27 February 2017

A total of one hundred and thirteen (113) Career Executive Service Officers, Eligibles and third-level officials from around the country gathered last 22 February 2017 at the North Center Ballroom, Diamond Hotel, Roxas Boulevard, Manila to witness and participate in the inaugural session of the CES Leadership Conclave for 2017.

The 2017 CES Leadership Conclave series is anchored on the theme: “GoVergence: Cultivating Exemplary Service”. The theme focuses on convergence for governance as a catalyst for sustained positive change. It underscores the need to promote synergism within and beyond the CES Community on the premise that amidst diversity lie opportunities to harness unique individual and organizational talents and resources through partnership, collaboration and cooperation.

In her opening message, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary and the National Union of Career Executive Service Officers (NUCESO), Inc. President Rosalina L. Bistoyong hoped that the Leadership Conclave will serve as a venue to highlight the gains and significant insights achieved by the various convergence schemes and for CESOs to address intervention gaps in their respective offices by program matching with key development agencies and other program partners. She noted that “it is time to elevate the level of excellence of public service.”

Undersecretary Bistoyong further added: “Convergence is harmonization. It is the concept of coming up with a unified and integrated approach to a more improved and sustainable inclusive growth and development for our people.” She closed her message by encouraging her fellow public managers to be “mirrors” and reflect enthusiasm and nationalism to improve their services to the general public.

Prior to introducing the keynote speaker, CESB Executive Director Maria Anthonette C. Velasco-Allones, welcomed the participants and hoped that they inculcate the Conclave’s message that as public officials, they cannot fully attain development if they will not converge with fellow public servants in the bureaucracy. After all, it takes more than one to move a country forward. She also reminded them of the CES cliché: “When we know each other, half of the work is done.”

One of the esteemed leaders in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration, DAR Secretary Rafael V. Mariano graced the event as keynote speaker. Secretary Mariano discussed some of DAR’s convergence initiatives that ensured more unified interventions for rural and sustainable development. One of DAR’s most notable strategies is the establishment of a formal tie-up with the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of the Interior Local Government through the National Convergence Initiative

through Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD). NCI-SRD is a response to the fragmented delivery of rural development services towards improved governance and maximized use of resources and a strategy to unlock the potential of the Local Government Units (LGUs) to grow sustainable local economies.

Other projects and programs of DAR which are being developed, planned, and implemented jointly with other partner agencies or foreign and local stakeholders include the LinksFarm (Linking Smallholder Farmers to Markets), a partnership project with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) of the Philippines designed to promote sustainable agricultural development through farmers’ access to markets; the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), a joint DA-DAR-DENR-Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) credit and capacity development program which responds to the financing needs of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) on crop production, agri-enterprise, and livelihood projects; and the Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (PAHP), a collaborative effort among DAR, DA, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to increase farm productivity and income, ensure food security, and mitigate levels of malnourishment in the rural communities.

In closing, “Ka Paeng” shared three nuggets of wisdom he learned throughout the years of selfless service: A person is always in the right when he/she owns up to his/her mistakes and is willing to be corrected; a person is stronger when he/she recognizes his/her weaknesses and is bent on overcoming them; and a person is wiser when he/she is willing to listen and learn from others.

The first plenary learning session was conducted by Mr. Ernie O. Cecilia, Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine's human capital committee and columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer with his topic, "Converge, Collaborate, or FOK U (Fear of Keeping Up)".

Mr. Cecilia proceeded to give an example of a technological convergence. During the old days, people have separate televisions, watches, radios, flashlights, music players, and cameras. In the present, one only needs a smart phone for the different functions of the previously stated gadgets. However, he added that technological convergence is not only about putting together different media platforms into one device. It is a cultural shift as consumers seek more information and connections, and it depends on the participatory culture of the users. In short, technological convergence occurred because people wanted to better interact with each other, to work together, to converge.

“No one knows everything, but each one knows something. Through convergence, people can have collective knowledge and with this, people can have collective power”, said Mr. Cecilia.

