Saturday, May 31, 2014

Public Policy and Public Participation

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 24, 2013

“Public Policy and Public Participation Engaging Citizens and Community in the Development of Public Policy” (link: is a very interesting article.  It has the most comprehensive definition, classification and analysis of what Public Policy is all about.  Please allow me to highlight some salient features of the article while adding my little comments and other relevant information supportive of the article:

INCREASED AWARENESS – Public Policy planning, with the increased awareness of the actual stakeholders and civil society, has become more complex and dynamic.  Our awakening to participatory democracy was triggered by the EDSA Revolution of 1986 and the institutionalization of the principle of “people empowerment” by the Fidel V. Ramos administration.  The awareness level and desire to get involved has increased further with the “daang matuwid” tagline of the present administration… which has given rise to civil society’s wish to get more involved in crafting Public Policy on a traditional ill of governance: Graft and Corruption.  Inclusion of the citizenry and civil society in crafting Public Policies has become a “must.”

INCREASED PARTICIPATION – The article mentioned, as a natural order of things, the eventual increase in the level of participation of the citizens and stakeholders.  It also emphasizes on the social and economic inclusion of all members of society.  The EDSA Revolution, people empowerment and “daang matuwid”, as Public Policy statements, not only increased the level of awareness in Public Policy processes but also increased the want and desire of the stakeholders to participate in crafting Public Policies.

EXPANSION OF PUBLIC POLICY COVERAGE – The definition and extensive use of terms such as: (1) Collaboration; (2) Community; (3) Horizontal Issues; (4) Interest Group; (5) Policy Analysis; (6) Policy Community/Policy Network; (7) Public Consultation; (8) Public Participation; (9) Stakeholder; and, (10) Public Policy itself seem to indicate that the article recommends the encouragement of a wider field of coverage of issues and a more structured approach in the formulation of Public Policy.  Our political structure brought about by the Local Government Code, encourages participatory governance.  Local Government Units (LGU) were given more autonomy and latitude in identifying issues and concerns of their respective constituency.  This gives impetus to a “bottom – up” direction in the transmittal of Public Policy issues and concerns.

ENGAGING PROFESSIONALS – The article recommends the inclusion of program managers and consultants, planners, researchers, communication specialists, policy analysts, and advisors.  Professionalizing the ranks is a most welcomed idea… they are most knowledgeable in this particular undertaking.  I could only add another item… the academe.  Often, perspectives from the academe are pure in their adherence to theoretical principles that (sometimes) are being overlooked in the name of professional expediency (… the regard for what is advantageous rather than what is right).

RETOOLING PUBLIC SERVANTS – The article emphasizes a big picture/systems view; the need for public servants to work for the broader public interest; and understanding of the processes and techniques of both policy development and public participation; and the commitment and skills needed to collaborate with other government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGO), stakeholders and citizens.  Enlisting the support and participation of the professionals should also be a measure to retool public servants... it’s an opportunity for public servants to imbibe the work ethics of professionals.  When parallel lines are drawn between public servants (people working for government) and private sector employees, the difference will always be in the field of efficiency.  Retooling “less efficient” public servants to be at par with the private sector is, therefore, critical if they are to “gel” with the “more efficient” professionals.  This could come in the form of additional and public policy-focused training programs, seminars, symposia, fora, etc.

EDUCATING THE CITIZENRY AND STAKEHOLDERS – The article made numerous references to the participation of the citizenry and stakeholders in the development of Public Policy.  But this should be an educated participation and contribution.  Stakeholders will only find themselves “wasted” on the wayside simply because they cannot cope with the discussions and participate intelligently.  Some degree of education should also be provided to a representative segment from the stakeholders.  They, in turn, could cascade these information to the people in their respective communities.

COMMUNICATING PUBLIC POLICY – This should go hand-in-hand with educating the citizenry and stakeholders.  The inclusion of professionals, the academe, civil society and better tooled public servants will not at all be sufficient.  The ultimate beneficiaries of sound Public Policy are the citizens and stakeholders.  It will be ideal if, in all stages and phases in developing Public Policy, they are in the loop.  Transparency is very important in this undertaking even when Public Policy development is often contemptuous and laced with bickering.  This will foster better understanding between policy makers and policy beneficiaries.

