Govs, mayors to push for Mindanao’s ‘rightful’ share of budget

In a recent meeting here, the confederation lamented that from 2000 to 2005, Mindanao’s total budget allocation amounted to only P75.7 billion (28% share), or an average annual allotment of P15.1 billion.

During the five-year period, the budget allocated for Luzon was almost twice bigger than that of Mindanao, at P139 billion or 52% share, a fact sheet showed.

On the other hand, the budget share of Visayas for the period was pegged at P54.8 billion or 20%.

The agencies covered by the budgetary allocations include the Departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Public Works and Highways, Labor and Employment, Transportation and Communications, Justice and Health.

The rest were the Departments of Science and Technology and Tourism, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Elections.

“Budget allocation for Luzon should be reduced by the National Government since it is getting the lion’s share for many years,” said South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance Fuentes, president of Confed Mindanao.

She noted that a bigger budget must be allocated to Mindanao starting 2009 to accelerate its growth, which was stunted by the decades old Moro rebellion.

By the first quarter of 2008, Ms. Fuentes said they will hold a Mindanao budget summit to push for a bigger share “rightful” to the island for 2009.

Before the 14th Congress adjourned last month, the Lower House approved the P1.2-trillion 2008 national budget. The Senate is expected to deliberate on it in the next few weeks.

However, it was not immediately known how much budget would go to Mindanao.

A research on budgetary allocation for Mindanao in the last few years covering government agencies not included in the fact sheet presented in the Confed Mindanao meeting is still going on, Ms. Fuentes said.

She urged Mindanao lawmakers in the Senate and the Lower House to attend the budget summit and help them push for an increased budgetary share for the island from the national government.

Two Mindanaoans are presently in the Senate—Aquilino Pimentel and Juan Miguel Zubiri. Both have been batting for a bigger budget for Mindanao.

Ms. Fuentes said they have been networking with the Mindanao Lawmakers Association and the House Committee on Mindanao Affairs to forward their agenda.

For his part, Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez said the national government should appropriate a budget to Mindanao equal to that of Luzon.

“There have been unequal distributions of resources for infrastructure development. Luzon has been highly favored in terms of budget allocation in the past years,” he said in an earlier interview.

Mr. Dominguez stressed that in Luzon, “farm-to-market roads are made of concrete but in Mindanao, they are mostly farm roads, meaning rugged or muddied paths.”

He said investors’ interest in Mindanao would remain sluggish if infrastructure

development in the island would not be given high priority.