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Home Columns Ike Señeres Institution Building at the Corinthian Coffee Club
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Columns - Ike Señeres
Written by Ike Señeres   
Thursday, 16 September 2010 10:50

 

BANTAY GOBYERNO (SERIES 2010034)

By Ike Señeres

 

T ogether with some friends, I started the Corinthian Coffee Club (C3) that now meets every Friday afternoon at the Elks Club located at the Corinthian Plaza in Makati City. From the very start, we wanted it to be an informal gathering of Filipinos and foreigners who are committed to the advocacy of nation building. Originally, we wanted C3 to be simply a forum for the exchange of ideas between the proponents of nation building initiatives, and those who may be in a position to support these initiatives, particularly among the business chambers that are represented by their members.

 

After two months of successful meetings however, many of the members want C3 to be more than just a forum for the exchange of ideas, they now want it to be an active proponent of, and a participant in actual nation-building programs and projects. In other words, they do not want to simply talk, they now want to walk the talk. At first I thought that this change in direction would be in conflict with our original purpose, but after a period of discernment, I have found a practical approach that would solve our dilemma. Rather than talk about nation building in general, our practical approach now is to lead in institution building.

 

After more than one-hundred years of being an independent country, it would be reasonable to think that by now, we would already have very strong institutions at the local and national levels, each institution serving its own purpose for the good of the nation. Unfortunately however, instead of growing in strength, we have seen many of our institutions either getting weakened or destroyed, partly due to political reasons. The sad part is, political factors might have also prevented the establishment of some basic institutions that are now absent from the national picture.

 

E veryone is now talking and complaining about the failure of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to properly handle the hostage incident in Manila. After all the talking subsides, would it not be good to have permanent solutions that would prevent the problem from happening again? Just to use it as an example, the PNP is an institution that should have been built and strengthened in the first place to deal with all public safety tasks such as handling hostage situations. It is not too late to help them do it now.

 

If we really want our country to take its place in the global community of developed nations, we should look at the institutions that the other countries have built, and thereafter, we should make it our national goal to build these institutions in our country as an initial step, at the same time go towards the direction of strengthening and sustaining these institutions in the long run.

 

What could these institutions be? These could probably vary in form or character, but it would be correct to say that any facility or organization that serves the public interest in particular and the good of the nation in general could be considered as an institution. In the absence of clear directions as to what to do and where to start, we could start looking at what is obvious around us, in our own local communities.

 

Yes, look around you and you will see that many institutions are missing from our localities. These are either missing or lacking. If these are present at all, they are probably weak or unstable. More often than not however, we only notice the weaknesses when something bad happens. Just like what happened in the hostage incident.

 

To cite a few more examples, very few localities have orphanages, senior homes, first aid clinics, homeless shelters and dog pounds. Do we really need dog pounds? The answer is yes, if we really are concerned about sanitation and the humane treatment of animals. Do we really need orphanages? The answer is yes, if we really need a more long term to the problem of street children.

 

Many of those who attend C3 are also members of the United National Integrated Development Alliance (UNIDA). Because of this relationship, it may be practical now to formalize the cooperation of the two groups by making C3 the governing board of the UNIDA on one hand, and by making UNIDA the operating arm of C3 on the other hand.

 

As a practical direction, C3 could now lead in inviting volunteer consultants who could help national agencies and local governments in building their institutions. As the operating arm of C3, the UNIDA could pick it up from there to assist these volunteers in their actual places of assignment. # # #

 

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