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    The Beauty of Partnerships

    29 September 2016

    Enhancing Local Economy through the PPP: A Seminar on Public-Private Partnership, Diversion 21 Hotel, Iloilo City

    First of all, I would like to ask for your indulgence sobrang delayed po ng flight naming ngayong umaga.

    I don’t know who else were flying from Manila pero sobrang lakas po ng ulan sa Manila akala namin our flight would be cancelled pero nadelay lang po ng isang oras.

    Anyway, it is a wonderful privilege to speak before you today about the beauty of partnerships. Few people know this, but when my husband Jesse Robredo was Mayor of Naga City for around 20 years, he got many things done through public-private partnerships.

    To survive and to grow, private corporations and organizations are under extreme pressure to innovate and constantly upgrade their knowledge about their line of business.

    They move fast. They learn fast.

    When something unexpected happens that disturb their business, they adapt fast because efficiency is part of their DNA.

    I cannot say the same thing with government. To be brutally honest, it is much easier to talk to the private sector to get things done, than when you are dealing with the government. So my husband took advantage of the nimble nature of private organizations to solve the problems our city, Naga city was facing at the time.

    And because they trusted him due to his transparency and governance reforms, they provided many things quickly that he would not have been able to get on his own. Firetrucks, medical facilities, school buildings, etc.

    When I served in Congress, I used the same model that my husband used. I knocked on the doors of private organizations to ask for help for my district. We almost closed the funding gap for elementary school classrooms, not because of the Department of Education, but because of private firms willing to work with us.

    The feeding programs of the Department of Social Work and Development, as you know, are meant for daycare centers. But it is my belief that proper nutrition should start in the womb, and mothers who are pregnant should be included in the feeding program.

    We created a very good feeding program that involved proper care and nutrition for mothers, again through public-private partnerships. We were able to build libraries full of books and libraries full of toys, health programs for the disabled and senior citizens that began with baseline data on diseases and treatments that they needed, and other projects that are truly needed by our people.

    In my district, we actually started a very good senior wellness program with Seaoil foundation what we did was to reinvent our usual medical missions by making it a medical mission to do environmental scanning. What we did was not only to take care of patients on a one-time basis but to create a whole range of database of their diseases and the medicine they need.

    After we developed our database, we asked the DOH, makakahingi ba ng gamot sa inyo? Ang sabi ng DOH, marami pong binibigay na gamot sa RHUs pero sa RHUs marami pong nageexpire.

    Bumalik po kami sa RHU at sinabi naming bakit po sabi ng DOH na nageexpire lang ang mga gamot sa inyo? At ang sabi po nila kasi ang pinapadala nila hindi naman naming kailangan. So bumalik po kami sa DOH and asked DOH kung ibibigay niyo ba iyong hinihingi naming? Sabi nila yes and it will actually be of help to us kasi it will guide us on what medicine we would purchase so iyon na po ang ginagawa namin.

    We would periodically send a list of maintenance medicine for our indigent patients. From medical missions nagkakamaintenance medicine na sila kasi libre na ang gamot nila pinapadala ng DOH sa RHU.

    So walag natatapon, walang nasasayang in just a simple act of linking supply and demand.

    The lesson is clear: government can never, ever solve the country’s problems alone despite its huge bureaucracy and the big budget it presents to Congress every year. The tasks of building a nation and addressing our people’s many concerns are just too big. The private sector and public organizations need to be part of the solution.

    But for the private sector to work with local government units and offices of congressmen and other politicians, those of us in government must have a spotless track record.

    There must not be any question of our integrity. There should be openness and transparency. The LGU or government office should be open to change and innovation. In other words, they should have a private sector orientation.

    In an ideal world, any government office should be the one leading in integrity, honesty, good governance, and transparency. It is my hope and my belief that we’ll get there eventually.

    Kasi di ba iyong age-old adage ng gobyerno, ang gobyerno mahirap kausap, ang gobyerno hindi clear iyong records but we are on our way there.

    For now, any government unit that emulates the example of the private sector in efficiency and innovation, good governance and integrity, and efficiency will find it easier to obtain funding for its development projects.

    So if you’re an LGU, and you are all of that, the next question is how to find development partners that want to help. That development marketplace, so to speak, does not exist yet. Many LGUs are ready for development, but cannot find the right partner. On the other hand, many private organizations are raring to contribute to society and lift lives beyond the boundaries of their businesses, but don’t know where to find the right LGU.

    Parang search for true love. You look at the same moon and wonder with awe at the same constellations, but can’t quite find each other.

    We, at the Office of the Vice President, understand that something must be done for development partners and LGUs to find each other and build partnerships. That is why we have invited some local government units as well as development partners to a summit against poverty next month. We have carefully designed a full-day activity that will hopefully result in successful public-private partnerships.

    The best way to describe the carefully designed methodology is that it is a “development speed-dating activity.” We have purposefully put the LGU front and center of the entire day’s events, gave them a workshop on how to give the best pitch using their development priorities, and put them in a room full of development partners who are “shopping” for the right partners.

    We are doing this precisely to jumpstart development at the local level. It is easy to talk about change and development in the national setting, but it is at the local level that all of these are really tested. If we are to meaningfully alter the path of development, we must be willing to go down on the ground and partner with our local leaders.

    So ano po ang mangyayari sa October 10? Iyong batch one po naming 52 LGUs I think. We already prepared mayors and other local officials for October 10.

    Ibebenta po nila iyong kanilang mga pangangailangan at kami na po ang hahanap ng kanilang private partners na tutulong sa kanila. So the October 10 Summit will be a dating place of local governments in need of help and private corporations willing to help. And as I have said we are doing this to jumpstart development at the local level.

    The Office of the Vice President is not an agency. We do not have the resources to work with every LGU. But we can use the trust that people and organizations have given us to become a clearinghouse of development. Since the start of our term, we have gone to the farthest and poorest barangays to listen.

    We have also spoken with so many organizations that are willing to help. The only thing that remains is to allow the meeting of minds and the shaking of hands. And finally, the rolling up of sleeves so we can work on the hard tasks ahead.

    So as you finish this two-day event, remember that PPPs prove that our nation’s future lies in the beauty of partnerships. They are not easy to do—people have different opinions, different ways of doing things, different ways to communicate.

    But when we put the people at the fringes of society front and center of our reform agenda, that’s when we forget our own biases and focus on the things that truly matter.

    That child who will be saved from malnutrition and stunting. That family that will gain proper and decent shelter. That kid raring to get a college degree. And that mother who needs help for her small, home-based business.

    So ito pong two days na ito parang pareho lang ng ginawa namin noong September 27 at ng gagawin naming on October 10 so I would really want to wish everyone the best of luck narito lang po ang aming opisina para tumulong.

    Maraming maraming salamat po and thank you all for listening to me today.

    Posted in Speeches on Sep 29, 2016