For real, or investment attraction?

For real, or investment attraction?

Of late, local government units, particularly the Negros Occidental provincial government and the army institution in the Visayas, have been issuing statements and declarations of some sort that the province is ready for so-called Stable Internal Peace and Security or Sips, to mean that the foundations of sustainable, inclusive and resilient development have already been laid down.

God knows what they really mean by such. But I wish this were true because this is also the aspiration of many if not all Negrosanon.

Still, is this for real? Or an investment attraction scheme?

As a journalist, practicing sociologist, and development planner, I can only have more questions to their declaration than answers.

If Sips is now operational, why are several battalions of military, police, and civilian auxiliary armed forces deployed on the island, especially in rural areas? Why are there still reported sightings and assembly of armed insurgents in rural areas, and continuing armed clashes with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA)?

If Sips also means the institution of foundations for sustainable, inclusive, and resilient development, why are there labor and lawyer’s reports of thousands of sugar plantation farm workers and mill workers working like slaves, without just wages and adequate benefits, and whose rights are trampled many times over? Why are there many child laborers working in plantation farms, sweatshops, warehouses, ports, and public utility vehicle terminals, living on the streets, as per reports of the local and regional Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) offices?

Why are there thousands of rural folks migrating to cities and urban centers to look for jobs but only to end up in a more miserable life? Why do commercial sex workers continue to swarm in urban centers?

Why do labor complaints mostly cases of unfair labor practices, non-payment of due wages and benefits, labor-only contracting, and other abuses of employers, from the private and government workers and employees continue to flood offices of the Dole? And why has there been a decreasing number of organized labor, unions, and associations in many private and government establishments?

Why do local big oligarchs and family dynasties continue to dominate local politics and local government units? Why do they continue to dictate what and how justice should be practiced, and who should benefit from the system they run?

If these questions and concerns were not in the equation of Sips, then there is something wrong with it, both in its intention and framework. At its best, it is just an investment gimmick for a province in dire need of development funds.

If it is just an oversight flaw, then it should be re-framed and re-oriented.

I touched on this issue because Sips, or what I prefer to call in my works as inclusive, sustainable, and resilient development (ISRD) is a serious thing that we cannot just declare arbitrarily, much less be left to the whims of the politicians and war strategists.

Just and lasting peace, or sustainable peace and security, must be the results or sum total of all economic, cultural, political, and military initiatives carried over a long period of time, and touching on the core of the system’s structures.

Anything less and done in a shortcut is ambiguous and undesirable.*


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