COMMENT: Behind the Eleven Issues By Patricio P. Diaz

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/6 Oct) — The last two issues – “Poor access to and control in the exploitation and utilization of strategic resources” and “Weak fiscal autonomy” – were intended to show why ARMM has no economic autonomy.  So is the next issue, No. 5: “Low Agricultural and Industrial Productivity”.

Low Productivity

Of the four indicators of low productivity enumerated, citing a JICA Study, only one pertains to low industrial productivity: “ARMM Industrial Productivity is P129.5 million, against the National Average of P160.1 million.” [Author’s Note: “National Average” is unclear.  Normally, “national average” would refer to “average national production” within a period or number of years; however, there is no such indication.  As it is, it could only mean the total industrial production of all other regions including NCR or Metro Manila divided by their number (averaged) and compared to the total production of ARMM in one year — which year, a significant fact omitted. This need of clarity also applies to Indicator No. 1, below.]

The three other indicators of low productivity according to the JICA Study:

  1. ARMM Agricultural productivity is P27.1 million, against the National Average   of P56.7 million.
  2. (Already stated above)
  3. ARMM irrigation development rate is only 14.5%.
  4. ARMM has 186,551 hectares potential irrigable areas. [How many hectares have been irrigated in comparison?]

Of the nine causes of low productivity, following, none refers to industrial productivity:

  1. High cost of farm inputs;
  2. Lack of production capital;
  3. Poor farm management practices;
  4. Inadequate farm equipment or machinery, post-harvest and related infrastructure support;
  5. Lack of farm-to-market roads;
  6. Frequent flooding;
  7. Declining fish catch;
  8. Weak or absence of farmers’ organizations and cooperatives;
  9. Need to strengthen the capacity of extension workers.

Two accompanying tables show, in terms of Pesos the extent of low productivity – the first table: “Comparative Gross Value-Added of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry, ARMM vs. Region XII, 1993 – 2003 (In Million Pesos); and, the second: Comparative Value-Added of Secondary Industry, Mindanao Region, 2007 (In Million Pesos).

The first table shows that the gross production of ARMM in 1993 was P4.074 billion; in 2003, P5.702. In the other years between, consecutively: P4.424 B, P4.888 B, 4.929 B, P4.917 B, 4.359 B, P5.189 B, P5.472 B, P4.851 b, P5,653 B. [Author’s Note: There is a big discrepancy between the figures in this table and the P27.1 million in the JICA Study which has no year reference.]

The 1993 production is 2.44 percent of the total national production of P167.053 billion; and the 2003 is 2.65 percent of the P215.031 billion. In between, consecutively, the ARMM production in “percentages of the national production”: 2.58, 2.83, 2.75, 2.65, 2.52, 2.81, 2.84, 2.24, 2.73. The gross production of ARMM is just about half that of Region XII. In “percentages of the national production”, the gross production of Region XII, consecutively from 1993 to 2003, follows: 4.26, 4.29, 4.38, 4.37, 4.37, 4.45, 4.66, 4.70, 4.61, 7.73, 7.72.

The second table has four categories of productivity — (1) Mining and Quarry; (2) Manufacturing; (3) Construction; (4) Electricity, Gas and Water — covering the six regions of Mindanao: IX, X, XI, XII, XIII and ARMM. The total production of ARMM, P11.738 billion is only 3.38 percent of Mindanao’s P346.938 billion — lower than the P13.425 billion (3.87%) of Region XIII (Caraga); it pales in comparison to the P116.885 billion (33.39%) of Region X; P84.527 billion (24.36%), Region XII; P86.827 billion (25.05%), Region XI; and P33.536 billion (9.66%), Region IX.

By Category, ARMM’s productions surpass those of Region XIII in all categories except in Construction: P319 million (00.54%). In Electricity, Gas and Water, ARMM production of P3.793 billion (12.79%) is slightly higher than those of Regions IX, XI and XIII.

Valid Questions

The first table covers the 11-year period, 1993 to 2003; the second, the year 2007 only -six years (the first) and two years (the second) before 2009, the most significant year of reference. Of what significance to the 2010 Summit are those data that “old”? These only indicate that ARMM has not been developing.  Otherwise, why discuss the problems in agricultural production of the Misuari era to solve those in the Adiong governorship? The validity of the Summit findings and recommendations could be questioned.

The JICA study states, “ARMM irrigation development rate is only 14.5%”. As of when? To what does “development rate” refer — to the extent the sources of irrigation are being developed; or, to the rate Kabulnan and Malmar irrigation systems are being used? If the “14.5%” refers to “sources of irrigation”, so much funds will be needed to develop the remaining 85.5%; if to the “rate” the irrigations systems are being used, the biggest question is “Why?” – imputing seriously, perhaps, to land distribution and tenure system.

The other JICA statement, “ARMM has 186,551 hectares [of] potential irrigable areas”, shows lands waiting to be irrigated. In comparison, how many hectares are now being irrigated? Is there an urgent need to build more systems in addition to the existing ones? The present problem may be mainly on the underuse of the existing irrigation systems.

Solving the nine causes enumerated would need adequate fund assistance (1, 2, 4, 5), technical assistance and cooperation of the farmers (3, 7, 8, 9); and appeal to Mother Nature to be more merciful (6). Under present circumstances, all these may need a miracle to happen.

Recommendations

The Summit came out with three recommendations:

  1. Creation of special financing windows for ARMM farmers and fisherfolks within the Government Financing Institutions.
  2. Execution of a memorandum of agreement between the National Irrigation Administration and Autonomous Regional Government to formalize the establishment of the Irrigation Management Office for ARMM.
  3. Implementation of Article 12, Section 27 of RA 9050 on “Promotion and Protection of Cottage Industry”; Section 31, on “Establishment and Regulation of Traditional Barter and Counter-Trade”; and Section 34, for the “Regional Government to regulate and exercise authority over Foreign Investment in ARMM”.

Recommendation No. 1 is the nationwide clamor of farmers. If properly used, it will surely benefit the farmers. ARMM farmers should as well recall the number of such “financing windows” opened for them starting with the “crop loans” of the 1950s that were abused with very low repayment rate that they were stopped. If created, will the “financing windows” be properly and conscientiously used?

If Recommendation No. 2 will redound to the full use of the existing irrigation systems, to the increase in revenue generation to maintain the systems and expand; and to boost agricultural self-sufficiency, by all means storm the high heavens of Malacañang for the execution of the MOA.

Recommendation No. 3 implies that ARMM has not implemented these three provisions and is asking the Manila government to have them implemented or for its permission for ARMM to implement them. Why ask Manila? ARMM is mandated to implement Section 27 without condition; Section 31, “subject to existing laws”; and, Section 34, “subject to the provisions of the Constitution”. Does ARMM need this recommendation?

To summarize Issue Nos. 3, 4 and 5, these roots of economic insufficiency – amounting to the lack of economic autonomy – are nourished by poor leadership due to “leadership crisis”.

(Next: Issue No. 6 ff.)

(“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards recently honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You can reach him at patpdiazgsc@yahoo.com.)