RDC-12 seeks extension of agri project operations

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/1 May) — The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to extend the operations of the Socsksargen Area Development Project Office (ADPO) for two more years or until 2016.

In a resolution, the council specifically asked Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to sustain the project office’s operations beyond the end of 2014, which was set as the end of the unit’s term of office based on DA’s approved rationalization plan.

“This council finds the continuing operation of the Socsksargen ADPO important in Region 12’s pursuit for inclusive growth and poverty reduction, particularly in the rural areas dominated by agriculture-based economic activities,” the resolution said.

Socsksargen ADPO, a special project unit of the DA, mainly coordinates, implements and monitors programs and projects in support of DA’s food security program as well as development plans and initiatives that complement with the government’s peace efforts.

The DA unit’s project area covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan and Tacurong, which are all part of Region 12.

Arturo Valero, RDC-12 acting chair, said Socsksargen ADPO’s term initially expired on December 31, 2010 based on the provisions of Executive Order (EO) 507 issued on February 15, 2006.

But it was extended by President Benigno S. Aquino III until December 31, 2016 by virtue of EO No. 16 issued on December 21, 2011.

The President issued the order “in view of the continuing need to fast-track the construction of vital infrastructure (airports, seaports, fishports, irrigation facilities and road networks) and to sustain regional efforts particularly in the implementation of food security and key development plans and programs in support for peace and development in Mindanao.”

Due to the approval of DA’s rationalization Plan, Valero said Sec. Alcala issued a memorandum reducing the term of office of the Socsksargen ADPO from 2016 to 2014.

The official said the Socsksargen board’s executive committee recently passed a resolution “opposing the phasing out” of the project office by the end of the year and its mainstreaming under the DA Regional Field Office 12 starting next year.

He said the board strongly recommended the continued implementation of EO 16, which extended the unit’s operations until 2016.

Valero said such resolution was unanimously supported by key local chief executives and the private sector of areas covered by the unit.

Its signatories include Gov. Emmylou J. Talino-Mendoza of North Cotabato, Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes of South Cotabato, Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat, Gov. Steve Chiongbion Solon of Sarangani, Mayor Ronnel Rivera of this city and Raul Josefino Miguel of the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he added. (MindaNews)