“An Integrated Approach to the Delivery of Basic Human Needs”
By Ramon Ike Villareal Señeres, CESO, CSEE
In the past administrations, the government has adopted the “Shelter cum Livelihood” strategy, apparently upon realizing that housing beneficiaries would need livelihood in order to sustain their housing loan payments. Although at that time shelter was already considered as the centrepiece, it was apparently only livelihood that was given almost equal importance, perhaps due to its direct connection to the shelter strategy itself.
In a statement released to the media, the Socio Economic Development Alliance (SEDA) announced its advocacy for the adoption of twelve “Basic Human Needs” (BHN) as a development framework that aims to deliver twelve basic human needs down to the community level. SEDA is an alliance of organizations that are working for nation building through socio economic development, formed on the initiative of the Corinthian Coffee Clutch (C3) and HYHO Clubs International.
C3 is a weekly forum of businessmen, professionals, academics and scientists that meet every Friday at the Corinthian Plaza Building in Makati City, for the purpose of developing plans and programs for nation building. HYHO is an organization of students and young professionals who are guided by the motto of “Help Yourself, Help Others”.
Members of SEDA are ready to work in cooperation with the government in order to be able to deliver the twelve basic human needs to the community level, in line with the “Public and Private Partnership” (PPP) program of the new administration. We are hoping that through SEDA, we can unite all the organizations that are working for nation building, instead of each one of them going their own way, doing things separately.
Dubbed as Sandosenang Serbisyo” in the vernacular, BHN aims to deliver culture, education, employment, energy, entrepreneurship, food, justice, health, mobility, safety, shelter and water services. In the framework, culture includes recreation, entrepreneurship includes micro financing, justice includes human rights, health includes spiritual health and mobility includes online connectivity. What is usually known as “livelihood” has been divided into two services, namely employment and entrepreneurship.
As distinguished from the “Shelter cum Livelihood” strategy, the new BHN framework shall continue to have shelter as the centrepiece, but all the other eleven basic needs will be given equal importance in relation to each other. In this context, shelter shall refer to both housing and urban development. It shall also refer to both new housing development and continuing property management, the latter referring to the implementation of sustainable standards that will be enforced upon property managers and local governments.
Looking at it from another perspective, the new BHN framework shall adopt the “time and space” dimensions. The “time” dimension will be the timeline that will track the completed delivery of all the twelve basic human needs from the original benchmark, being the starting point, all the way towards the deadline, being the ending point. The “space” dimension will be the physical area of the target community, being the geographical jurisdiction of the barangay.
It is very important to note at this point that so far, the government has not combined the “time and space” dimensions in the delivery of the twelve basic human needs. As it is generally known, the government does not set deadlines in the completed delivery of these needs to each of the target communities. In addition to that, there appears to be no appreciation of the need to correlate these deadlines with the physical geographic targets.
The Housing and Urban Development Council (HUDCC) is the central agency tasked by the government for all shelter concerns. The Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is the central agency tasked for all sustainable development concerns, a task that encompasses both housing and urban development. Aside from that, the scope of PCSD includes all the other eleven basic human needs. PCSD is under the supervision of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
The Civil Society Council for Sustainable Development (CSCSD) has invited SEDA to become its partner in the review of the Philippine compliance with the Rio Protocol, now known as Rio + 22. In turn, CSCSD is now officially a partner of PCSD and NEDA in the said review, in accordance with a new Executive Order that was recently signed. In a private conversation with Secretary Cayetano Paderanga, the Secretary General of NEDA, he has also welcomed the participation of C3 in the PCSD. With these new developments, C3 will be represented by SEDA in all dealings with CSCSD, PCSD and NEDA.
Meanwhile, SEDA formally started its cooperation with HUDCC, in a meeting held at the Legend Hotel in Mandaluyong City. Officials of Armadillo Holdings, Inc. (AHI) also attended the meeting. AHI is a company owned by Pastor Wyden King. AHI owns and operates Legend Hotel and the chain of Kabayan Hotels. Leaders of a Christian community movement that is associated with Pastor King also attended the meeting.
HUDCC, AHI and SEDA agreed during the said meeting to start the development of the first high rise social housing condominium project in the Philippines, located in the area of Tripa de Gallena, a community that borders on the jurisdiction of Pasay City and Makati City. The informal settlers who are now residing in the community will be given individual units in the condo project, along with livelihood projects that will help them sustain their low cost lease payments. Leading the project is Mr. Howard Mijares, an official of AHI, and who is also a member of C3.
In that same meeting, HUDCC and SEDA also agreed to bring the twelve basic human needs to the housing projects of the government, particularly the housing sites of the National Housing Authority (NHA). Mr. Chito Borromeo, a consultant of HUDCC and Mr. Butch Fabul, a Vice President of the Home Guarantee Corporation (HGC), an agency under HUDCC attended the meeting, together with Mr. Jovie Labajo, a Director of the Social Housing Financing Corporation (SHFC), also an agency under HUDCC. Mr. Borromeo, Mr. Fabul, Mr. Labajo and agreed with SEDA to visit the NHA housing sites, in order to find out what could be done to deliver the BHN package to these sites.