Just my little thoughts…

Friday, May 30, 2014

Prestation and Market Exchange

by Antonio C. Antonio
February 28, 2014

Question:  “Would you prefer prestation over market exchange for marginal upland farmers and indigenous peoples?  Why? What would your choice’s effect be on the environment, social and cultural conditions? (Prof. Janet B. Martires)

Prestation is an obligation in exchange for goods and services rendered.  Payment could come in the form of goods and services too.  Under the Feudal Law, prestation is also described as payment in return for the lord’s warrant or an authority for taking wood.  In modern Philippines, it could be compared to a permit to harvest timber products issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).  Under the Civil Code, prestation is a performance of something due upon an obligation… in Pilipino: “kabayaran sa pagkakautang” or “bayad utang.”

On the other hand, market exchange is a manner of exchange (of money, goods and services) which implies both a specific location for transactions and the sort of social relations where bargaining can occur… in Pilipino: “tawaran.”

Choosing between prestation and market exchange is like looking for distinctions between a green and red apple… they are the same fruit bearing different colors.  Prestation and market exchange are basically the same and belong to a bargaining system or procedure.  If we look at these terms from the process standpoint, prestation is the end result of a market exchange.  Both are part of a process flow and one cannot function and exist without the other.

The biggest malaise in the upland involving the indigenous communities and the lowland stakeholders is the unequal distribution of benefits from the natural resources that is available there.  For example:  The upland communities want the entire forest for themselves since they call it home;  The government want to generate revenues out of timber resources because most areas where there are forest are public lands; and, Private businesses, who provide the financial resources to effect harvesting operations, want reasonable returns for their investments.  The clash of interests between these three major actors in the upland often result to a very uneasy relationship among them… often heated arguments and confrontations occur.  Maintaining peaceful co-existence among the three actors remains to be a big challenge.  It is for this reason that an acceptable system of market exchange and prestation should be the dominant influence to keep all three actors talking, bargaining and agreeing on mutually beneficial terms and conditions.  In most instances, all three upland actors find middle grounds for all of them to agree on.  More often too, environmental protection, aside from mere monetary considerations, becomes a central issue in the negotiations.

Just my little thoughts…

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Industrialization and Governance

by Antonio C. Antonio
June 27, 2013

“There are some groups who believe that industrialization is bad and insist that IP's (indigenous peoples) and tribal communities are subjugated by the central government against their will.  Is there a basis for that and will it be more beneficial for the community or the country if we go back to the old system?” (Renato A. Folledo, Jr., June 19, 2013)

Progress is the aspiration of any government and country.  A lot of people even insist that industrialization is the way to go.  But from a purely agricultural economy, industrialization must be approached carefully.  While industrialization means jobs, employment, livelihood, business and a lot of affordable conveniences, agriculture means food and life.  Our growing population must be sustained and agriculture, not industry, can provide food security for the population.

Industrialization should form part of our future programs… but must also be calibrated to preserve our culture as a people.  The indigenous people (IP) are the only remaining segment in our society who are culturally pure and have managed to remain untouched by industrialization.  It does not mean though that the IPs should be left alone in their stone-age systems.  But subjugation, meaning:  controlling and conquering, may not be the ideal solution in improving their lives or the acceptance of industrialization.
It must be noted that the IPs are protected by Republic Act 8371 (The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act) of IPRA Law is an act to recognize, protect and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples.  The major emphasis in the IPRA Law is “free and prior consent” from any IP community on whatever plans and programs to be instituted by the government or the private sector within their designated and identified area.  Years of exploitation by the “unats” or lowlanders have made the “kulots” or IPs naturally distrustful and cynical.  Their lack of education has done more harm since they do not have the training and capacity to understand and internalize things such as progressive plans and programs.  They would rather stay within their comfort zone… no matter how backward it may seem.

