Nicanor Perlas delivers talk at AIM’s Civil Society Dialogue

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By Anna Iglesias, Part 2 of 2 (Read Part 1 here)

1994 UN Environmental Program Global 500 Awardee Nicanor Jesus III “Nick” Pineda Perlas was the second speaker at the Civil Society Dialogue.

As an active mover and shaker from civil society, he emphasized its massive role as an active proponent of change in the Philippine government. In his platform, he outlined six cornerstones of his presidential agenda – poverty eradication, moral and anti-corruption governance, environment, partnerships for social justice, creative education and mainstreaming positive initiatives for change. If elected President, he intends to provide state support of civil society infrastructure.

Addressing questions from a diverse representation of non-government and people’s organizations, Nick Perlas emphasized the importance of political will in implementing the law and government policy and assuring fairness and transparency in governance.

Asked about agrarian reform as a development framework, he includes agrarian reform as a priority program and intends to “address land and social justice issues” concomitant with the “massive modernization of agriculture.” With respect to address problems in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, he aims to integrate a support component in its implementation to ensure that land and social justice issues are indeed addressed.

When asked about his plan of action on the proposed delineation of municipal waters and addressing lack of clear guidelines in enforcement of the law, Nick Perlas emphasized that “the law is clear already, there is no political will to implement it.” He proposes the need for regulatory enforcement to monitor and oversee big shipping companies and highlights that climate change is also an important consideration.

Regarding the government’s policy and attitude toward urban settlers and the growing need for additional housing, Perlas outlined his short-term and long-term solutions to address the problem – the conversion of empty lots in Manila to multiple housing to address immediate concerns, and later on, to “pursue revitalization of rural development to control the population and de-industrialize Metro Manila.” Part of the program of revitalization is to “encourage settlement to other places in the country and create vibrant regional and provincial centers of development to depopulize the cities.”

When asked about the slow process of implementing the Indigenous People’s Rights Act conflict of various tenurial instruments regarding the proper survey of ancestral domain reserved for indigenous peoples, Perlas pointed out the administration’s “divide-and-rule tactics to keep indigenous peoples from uniting when the law is clear and should be followed.” He assures that there will be no political favoritism in implementing the provisions of the law, which will make the process easier.

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Perlas also stated that he “supports the alternative mining bill that should have environmental integrity and respect the dignity of indigenous peoples.” He further adds: “I am in favor of small scale community based mining and a small-scale community approach to ecology and environmental integrity.”

Perlas outlined his framework on climate change adaptation and mitigation, emphasizing the “urgency of climate change” and “has to sit in all advocacies of government.” He pointed out that while the Philippines has a relatively small contribution to climate change, the impact of climate change on the Philippines is greater than most. He warned that by 2020, and not 2050, “we won’t be talking about mitigation but disaster preparation and damage control.” He concludes that “the urgency of climate mitigation will become disaster preparedness. Ecological disasters do not respect political boundaries – in face of climate change there must be a total overhaul and reinventing government and governance.”

When asked about his position on adding another year for basic education, Perlas proposed to “implement an educational system to develop full human potential.” In addition to quantity of education – that is, the recruitment of faculty and development of infrastructure, and 21st century knowledge building, he proposed the inclusion of “multiple intelligences” in the curricula. He also stated his support for the transfer of public schools to private hands, “not corporations but non-profit institutions.” He stated: “Education is not about filling the bucket but of lighting the fire to meet the global challenges of the future.”

He offers “bottomless insurance” to institute health care reforms, as well as to commission to study “a sufficient approach of whether or not purely self-finance of mixture of state finance.”

Perlas also stated that he is “supportive of the RH bill if some of the language in the bill is modified, especially in the clarification of terms such as abortion, natural methods and contraceptives.”

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Perlas emphasized that “poverty reduction is a priority program,” and when asked specifically about the current issues with the National Anti-Poverty Commission, “there must be true representation and interagency coordination – very clear signals from the leadership.”

In his peace agenda, Perlas stated that “with peace talks or without – government must be working to show political will and direction towards social justice – when you do that you will have credibility to enter into negotiations.”

When asked about debt servicing and illegitimate debt, he proposed to “differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate debts in our (national) budget.” He added: “We should plug the 30-40% corruption rate in our budget and restructure the tax structure to be more equitable.”

In his closing statements, Perlas emphasized the necessity of political will, his agenda for poverty eradication, his proposals for agriculture and microfinance programs, and anti-corruption initiatives.

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