SPDA gets a fifth of proposed budget

The SPDA’s reactivation, announced by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on September 2, at the 10th anniversary of the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was intended to serve as “catch up plan” for the unimplemented socio-economic benefits from the peace pact.

Engr. Zamzamin Ampatuan, SPDA administrator and chief executive officer, told reporters Thursday the "subsidy" for SPDA will not be enough to run the proposed projects next year.

But Ampatuan said they will "start with what we have.”

He said they will seek funding assistance from the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other groups abroad.

Ampatuan said they plan to raise P800 million from various sources.

SPDA has initiated reactivation efforts of two "earning" projects mothballed when the body was closed in 2002. Ampatuan cited the Integrated Feed Mill Inc. and the organic fertilizer production project in Davao City and Sultan Kudarat. 

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, SPDA deputy administrator, clarified to MindaNews that the proposed budget for 2007 did not make it to the Congress deliberations. He said the P200 million was taken from the President’s Social Fund.

Last month, Ampatuan told MindaNews they were proposing  a budget of P988 million to revive stalled projects and to push through with projects already in the pipeline when it was deactivated.  

Ampatuan then said, "we are expecting rough roads ahead of us, starting with the budget."  

The SPDA was formally revived on October 1, 2006, four years after President Arroyo ordered its deactivation. The body was deactivated amid reported squabbles within the MNLF that reportedly led to its mismanagement.

SPDA officials said controversies in the implementation of the economic components of the peace pact were at the center of the deactivation move.

Ampatuan described the SPDA as a government corporate entity with a social mission to do a parallel effort for peace in Mindanao. He said the SPDA's thrust is to initiate projects in industries and areas where risks are too high for any business to come in.  

Ampatuan noted they might start with smaller projects that are also symbolic. He said they will pursue profit-making projects as secondary to its social mission.  

Sinarimbo said they have initiated planning and validation on how to use the P200 million.

The reactivated SPDA is leaner, Ampatuan said, because it intends to focus resources on business ventures. He said they will employ only 44 employees including the 17-member caretaker team.

Ampatuan admitted that Arroyo's reactivation of the SPDA was part of an effort to show the OIC government's commitment to the peace agreement.

The OIC, which brokered the peace talks that led to the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, conducted a fact-finding mission in May this year and recommended that a tripartite review of the implementation of the 1996 pact be done in Jeddah in July, with the participation of  detained MNLF chair Nur Misuari.

The meeting was reset to September then December. But the Philippine government reportedly asked for a postponement as it was preparing for the ASEAN Summit in Cebu.