There really is a basis for some degree of rough-housing in dealing with the IPs.  They are an ignorant and hard-headed lot but understand the meaning of power especially when it is wielded by the State.  But peace and harmony will never be the order of the day if force is used against the IPs.  The use of violence will only spawn more violence from a people who feel they are being enslaved and it is their duty, obligation and God-given right to fight and use violence to defend their homeland.  One of the strongest characteristic of the IPs is their being very territorial.

As a broad-stroke methodology to approaching the IP problem, the following could (perhaps) be considered:

First… Convince by example.  Whatever benefits industrialization brings should be first be experienced and felt by the IPs.  For example:  good roads, utilities (electricity and potable water), healthcare, etc.

Second… Education.  Mores, folklore, customs and traditions play a major role in the lives of the IPs.  Education (formal or non-formal) and training should open their eyes to other possibilities than what they are used to.  Embracing technology and other advances industrialization brings will be easier to accept when the IPs are willfully aware of such things.

Third… Developing trust and confidence.  Trust and confidence from the IPs could only be realized when real progress is being experienced by them.  “Word of Honor” is a code they live by and whatever is committed by the “unat” should become a reality in the timeframe promised.  Sincerity is the only tool that will develop the IPs’ trust and confidence.

The IPs should be kept in the loop and in the center of all development activities in the uplands.  Besides, most, if not all, of these development programs are being implemented for them anyway.

Just my little thoughts…

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Integrated Forest Management Agreement

by Antonio C. Antonio
December 18, 2013


Tenurial instruments are used by government to allocate portions of public forestlands to qualified and interested individuals, organizations or business entities and bestow upon them the direct management of such public forestlands.  The metamorphosis of forest tenurial instruments went through several stages of development to what is known at present as the Integrated Forest Management Agreement or IFMA.  These stages also come to be known by several names... Integrated Forest Plantation, Industrial Tree Plantation, Industrial Forest Management and Industrial Forest Management Agreements.  There are other tenurial instruments that are in effect at present like the Community-Based Forest Management Agreement, Integrated Social Forestry Agreement, etc.

Historical Background:

Integrated Forest Plantations are tree plantations are established to complement and enhance existing forests in that particular area.  Areas made available for plantation establishment were the open, denuded and inadequately stocked residual forest areas.  In 1975, with the promulgation of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705 also known as the “Revised Forestry Reform Code”, Industrial Tree Plantations (ITP) was established.  The implementing rules and regulations for PD 705 was Ministry Administrative Order No. 04, series of 1980.  From ITPs, the program was re-named Industrial Forest Management (IFM) under Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 42, series of 1992 and DAO No. 4, series of 1997.  Under the IFM system, planting of non-timber products (like bamboo, rattan and rubber) were included.  Several DAOs (Nos. 91-42, 94-60 and 97-04) were consolidated under DAO No. 99-53 (in 1999) to create the tenurial instrument Industrial Forest Management Agreement which was later re-named Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA).

The Nature of an IFMA:

An Integrated Forest Management Agreement entered into by and between a qualified applicant and the Philippine Government represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).  The qualified applicant can be any individual, group, association or business entity (corporations, partnerships and single proprietorships).  I must mention that the applicant must be a Filipino citizen. 

This tenurial instrument is a production sharing agreement wherein the DENR grants the qualified applicant the exclusive right to develop, manage, protect a specific area of forestland and utilize the forest resources in this specific area of forestland.

Forest tenurial instruments are highly regulatory.  But in spite of this there are 145 active IFMAs covering an area of 1,077,655 hectares of public lands throughout the country.

IFMAs are long-term tenurial instruments that have a lifespan of 25 years and are renewable for another 25 years.  Possession or award of an IFMA is just an agreement that embodies the relationship between the DENR and the IFMA Holder.  It is by no means a permit to manage and utilize the forest and forest resources.  Operationalizing an IFMA is by way of an approved Comprehensive Development and Management Plan (CDMP) as mandated by DAO No. 99-53.  The CDMP is a highly technical management plan detailing every facet and stage of forest management that is expected of the IFMA Holder.  The CDMP focuses on sustainable forest management.

