GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 June) – A government-commissioned socio-economic think tank assisting the ongoing crafting of a comprehensive peace and development plan for Mindanao is targeting the completion by next month of the draft blueprint, which will mainly serve as the island’s roadmap for the next 20 years.
Ella Antonio, Brain Trust Inc. (BTI) president and coordinator of the Mindanao 2020 project, said they are currently making headway with the ongoing consultations for the drafting of the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Agenda, which they intend to finally complete by the end of July.
“That’s (end of July) our target to finish the draft and then submit them to the new administration for review and promulgation,” she said Wednesday afternoon during the Koronadal City-leg of its Mindanao-wide consultative workshops.
BTI was earlier contracted by the defunct Mindanao Economic Development Council to formulate a Peace and Development Framework Plan for Mindanao until the year 2030.
The resulting framework would mainly direct the peace and development track that will be pursued by the newly-established Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), which was enacted under Republic Act 9996 last February.
Dr. Cielito Habito, BTI chair and Mindanao 2020 team leader, said the agenda is primarily a sequel of the Mindanao 2000 plan, which he helped craft while still the Socio Economic Planning chief of then President Fidel Ramos.
“Taking off from that plan, we’re now trying to determine the real situation here in Mindanao and formulating the next steps based on how and what local stakeholders think are realistic and doable endeavors for the island,” he said.
Habito said the Mindanao 2020 agenda will address concerns on peace and security; economy and environment; politics, governance and institutions; human development and social cohesion; and enabling conditions.
He said among the concerns that came out in their initial consultations with various stakeholders in the island was the immediate resolution of the long-drawn Moro rebellion and the injustices that have resulted to the escalation of various conflicts.
“It was perceived for a long time that poverty was the root cause of the conflict here in Mindanao. But it’s really injustice that’s been fueling them and so a redress for these injustices must be realized,” he said.
In terms of further propelling the island’s economy, Habito said the agenda will integrate economic and environmental initiatives to come up with a sustainable economic development track for Mindanao. “It will address concerns on Mindanao’s meager share in the annual national budgets, which are not commensurate to its contributions to our Gross Domestic Product,” he said.
Antonio said they are optimistic that the proposed agenda will get the nod of incoming President Benigno Aquino III as it primarily carries the peace and development aspirations of majority of the residents across Mindanao’s six regions.
“The (peace and development) agenda is being crafted mainly by Mindanaoans,” she stressed.
Antonio cited that the Mindanao 2020 team includes noted peace and development experts from Mindanao.
Among its members were Fr. Eliseo Mercado, former chair of the government’s peace panel for the talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; Prof. Rudy Rodil, Iligan City-based historian and former government peace panel member; Fr. Alberto Alejo of Konsult Mindanaw and the Ateneo de Davao University; and Edtamil Mansayagan, Commissioner for Central Mindanao of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)