It’s a good day for us at the Stratbase ADR Institute because today, our annual Pilipinas Conference (PilCon) will take place. Now in its 8th year, we tracked the most pressing issues facing our country and gathered our government and industry leaders in engaging conversations on strategic solutions that would enable and accelerate a whole of society momentum to move forward.
Many things have happened since our first PilCon. We survived an administration that appeared to cede our national interests to the interest of another nation, and which governed, at best, unevenly and whimsically, dismissing the contributions of the private sector and undermining their potential to drive growth. He forced a “peace and order” approach to what was a patently health issue, and chose opacity over transparency and accountability.
Most importantly, we hurdled a pandemic which sickened millions and killed thousands, battered our economy, and exposed the gaps in our economic structure, our healthcare system, and our bureaucracy.
These days, the challenges faced by the Philippines, within its borders and within the Indo-Pacific region, are many, varied, complex, and interrelated. Our economy has recovered, but it does not mean we can rest easy. On the contrary, there are a number of serious social, political, and economic issues that continue to confound us and threaten our progress and development.
It is important to know how we can take the path toward economic security — a condition where individuals enjoy a stable source of income and are consistently able to meet their basic needs — by turning global risks into opportunities. Indeed, national security is no longer confined to matters of defense capabilities; economic security is a crucial component of this. It is only when people are economically secure that the nation can also be secure.
The three sessions/panel discussions in today’s conference are a reflection of what we deem the most pressing concerns of the Philippines — not another country, not a single company, sector, or group of individuals — at the present time. These discussions will bring together some of the biggest names in government, the diplomatic community, the private sector, and civil society.
Foremost, we delve into the economic outlook and strategies for 2024. Here, the country’s top economic managers will share their insights and outlook into the Philippine economic landscape. We have long advocated a pivot toward investment-led growth, specifically in the manufacturing sector. Achieving this by strengthening our ties with our most beneficial trading and investment partners will solidify our role in the global supply chain.
We will delve deeper into the pursuit of economic prosperity, specifically by unlocking natural wealth through the sustainable utilization of resources. Harnessing the Philippines’ abundant natural resources is central to addressing not only traditional economic concerns but also non-traditional security risks.
Climate change, the single biggest existential risk to humankind, is felt more acutely by nations in the most vulnerable parts of the world — this includes the Philippines, and many of our countrymen. We can only avoid the dire consequences of a warming planet by being resilient — something that is achieved through responsible and sustainable practices. For example, we are working toward a seamless transition toward renewable energy sources while laying the foundation for enduring economic prosperity. The concepts of environmental sustainability, energy security, and community well-being must all be present in the broader agenda for our development.
We will take a step back and look into the bigger picture for our second panel discussion. In the session called “Strategic Cooperation for a Secure and Robust Economic Architecture in the Philippines and in the Indo-Pacific,” members of the diplomatic community will do a deep dive into how geopolitical shifts in the Indo-Pacific region have caused them to shift their foreign and security policies. States are strategically cooperating against the aggressive actions of antagonistic and coercive states that seek to undermine the security and economic landscape in the region. It’s going to be a broad — and riveting — discussion that will touch on maritime security, economic cooperation, and trade initiatives.
The last session is the Corporate Leaders’ Dialogue, where top business leaders will share how their organizations are contributing to national prosperity through job creation and higher productivity. This conversation will explore ways to elevate the private sector’s role in maximizing regional economic opportunities, founded on good governance practices that prioritize transparency and accountability above all.
These are challenging times, yes, but also exhilarating times when great opportunities for advancement exist. While the various risks we now face threaten to upset the established global order or create wider gaps in our socio-economic life, we can see these same risks as opportunities to collaborate. All sectors and stakeholder groups, while bringing their own background and expertise to the table, can learn much from the perspective of others. Only a collaborative approach will enable us to find holistic and sustainable solutions to our myriad of problems and the great risks we face.
The Stratbase ADR Institute is only too happy to create venues for, and facilitate, such meaningful conversations.
Victor Andres “Dindo” C. Manhit is the president of the Stratbase ADR Institute.