, they will fail. They have to ride by the modernist rules there, abide by the ‘rule of law’ of the Atuturk mindset. It’s been a century hence since the Caliphate’s overthrow,  so the chances for the Caliph’s fundamentalists to return Turkey to the superstitious ancien regime is too late a dream.

Again, to re-echo, please don’t count out Nepal’s royalists. They are watching closely the fractiousness of the Enlightenment parties (secular, modernist, socialistic) in Nepal. They will bide their time. They will regroup, silently organize and expand, build their logistical bases both within and outside of Nepal.

And then they will strike with sweeping zeal, like thousands of angry Himalayan tigers coming down upon their enemies. Whether they win or not is another question. They will come back for sure.

[Writ 02 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]