All hands on deck

By: Joshua Mahilum

(The author is the Managing Editor ofThe Spectrum, the official student publication of the University St. La Salle Bacolod)

In the past decades, the threat of insurgencies in the country has become an increasing reality. Reports of extortion, shootings, physical abuses, and killings orchestrated by the rebel groups have taken over the front pages of newspapers and media outlets. This decades-long conflict between the Philippine government and the communist rebels has become a recurring dilemma for every administration.

Now, in his term, President Rodrigo Duterte vouched to end it. It was early December last year when Executive Order 70 was introduced and was implemented by the current administration which institutionalizes the so-called “Whole-of-Nation-Approach” (WONA) in addressing the issue of insurgencies. Centered on the goal of attaining long-term peace and sustainable development, the Whole-of-Nation-Approach offers a transformational solution to the never-ending issue of insurgencies in the country through ensuring social inclusivity, enhancing inter-agency teamwork, and setting-up long-term goals.

Firstly, WONA addresses the root cause of local communist armed conflict. One of the main thrusts of the program is the harmonization of basic services and social development projects in the conflict-affected areas and vulnerable communities.

By making sure that everyone, especially those who are situated in far-flung areas, receives his/her basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health services, education, among others, and that of his/her family, no one will be forced to engage himself/herself in acts of rebellion. This initiative is carried out through ad hoc inter-agency and multi-sectoral clusters and councils that are tasked to fulfill the program’s mandate of ensuring the fast-track delivery of services and make sure that it goes directly to the areas concerned and not just to those in reach.

Secondly, the program enhances coordination, collaboration, and convergence among the different departments and agencies of the government. In order to fulfill the mandate of fast-tracking the services, all government stakeholders are tasked to lead and coordinate with other agencies in their specific field of attention.

Government agencies were divided into 12 clusters of implementation such as (1) Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management, (2) Local Government Empowerment, (3) Legal Cooperation, (4) Strategic Communication, (5) Sectoral Unification, Capacity-building and Empowerment, (6) Basic Services, (7) Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment, (8) Infrastructure, Resource Management and Employment, (9) Localized Peace Engagement, (10) Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support, (11) E-CLIP and Amnesty Program, and (12) International Engagement. Through the active participation of all sectors of the government, a wide scope of services will be available for the people. This will not only ensure the effective delivery of services; it will also encourage teamwork in the government.

Lastly, WONA serves as the frontline in the long-term development plan of the government. As the program’s mandate is the attainment of sustainable development, WONA lays the first stepping stone in the path to the end goals of AmBisyonNatin 2040 which represents the collective long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipino people in the next 25 years. One of the three main goals for 2040 is for Filipinos to be secured which highlights the issue of peace and security. This means that the success of WONA would be a fulfillment of one of the components of AmBisyonNatin 2040.

The Whole-of-Nation-Approach did not just address the issue of security through the military and police efforts; it also targets the cause of insurgencies at the roots. However, because this program involves the coordination of different departments and agencies of the government, the practice of good governance is a must to ensure its success. This poses a greater responsibility to the government in carrying out the mandate of the program and also a call for the Filipino people to cooperate and participate.

After all, security is a national responsibility shared by everyone.