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MANILA, Philippines - Leading development advocate, intellectual and former Cabinet member Horacio “Boy” Morales, who first made headlines in 1977 by joining the underground movement against then President Ferdinand Marcos just before receiving a TOYM award, died early Wednesday evening at the Heart Center in Quezon City. He was 68.
Morales had been in hospital since suffering a heart attack in Baguio City last December 1. He never recovered.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of the Philippines and his Master in Economics from the University of Oklahama. He became active in developmental work right after he emerged from his four-year detention, following the first Edsa Revolt, by joining and later leading the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement until 1998.
His last major Cabinet post was as agrarian reform secretary of the Estrada administration (1998-2001). Over the last few years he had gone back fulltime into development work, his main passion for more than 40 years.
"Boy Morales has been at the forefront of the development work, in the Philippines and in the international scene, steering both government and non-government organizations and coalitions toward effective courses of action," is how he is described in the website of the La Liga, one of the policy think tanks he co-founded.
Achievements far and wide
As executive director of the Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE), Morales initiated and established the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) System and the Private School Teachers Retirement Plan, according to the La Liga website.
He was personally responsible for the establishment of the Electric Cooperatives Insurance Scheme as well as the establishment of the Federation of Electric Coops of the Phils.
As executive vice president of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), he launched and organized the Task force on Human Settlements which eventually evolved into several institutions such as the Human Settlements Commission, Home Mortgage Financing Corporation, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), etc.
He also established the Barrio Irrigations Program which became the Farm Systems Development Corporation, the Medium and Small Industry Coordinated Action Program, which became the Medium and Small Industry Bureau of the DTI, theTraining of Foreign Service Executives which evolved into the Foreign Service Institute, the Countryside Development Program which evolved in to the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran.
Morales also became the executive director of cooperative Foundation of the Philippines, president and chairman of NGOs for Integrated Protected Areas Inc. (NIPA), lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, executive director of Responsible Parenthood Council (RPC), Philippines, and commissioner at the Population Commission.
Politics beckoned the native of Moncada, Tarlac, through the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, which he later headed. PMP, which was the party of former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada,
joined forces with others to form the Lapian ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino.
Saying no to the dictatorship
On December 26, 1977, when he was about to receive his award as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men for Public Administration, he announced his resignation from the government to join the National Democratic Movement, a nationwide alliance of nationalists and progressiveorganizations to fight for substantive change and reform of the Philippine Government and Society.
During this period, he worked directly with poor peasants and rural communities, as well as labor workers and the urban settlers. He tested his development methodology by developing cooperatives among them, as well as building coalitions among different sectors in support of clear reform policies and advocacies.
He was arrested in 1982 and detained for four years, but, eventually, the case of rebellion filed against him was dismissed by the courts.
Upon his release from detention in 1986, he established, together with Fr. Edicio dela Torre, Isagani Serrano, and other colleagues, the volunteers for popular Democracy which developed into the Movement for Popular Democracy and the Institute for Popular Democracy.
The popular democrats were deeply involved in various task forces assisting in the reorganizations of the government, formulating alternative programs such as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and participation in the overall effort to restore democracy in the country.
Immediately after, he joined the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) as its President and started to revive the historic NGO to initiate relevant civil society alternatives and options. He developed the Sustainable Rural District Development Program
and several community-based micro models of development.
As president of PRRM, he organized major NGO coalition such as the Convergence for Community Centered Development and the NGOs for Integrated Protected Areas and other advocacy.
Internationally, he became part of the organizing leadership of CIVICUS Citizens Alliance for Civic Action (Washington DC), the Peoples Alliance for Social Development (Chile), Fundacion El Taller (Tunisia). He was very active in numerous international conferences at that time, the most notable of which were the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the UN Conference on Social Development (Copenhagen, Denmark), the UNConference on Population (Cairo, Egypt) and the UN Conference on Habitat (Istanbul, Turkey).
As Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), hedramatically increased the installation of farmers in contested haciendas and other commercial farms, resolved the Coconut Levy issue by establishing a Coconut Levy Fund Agreed upon by all parties concerned, initiated the Farmers Coop Partnerships with Landowners and business enterprises, and the policies on Farmers Trust System of managing projects.
Agrarian Reform Communities were also consolidated into viable regional clusters for more effective development.
The La Liga Citizens Movement and the La Liga Policy Institute are actively involved in new approaches to poverty alleviation, policy research and advocacies in good governance, sustainable development and innovative partnership framework and strategies for development programs.
His management and consultancy organization, the HR Morales Management and Consulting Corporation, and other engagements in business projects today, is his vehicle for undertaking innovative approaches to business that utilize the perspective and experience of his previous engagements and accomplishments, as well drawing on the differentteams of experts and activists and other wide networks he mobilized and worked with in the past.
With Likha Cuevas-Miel, InterAksyon.com