GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 Apr) – The need to pursue a “broadly supported just peace” topped the list of medium-term priorities adopted by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to spur the island’s economic growth, the agency disclosed on Wednesday.
The pursuit of peace, along with a number of other imperatives that would guide its peace and development works in the next six years, were approved during the second MinDA board meeting about two weeks ago, following the approval of the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework, the 20-year development blueprint of Mindanao in January.
In a statement, Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, MinDA chair, said that the identified strategic imperatives will set the goals of the authority in facilitating the growth of Mindanao’s economy and allow the island to catch up with the rest of the country.
“Now that we have identified and adopted the six-year priorities for Mindanao, we are poised for a more aggressive effort to translate these into doable programs and projects either through direct or indirect implementation, coordination and monitoring”, Antonino said.
The disclosure of MinDA that peace would be its top priority came just as the government peace panel, headed by Mario Victor F. Leonen, was slated to start its first leg of consultations with local government units in Mindanao in line with the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“The series of consultations aims to solicit the views and sentiments of stakeholders on the GPH-MILF peace talks, as well as raise their awareness and engage them in the peace process discourse,” a separate press statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said.
The government and MILF peace panels will meet for another round of exploratory talks on April 27 and 28 in Kuala Lumpur.
The Moro rebels have already conducted their consultations with various Mindanao stakeholders since last month.
As to the six-year medium-term priorities for the island, these were identified based on the guiding framework of the Mindanao 2020 and also in line with President Benigno C. Aquino’s “social contract” with the Filipino people, MinDA said.
Topping the list of the priorities is the need to pursue a broadly supported just peace that will redress decades of neglect in Mindanao through the resumption of the peace talks with the MILF and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army, it stressed.
Peace talks between the government and the communist rebels resumed in February.
The MinDA board has also identified the sustainable use and management of Mindanao’s natural resources as one of the underlying principles which will guide the identified Mindanao imperatives.
The meeting highlighted the need for regional planners to use the environment as a foundation for their work while the integration of local and regional plans into Mindanao’s larger ecosystems was highly encouraged as opposed to isolated regional planning.
Banking on agriculture and fisheries as linchpins for growth, Mindanao needs to increase rural productivity and agribusiness competitiveness through strengthening its existing agribusiness corridors and establishing new ones where they are needed. Adequate logistics as well as research and development for the entire value-chain are also needed.
Mindanao’s potentials in tourism, ICT, trade and logistics also need to be optimized through policy support and establishment of tourism corridors.
Mindanao’s industrialization through investments in agricultural and non-agricultural manufacturing, mineral processing, logistics and supply chain hubs, and other labor intensive ventures such as shipbuilding and repair also needs to be pushed.
Other enabling conditions – including improvement of the road network system in Mindanao, establishment of more transportation links, sufficient and reliable power generation, and irrigation development – were also tagged to be essential for the effective implementation of these medium term development priorities.
Launched last year, the Mindanao 2020 outlines long-term recommendations to ensure Mindanao’s sustainable development, particularly in terms of addressing peace and security, increasing rural productivity and agribusiness competitiveness, harnessing tourism, promoting industrialization, improving governance and providing infrastructure and policy support. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)