MinDA exec on abolition of river basin task force: Aquino wants focus

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/02 August)— President Benigno C. Aquino III “wants focus” given to the Mindanao River Basin rehabilitation that’s why he disbanded the task force overseeing it, Secretary Luwalhati Antonino , chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), explained late Monday afternoon.

“The President feels [the MRB] ‘will have more concentration’ if under the Mindanao Development Authority…He merely transferred the general supervision to MinDA,” she said in a radio interview.

Antonino said they are planning to sit down with Cotabato Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo to discuss the transition and perhaps a possible function for him under the new setup.

Quevedo, who could not be reached for comment, was head of the Arroyo-created Presidential Task Force on Mindanao River Basin Rehabilitation and Development (PTFMRBRD).

The abolition, contained in Executive Order 50 signed by Aquino on July 28, is to be completed within three months from the date of the effectivity of the EO.

The task force’s term is supposed to end on  December 31, 2012. At present it has listed 19 priority projects including the preparation of a master plan for the Mindanao River Basin.

EO 50 said the functions of the PTFMRBRD “overlap with other national government agencies that can in turn perform the said tasks in line with the government’s policy of rationalizing and streamlining the bureaucracy.”

Under EO 50, MinDA is tasked to “coordinate the formulation, implementation, and finalization of the Mindanao River Basin (MRB) relief, rehabilitation, and long term development plan, also known as the Mindanao River Basin Management and Development Master Plan.”

It is also tasked to negotiate, apply for, receive and accept grants and donation of funds needed for the relief, rehabilitation and development of the areas affected by the disaster; decide on important interventions that need to be immediately implemented and acted upon; and spearhead and coordinate all actions to rehabilitate and develop the MRB affected areas.

MinDA was created through Republic Act 9996, signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February17, 2010, “to establish an effective institutional mechanism to address the need for a coordinated and integrated approach in the formulation and integration of a Mindanao-wide inter-regional development plans, programs, and projects.” (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)