FNF, iLEAD Hold People-Centered Conversations in Visayas
Geared towards bringing the talks on decentralization and civic participation to local constituencies, the Institute for Leadership, Empowerment, and Democracy, Inc. (iLEAD), with the support of FNF Philippines, organized a sectoral consultation initiative entitled, “Usapang Lokal: Community Conversations on Decentralization” in the Visayas Region last October 23 to 29. The initiative seeks to elevate real-life issues of sectoral leaders and members and engage them to explore solutions that will provide space for enhanced civic participation in their localities. This is set by highlighting the significant role of local actors in shaping national discourses and decisions relative to the coming 2019 elections, the proposal of amending the Constitution, and the country’s commitment to global targets on poverty eradication and sustained development.
The three-pronged consultation was attended by representatives from the sectors of farmers, fisherfolks, women, youth, LGTBQI+, urban poor, and laborers in the transportation industry strategically selected to give voice to their respective sectors. Laying down the requisites for local conversations, the sessions started with a comprehensive national and local situationer conducted by iLEAD. An analysis of the country’s performance in relation to the standards set by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was presented to the participants, followed by a research-based local context-setting, presenting regional and provincial data on local spending, poverty incidence and inflation, peace and order, among others. Existing Charter Change proposals were also presented in brief to round off the frame needed for the succeeding conversations.
At the core of the sessions was a vision-building workshop that enabled the participants to identify the priority issues of their respective sectors and communities, and assess contemporaneous strategies applied by their local government and local civil society organization (CSO) network. The workshop also provided them the platform to delve on the opportunities and prospects for further policies and engagement that can be forwarded by their sectors.
According to Ms. Czarina Medina-Guce, iLEAD’s Executive Director, the Institute organized the consultations to bridge the gap between the theoretical and academic talks on decentralization to the empirical and practical concerns of Filipinos. “With the nearing 2019 National Elections and the rising prices of basic commodities due to inflation, the continuing talks on shifting to a federal form of government is foreseen to bombard the public with different information and proposals that promise solutions. This premise underscores the challenge for us, local actors, to shape our own conversations for us to be able to forward practical concerns and present our reimagined solutions.”
Gracing the last leg of the Community Conversations in Cebu City, FNF Country Director Mr. Wolfgang Heinze also emphasized the relevance of such local consultations in addressing the challenges that are being experienced by democracies around the world. He said: “As you may have observed, democracies around the world are struggling because of leaders that fail to listen to - if not pacify - the local sectors of their society.” He adds that for democracies to succeed, the demands of the marginalized sectors should be at the heart of the government’s agenda for social justice and social development.
The Community Conversations series is a scale-up of the joint initiative of iLEAD and FNF on the Charter Change and Federalism discourse that started last year. The local consultations were held at the Visayas State University in Leyte, I’s Plant Hotel and Restaurant in Samar, and at the Cebu Northwinds Hotel in Cebu City last October 23, 25, and 29, respectively. A full documentation report will be released by iLEAD this year.