It is the main thesis of this column that society is composed of three main sectors, namely, government which takes care of political matters, business on economic matters, and civil society on the cultural aspect of social life.
We have all been made to believe by conventional systems that government is central to this. That is why political squabbles make our airwaves noisy and elections are the biggest shows every time, all the time. Unfortunately, this is not the true picture. Precisely, our society is in a serious social malady because one sector tends to dominate another.
Let us look back at the recent history of our province. All governors and vice governors without doubt made their own impact on the development of Bohol. But in different ways. When Rene Relampagos and Edgar Chatto, who were called by President Fidel V. Ramos as his “development team”, came into power in 1995 that was when eco-cultural tourism and agro-industry were made the twin visions.
It was not a product of the leaders’ mere imagination. It was the output of widespread multi-sectoral consultations from businessmen, civil society organizations and government agencies; farmers, fishermen, laborers, youth, women, cooperatives, churches, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, professionals, military, police, and many others were involved.
If our memory serves us right, we remember having seen with our own eyes a document from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that said, “if President Ramos’ development team will win the elections, the USAID will come to Bohol and give substantial assistance”. The team won, and USAID did come and made Bohol their pilot province for many of their good governance programs.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Business Organizations were actively involved in the implementation of those programs. It would be safe to say that they were happy during those times. That was the time when the Bohol Alliance of Nongovernment Organizations (BANGON) was organized. That must have been the time when the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) began to be quite active. That was the time when Bohol clearly began to make its mark in the national tourism and culture and arts map.
EricoAumentado, the astute politician that he was, continued these thrusts with Julius Herrera and even declared Bohol GMO-free and insurgency-free. And when Edgar Chatto himself became the Governor, he took it to greater heights with Conching Lim and DioningBalite, to the extent of declaring that Bohol will be free from coal plants after listening to public sentiments, particularly the church.
Which begs the question, how are the civil society and business organizations nowadays? Are they happy? Are they involved, or at least consulted? That is for those sectors to answer. It might also be relevant to ask, to what extent are Rene and Edgar involved in our province’s thrusts these days? Your guess is as good as mine.