‘Make Mindanao southern frontier, not the southern backdoor’ – new SPDA chief

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 April) – Former Basilan governor Abdulgani “Gerry” A. Salapuddin vowed to revitalize the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) tasked to implement socioeconomic development projects in Mindanao.

New SPDA chief Gerry Salapuddin with colleagues in the field. Photo courtesy of Gerry Salapuddin’s Facebook page

In his acceptance speech during ceremonies at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao on Thursday, the newly appointed administrator and chief executive officer of SPDA vowed to improve the structure of the agency to ensure that it lives up to its mandate of pursuing projects that would make Mindanao the “southern frontier, not the southern backdoor.”

“I envision SPDA to be a strong performing GOCC that can truly transform the socioeconomic landscape of Mindanao pursuant to the advocacy and to the dream of the President to make Mindanao southern frontier, not the southern backdoor,” Salapuddin said.

Among the functions of the SPDA include initiating development and business projects of corporate and economic nature, whether in agriculture, power, infrastructure, energy, public utilities, land development, manufacturing, exploration and utilization of natural resources and other field or projects; and making investments in any field that will enhance the economic development in the region.

“The SPDA is corporate vehicle for peace and development and as a corporate entity under GOCC, it can implement any socioeconomic development programs, within the scope of its mandates, like mining, oil exploration, power generation, business ventures of any sorts, that can add up to the socioeconomic benefits and upliftment of our people,” he said.

Mandated by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to ensure provinces and cities of Mindanao are not left out, Salapuddin said they commissioned a group of architects, engineers, and economists to craft master development plans for the existing properties of SPDA in Mindanao.

“We have lined up short term and long term development projects in all properties awarded by government to the authority,” Salapuddin said.

The SPDA has properties in Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga City, Marawi City and provinces in the Davao Region.

Salapuddin said the plan would contain viable projects to be implemented in SPDA-owned properties that could generate income for the government.

He said he wanted to improve the lapses of the previous SPDA administrators for not being able to implement projects that generate income for the government.

“And hopefully we can deliver,” Salapuddin said.

Created on April 22, 1975, the SPDA was deactivated through the issuance of Executive Order No. 149 on November 18, 2002 and reactivated on August 22, 2006 to be the implementing arm for the Economic Catch-Up Plan for the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to address the economic gaps in the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement, as mandated under Section 3 of Executive Order No. 560.

“After 43 years from its creation, we must look back, so we can learn from the past, where and how it succeeded and failed, and look forward with high hope and enthusiasm, that the time for SPDA to lead and succeed in catapulting the socio-economic development of Mindanao is now, under the first President from Mindanao … under my stewardship of the authority,” he said.

The SPDA exercises the power of a corporation; acquires, leases, or holds personal and real properties; engages or invests or extends loans and guarantees or to enter into joint ventures with Filipinos and foreign investors; exercises the right of eminent domain; and contacts indebtedness and issue bonds.

A former member of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Salapuddin was governor of Basilan from 1988 to 1998, then as three-term congressman from 1998 to 2007. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)