When gov’t works with private sector

August 17, 2007 02:04:00

The front-page photo (“Batanes schools now fully wired”) in the Inquirer’s July 31 issue, which showed students of the University of the Philippines helping “erect an antenna near the Batanes National High School in Basco,” was reminiscent of a picture of Iwo Jima taken during World War II.

The story tells how the joint effort of local leaders, civil society and the private sector led to the interconnection of all public schools in the island province of Batanes. It is a particular story with general implications. Time and again we say, “Filipinos can do it.”

To drive the point: The government did not have to enter into a shadowy contract like the $329-million NBN deal (financed through an official loan, by the way) with China’s ZTE since Filipinos can actually do the job -- at practically less cost and with no strings attached.

To drive the point further: It shows that development and infrastructure projects (which the government is fond of) may be done by local industries -- with capital from the government for pump priming; the projects don’t have to be farmed out to foreign countries. This way, the benefits to be derived from the projects will be enjoyed by more sectors.

Think about it, the Department of Transportation and Communication need not even have run a full-page ad (Inquirer, 8/4/07) paid with public funds to defend ZTE. That was simply too much for a project that Filipinos can do.

MARCO M. DE LOS REYES, national president, National Union of Students of the Philippines (via email)


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