Mindanao resilient, can overcome challenges -- Antonino
DAVAO CITY, Feb. 8 (PIA) - Mindanao always has what it takes to emerge from challenges, according to Mindanao Development Authority chair Luwalhati Antonino in a statemet today.
“There is no island-region in the Philippines more intensely challenged then and now than Mindanao, but its resiliency always allows it to make headways at every turn,” said Antonino, head of Malacanang’s think tank in the south.
The MinDA chair issued the statement amid perceptions of uncertainty arising from recent realities affecting Mindanao, which a major national broadsheet’s recent editorial has cited as “series of unfortunate events.”
Among the pressing concerns it said that confront the island include impact on the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, rotating brownouts caused by transmission-related problems and low hydropower output due to El Nino, which is also wrecking havoc on Mindanao’s agricultural yield.
“We recognize these challenges as affecting our dogged efforts to accelerate Mindanao’s overall socioeconomic growth, but are in no way keeping us out of focus,” Antonino stressed.
She said that despite the impasse on the BBL, there is a demonstration of commitment from various stakeholders to pursue lasting peace, in which everyone can move forward for sustained development.
“What is important is we find means to interface and coordinate on development initiatives, including private sector investments so as not to derail delivery of benefits especially to conflict-affected communities,” she added.
According to MinDA, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) posted sustained investment growth in the last three years of the Aquino administration, with P1.4 billion in 2013 and doubled to P3.86 billion in 2014.
“ARMM investments are on the upswing, jumping 60 percent growth last year at P6.5 billion pesos inflows from big-ticket investments,” according to Atty. Ishak Mastura, chair of ARMM Regional Board of Investments.
On the power situation, Antonino said a Task Force was created recently by President Aquino to address long term security of transmission assets in Mindanao, and complement ongoing government and private sector efforts to improve the power supply situation.
"Addressing the Mindanao power situation through long-term measures is a demonstration of President Noy Aquino's commitment, such as allocating nearly P4 billion for Agus-Pulangi rehab. No administration has ever invested this much to make Mindanao's cheapest source of renewable energy reliable again," Antonino pointed out.
With the expected completion of initial phases of several baseload power plants this year having combined capacity of over 600MW, the Department of Energy expects Mindanao to enter into a regime of supply excess for the first time since 2009.
While conceding that El Nino will certainly have significant impact on Mindanao’s agriculture output, MinDA said the island's diversified economic make-up keeps the region moving along growth path.
In 2015, six Mindanao provinces made it to the top 10 of the 2015 Cities and Municipalities Competitive Index of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), reflecting economic dynamism, government efficiency, and infrastructure growth.
Under the Mindanao Development Corridors Program being coordinated by MinDA, Mindanao has able to get between 25-30 percent of national public works budget over the last three years, reflecting a steady hike in Aquino government's infra spending for the region.
Mindanao’s competitiveness is also seen playing a critical role in its contribution to the national growth. The island’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) has many times outperformed national average.
Its economy grew by 7.4 percent last year, from 6.3 percent recorded in 2014, and contributed 14.4 percent to country’s overall growth.
“Mindanao’s real progress is hinged on the unity of all its peoples, amid diversity,” Antonino said. (MinDA/PIA-Caraga)