Friday, June 22, 2007

The Context of and Rationale for Urban and Regional Planning

Prof. Serote is a legend in planning circles (at least in UP). He doesn't just teach, he wrote The Book. I consider myself lucky to be able to sit in the same room with him.

Plan 210 is about the Planning Process and its various models in historical and global extents. Since SURP has a more nationalistic approach to planning, the course's thrust it to highlight the issues and constraints as well as the challenges associated with various planning processes in the Philippine setting.*

Today, we talked about the three players whose dynamics shape the context and rational for urban and regional planning (URP)-- the State, the Market, and the Civil Society. To understand the unfolding of these entities, we have to look at it in a historical perspective.

There are two types of governments-- the labor or liberal and the conservative government.
Planning strategies are influenced by the existing policies being adapted by whichever government holds position.

During the 1950s-1960s, the concept of a welfare state was established. The government takes a lead role in the promotion of the well-being of its constituents, and uses its power to promote business worldwide. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life (encyclopaedia britannica). The infrastructure of planning was born during this period. Because social and economic development is its responsibility, the State took a unilateral approach to planning.

The 1970s-1980s saw the weakening of the State and the emergence of non-government entities. The conservatives took over (Thatcher in UK and Reagan in the US). The private sector gained more influence and the government became more capital-friendly. There was a dismantling of the welfare state as the capital government rose into power, and the role of the State was reduced. Previously unfamiliar terms like privatization and deregulation became common.

The conservative government greatly favored by Big Business, and it appeared as though the State was serving only the interests of the capitalists. Because of this collusion between the State and Big Business (or corporations), the need for another player to put forward a different agenda was realized. Civil Society was born.

In the Philippines, Civil Society has long existed in the form of various non-government organizations (NGOs). However, there were periods of extreme neglect and blatant disrespect for the public interest. The people have had enough of the oppressive Marcos regime. Erap and the Big Business connived to enrich themselves. GMA had legitimacy issues. The NGOs started a wave of dissent that swept across the country. People Power I, II, and III took place. The informal Civil Society became the Organized Civil Society.

I will be writing about the Three Folding Images of Society next.

* from Prof. Serote's syllabus

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