Linking peace, our ‘MANhood’ and bamboo
September must be the busiest month in 2023 for at least three groups: those engaged in promoting peace in our country because it is the National Peace Consciousness Month; those involved in the marine and maritime industry because it is MANA Mo (Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month); and those who are building our bamboo industry because it is the Philippine Bamboo Month.
For each of those important topics, a Presidential Proclamation (PP) officially declared September as the month for it: PP No. 675 for Peace Consciousness that Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued in 2004, PP No. 316 for MANA Mo that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte issued in 2017 and PP No. 1401 that President Duterte issued in 2022.
A PP elicits public attention and positive actions on a topic. But I hope the authorities concerned will develop a better way of avoiding public confusion and competition in organizing activities that can contribute to the achievement of set goals for each of those topics.
Those three topics are all important for our sustainable development. I’ll try to capture the relationships among them this way: To progress, we must have peace within our land and with other countries—a responsibility to achieve by each one of us in our MAN or maritime and archipelagic nation that God has blessed with much natural capital, including our biodiverse marine resources and ubiquitous bamboo plants that we must properly value, conserve and sustainably use for our development.
Among the activities held in September, I will briefly discuss some points that we need to act on more quickly and effectively. On peace, Pres. Marcos started the celebration of our National Peace Consciousness Month with the declaration of Palawan as insurgency-free and the reiteration of his commitment to have “all armed conflict in our country to be resolved” during his term.
While we continue to make significant gains in addressing peace issues within our country, we now face the challenge of relating with China, the “hegemonic rogue state” in the South China Sea, as how retired Justice Antonio Carpio describes China’s behavior there at the Maritime League’s Conference-Exhibition on Sept. 8 at the SMX, Mall of Asia.
Pres. Marcos has talked about our position on this issue at regional and international meetings. But some leaders in our government are now expressing positions in local media that seem to conflict with what Mr. Marcos said. May we, thus, request our government to have a common position that is clearly understood and supported by all, especially by our government leaders first, so that we, in the private sector, will be guided well in also expressing our responsibility toward achieving peace with other countries?
On the observance of MANA Mo and Bamboo Mo, the Bill on Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (Pencas), the subject of the Sept. 26 Senate plenary interpellation or dialogue, as Senator Koko Pimentel referred to it, is the important highlight of September that can affect both our being the MAN that is the center of marine biodiversity in the world and having bamboo plants around us.
The main author of the Pencas bill is indefatigable Senator Loren Legarda, whom a multidisciplinary team from our Climate Action and Sustainability Alliance or Casa (which has well-educated and experienced professionals on Pencas from the public and private sectors) assisted in updating and finalizing her original draft bill when she was still in Congress. The bill aims to develop an information system and accounting framework that recognize, measure and report on ecosystems (living things in each area and their interaction with each other and with other non-living environments) and the flows of services from them and from other natural capital stocks of renewable and non-renewable resources that benefit those who live on earth.
Requiring immediate attention and resource allocation are:
◆ Our marine biodiversity, as built structures, pollution and illegal activities adversely affect some of our water bodies, and;
◆ Our bamboo plants, some of which have been in our country before we were born and some planted by us, which we can use to address some crises that we now have, like that on food. They are priority subjects for the application of the Pencas Bill, which we hope will be passed as a law soon. Valued well, accounted and sustainably used, our biodiverse marine resources and bamboo plants can greatly contribute to our economic development.
On bamboo alone, we already have about 60 to 80 species that we need up-to-date and comprehensive information and proper accounting systems for. We must have trained technical and creative personnel as well as research and development funds to support data gathering, valuation, accounting and product development for priority uses of bamboo—for food (for people and animals), energy (as renewable sources and potential substitute for coal), construction (for structures and furnishings), clothing material, accessories, tools and other applications where our natural creativity as a people can enable us to produce products that can serve our needs and improve our global competitiveness.
We hope those September celebrations and the approval of the Pencas Law soon will lead to more positive actions now and onwards. Our Casa and partners’ contribution will be a Bamboo-for-Food Program that we hope to start soon by using bamboo shoots, with a book that we invite you to join with your recipe for a delicious dish using easy-to-produce and nutritious bamboo shoots. INQ
(This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and not the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP. The author, a life member of MAP, is convenor-chair of Casa and board director of Asian Institute for Journalism & Communication, Asiapro Foundation, Business for Sustainable Development, Phil. Foundation for S&T, SEABED Inc., and TOWNS Foundation Feedback at [email protected] and [email protected].)