The Objectives of an IFMA:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Attain a balanced, productive, and efficiently functioning forest ecosystem thru the sustainable management of forest and the rehabilitation of degraded forestlands;
2.     Ensure continuous supply of wood and non-wood products by encouraging all sectors to engage in the development of Industrial Forest Plantations; and,
3.     Improve the economic well-being of upland people and communities dependent on forest resources by ensuring equitable access to forest resources.

The Areas Available for IFMA:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Open and denuded lands, brushlands, degraded residual natural forest;
2.     Areas covered by cancelled/expired Forest Land Grazing Agreement or pasture permits or leases;
3.     Government reforestation projects or portions thereof to be more suitable as IFP;
4.     Production residual natural forest that may be best included in the aforementioned area; and,
5.     Areas under cancelled and expired TLAs; provided, area under existing TLAs may be allowed for conversion to IFMA.

The Sizes of the Areas Allowed for IFMA:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Minimum of 500 hectares and the maximum size may depend upon the capability of the applicant to develop and manage to productive condition, but not to exceed 40,000 hectares; and,
2.     For TLA conversion into IFMA, the size of the IFMA area may extend up to the size of the TLA area at the time of conversion.

The Responsibilities of the IFMA Holder:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Conduct delineation and marking on the ground of the perimeter boundaries of the IFMA including timber inventory at 5% intensity.
2.     Submit Comprehensive Development and Management Plan (CDMP) within one (1) year from the date of approval of the IFMA and an Initial Environment Examination (IEE).
3.     Submit to the FMB within one (1) year from date of award of the IFMA and every five (5) years thereafter, up-to-date aerial photos or landsat imageries including interpretation map covering the entire IFMA area which can be waived if there is no natural forest and the area regardless of vegetative cover is less than 5,000 hectares.
4.     Implement the mitigation/enhancement measures in the IEE and comply with ECC conditions.
5.     Plant timber species but not excluding rubber, durian, rattan and bamboo.
6.     Limit planting of agricultural crops to 10% of the IFMA area.
7.     If included in the CDMP, convert the degraded residual natural forest into productive state, either thru a) enrichment planting, Timber Stand Improvement and assisted natural regeneration; b) establishing plantations of rattan or other suitable non-timber species; and/or c) clearing of natural vegetative and establishing IFP.
8.     Manage and protect production residual forest and if authorized in the approved CDMP harvest and utilize naturally grown trees on a sustainable basis.
9.     No timber harvesting within old growth or protection forest such as those areas with more than 50% slope and 20 meters on both sides of rivers and streams.
10.  Reforest open/denuded lands found within areas classified as protection forestlands and within 20 meters strips from both sides of river banks.
11.  Protect and conserve unique, rare and endangered flora and fauna.
12.  Construct permanent structure and roads within the IFMA area only in accordance with approves CDMP and Operations Plan (OP).
13.  Employ as many experienced registered foresters as may be required.
14.  Submit Annual Accomplishment Reports.

The Responsibilities of the DENR:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Ensure that all prescribed requirements are strictly complied with;
2.     Make available to IFMA Holders all information it possesses on the area;
3.     Assist the IFMA Holder and host communities in the development and execution of mutually beneficial agreements.
4.     Not after or modify the boundaries or legal status of any IFMA area, once established, settle boundary conflicts; and,
5.     Promote and/or approve joint venture, financing and/or securitization schemes.

The Incentives for the IFMA Holder:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     May interplant secondary crops between trees within areas designated for IFP.
2.     All trees and other crops established pursuant to the IFMA belong to the IFMA Holder who shall have the right to harvest, sell and utilize such trees and crops.
3.     Allow the IFMA Holder without restriction to export logs, lumber and forest products derived from IFMA area; provided that logs harvested from naturally growing trees (not planted) in the IFMA area and the lumber manufactures from such logs will not be exported.
4.     All plantation products derived from an IFMA area shall be exempted from forest charges; provided, that logs from trees growing naturally (not planted) and other forest products naturally growing in the IFMA as well as logs from trees planted in compliance with TLA reforestation obligations of TLAs shall be subject to forest charges stipulated in RA 7161.
5.     Entitlement to all relevant incentives provided for under the Omnibus Investment Code and to all applicable incentives enumerated under Section 36 of PD 705, as amended.
6.     Transfer developed plantations that are at least three (3) years old to a cooperative upon fair compensation or payment thereof by the cooperative itself or through a financing institution or open up public investment.
7.     Use stable plantation crops that are at least three (3) years old as collateral or security for loans offered by the government development banks, financial institutions, or government-owned and controlled corporations.
8.     IFMA Holders who has satisfactorily complied with the terms and conditions of the IFMA may be allowed an additional area to be existing area or a new IFMA but not to exceed 40,000 hectares.

