“Through EDD, my perspectives and ideas on development have broadened”; said the Young Leader 2016 from Philippines, REUBEN JAMES BARRETE
My participation in the European Development Days 2016 could be summarized in three levels: institutional, inter-institutional, and individual.
The International Center for Innovation, Transformation, and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov), the organization that I am presently working with has been very supportive with my involvement at the EDD. The project that I am working on right now on Strengthening Social Protection in the Philippines is an EU-supported project. The partners of the consortium have consistently expressed support by allowing me to be publicly vocal on human rights, development aids, and poverty reduction measures in the country, even if there are threats incurred with the present government. However, I always make sure, that criticizing my government should be evidence-based and should always create an avenue on constructive engagements. I was able to publish an opinion-editorial article both on newspaper and online in one of the leading print and online media in the Philippines. I discussed how development aid positively assists the government in all its development efforts. I wrote the article after President Duterte threatened to withdraw all international aids, specifically from the European Union (Please see link: Is Foreign Aid Bad for PH?)
Through EDD, my perspectives and ideas on development have broadened.I have consciously integrated various marginalized groups and sectors in the project to push for policy reforms and initiatives on social protection in the Philippines through policy workshops and analysis. Presently, we are in the process of forming a network of civil society groups and in constant engagement with the Congress of the Philippines – both houses.
Moreover, I would proudly say, that my engagement with the young people/leaders in my country was never put on hold. Last January 2017, I was invited to be the Overall Learning Manager to facilitate a two-day conference of young leaders in the Philippines to tackle issues on the Sustainable Development Goals. The event was organized by the Young Public Servants (a Philippine-based NGO) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund. Moreover, my experience with EDD also equipped me with additional skills and knowledge – both in the aspects of politics and development. I will be in Hong Kong this March 2017 for the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats to hold courses on political management.
Also the British Council in Manila wanted to meet me for their project on peace and development efforts in Mindanao. Presently, I am in constant communication with the panel organizers of my session. They informed me that they will let me know if there’s a potential intervention I can make for this year’s EDD; but would be happy to have a formal invitation from the European Commission to join this year’s conference, if possible.
Lastly, I want to make it clear that my participation with EDD was not just about me. My exposure during the entire conference was significantly enough to continue and be motivated with all the things I have started. My participation was always for my people who believe in me, and consistently engage them to be empowered; and be able to claim the rights that are for them.