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Political scientists, professors talk on governance in int’l conference

Over 300 political scientists and professors gathered in the International Conference of the Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA) at the Waterfront Hotel last Apr. 5-6, 2018.

With the theme: “Multi-level Governance in the 21st Century”, the conference focused on the integration and disintegration of governance levels in the global scene and how these influence national governance.

A plenary session, organised by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, opened the topic on Mindanao and the Duterte Agenda.

Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy president, cited how the martial law was the significant feature of the Mindanaoan context.

“Martial law is the number one driving force [on policies of federalism and constitutional reform]. Marawi [siege] is the product of martial law, not the other way around because we recycle the 1972 Martial Law,” Mastura said.

Mastura also emphasized on accepting the reality of divided communities but not as a negative acceptance but an opportunity to reconfigure and redefine the situation.

Dr. Francisco Lara, Jr., regional adviser of International Alert, added that the current state military system should not be used as a pattern in the redefinition and reconfiguration of the situation.

Dr. Rufa Guiam, former director of the Center for Peace and Development Studies, Mindanao State University – General Santos City, suggested how learning from history can improve the system of learning in universities.

“Good governance is still a vision, as far as the Philippines is concerned. I think one step towards that is realizing that all of us in the ivory tower of the academe should start learning the grassroots as the hub of praxis in order to merge with universities as the hub of theory. With that, you can have a new learning plan,” Guiam remarked.

Fr. Eliseo Mercado OMI, senior policy adviser of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, noted how the reality of different trajectories or momentums, whether parallel or contradictory, are working as if on auto-pilot thus making it seem as if there is an agenda which needs to be consistently pursued.

The plenary session was followed by parallel sessions where the delegates are divided into groups that discuss and relate dissertations relating to the topics ranging from governance and development, human rights, political dynasties, security challenges, cybersecurity, disaster management, health and education.

The event, organized by the PPSA with support from the Ateneo de Davao University, Konrad Adenauer Stiftun and Institute for Autonomy and Governance, sought to determine the state of Philippine governance and its impact on lives.

Dr. Anderson V. Villa, PPSA Mindanao Representative and associate professor at Ateneo de Davao University, related the rationale of the event.

“Essentially, we are doing these conferences in order to encourage collegiality among political scientists and social scientists. Also, to encourage discourse especially on issues that concern society, and how we can perhaps improve the system of governance today,” Villa shared.

He added that the international annual conference is a regular event of PPSA that is attended by the organization’s local and international members who are political scientists and governance experts.

Villa also shared that although the event invited international speakers, much representation was given to Mindanaoan political scientists.

Davao City was selected as the venue of the international event in light of the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte and to emphasize open discourse among political scientists despite the situation in Mindanao.

It was also noted that the last time the conference was held in Davao City was back in 2003.

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