The Present Status of the IFMAs:

In February 1, 2011, Executive Order No. 23 was promulgated.  EO 23 provides as it is entitled: “Declaring a Moratorium on the Cutting and Harvesting of Timber in the Natural and Residual Forests and Creating the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force”.  Although the EO was a dismal failure in curbing illegal logging activities, it was, however, successful in de-operationalizing all IFMAs.

After one and a half years of moratorium, most of the IFMA Holders bonded themselves in an organization called Integrated Forest Management Association of the Philippines (IFMAP) to make representations to government through the DENR on the following issues:

·         The continuous illegal logging activities that have expended to IFMA areas;
·         The absence of safety nets to protect the interest of the IFMA Holders, their employees and allied downstream businesses and the upland communities benefitting from IFMA system;
·         The non-issuance of an IRR for EO 23;
·         Possible financial assistance as most IFMA Holders are now experiencing liquidity problems; and,
·         Other related matters pertaining to the tenurial instrument (IFMA).

In response to the issues raised by the IFMAP, the DENR-Forest Management Bureau (DENR-FMB) signified interest to assist in facilitating plantation establishment loans from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).   The proposal was for IFMA Holders to concentrate on reforestation and tree planting activities while the moratorium is still in effect.  IFMAP has had three meetings this year with the DBP on the invitation of the DENR-FMB.  The DBP, on the other hand, has expressed willingness to also assist IFMAP members by way of soft loans for plantation establishment.  A fourth meeting is scheduled in January 2014.

Just my little thoughts…

(Note:  As of May 2014, the DENR-FMB has not called for another meeting on DBP soft loans for plantation establishment for IFMA Holders.)


·         Course Gui

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Classifying Ecosystem Components

by Antonio C. Antonio
May 27, 2014

There are two key components in an ecosystem which are biotic and abiotic.  Abiotic or non-living components are made of chemicals and geophysical things like water, air, temperature and precipitation.  On the other hand, biotic or living components include all living creatures like plants and animals.  The basic difference between biotic and abiotic components is life itself and the ability of biotic components to grow.  These biotic and abiotic components, in varying degrees, interact and interrelate to each other.  It is also widely believed that they cannot stand alone without the other.  This makes it a daunting task to re-classify or re-group them if their importance and linkage to one another is taken into consideration.

In my mind, the most practical and purpose-focused way of grouping similar ecosystem components should be on the basis of their contribution to human welfare.  This may sound selfish but that is just how things are… humans have managed to stay on top of the food chain because we simply consider ourselves first before anything else.  It will be a need-based approach.  Classifying these ecosystems as (a) critically needed, (b) needed, and (c) less needed.  This classification can now be used in the management of the ecosystem especially in the aspect of priority setting.  As in any sound practice of management, corresponding resources (financial, equipment, man hours, etc.) are first given to the identified “critically needed” components before the “needed” and “less needed” components (in their order of priority) are considered. 

The classifications “critically needed”, “needed” and “less needed” are just nomenclature.  More important to simple wordplay (choosing descriptive words) or labelling is the process by which the ecosystem components are actually classified and grouped together.  Unfortunately, it may be a hard bargain for me to even suggest a way of grouping or classifying similar ecosystem components.  Even experts argue on the right procedure and methodology in getting this done.  Ironically, experts also agree that classifying ecosystems into ecologically homogenous units is the right direction towards effective ecosystem management.   However, classifying ecosystem components even on the basis of their contribution to human welfare (as I suggested), will be very hard since even the knowledgeable people have no single, agreed-upon way to accomplish this.