In response to the report made by Mr. Mijares to the C3 meeting, the C3 members agreed to turn the condo project into a model for sustainable development in general, and sustainable housing in particular. In this context, sustainability shall mean the delivery of all the basic human needs. To be more specific however, C3 wants to turn the condo project into a model for vertical housing, deciding as well to create a separate model for horizontal housing, possibly in the Macabud site that is already an existing project.
Macabud is a barangay in Rodriguez, Rizal Province. Long before C3 was formed, I asked Mr. Lito Alcover to look for a location that could be developed into a model community that would be complete with all basic human needs, in other words turning it into a sustainable village. Mr. Alcover found a barangay in Rizal Province that would be the ideal site as we both wanted it. When the C3 was formed, it adopted Macabud as its first project.
The invitation to become a partner of CSCSD came through the initiative of Dr. Roger Birosel, a scientist who is a Founding Trustee of CSCSD and also a member of C3. As we welcome this invitation, we are also presented with the challenge making sustainable development compatible with the goal of delivering the basic human needs to the community level. While it appears to be logical that these two goals are actually compatible, we are still confronted with the work of making the convergence happen, in the means of the apparent overlaps in the mandates of the government agencies that are working towards these related goals.
According to the Philippine Medium Term Development Plan (PMTDP), each province is supposed to have an Integrated Area Development (IAD) plan, broken down into specific IAD plans for each barangay, municipality or city under its jurisdiction. As indicated in the PMTDP, each region is supposed to have a combined IAD, integrating the IAD plans of all the provinces under its jurisdiction. Also as indicated in the PMTDP, each barangay, municipality, city, province and region is supposed to have its own Local Development Council (LDC).
Generally speaking, there is hardly any data that is coming out of the Barangay Development Councils (BDCs), Municipal Development Councils (MDCs), City Development Councils (CDCs), Provincial Development Councils (PDCs) and Regional Development Councils (RDCs). Similarly, there appears to be no copies of the local IADs that are available to the public, if in fact they actually exist in one form or another. Ideally, the minutes of the LDCs should be published, so that anyone in the local communities could access them anytime.
Since Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are now widely available as a very useful information and communications technology (ICT), it would be a very practical idea to translate all of the local IAD data into the GIS format. As I understand it, many local governments are already using GIS one way or the other, but only for their own specific needs, and not for the purpose of complying with the IAD requirements.
As the law requires, each municipality, city and province is also supposed to have its own Integrated Land Use Plan (ILUP), and as I understand it, the ILUP is, or could be the same product or project as the IAD. Whether or not ILUP is the same as the IAD or is just a part of it, it goes without saying that good integrated land use planning should be the starting point of good integrated area development planning.
Apparently due to gerrymandering, many provinces have been formed out of geographically contiguous areas that are naturally and supposedly linked to each other biologically. Setting aside all political divisions, these geographically contiguous areas actually form one biosphere, practically bound together by watersheds that they all depend upon. Considering the existence of real political divisions however, we now have the RDCs that could potentially unite each biosphere and watershed, if only the RDCs could be made to work together.
As required in the PMTDP, all RDCs are supposed to report to the NEDA, being the duly designated Secretariat. Since NEDA is also the Secretariat for the PCSD, there are many opportunities for coordinating the compatible goals of integrated land use planning, integrated area development and sustainable development in one and the same Secretariat. Fortunately, the CSCSD is now in place to assist the NEDA in this gargantuan work.
In technical terms, each LDC should have its own GIS equipped BHN database that should have built-in ILUP and IAD components. This database should be able to identify and track the process of delivering the BHN package to the community level, namely culture, education, employment, energy, entrepreneurship, food, justice, health, mobility, safety, shelter and water services. GIS is dynamic and flexible. It is a very practical and convenient software product that could easily identify and track the “time and space” dimensions of BHN delivery.
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Short Messaging Systems (SMS) are two other software products that could easily be integrated as part of GIS based databases. GPS could be the tracking component, and SMS could be the messaging component. By using SMS, the databases would not only become interactive, it would also become participatory. That means any user of an SMS phone will have the rights to “read and write”, in other words they could read what is in the databases, and they could also contribute data into it.
With about 80 million SMS equipped phones in the hands of about 100 million Filipinos, it would appear that almost every citizen of this country has a handheld device that would enable him or her to “read” whatever is in the databases. Almost every citizen would also have the means to gather data and submit it electronically, using only his or her mobile phone. That is the participatory nature of the databases that would make it truly democratic.
As a think tank, C3 functions as the “brains” of SEDA. It could only “think” about what to do, it could not actually “act” on what it “thinks” about. This is where HYHO comes in. As a mass based organization of students and young professionals, HYHO is in a good position to “act” on what C3 “thinks” about, in effect becoming the “hands and feet” of SEDA to do both substantive and administrative work.
The substantive work of HYHO members will be in the form of actual and direct participation in the mandated councils of the government, including the PCSD at the top, and the LDCs at the bottom, for and on behalf of SEDA. For practical reasons, HYHO will present to these councils the reports and proposals prepared by C3 members.
The administrative work of HYHO members will be in the form of monitoring the progress of BHN implementation as it happens in the field, and reporting the data about the progress via SMS. Aside from that, HYHO members will also “read” the data in the BHN databases, a regular activity that will be part of its monitoring.
The author is a broadcast journalist, syndicated columnist, political economist and computer technologist. He was formerly Director General of the National Computer Center and Chairman of the National Crime Information System