One Philippine politician's development legacy

Miguel Rene Dominguez, the outgoing governor of Sarangani province in the Philippines. Photo by: Devex

Miguel Rene A. Dominguez is bucking the trend among politicians in the Philippines. The incumbent governor of Sarangani province has decided not to seek another elective post in Monday’s election.

Although not entirely closing his doors to politics, Dominguez says he now looks forward to returning to the private sector. He leaves behind a string of accomplishments as leader of Sarangani, including improving the quality of education through the support of corporations and donor countries.

Although his home base is outside the Philippine capital, Dominguez is one the most influential development leaders aged 40 and under in Manila.

Devex is recognizing 40 of these young trailblazers in international development. They are social entrepreneurs, government leaders, development consultants, business innovators, advocates, development researchers, nonprofit executives and journalists.

We spoke with Dominguez about lessons learned from working to accelerate development in his province, one of the poorest in the country.

Could you name one or two important lessons that provinces elsewhere in the Philippines and beyond might learn from Sarangani’s development?

Get good data: I started my stint as a local chief executive without any data to help me understand the root causes of the province’s low human development indices. After investing in localized surveys, we were able to successfully identify and target investments for basic human development.

Be a mentor: It is imperative to mentor and engage all sectors of government and the private sector to usher in a better understanding of what human development is all about and ensuring partnerships down to the grassroots level for every single project that is implemented. No project in the province is implemented by a single entity. We practice counter-parting of funds and resources for every project that is funded by the province.

What advice can you give government officials on successfully gaining support and grants from corporations and donor countries?

Credibility and integrity of programs is key to ensuring private sector support. With good evidence-based planning, the province became a resource generation center for many of the development gaps which were offered to the private sector. As the programs mature, it is key to regularly report the gains to the partner organizations.

In the case of Sarangani, in the past six years, the private sector has been funding all of the textbooks of students in grades 1-3, which has significantly contributed to the improvement of the quality of basic education in the province.

You said you will go back to private life when your term ends in June. Do you expect to remain engaged in the Philippines’ development?

I will continue to be active in my advocacy of education reform around the country mentoring local government units and communities together with Synergeia Foundation.

Read more about the Devex 40 Under 40 International Development Leaders in Manila.

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