Just my little thoughts…

Monday, May 26, 2014

Systems Model of Human and Political Ecology

by Antonio C. Antonio
February 4, 2013

According to A. Terry Rambo, the Human-Environment Interaction model are influenced by fluxes occurring among entities in a social system, among entities in a biophysical ecosystem and across the social systems and ecosystems.  Rambo likewise enumerated four distinct relations between social systems and ecosystems, namely:

  1. Inputs from the ecosystem into the social system;
  2. Inputs from the social system into the ecosystem;
  3. Changes in the institutions making up the social system in response to inputs from the ecosystem; and,
  4. Changes in the ecosystem in response to inputs from the social system. 

Rambo’s Human-Environment Interaction model, however, lack at least two theoretical points, namely:

  1. It assumed that the interactions among elements of the social and ecological subsystems are distinguishable from the interactions of the two subsystems; and,
  2. It is vague on how materials, energy, and information flow across elements within each subsystem.  With these inadequacies, Rambo’s Human-Environment Interaction model could not account for (a) how elements of social and ecological systems may interact with each other directly and (b) how materials, energy and information flow across elements of social and ecological systems and how they are distributed within each system. 

Another Human-Environment Interaction model, Political Ecology, may apply where the previous models cannot.

Political Ecology is the flow and distribution of power among individuals and groups in a human population.  Power, in this case, is defined as the capacity to determine how resources are allocated among individuals and groups.  The Political Ecology model assumes that there is continuous flux of materials, energy and information across two subsystems in the environment.

To best describe Systems Model of Human Ecology and Model of Political Ecology, I have chosen the Philippine political succession system with reference to changes in leadership of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).  As Rambo and Dr. Ben Malayang III used the forest to prove their cases and studies, I chose the government agency specifically tasked to care for and protect Philippines forests… the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

It would be noted that during the Pre-Martial Law era, our Presidents have a fixed term of office of four years plus one re-election.  Post EDSA Revolution (1986) era however changed this to only a term of six years with no re-election with the enactment of the 1986 Constitution.

Philippine society is dominated by politics.  Dominant political parties are successful in seating their chosen leader/candidate in Malacanang Palace.  As such, these political parties, headed by the President of the Republic are bestowed with the power of governance or the power to decide on the flow and distribution of energy, information and material.

Democratic countries differ with communists, socialists and authoritarian countries in this aspect.  In these countries, power resides with the members of a dominant political party that, among themselves, choose their leader.  Elections, therefore the power to choose leaders, are not the natural order of political events.  This is not a condition set by the Political Ecology Model.  The model emphasizes the free will of members of a community to exercise their right (and power) to select their leaders.

When the power to choose the leader lies in the members of the community, the turnover of political administration become structured and regular.  Listed below are our Presidents and the DENR Secretaries who served under them:

  • President Ferdinand E. Marcos – Jose J. Leido, Jr. (1974 to 1981); Teodoro Q. Pena (1981 to 1984); and, Rodolfo P. del Rosario (1984 to 1986)
  • President Corazon C. Aquino – Ernesto M. Maceda (1986 to 1986); Carlos G. Dominguez (1986 to 1987); and, Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. (1987 to 1992)
  • President Fidel V. Ramos – Angel C. Alcala (1992 to 1995); and, Victor O. Ramos (1995 to 1998)
  • President Joseph E. Estrada – Antonio H. Cerilles (1998 to 2000)
  • President Gloria M. Arroyo – Heherson T. Alvarez (2000 to 2002); Elisea G. Gozun (2002 to 2004); Michael T. Defensor (2004 to 2006); Angelo T. Reyes (2006 to 2007); Jose L. Atienza, Jr. (2007 to 2009); Eleazar P. Quinto (2010 to 2010); and, Horacio C. Ramos (2010 to 2010)
  • President Benigno S. C. Aquino III – Ramon J. P. Paje (2010 to present)

