Improved income, welfare key to sustaining peace in Mindanao

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews / 23 Sept) – Improving people’s income and welfare within the first few years of the implementation of the Bangsamoro will play a crucial role in sustaining peace in Mindanao, an expert said Tuesday.

Dr. Fermin Adriano, senior policy advisor to the World Bank Peace Building Fund Project, said measures should be undertaken to increase the productivity of farmers and fisherfolk, the majority of the population in the proposed Bangsamoro, the political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Speaking at the Forum on Development Opportunities and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro at the Intercontinental Hotel, Adriano stressed government should also provide better basic services.

He cited in particular the need to extend health services to mothers and infants as well as potable water system. He said it should at least be a Level 2 water system. “Forget Level 1.”

Level 2 water supply is when there are public water faucets serving a community, while in Level 1, the only sources of water are wells or springs. Level 3, on the other hand, is when water is supplied through faucets in the households.

Adriano said the region should focus on products with comparative advantage as shown by their respective outputs.

Adriano cited that based on a study in 2011, the region has shown potentials in the production of tropical fruits, raw materials like minerals and cereals except for rice.

He said this finding should make government build an irrigation system that is crop-neutral or one that is not designed for rice alone.

He added that short-term training in vocational skills needed attention. However, he cautioned that such intervention should take note of a labor market study by the International Labor Organization that there was a discrepancy in skills training vis-à-vis available jobs in the region.

Adriano also clarified that investors will not come in droves right after the passage of the BBL. He said it will take time before investor confidence is fully established.

He said that at the onset of the Bangsamoro the other regions would be the first to benefit from it.

Investors would pour in capital in neighboring areas while maintaining a wait-and-see attitude toward the Bangsamoro, he explained.