#MINDANAO: Imperatives to further strengthen the Mindanao economy

Published September 24, 2021, 8:44 AM

by John Tria

At around the same time last year I wrote in this column about the imperatives for Mindanao.


For this column I look at the past year which has seen many crucial reforms passed that can facilitate the investments to process Mindanao’s raw materials by encouraging more manufacturing.

The cacao industry may yet see a continuous boost with the declaration of Davao as the Cacao capital of the country by virtue of Republic Act 115471. This declaration will bring attention to the crop and encourage investments in building an industry.

This also brings attention to other high value crops such as coffee which recently bagged awards, and durian, which also as of late garnered the attention of new foreign markets and may see an increase in local consumption.

The new Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, or Republic Act No. 11524 has the potential for revitalizing our coconut industry, to take it beyond copra and into products like local soap and detergents, increase coconut water consumption and even virgin coconut oil as a potent health product. Being the biggest agriculture subsector, boosting this industry will facilitate more opportunities for local populations.

Another reform is the issuance of Executive Order 130 which implements reforms in the mining sector and promotes responsible mining. This will harness many of our minerals in Mindanao and provides livelihood for residents of remote areas.

Note that Mindanao regions are large producers of these commodities with many of their producers are upland dwellers where income opportunities are limited.

A key enabler for these is CREATE Law was passed which not only lowers corporate income taxes, but sets into motion the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (www.firb.gov.ph) that can help provide incentives for investments in various industries that can harness Mindanao’s materials, spurring employment and boosting economic recovery.

These reforms will set the stage for a bright economic future for Mindanao’s economy. What can we do to help carry this forward?

For one, the various stakeholders from government agencies and the private sector will need to work together at the regional level to push investment promotion plans to bring more investment into their respective jurisdictions to harness these opportunities. In particular, I believe investment to bring in a large scale coconut and resource processing investments such as a metals industry, oleochemicals manufacturing and a chocolate powder and coffee powder plant Mindanao.

These manufacturing and processing industries can meet the needs of a large local market for powdered coffee, chocolate products and even construction materials like steel bars and cement in the case of minerals.

Davao rolls out more vaccinations

As of this writing, Mindanao is increasing vaccination as more vaccines arrive in the country.

Unlike Metro Manilas cities, Mindanao cities face the challenge of rolling the vaccines in remote parts of the city’s territories. One such example is the successful rollout of vaccinations in Davao City, which has many rural barangays via mobile vaccination in the rural areas and the proposed evening vaccination for citizens are innovations that many other LGUs with similar characteristics should be able to replicate.

Strong private sector partnership also helped boost vaccinations. Partnerships with local shopping malls, the Davao Tourism Association the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry also helped encourage vaccinations. A recent unity prayer activity among various sectors led by the Archdiocese of Davao brought even more together to help face the pandemic.

This shows how partnerships can help build unity in a local populace.