In the last thirty nine years, we have experienced being ruled by six Presidents and seventeen Secretaries of the DENR.  From 1974 to the present, we have had a new president every six years and a new DENR Secretary every two years on the average.  This is probably a non-issue if all of them shared the same style of governance and, therefore, a continuous flow of harmonized and consistent policies.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Cabinet Secretaries are supposed to be the chief adviser to the President and the implementor of the will of the President… they are even, so often, called the “alter egos” of the President.  The advices they give the President, however, are influenced by several factors.  Such as:

  1. The sector the secretary comes from (political, academe, business, etc.);
  2. The influence/lobby group that was vital in his appointment as cabinet secretary (religious, business, community, etc.);
  3. The culture of the group he represents and comes from; and,
  4. (Sometimes) Monetary and political power considerations.

Policy direction and governance are often based on the above-mentioned criteria.  Their biases also often come into play.  A DENR Secretary who comes from the political group will always make politically-motivated decisions; an appointed secretary coming from the academe will come up with decisions that are found in books; a technocrat will think about doing things in a more structured research-based manner, etc.

The Political Ecology model of Human-environment Interaction is right to assert that the ultimate power is bestowed upon the population.  When the populace is no longer satisfied with the manner of governance, their leaders (the Presidents in our case) are no longer voted back into office or taken out of office within their respective terms.  As in the cases of Presidents Marcos and Estrada, they were both ousted by “People Power” I and II.  As a consequence, del Rosario and Cerilles had to resign their appointments as Secretaries of the DENR.  On the other hand, DENR Secretaries Fulgencio Factoran, Victor Ramos and Horacio Ramos had to go since the terms of office of their principals have ended.

Just my little thoughts…

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Upland Food Gathering and Production Practice

by Antonio C. Antonio
January 27, 2014

In the Cordillera Region, there is a “unique but unlawful” delicacy.  (Sandali lang… I know that something seems to be wrong with my opening sentence.  Please continue reading…)  “Unique” because of the procedure or manner by which the food is prepared.  And this peculiar way by which this particular viand is prepared has also rendered it “unlawful”. 

This is “Pinikpikan”… a very common and “to die for” type of food that all Filipinos would choose to try no matter how illegal it may seem.  Pinikpikan is a chicken delicacy… but for crying out loud, so what’s so illegal about eating chicken?!  The owners and proprietors of KFC, Max’s, Andok’s, Baliwag and other fried chicken food chains should have all gone to jail if eating chicken was to be outlawed.  All of us, on the assumption that we have all eaten chicken, will all have to also march into our jail cells as accessories to the crime. 

Some foreign countries consider this practice inhuman… or, more appropriately, “inanimal.”  Foreign tourists, in particular, are forewarned and are very careful not to partake of this meal.

The crime is not so much with eating chicken per se.  It is the manner and procedure by which the chicken is prepared before cooking which is not too desirable.  Pinikpikan is prepared for cooking by beating a live chicken with a stick prior to cooking.  The beating results to bruises on the chicken’s flesh when its blood coagulates to the skin.  It is said that this bruising adds a distinct taste and flavour to the chicken after it is cooked.

This preparation procedure, however, violates a provision in the Philippine Animal Welfare Act of 1998 or Republic Act No. 8485.  A provision in RA 8485 states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animal or to subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horsefights, kill or cause or procure to be tortures or deprives of adequate care, sustenance of shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.”  In addition, Section 8 of RA 8485 provides: “Any person who violate, any of the provisions of this Act, upon conviction by final judgment, be punished by imprisonment of not less than six (6) months nor more than two (2) years or a fine of not less than one thousand pesos (PhP 1,000) nor more than five thousand pesos (PhP 5,000) or both at the discretion of the court.  If the violation is committed by a juridical person, the officer responsible therefore shall serve the imprisonment when imposed.  If the violation is committed by an alien, he or she shall be immediately deported after serving sentence without any further proceeding.”

Upland dwellers normally hunt wild chickens to be used for Pinikpikan but domestic chickens are now being raised to cope with the demand for this delicacy.

Just my little thoughts…


  • Animal Welfare Act (
  • Pinikpikan (
  • Pinikpikan Recipe (