DAVAO CITY -The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will convene Mindanao leaders and other national government officials next month to address long-delayed and other vital infrastructure projects as the Duterte comes to its last 18 months in office.
In a statement, MinDA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said his office organized a virtual meeting on February 10 dubbed the Mindanao Speaks Up Forum.
Piñol said MinDA and Philippine Export Processing Zone Authority (PEZA) Director-General Charito Plaza agreed to lead the same forum last year, which is an inclusive and participatory consultation process in identifying key projects for Mindanao, which have yet to be implemented, as well as other programs, which the local governments of the region indicated as vital to their economic development.
“At the initial stages of planning for the Mindanao Speaks Up Forum, I emphasized the need to review the implementation of the commitments of the Administration for the development of Mindanao under the first-ever Mindanaoan President. I have pointed out that just like in the past, Mindanao has again been relegated to a poor third in the sharing of the country’s budget resources,’ he said.
Piñol said the forum will serve as a straight-forward reminder to members of the administration of President Duterte’s commitment to fully develop Mindanao’s potentials.
“Inputs from Mindanao Speaks Up Forum aimed to be included in the last President’s Budget for 2022 which is now being prepared by the different agencies of government,” he said.
The MinDA chair emphasized that all projects endorsed were backed by the Regional Development Councils, regional line agencies, and various sectors.
“As one of the original campaigners and supporters of President Duterte, I emphasized that his legacy should include a fully developed Mindanao which is the undisputed food production region of the country,” he said.
He said Agusan del Norte Governor Dale Corvera, chairman of the Mindanao Regional Development Council Executive Committee, will be the presenter of the inputs gathered through a series of consultations since last year.
Piñol said apart from that, other government officials, including Cabinet secretaries from Mindanao, will join the said forum to address the concerns that will be raised by Mindanao stakeholders.
“With only 18 months left before the end of the term of the first President from Mindanao, former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, several major projects have yet to be implemented. Among the flagship projects which have yet to be completed or even started are the Marawi Rehabilitation Program, the Mindanao Railway Project, and the Davao City-Samal Bridge,” he said.
Piñol said that among the three major projects, the Mindanao Railway Project has raised great expectations from the people of the region as it promises convenient and easy movement of people and goods.
“The project, however, has not only suffered delays but also revision in the design. While MinDA endorsed a two-rail electric train system, what was approved was a monorail locomotive system. The first phase of the project, the Tagum City-Digos City section was supposed to have been bid-out in November last year but this has not happened until today,” Piñol added.
He said based on the recent report from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the bidding will be done by summer – which he said is posing a danger that it may not be started before the end of the term of the President.
Piñol cited an example that for 2021, Mindanao’s budget share fell to an estimated 12 percent from the previous 16 percent of the national budget.