Reacting to presentations on current paradigms of development in Mindanao in a conference, Fuentes said the challenge to political leaders is how to make government function.
She said the problem is not with the development plans, the lack of vision, and the presence of a movement seeking an Islamic state in Mindanao but for the local government to function not just in the delivery of social services, but also in development work, and protection and safety of its constituents.
"Unless local governments become convergence agents that could facilitate peace and development work in their areas, these plans and programs will fail," she said.
"It will afford winning battles, only in villages, not in the whole province or town," Fuentes, who chairs the Confederation of Governors, City Mayors and Municipal Mayors' League Presidents of Mindanao (Confed), said.
If development fails, she said, local governments must be accountable, not the non-government organizations and the international donors.
She said local government units have to be "convergence agents" of development in their areas of responsibilities.
She said in the strictest sense, local governments have the power to work for peace and development in their localities as they are mandated by law.
Fuentes cited the problem of peace and order in some areas of Mindanao. She said governors, mayors and barangay chairpersons, should lead the effort of peace building in their localities.
She said local leaders are mandated to enforce the laws. She said it has to lead in explaining to parties of conflicts that fighting will not benefit anyone.
She cited the reliance of local governments on the military in some conflict areas of Mindanao as possibly "exacerbating the problem.”
She said local governments must assert control of the situation and seek the military's leadership only during armed clashes.
She said the military's role is centered on neutralizing the enemy, while the government has the mandate of "winning the hearts of the people".