CDO rep wants MEDCo converted into MEDA

Malacanang in October last year placed MEDCo under the oversight of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), from the  Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) which had been supervising it since January 2006.

President Arroyo issued Executive Order 757 on October 13, 2008  relieving the OPAPP of its oversight functions, stressing that Medco, which was created through EO 512 on March 19, 1992 by President Corazon Aquino, was primarily tasked to “promote and coordinate the active and extensive participation of all sectors to effect the socio-economic development of Mindanao.”

Ms Arroyo said this task was aligned with the functions of NEDA, which is “primary responsible for formulating continuing, coordinated and fully integrated social and economic policies, plans and programs through a wholistic and integrated approach.”

MEDCo was created “to address the need to promote and strengthen interregional linkages to ensure the integrated viability of the programs and projects in Mindanao, with the local government units as frontline entities that will realize the development of specific geographical areas.”

EO 512 was amended by EO 10 dated 13 August 1998, and further amended by EO 244 dated 15 May 2000 under the Estrada Administration. EO 244 mandated MEDCo to act as the official and permanent Philippine Coordinating Office for Brunei Darussalam Indonesia the Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Arroyo’s EO 757 states that “for administrative expediency and economy, and consistent with the policy that all socio-economic programs and activities of the government shall be programmed within the context of well-formulated and consistent long, medium and short-term development plans and policies to promote both the growth of the equitable distribution of the benefits of such growth to the members of society, there is a need to place Medco under the oversight of NEDA.”

She said NEDA will have general supervision over MEDCo “in the formulation of continuing and integrated socio-economic development plans, policies and programs as well as the exercise and implementation of its regular functions.”

In a press statement posted at the House of Representatives’ website, Rodriguez, vice chair of the House Committee on Mindanao Affairs, said the proposed MEDA under his House Bill 5620,  “should be a corporate-type of organization without revenue-generating power and primarily provide the institutional mechanism for an integrated and consolidated approach to Mindanao.”

According to Rodriguez, “an effective institutional mechanism shall be established to address the need for a coordinative and integrative approach for the formulation and implementation of various Mindanao-wide, Mindanao-specific interregional development plans, programs and projects.”

Rodriguez  wants the MEDA based in Davao City &
ldquo;and headed by a Chairperson duly appointed by the President” who will act on the overall directions and thrusts provided and approved by the Advisory Board.

He did not say who should be part of the Advisory Commitee.

The press statement noted that MEDA “shall also act as the integrator of all the peace and development initiatives in Mindanao to avoid fragmented development and ensure harmony and synergy among regions.”

House Bill 5620 provides that MEDA shall “promote, coordinate and facilitate the active and extensive participation of all sectors to effect the socio-economic development of Mindanao” and  “shall also act as an implementing agency for Mindanao-specific interregional and Mindanao-wide programs and projects whenever necessary.”

The bill also provides that MEDA’s coverage will be Mindanao’s six regions – 9, 10, 11, 12, Caraga and the ARMM, but will “not duplicate or overlap functions with other government agencies.”

Instead, it  would  “complement the initiatives of the National Economic Development Authority, the Regional Development Committee, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Southern Philippines Development Authority.”

Earlier, various sectors in Mindanao pushed for House Bill 5255 which proposes the creation of a MEDA.

The proposed MEDA Act of 2008 was filed by Representatives Simeon Datumanong of Maguindanao and Datu Pax Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat.

According to the House of Representatives’ website, HB 5255 was filed on October 2, 2008 and went on first reading on October 3, or a full 10 days before Ms Arroyo issued the EO putting MEDCo under NEDA.

Under the bill, the MEDA ”shall promote, coordinate and facilitate the active and extensive participation of all sectors to effect the socio-economic development of Mindanao” and will act as an” implementing agency for Mindanao-specific interregional and Mindanao-wide programs and projects, whenever necessary.”

The bill has been pending with the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization since November 26, 2008.

Former President Fidel Ramos in his column in his column at the Manila Bulletin on November 30 expressed his support for the MEDA creation.

“Considering Mindanao’s recent history of ‘sulong-atras’ (forward-backward) governance, it is essential to maintain the momentum of peace and development by establishing a lasting institutional mechanism to insure a continuous coordinative and integrative process in formulating and implementing Mindanao-wide, inter-regional development plans, programs and projects for maximum impact and benefit,” Ramos wrote.

The creation by law of MEDA, he said, “will enhance coherence, consistency and optimization of Mindanao development.”

“With MEDCo being merely an agency created by Presidential Order, threats of its discontinuity and abolition are always a probability.  Along with such uncertainties are apprehensions of unholistic integration, monitoring and evaluation,” he added.

In the post-Marcos era, under the Aquino administration, a bill precisely to set up a MEDA was proposed and approved by Congress, but President Aquino vetoed it due to objections by NEDA. In its stead, she issued EO 512, creating the MEDCo which was operationalized by Ramos, her successor-president.

Ramos created the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Mindanao (Opamin) and named Paul Dominguez as the first PA for Mindanao. He also named Dominguez as chair of MEDCo.

Opamin and MEDCo were both under the Office of the President.

“If there was measurable and palpable success in Mindanao programs for peace and development during the Ramos Administration,” Ramos said, “it was mainly because just one official — and only one — Paul Dominguez was clothed with sufficient authority to make on-the-spot decisions over Mindanao matters already covered by national or Presidential policy. This efficient set-up quickly disintegrated during the succeeding Estrada administration with the appointment of 3 PAREs (Presidential Assistants for Regions) in Mindanao — which resulted in inevitable rivalry for Presidential attention and “goodies” by his 3 “com-pares.”(Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)