He further added: “In this world, much more could be done if we don’t care who gets the credit, because at the end of the day, things will fall into places.”

Moreover, he mentioned some tips to a successful collaboration, among which are as follows: learn how to listen; integrate collaboration with the work; measure what matters; persist until something happens; adapt and evolve; break down barriers; develop a strategy; never compromise values; and transcend your borders.

He concluded, “let us collaborate, cooperate, converge, change, and create, not just for a better Philippines, but for a better world.”

Mr. Cecilia’s presentation was followed by another plenary learning session with the topic, “Convergence towards a Geospatially-Empowered Philippines” which imparted key strategies of collaboration from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) Deputy Administrator Efren P. Carandang.

Deputy Administrator Carandang divided his discussion into three parts: intra-office convergence, interagency convergence, and global convergence. He started by discussing the transformation of NAMRIA. He narrated that the agency used to operate on annual plans and has no well-defined standards and procedures. Since they are dealing with technical operations, they focus more on technology and less on human resources. This resulted to disengagement of the employees.

Deputy Administrator Carandang said that the convergence of HR and Organizational Development Initiatives provided a more conducive working environment for its employees. NAMRIA developed a Competency-based System, a Moral and Welfare program, and a Recognition and Rewards Program. The HR, together with the technical personnel of the agency, developed a NAMRIA Strategy Map and a Quality Management and Operations Manual. As a result, employees became engaged and their service delivery improved, as evidenced by client satisfaction (from 95.59% in CY 2012 to 98.65% in CY 2016)

As for interagency convergence, Deputy Administrator Carandang discussed the Philippine Extended Continental Shelf Project. Through the convergence of technical, scientific, legal, and diplomatic expertise of NAMRIA, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), National Security Council (NSC), Department of Justice (DOJ), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Department of National Defense (DND), Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs (CMOA), Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), University of the Philippines-National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS), UP-Institute of International Legal Studies (UP-IILS), Norway Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), and the GNS Science New Zealand, the Philippines was able to secure an additional 135,500 square kilometers seabed territory, which is considered a perpetual legacy to future generations of our countrymen. The continental shelves contain oil, gas, and unexplored mineral and living resources.

The last part of Deputy Administrator Carandang’s presentation is the formulation of the United Nations (UN) Strategic Framework on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters. The said framework is the UN Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM)’s guiding policy document that brings together all stake holders and partners involved in Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) to ensure that quality geospatial information and services are available and accessible in a coordinated way to decision-making and operations before, during, and after disasters. Deputy Administrator Carandang co-chaired the UN Working Group that developed the said framework.

As a closing message, Deputy Administrator Carandang encouraged the participants to “synergize and continuously innovate to raise the standards of governance if we and the institutions we represent are to stay relevant.”

After the learning sessions, Executive Director Allones facilitated a re-imagining workshop entitled “CES Café”, wherein the participants are divided into small groups to brainstorm on the relevance of the CES in the year 2022, the strategic priorities they will deliver to achieve their vision, the core values they need to establish their culture, and key competencies they must have to realize their goals. This interactive workshop produced very valuable outputs and strengthened the camaraderie between the members of the CES community.

Executive Director Allones concluded the Conclave forum with a message on continuity. “As CESOs, we have to stand our ground and continue to be a positive game changer in the bureaucracy. We have to be bridges that connect political leaders and the citizen.”

“These are tough times for the government because there are different development priorities being pursued all at the same time, but we need to stay grounded and live up to the challenge of constantly being a light because we, as members of the CES community, are expected to illumine our families, our communities, and the country as a whole”, she added.

According to Ms. Rosemarie G. Ereñeta, Division Manager at the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the sessions “strengthened her views about convergence and collaboration towards a better nation.” “I learned that convergence allows individual expertise, skills, and talents to be utilized to achieve greater accomplishments”, added Mr. Joselito Maria T. Jacalne, Engineer at the Department of Public Works and Highways – Bureau of Quality and Safety (DPWH-BQS).

The second CES Leadership Conclave Session will be on 06 April 2017.